How to Become a Buddhist

Yutang Lin

Letter from a reader in Ghana, Africa arrived today
Having read several of my books, very happy
So happy that the intention to become a Buddhist arose
Asking me what are the procedures involved

To become a Buddhist
Mainly one need to comprehend and accept
What the Dharma teaches
     Suffering in the worldly realms, impermanence
     Sentient beings are transmigrating in the suffering realms
     Path to emancipation from such suffering is available
     One aspires to practice and advance on the liberation path so as to save all beings

To demonstrate this aspiration through a ceremony
In the presence of Buddha image or Dharma teacher
Make three prostrations, and repeat Refuge Formula thrice
I take refuge in Buddha, I take refuge in Dharma, I take refuge in Sangha
In Vajrayana, in addition, one recites first of all
I take refuge in the Guru
     Because Guru is recognized as the union of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha

Bodhi aspiration is admirable
Through taking refuge to demonstrate such aspiration and to help convert others
     Even more worthy of following as an example
Nevertheless, without practicing and upholding the Dharma
     Usually people are hindered by karmic hindrances heavy
That they could hardly carry such aspiration through
Therefore, having become a Buddhist
     It would be proper to have regular practice sessions daily
     Done at a fixed time for a fixed amount of practices
     So as to build up a good habit
     And then gradually achieve clarity and stability of mind
Only then could one be expected to devote oneself fully to Dharma in the long run
And genuinely contribute one's efforts to universally benefiting all sentient beings

Written in Chinese and translated on February 21, 2009
El Cerrito, California

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