How do we become a Buddhist?

To become a proper Buddhist devotee, one has to go through the ceremony of “The Three Refuges”.

Similar to that in a King’s coronation, or a president taking on office, it is a loyal vow that is based on heartfelt emotions, an earnest promise, a yearning prayer, a rebirth of life and a sincere devotion.

Hence, in the eyes of Buddhism, the ceremony is of utmost importance. Otherwise, even if one should believe in Buddhism and pay homage in the same way as others to the Buddha, they will still not be regarded as full-fledged students. Instead, they are merely seen as un-registered bystanders in class. Where one’s strength in faith or the lack of it is concerned, having been through the ceremony or not, holds a huge effect.

The Three Refuge Ceremony requires for an ordained monk or nun to be a witness, and to teach and explain the contents of The Three Refuge verses.

The contents are:

“I (the recipient states his or her name) to the end of my life, take refuge in the Buddha, to the end of my life, take refuge in the Dharma, to the end of my life, take refuge in the Sangha;
I (state your name) have already taken refuge in the Buddha. I would rather relinquish my life than to take refuge in celestial and demonic beings;
I (state your name) have already taken refuge in the Dharma. I would rather relinquish my life than to take refuge in heterodox teachings.
I (state your name) have already taken refuge in the Sangha. I would rather relinquish my life than to take refuge in heretical communities.”

The Three Refuge Ceremony is simple yet solemn. The main principle is to devote ourselves wholeheartedly and rely on the Triple Gems, to obtain a scared purity and devoted faith.

The Buddha, the Dharma which are Buddha’s teachings, and the Sangha -ordained monks and nuns who propagate the Dharma; from taking refuge from the above three items, we are able to achieve a present state of peace with our mind and body, be liberated from future rebirths and deaths, and go forth on the supreme path to becoming a Buddha. Thus, the name of these three items as the Triple Gems and devotees of Buddhism, are also known as taking refuges from the Triple Gems.

Extracted from: Venerable Master Sheng Yan《The Proper Beliefs Of Buddhism》

Bumping this topic up as I have thought about this every now and then.

Coming from another angle, how would we be able to advise someone if someone asks “How do I become a Buddhist”?.
The textbook answer of “You should go through The Three Refuges” seems kinda mechanical. The person may well go through the ceremony but may not feel a connection to what it means.

Any opinion on this from the forum? Any real life examples?

this person from another forum says it quite well for me:

You are a Buddhist if you follow the Dhamma and the teachings of Gautama Buddha. Don’t take the analogy too seriously, but it’s sort of like having a certain career–for example, being a doctor. You can’t become a doctor by simply believing a particular thing or learning some information. Rather, you are a doctor because you practice medicine.

So if you are interested in Buddhist ideas, I would suggest learning more about Buddhism and practicing meditation (there are a variety of methods).

Buddhism is a learning process. As is said in the suttas, it is a gradual path in every sense of the phrase. Above all, do not become discouraged. Following the Dhamma is not an immediate fix: indeed, it may even take many lifetimes.

The keyword to me is “practice” - to try to use the Buddhist learnings in our daily life, 24/7. Once we experience the benefit, we will have no qualms working towards being a better Buddhist. :pray:

To me, Buddhism is more of a way of life than a religion.
If we can exemplify the qualities of the right speech, right body actions, right thoughts through our daily interactions with others, we are already a Buddhist.

The outcome of that is to inspire others to do the same, especially when they start to want to know more about you, or understand how you always seem to be so zen/happy. :star_struck:

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Bingo. Listen to this part from 29m24s onwards.

how is a “How To” article I find useful:

helping @Joy_Pek re-post her sharing here: Rejoice to her!

What is Buddhism?

Buddhism is a religion to about >300 million people around the world. The word comes from ‘budhi’, ‘to awaken’. It has its origins about >2,500 years ago when Siddhartha Gotama, known as the Buddha, was himself awakened (enlightened) at the age of 35.

• Is Buddhism a Religion?

To many, Buddhism goes beyond religion and is more of a philosophy or ‘way of life’. It is a philosophy because philosophy ‘means love of wisdom’ and the Buddhist path can be summed up as:

(1) to lead a moral life, ( from evil to wholesome )
(2) to be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions, and
(3) to develop wisdom and understanding.(Saint )

• How Can Buddhism Help Me?

Buddhism explains a purpose to life, it explains apparent injustice and inequality around the world, and it provides a code of practice or way of life that leads to true happiness.

• Why is Buddhism Becoming Popular?

Buddhism is becoming popular in western countries for a number of reasons, The first good reason is Buddhism has answers to many of the problems in modern materialistic societies. It also includes (for those who are interested) a deep understanding of the human mind (and natural therapies) which prominent psychologists around the world are now discovering to be both very advanced and effective.

• Who Was the Buddha?

Siddhartha Gotama was born into a royal family in Lumbini, now located in Nepal, in 563 BC. At 29, he realised that wealth and luxury did not guarantee happiness, so he explored the different teachings religions and philosophies of the day, to find the key to human happiness. After six years of study and meditation he finally found ‘the middle path’ and was enlightened. After enlightenment, the Buddha spent the rest of his life teaching the principles of Buddhism — called the Dhamma, or Truth — until his death at the age of 80.

• Was the Buddha a God?

He was not, nor did he claim to be. He was a man who taught a path to enlightenment from his own experience.

• Do Buddhists Worship Idols?

Buddhists sometimes pay respect to images of the Buddha, not in worship, nor to ask for favours. A statue of the Buddha with hands rested gently in its lap and a compassionate smile reminds us to strive to develop peace and love within ourselves. Bowing to the statue is an expression of gratitude for the teaching.

• Why are so Many Buddhist Countries Poor?

One of the Buddhist teachings is that wealth does not guarantee happiness and also wealth is impermanent. The people of every country suffer whether rich or poor, but those who understand Buddhist teachings can find true happiness.

• Are There Different Types of Buddhism?

There are many different types of Buddhism, because the emphasis changes from country to country due to customs and culture. What does not vary is the essence of the teaching — the Dhamma or truth.

• Are Other Religions Wrong?

Buddhism is also a belief system which is tolerant of all other beliefs or religions. Buddhism agrees with the moral teachings of other religions but Buddhism goes further by providing a long term purpose within our existence, through wisdom and true understanding. Real Buddhism is very tolerant and not concerned with labels like ‘Christian’, ‘Moslem’, ‘Hindu’ or ‘Buddhist’; that is why there have never been any wars fought in the name of Buddhism. That is why Buddhists do not preach and try to convert, only explain if an explanation is sought.

• Is Buddhism Scientific?

Science is knowledge which can be made into a system, which depends upon seeing and testing facts and stating general natural laws. The core of Buddhism fit into this definition, because the Four Noble truths (see below) can be tested and proven by anyone in fact the Buddha himself asked his followers to test the teaching rather than accept his word as true. Buddhism depends more on understanding than faith.

Buddhism is an education and not religion.