As a life-long student that is, in the Buddhist school of inner peace, of serenity of thought, of compassion, of giving, of letting go, and of spiritual enlightenment, by undergoing the Taking of the Three Refuges ceremony.
Hitherto I was auditing the Buddhist course so to speak, driving Wify to various venues of Dharma sessions, and mostly listening in along the way. Then on January 9, 2010, I took the leap, at the behest of Wify's persistent cajoling, wanting me to walk the life-long path with her in search of Buddhist wisdom and to practice compassion.
And the occasion was the Dharma session on the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch organized by Sister Conchita Hsu and delivered by Venerable Jian Zong whom we have met on several previous occasions (here and here) and who is presently the Abbott of the Chung Tai Zen Center of Houston. The venue, the University Inn on East Colonial Dr, Orlando, one which we too have frequented on several prior occasions. The hall was lined with Buddhist verses that conferred an ambience of serenity, engulfing the attendees in a sea of tranquility.
Buddhist verses on the walls adding to the aura of Dharma bliss, thanks to the Chinese calligraphy and artwork of Sister Wendy, a reporter with the World Journal based in Orlando who also did a news report here, including a group photo.
It was a 2-day session, and we drove on both days to the venue from Tampa. In addition to the Dharma talks, Venerable Jian Zong also conducted meditation classes to calm the body, and more importantly, the mind. We also participated in an introductory Tai-Chi class taught by Venerable Jian Tsan.
Finishing up the 2-day Dharma event was the Taking the Three Refuges ceremony during which the disciples vowed to follow the Three Jewels (or Triple Gem) of the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha (monastic order). We underwent the entire ceremony, simple and yet solemn, under the watchful guidance of Venerable Jian Zong, who presided on behalf of Venerable Grand Monk Wei Chueh, the founder of the Chung Tai Chan Monastry. At the end of the ceremony, each of us received a certificate of the three refuges, granting each of us a unique Dharma name. The literal English translation of mine is propagating acumen, or foresight. I'm indeed honored by the bestowal and will strive to live up to it.
The great vows that we as Buddhist disciples profess during the Taking the Three Refuges ceremony.
The certificate received by the Buddhist disciples at the end of the ceremony, to go along with the bracelet of wooden beads that now fits snugly on my left wrist.
What's next for a kindergarten student like me? Taking the Five Precepts in the not too distant future. Right now though, the immediate task is to actualize the Buddhist teachings as embodied in the Taking the Refuge in the Three Jewels.
Venerable Master Jian Zong explaining the difference between sudden and gradual enlightenment as exemplified by the famous Buddhist verses put forth by the Sixth Patriarch, Master Hui Neng, and Venerable Shen Xiu, with Venerable Jian Tsan providing the Chinese text as needed.
A group photo of the Tampa entourage with Venerable Master Jian Zong taken by Venerable Jian Tsan.