Ready to take refuge but holding back

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
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Tez
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Ready to take refuge but holding back

Post by Tez »

I’ve been exploring Buddhism for a couple of months now, and I feel I'm ready to take refuge and accept that I'm now a Buddhist. I've found a great connection to the teachings of Buddhism, and I've already started to incorporate them into my life. I believe in the teachings of the Buddha, in dharma and enlightenment, and all the beliefs that come with being a Buddhist.

Yet I feel something is holding me back. Perhaps it's because I've always been an agnostic, and accepting that I'm now a Buddhist is a big jump, especially as it's happened quite suddenly. I started out by saying to people I was interested in buddhism, then exploring buddhism, Now I say I'm a bit of a Buddhist, without admitting I'm now a practicing Buddhist. When I meet a stranger I tell them I'm a Buddhist, which for some reason is easier, but telling family and friends is a lot harder. Maybe I'm worried they'll think I've gone nuts or I'm not being serious, or they'll judge me and see me differently.

I realize taking refuge is a straight forward process that doesn't require any formal ceremony, but I'm holding back. In my heart I'm ready, but my mind is throwing up barriers.

How was it for everyone else? Was it easy or were their doubts?
master of puppets
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Re: Ready to take refuge but holding back

Post by master of puppets »

Congratulations!

Your heart become Buddhist.
May take awhile but your mind will accept it too.
The spiritual center is heart (of your mind) and listen to the heart but mind has a devil side. So it will drag the feet.

I'm a Buddhist too. happy about it.
friends know parents don't care.
not much every one know about Buddhism around here.
ı'm alone and the forum is the only place to take a breath.
thanks everyone for your sincere welcome!

I think they get used to me. 🙂

🙏🏻
Last edited by master of puppets on Wed Oct 05, 2022 6:55 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Ready to take refuge but holding back

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Tez wrote: Wed Oct 05, 2022 5:45 pm In my heart I'm ready, but my mind is throwing up barriers.
“Being” a Buddhist
As compared with just “doing Buddhism”
…I think this is a common dilemma.

First, the whole idea of attaching yourself to some kind of identity or label seems like the opposite of Buddhist teachings, doesn’t it?
Second, the idea of “locking yourself into” anything, forever, like getting a tattoo, there’s this feeling of permanence, which also seems contrary to Buddhist teachings.

The thing is, you don’t have to announce it to anyone. It’s not like being a vegan, which mandates announcing it first and foremost to everybody you meet (😁 haha vegans, just kidding!)

If you feel inside that this is a direction that you want to go, I mean, it’s called a path for a reason, isn’t it? It’s like following a specific road in order to get to a specific place. If that’s where you want to go, then go ahead. Everybody is headed somewhere anyway. Even agnostics. It’s not like you are the only one on some kind of trip.

My experience was that once I had the refuge opportunity, I jumped for it. But that is because Buddhism already seemed familiar to me for some reason. It felt like returning to something. That might not be exactly your experience. But if your intuition tells you this is what you should do, then you might want to pay attention to that.
EMPTIFUL.
An inward outlook develops outward insight.
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Matt J
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Re: Ready to take refuge but holding back

Post by Matt J »

I had doubts as well. I handled it by listing a number of conditions that had to be in play before I would take refuge: 1) it had to be in a formal ceremony 2) from a monastic that 3) I highly respected. Shortly thereafter, I was on a retreat and it was announced that Bhante Gunaratana would be giving refuge precepts. His book on Mindfulness in Plain English was a major factor in getting me to meditate.
Tez wrote: Wed Oct 05, 2022 5:45 pm How was it for everyone else? Was it easy or were their doubts?
"The world is made of stories, not atoms."
--- Muriel Rukeyser
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Ayu
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Re: Ready to take refuge but holding back

Post by Ayu »

Tez wrote: Wed Oct 05, 2022 5:45 pm (...)

Yet I feel something is holding me back. Perhaps it's because I've always been an agnostic, and accepting that I'm now a Buddhist is a big jump, especially as it's happened quite suddenly. I started out by saying to people I was interested in buddhism, then exploring buddhism, Now I say I'm a bit of a Buddhist, without admitting I'm now a practicing Buddhist. When I meet a stranger I tell them I'm a Buddhist, which for some reason is easier, but telling family and friends is a lot harder. Maybe I'm worried they'll think I've gone nuts or I'm not being serious, or they'll judge me and see me differently.

I realize taking refuge is a straight forward process that doesn't require any formal ceremony, but I'm holding back. In my heart I'm ready, but my mind is throwing up barriers.

How was it for everyone else? Was it easy or were their doubts?
In my experience, the formal ceremony of taking refuge was an important turning point for me. But it has nothing to do with anybody else. I don't talk about being a buddhist, because mostly nobody is interested. If someone asks, then yes, I'm a buddhist. But most of the time people do not want me to elaborate.
Therefore, my refuge is a complete private thing.

Before I took refuge, I participated in a group once a week. We were practicing Vajrasattva. And on a daily base I was reciting the refuge verse on my own, just because it made me feel protected.
Therefore it was no big decision for me to take refuge. It was something familiar, something wonderful.
I wanted to take refuge officially, because I wanted to take the initiation of Vajrasattva. It was like requesting a blessing for what I was practicing already anyhow.

But taking refuge changed my spiritual life clearly. It was like getting into a save car.
narhwal90
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Re: Ready to take refuge but holding back

Post by narhwal90 »

I'm on the refuge track in my zen sangha, though its delayed by the roshi's health issues so if or when is unclear. OTOH its not something to grasp at, Interpreting the precepts and living them as best I can doesn't need to wait on a ceremony.

I attended the sangha for about 2 years before making the move to ask about doing it. The subsequent study process for them has taken another perhaps 6 months of weekly contact. I did it because engaged practice, face-to-face, seems to me where the practices come alive. Which isn't to say I think solitary practice is no longer needed, just that reasonably frequent sangha contact makes the study more relevant and less an intellectual exercise.

I'm inclined to say the same about Nichiren practice, though in SGI refuge is not taken OTOH having a gohonzon bestowed has something of that flavor.

Ayu's car analogy is interesting... I was thinking that the precept work in preparation for refuge gave my practice a lot more traction.
muni
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Re: Ready to take refuge but holding back

Post by muni »

Perhaps based on what is here said you could consider to open your mind for the teachings which are like medicines to less suffering or even be liberated from it? It doesn't need the idea I am a Buddhist now. Buddha did not run around telling everyone I am a Buddhist and I was sitting on the very Bodhi tree and I.... There is no need to call onself Buddhist said Dalai Lama and so not being something other. This is actually tricky clinging to self, atman, what has now another suit or new dress. Even Dalai Lama cannot deny because of being monk. However that is not the importance, how we appear, the only importance is to be freed from suffering and so the change comes from within. 😊 :namaste:
“Simply let experience take place very freely, so that your open heart is suffused with the tenderness of true compassion.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knHJq1H51K4
"When we rest in the present moment, a space reveals itself. It is an inner space that is unoccupied by the cloud of thoughts. Without witnessing that space, it is hard for the mind to see beyond its own interpretation of reality."
Malcolm
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Re: Ready to take refuge but holding back

Post by Malcolm »

Tez wrote: Wed Oct 05, 2022 5:45 pm I'm now a Buddhist.
That means you already went for refuge.
Vases, canvas, bucklers, armies, forests, garlands, trees
houses, chariots, hostelries, and all such things
that common people designate dependent on their parts,
accept as such. For Buddha did not quarrel with the world!

—— Candrakīrti. MAV 6:166
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