and Informal Devotion
do devotion (vandana) by yourself in your home or at a temple
you may kneel down comfortably and start your vandana directly
with the salutation to the Buddha, then proceed to the formulas
for the refuges and precepts.
When you do formal vandana with a monk or nun present, you make
a formal request to a monk or nun to administer the refuges
and precepts. This procedure preserves the religious relationship
between the laity and clergy in the heritage of Theravada Buddhist
have made making the formal request the monk or nun begins the
administration of the refuges with the following formula of
salutation to the Buddha. "Namo tassa bhagavato arahato
samma-sambuddhassa." (I pay homage to the Blessed One,
the Worthy One, the Fully Enlightened One.) The lay person repeats
it three times after the monk or nun. The word for word meaning
of the formula is this: "Namo" = "I pay homage";
"tassa" = "to him"; "Bhagavato"
= "to the Exalted One"; "Arahato" = "to
The Worthy One"; "Samma Sambuddhassa" = "to
The Fully Enlightened One."
salutation repeat another formula three times to take Refuge
in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. These three are called
the Three Refuges in the Buddhist religious tradition. They
also are called the Triple Gem. By taking refuge in the Triple
Gem one is initiated into the practice of the Buddha's teaching.
From that point on one can be considered to be a Buddhist. However,
the real Buddhist is the one who lives a life following all
the principles of the Buddha's teaching with full understanding.
the recitation of the formula of taking the Refuge should be
done with full understanding of the meaning of the Three Refuges.
The first of the three Refuges is the Buddha who is the discoverer
and expounder of the path to liberation. He is the supremely
enlightened being who elevated human dignity to the highest
spiritual attainment, purifying the mind through the practice
of the path laid down by all enlightened beings including himself.
The Dhamma is the Buddha's teaching of the truth. The Sangha
is the community of enlightened disciples of the Buddha. They
are four pairs and eight individuals. The four pairs are those
who have attained the Stream-entry Path and Fruit, those who
have attained the Once-Returners' Path and Fruit, those who
have attained the Never Returners' Path and Fruit and those
who have attained the Arahants' Path and Fruits. When these
pairs are separated there are Eight Individuals.
is purely a mental process of accepting the Triple Gem as one's
own supreme guiding principles. In order to achieve the goal
of these principles one has to follow their meanings. This means
translating the Buddha's teachings into action and living by
of following the Triple Gem is, in fact, outlined in the next
section following the Triple Gem, i.e. the precepts which are
divided into several categories. In this Vandana book we have
included only the five precepts and the eight precepts which
lay devotees are expected to observe. These are training rules
that each person takes upon oneself voluntarily to uphold without
any sense of intimidation or supplication to anybody outside
oneself. Although putting them into action is a real challenge
to one's integrity, the serious devotee makes every humanly
possible effort to maintain them. If one is fully committed
to the Triple Gem one may not find it impossible to put these
principles into one's daily practice.
these precepts you practice loving-kindness in action. When
you abstain from killing you respect all living beings. When
you abstain from not taking what is not given, you practice
appreciative joy - you rejoice in others' happiness of having
what they have. By abstaining from sexual misconduct you respect
and honor the dignity of other persons. By abstaining from telling
lies, you not only honor and respect truthfulness but you also
maintain your own dignity and self-respect. By abstaining from
taking intoxicating drinks and drugs you remain sober with a
steady state of mind which can easily be trained to cultivate
mindfulness leading up to the attainment of enlightenment.
If you take
the three Refuges and the Five Precepts or Eight Precepts from
a monk/nun the monk or nun will admonish you to practice them
diligently. Then he/she will summarize in a verse the benefits
of putting these principles into practice.
followed by the recitation of the twenty-four attributes of
the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha each having nine, six
and nine attributes respectively. These formulas go back to
the time of the Buddha himself. He used them on many occasion
to describe the Triple Gem. Reciting these formulas with full
understanding of their meaning and with a calm and composed
state of mind instills such a deep sense of devotion in the
mind of the devotee that they have been included among the subjects
of meditation as recollections.