Refuge & Bodhisattva Vows

with Gaylon Ferguson

June 22nd—June 23rd

Date details +
    Price:
  • $125 Program price
  • $150 Patron price
  • Or pay what you can offer (type-in the amount)
Room: Berkeley Shambhala Center

IN-PERSON only AT the Berkeley shambhala center with the teacher Presented by Northern California Shambhala


This June, we are delighted to announce that there will be an opportunity to take the Refuge Vow & Bodhisattva Vow with preceptor Gaylon Ferguson in-person at the Berkeley Shambhala Center.

This June, one week before leading our Northern California Shambhala Summer Retreat, Gaylon Ferguson, as the preceptor, will offer the opportunity to take the Refuge Vow and the Bodhisattva Vow. These are two formal commitments along the Buddhist Path.

Registration is now open!

If you are interested in participating in one or both ceremonies, please carefully review the information and click on the registration button. You will be taken to a registration form where you will be asked to provide additional information needed to properly process your registration.

Please note that anyone is welcome to come and retake their vows, and no registration is necessary for this. Just show up!


Schedule

The times below are to provide an idea of the weekend for planning purposes, and we will confirm the precise times soon.

Saturday, June 22

  • Refuge Vow
    9:00 – 11:00 am:  Practice and contemplation
    11:00 – 11:30 am:  Discussion group
    11:30 am:  Formal requests begin
  • Bodhisattva Vow
    2:00 – 4:00 pm:  Practice and contemplation
    4:00 – 4:30 am:  Discussion group
    4:30 pm:  Formal requests begin

Sunday, June 23
A morning for practice and contemplation for all, with the vow ceremonies in the afternoon

  • Bodhisattva Vow Ceremony
    2:00 – 2:45 pm
  • Refuge Vow
    3:00 – 3:45 pm
    4:00 pm:  Reception Celebration

Below is information about each vow, as well as details about preparation and requirements:

The Refuge Vow

Open to anyone who wants to make a formal commitment to the Buddhist Path, the refuge vow marks the decision to commit oneself wholeheartedly to the path and to further one’s practice and training. It is the formal commitment to being a Buddhist by making a lifelong commitment to and taking refuge in the example of the Buddha Shakyamuni (the Buddha), his teachings (the dharma), and in the community of fellow practitioners (the sangha).

As this is a major commitment, individuals planning to take the vow are strongly encouraged to undertake an exploration of what it means to take refuge, and whether it is right for them. Two opportunities to do so are being offered:

  • Being Buddhist: Exploring the Refuge Vow, a three-part, two-hour course that Gaylon Ferguson just taught. Register and you will be able to view the video of the classes.
  • What is the Refuge Vow? with Charlotte Linde, a local online class on Sat, June 9 (10:00 am to Noon PT) is offered as an opportunity to explore the meaning of the refuge vow, and to allow discussion of participants’ questions, and how the vow may relate to their individual situations.

Included in the registration fee is a materials fee (for your Refuge Name Calligraphy), and it is traditional to offer a Heart Gift to the preceptor.

Also highly recommended for study and contemplation are the following two books, both available for purchase online:

The Bodhisattva Vow

The Bodhisattva vow is the commitment to put all others before oneself. It is a statement of willingness to give up one’s own well-being, even one’s own enlightenment, for the sake of others. A Bodhisattva is simply a person who lives in the spirit of that vow, perfecting the qualities known as the six Buddhist Paramitas (virtues or perfections) — generosity, discipline, patience, exertion, meditation, and transcendental wisdom — in their effort to liberate all sentient beings.

Included in the registration fee is a materials fee (for your Bodhisattva Name Calligraphy), and it is traditional to offer a Heart Gift to the preceptor, as well as a physical gift that represents your letting go of something as you enter this commitment.

Bodhisattva vow candidates are strongly encouraged to participate in the following local online class:

  • What is the Bodhisattva Vow? with Charlotte Linde, offered online Sat, June 9 (2:00 to 4:00 pm PT) as an opportunity to explore the meaning of the Bodhisattva vow, and to allow discussion of participants’ questions, and how the vow may relate to their individual situations.

Prerequisites and Requirements

For the Refuge Vow (for first-time refugees only):

  • You will have an established sitting practice for at least one year prior to the date of the vow ceremony.

For the Bodhisattva Vow (for first-time bodhisattvas only):

  • You will have taken the Refuge Vow at least one year prior to the date of the vow ceremony.

For either vow, you will either:

  • Ask your meditation instructor, or another senior Shambhala student/teacher who knows you well, to provide a letter recommending you. The letter should include information supporting your general readiness for, and understanding of, the meaning taking the appropriate vow, or
  • Alternately, you may provide the name and contact information for a well-known senior Northern California Shambhala student/teacher who would be willing to provide our staff with a verbal recommendation.

Please direct your letters and referrals to our Coordinator, Irv Kirschbaum, at kirschi3 [at] gmail [dot] com


Learn more about the Vows

The following classes are opportunities to explore your interest further and contemplate whether taking these vows is right for you at this time. They are not required, but you are highly encouraged to participate in one or more of these courses:

  • Being Buddhist: Exploring the Refuge Vow, a three-part, two-hour course that Gaylon Ferguson just taught. Register and you will be able to view the video of the classes.
  • What is the Refuge Vow? with Charlotte Linde, a local online class on Sat, June 9 (10:00 am to Noon PT) is offered as an opportunity to explore the meaning of the refuge vow, and to allow discussion of participants’ questions, and how the vow may relate to their individual situations.
  • What is the Bodhisattva Vow? with Charlotte Linde, offered online Sat, June 9 (2:00 to 4:00 pm PT) as an opportunity to explore the meaning of the Bodhisattva vow, and to allow discussion of participants’ questions, and how the vow may relate to their individual situations.

Excellent ways to continue your practice —

Nyinthün Practice Day at the Berkeley Shambhala Center

Sunday, June 16 • 9:00 am to 5:30 pm
Open to all practitioners. Join in-person for day-long meditation practice in the beautiful Berkeley shrine room. FIND OUT MORE

Summer Retreat: Mind at Ease: Self-Liberation Through Mahamudra Meditation with Gaylon Ferguson

Friday – Tuesday, June 28 to July 2 • 9:30 am to 5:30 pm (PT)
Open to all practitioners. Attend from anywhere in the world via Zoom, and if you are in proximity to the San Francisco Bay Area, you can attend in-person with the teacher at the Berkeley Center, or in-person with groups at the Davis or Sonoma Shambhala Centers. FIND OUT MORE


photo of Gaylon FergusonVows Preceptor

GAYLON FERGUSON, PhD, has led group meditation retreats since 1976. He taught at Stanford, the University of Washington, and Naropa University, where he was a Core Faculty Member for fifteen years. The author of three books, the most recent (March 2024) is Welcoming Beginner’s Mind: Zen and Tibetan Buddhist Wisdom on Experiencing Our True Nature. Gaylon’s others books are Natural Wakefulness (on the four foundations of mindfullness) and Natural Bravery (on fear and fearlessness as a path to manifesting bravery). All of these are available where books are sold. His articles have appeared in Lion’s Roar, Tricycle, and Buddhadharma magazine. Gaylon also contributed the foreword to the pioneering collection Black and Buddhist: What Buddhism Can Teach Us About Race, Resilience, Transformation and Freedom (Shambhala, 2020).


Refuge & Bodhisattva Vows

June 22 to 23 • Saturday & Sunday
In-person only at the Berkeley Shambhala Center

Please note that anyone is welcome to come and retake their vows, and no registration is necessary for this. Just show up Sunday in time to join the ceremonies (2:00 pm for Bodhisattava vow or 3:00 pm for the Refuge vow).

Interested but have questions before registering? Contact our Coordinator: Irv Kirschhbaum at kirschi3 [at] gmail [dot] com


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For online programs  Shambhala uses Zoom for online programs which is available for computers, smart phones, and tablets. You need to download the free app on your device before joining the session. Once it’s loaded, click the link and follow the prompts to join the session. Please join at least 5-10 minutes in advance so that you’re ready when the program begins, and make certain that your mic is muted when you join to avoid background noises which are multiplied with many participants. Note that the Zoom experience seems to be most predictable when you are signed into your Zoom account and have the most current version installed on your computer. Learn more about Zoomread Zoom FAQs.