The origin of the refuge vows?

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The origin of the refuge vows?

Postby Parasamgate » Fri Jun 03, 2011 4:00 pm

I am wondering what is the origin of these commitments?

The Refuge Commitments

    1. Not to go for refuge to teachers who contradict Buddha’s view, or to samsaric gods
    2. To regard any image of Buddha as an actual Buddha
    3. Not to harm other sentient beings
    4. To regard any Dharma scripture as an actual Dharma Jewel
    5. Not to allow ourselves to be influenced by people who reject Buddha’s teaching
    6. To regard anyone who wears the robes of an ordained person as an actual Sangha Jewel
    7. To go for refuge to the Three Jewels again and again, remembering their good qualities and the differences between them
    8. To offer the first portion of whatever we eat and drink to the Three Jewels, remembering their kindness
    9. With compassion, always to encourage others to go for refuge
    10. Remembering the benefits of going for refuge, to go for refuge at least three times during the day and three times during the night
    11. To perform every action with complete trust in the Three Jewels
    12. Never to forsake the Three Jewels even at the cost of our life, or as a joke

I've seen them with different wording in different places, but the thrust is always the same. Where did these vows originate?
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Re: The origin of the refuge vows?

Postby Caz » Fri Jun 03, 2011 6:22 pm

Most likely In India in the early beginings of the Mahayana. :buddha1:
Abandoning Dharma is, in the final analysis, disparaging the Hinayana because of the Mahayana; favoring the Hinayana on account of the Mahayana; playing off sutra against tantra; playing off the four classes of the tantras against each other; favoring one of the Tibetan schools—the Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu, or Nyingma—and disparaging the rest; and so on. In other words, we abandon Dharma any time we favor our own tenets and disparage the rest.

Liberation in the Palm of your hand~Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche.
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Re: The origin of the refuge vows?

Postby kirtu » Fri Jun 03, 2011 9:56 pm

Pārasamgate wrote:I am wondering what is the origin of these commitments?

The Refuge Commitments

    1. Not to go for refuge to teachers who contradict Buddha’s view, or to samsaric gods
    2. To regard any image of Buddha as an actual Buddha
    3. Not to harm other sentient beings
    4. To regard any Dharma scripture as an actual Dharma Jewel
    5. Not to allow ourselves to be influenced by people who reject Buddha’s teaching
    6. To regard anyone who wears the robes of an ordained person as an actual Sangha Jewel
    7. To go for refuge to the Three Jewels again and again, remembering their good qualities and the differences between them
    8. To offer the first portion of whatever we eat and drink to the Three Jewels, remembering their kindness
    9. With compassion, always to encourage others to go for refuge
    10. Remembering the benefits of going for refuge, to go for refuge at least three times during the day and three times during the night
    11. To perform every action with complete trust in the Three Jewels
    12. Never to forsake the Three Jewels even at the cost of our life, or as a joke

I've seen them with different wording in different places, but the thrust is always the same. Where did these vows originate?


The origin is from Shakyamuni Buddha.

In the above form probably prior to Lama Tsongkhapa.

Kirt
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Re: The origin of the refuge vows?

Postby Parasamgate » Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:23 pm

kirtu wrote:
Pārasamgate wrote:I am wondering what is the origin of these commitments?

The Refuge Commitments

    1. Not to go for refuge to teachers who contradict Buddha’s view, or to samsaric gods
    2. To regard any image of Buddha as an actual Buddha
    3. Not to harm other sentient beings
    4. To regard any Dharma scripture as an actual Dharma Jewel
    5. Not to allow ourselves to be influenced by people who reject Buddha’s teaching
    6. To regard anyone who wears the robes of an ordained person as an actual Sangha Jewel
    7. To go for refuge to the Three Jewels again and again, remembering their good qualities and the differences between them
    8. To offer the first portion of whatever we eat and drink to the Three Jewels, remembering their kindness
    9. With compassion, always to encourage others to go for refuge
    10. Remembering the benefits of going for refuge, to go for refuge at least three times during the day and three times during the night
    11. To perform every action with complete trust in the Three Jewels
    12. Never to forsake the Three Jewels even at the cost of our life, or as a joke

I've seen them with different wording in different places, but the thrust is always the same. Where did these vows originate?


The origin is from Shakyamuni Buddha.

In the above form probably prior to Lama Tsongkhapa.

Kirt


Do you know if these commitments are unique to the Gelug school? Tibetan school(s)? Mahayana school(s)?

Really looking to trace back this tradition as far as possible.

Thanks!
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Re: The origin of the refuge vows?

Postby mudra » Sat Jun 04, 2011 4:13 am

Kirt, I tend to agree but unfortunately I don't have scriptural reference to these precepts (they are actually precepts and not vows) of refuge being uttered by the Buddha? Can you point me in the right direction?
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Re: The origin of the refuge vows?

Postby ngodrup » Sat Jun 04, 2011 8:03 am

In the Nyingma we typically say six precepts:
1, 2, 3 Respect for the Three Jewels and
4, 5, 6 Refraining from disrespecting the Three Jewels.

One can take additional 5 precepts.

Of course, we understand this is "until enlightenment"
and never to recant. But you can see that there are not
12 enumerated, but the essence if not explicit is implied.

Therefore we may reasonably conjecture that the formula
is Je Tsonkapa's, a Sakyapa model, or perhaps Atisha's.
This 12 part formula is also not found in the various Kagyu orders.
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Re: The origin of the refuge vows?

Postby mudra » Sun Jun 05, 2011 12:54 am

ngodrup wrote:In the Nyingma we typically say six precepts:
1, 2, 3 Respect for the Three Jewels and
4, 5, 6 Refraining from disrespecting the Three Jewels.

One can take additional 5 precepts.

Of course, we understand this is "until enlightenment"
and never to recant. But you can see that there are not
12 enumerated, but the essence if not explicit is implied.

Therefore we may reasonably conjecture that the formula
is Je Tsonkapa's, a Sakyapa model, or perhaps Atisha's.
This 12 part formula is also not found in the various Kagyu orders.


Ngodrup,
I suppose that your argument could be construed as some kind of indication that the other precepts came from the Sarma schools (well perhaps not Kagyu) but it really isn't proof. For example it could have simply been overlooked or considered implicit in Nyingma and Kagyu, etc. There are various possibilities.

Please, I am not trying to be contentious. It is true that the 12 precepts mentioned are how Je Tsongkhapa formulates them - but Kirt stated that the precepts came from Sakyamuni Buddha (which only as an educated assumption I would agree with). I was hoping someone might have found scriptural references to the Buddha stating, at different times perhaps, these precepts should be followed. Je Tsongkhapa always cited sutras and tantras, and whenever he did conjecture (very rarely, even in the Lam Rim Chen Mo) he states that he is doing so.
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Re: The origin of the refuge vows?

Postby kirtu » Sun Jun 05, 2011 4:08 pm

Pārasamgate wrote:
kirtu wrote:
Pārasamgate wrote:I am wondering what is the origin of these commitments?

The Refuge Commitments

    1. Not to go for refuge to teachers who contradict Buddha’s view, or to samsaric gods
    2. To regard any image of Buddha as an actual Buddha
    3. Not to harm other sentient beings
    4. To regard any Dharma scripture as an actual Dharma Jewel
    5. Not to allow ourselves to be influenced by people who reject Buddha’s teaching
    6. To regard anyone who wears the robes of an ordained person as an actual Sangha Jewel
    7. To go for refuge to the Three Jewels again and again, remembering their good qualities and the differences between them
    8. To offer the first portion of whatever we eat and drink to the Three Jewels, remembering their kindness
    9. With compassion, always to encourage others to go for refuge
    10. Remembering the benefits of going for refuge, to go for refuge at least three times during the day and three times during the night
    11. To perform every action with complete trust in the Three Jewels
    12. Never to forsake the Three Jewels even at the cost of our life, or as a joke

I've seen them with different wording in different places, but the thrust is always the same. Where did these vows originate?


The origin is from Shakyamuni Buddha.

In the above form probably prior to Lama Tsongkhapa.

Kirt


Do you know if these commitments are unique to the Gelug school? Tibetan school(s)? Mahayana school(s)?

Really looking to trace back this tradition as far as possible.


Hello Parasamgate and mudra -

The origin of the refuge vows is from Shakyamuni Buddha. But the list above is an Indo-Tibetan (perhaps not just Indo-Tibetan but I haven't had teaching from Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese of Japanese teachers directly on the refuge vows) evolution of the teachings. The thing common to most of the traditions and all of the Tibetan traditions is to take refuge three times a day (and often three time a day morning and night - this formula - three times a day morning and night - is directly from Mahayana sutras I do not however know when it became a standard textual snippet - certainly by the time Shantideva's teachers were committed to text because it's in there but likely much sooner).

You can read about Shakyamuni Buddha teaching about refuge vows in the Nikayas. I don't know if this particular collection has been translated into a published text in English - I was looking for the Digha, Maijhima or Samyutta Nikayas actually.

I don't remember if the first five disciples took refuge - they probably did after the sermon and one of them had already attained Arhatship.

In the Nikayas there are instances of disciples giving refuge vows to laypeople or someone out somewhere who wants to become a monk.

Then the pratimoska vows including the five lay vows evolved over time but they too are found in the Nikayas in a recognizable form (really just as they are taught today although there may be additional sets of vows). If laypeople had ready access to the Vinaya then these questions would be solved right away.

So 1, 7-12 in some form existed or was practiced before Shakyamuni's parinirvana. 2-6 probably evolved as monasticism as an institution evolved, so pre-Padmasambhava's entry to Tibet.

From a Tibetan perspective these would almost certainly be traced in some form to Shantarakshita and Padmasambhava.

In this form they are not unique to Gelug. They are found practically in the exact same form in Sakya and Nyingma. As ngodrup noted Nyingma also has the six-fold refuge. This is true (it also is not unique to Nyingma though) but not usually given on day 1, where the three-fold refuge is what definitely distinguishes between Buddhist and non-Buddhist. The six-fold refuge can only be given during an empowerment. In Nyingma this could be treated either more strictly or not since everyone is more or less assumed to have some minimal empowerment and it has basically become part of the lineage culture.

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