Folk Followers & Ceremony (Gui Yi Fa Hui 皈依 法 会)
One becomes a Popular Follower with two steps: Taking the Shelter to the Three Jewels and following the Five Rules of Conduct. Taking refuge, one makes a serious commitment to accept the Three Jewels - Buddha, Dharma and Sanga, as the guiding ideals of one's life. By following the Five Rules of Conduct, one expresses the determination to include one's behavior in these ideals. Both steps are usually performed with a ceremony performed ONLY by a monk. Beware of this! Today, unfortunately, there is a phenomenon, some who are not ordained Buddhist monks, to give Buddhist names to their students, for a large sum of money. Although the ceremony may seem short and simple, it marks a dramatic turning point in one's life, paving the way for any future progress in Dharma practice.
When one attends the ceremony, one formalizes the Teacher-Student relationship, his or her genealogy, and his or her commitment to serving and supporting Sanga. It goes without saying that the commitments of a layman will determine the form of this service and support, which may include volunteering time, regular participation in events, study and taking on ritual or administrative roles (such as being a member of a council). It is also likely that a layman will mainly support Shanghai financially, as most of their time and energy is devoted to practicing "in the world" with family, career or other services.
The popular follower ceremony is not a necessary step in any sense. In fact, you should only consider this step if it inspires you and you feel it is right for you. You can participate fully in our practice without taking oaths, including working closely with a teacher. Receiving the ceremony essentially formalizes the Teacher-Student relationship and creates a solid background for practice in Chan throughout your life.
At the ceremony a candidate promises the following :
To walk the path of the Buddha. To live a moral life and to be enlightened.
To study the Dharma. To work to see the true nature of all things and all beings I encounter.
To support Shanga. To help myself and all beings to achieve peace and liberation.
To live a life of generosity. Benefiting the world in any way.
To live a life of stability. To keep commitments with patience and tolerance, remaining steadfast in practice and relationships.
Respect and honor the Teacher-Student relationship with regular and honest commitment and if I ever want to end this relationship, I will carefully consider this decision and make this request formally and in person.
At the ceremony, the student receives a Dharma name. Makes him visible in Shanghai. Without being proud of it and pointing it out in any way, he declares his willingness to serve and continually deepen his practice. Inevitably, a student becomes a representative of the genealogy both in Shanghai and in the wider world, so he has an additional responsibility to act ethically and compassionately. This may sound like a high responsibility, but it is in accordance with all Buddhist vows, including the terms and principles of Bodhisattva. We take vows to give structure to our lives. We do not claim to fulfill our vows perfectly. In fact, this is impossible. We uphold our vows as our expectation and adopt the necessary humility to acknowledge our weaknesses while continuing to stand upright with dignity.