If I have done this and I find the Buddha’s
teaching acceptable, what would I do then if I
wanted to become a Buddhist?
It would be best to join a good temple or Buddhist
group, support them, be supported by them and continue to
learn more about the Buddha’s teachings.
Then, when you
are ready, you would formally become a Buddhist by taking
the Three Refuges.
What are the Three Refuges?
A refuge is a place where people go when they are
distressed or when they need safety and security.
many types of refuge.
When people are unhappy, they take
refuge with their friends, when they are worried and
frightened, they might take refuge in false hopes and beliefs.
As they approach death, they might take refuge in the belief
in an eternal heaven.
But, as the Buddha says, none of these
are true refuges because they do not give comfort and
security based on reality.
Truly these are not safe refuges, not the refuge supreme.
Not the refuge whereby one is freed from all sorrow But to
take refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha and
to see with real understanding the Four Noble Truths,
Suffering, the cause of suffering, the transcending of
suffering and the Noble Eightfold Path that leads to the
transcending of suffering, This indeed is a safe refuge, it is
the refuge supreme.
It is the refuge whereby one is freed
from all suffering.
Taking Refuge in the Buddha is a confident acceptance of the
fact that one can become fully enlightened and perfected just
as the Buddha was.
Taking Refuge in the Dhamma means
understanding the Four Noble Truths and basing one’s life on
the Noble Eightfold Path.
Taking Refuge in the Sangha means
looking for support, inspiration and guidance from all who
walk the Noble Eightfold Path.
Doing this one becomes a
Buddhist and thus takes the first step on the path towards
What changes have taken place in your life
since you first took the three refuges?
Like countless millions of others over the last 2,500
years, I have found that the Buddha’s teachings have made
sense out of a difficult world, they have given meaning to
what was a meaningless life, they have given me a humane
and compassionate ethics with which to lead my life and they
have shown me how I can attain a state of purity and
perfection in the next life.
A poet in ancient India once wrote
of the Buddha:
To go to him for refuge, to sing his praise, to do him honor
and to abide in his Dhamma is to act with understanding.
I agree with these words completely.
I have a friend who is always trying to convert
me to his religion. I am not really interested in his religion
and I have told him so but he won’t leave me alone. What
can I do?
The first thing you must understand is that this
person is not really your friend.
A true friend accepts you as
you are and respects your wishes.
I suspect that this person
is merely pretending to be your friend so he can convert you.
When people try to impose their will on you they are certainly
But he says he wants to share his religion
Sharing your religion with others is a good thing.
But I suggest that your friend doesn’t know the difference
between sharing and imposing.
If I have an apple, I offer you
half and you accept my offer, then I have shared with you.
But if you say to me “Thank you, but I have already eaten”
and I keep insisting that you take half the apple until you
finally give in to my pressure, this can hardly be called
People like your ‘friend’ try to disguise their bad
behavior by calling it ‘sharing’, ‘love’ or ‘generosity’ but by
what- ever name they call it, their behavior is still just rude,
bad manners and selfish.
So how can I stop him?
It is simple.
Firstly, be clear in your mind what you
Secondly, clearly and briefly tell him so.
he asks you questions like “What is your belief on this matter”
or “Why don’t you wish to come to the meeting with me”,
clearly, politely and persistently repeat your first statement.
“Thank you for the invitation but I would rather
“That is really my business.
rather not come.”
“But there will be many interesting people
“I am sure there will be but I would rather not come.”
“I am inviting you because I care about you.”
“I am glad you care about me but I would rather not come.”
If you clearly, patiently and persistently repeat yourself and
refuse to allow him to get you involved in a discussion he
will eventually give up.
It is a shame that you have to do this,
but it is very important for people to learn that they cannot
impose their beliefs or wishes upon others.
Should Buddhists try to
share the Dhamma
Yes, they should.
And I think most Buddhists
understand the difference between sharing and imposing.
If people ask you about Buddhism, tell them.
You can even
tell them about the Buddha’s teachings without their asking.
But if, by either their words or their actions, they let you know
that they are not interested, accept that and respect their
It is also important to remember that you let people
know about the Dhamma far more effectively through your
actions than through preaching to them.
Show people the
Dhamma by always being considerate, kind, tolerant, upright
Let the Dhamma shine forth through your speech
If each of us, you and I, know the Dhamma
thoroughly, practice it fully and share it generously with
others, we can be of great benefit to ourselves and others