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Public Ordination Ceremony

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by Sangharakshita

Lecture 39: A Western Buddhist Ordination Ceremony

Public Ord ination conducted by Sang harakshita Na mo B udd haya (call and response) Na mo D harm aya Na mo S anghaya Namo nama Om, Ah, Hum.

W e com e now as eve rybo dy kno ws to o ur public ordina tions, bu t not just ye t. W e're go ing to lea d up to them, so to speak, with the Sevenfold Puja and on this occasion, as our usual custom is, there won't be the mantra chanting, there'll be extra, especially appropriate readings. So after the Worship section, there'll be the Buddhavagga (?) of the Dhammapada read by Vessantara, and after the Entreaty and Supplication section, the Maggha vagga (?) read by Chakupala (?) and after the Transference of Merits section the Sukkhav agga (?) re ad by Ja yamati. And after that the pub lic ordinations.

First of all then, the W orsh ip W ith mandarava, blue lotus, and jasmine, W ith all flower s pleas ing and fragran t, And with garlands skilfully woven, I pay hono ur to the princes o f the Sages, So worthy of veneration.

I envelop them in clouds of incense, Sweet and penetrating; I mak e them offerings of foo d, hard and soft, And pleasing kinds of liquids to drink.

I offer them lamp s, encrusted with jewels, Festoon ed with golde n lotus.

On the paving, sprinkled with perfume, I scatter handfuls of bea utiful flowers.

Vessantara (...inaudible) [?the section on the enlightened one?] "That Enlightened One, whose victory is irreversible, and whose skill endless, by what track will you lead him astray? ( and the whole chapter up to) "He who reverences those who are of such a nature, who moreover are at pea ce an d witho ut cause for fear, h is merit is no t to be recko ned as such and su ch." Salutation As many atoms as there are In the thousand million worlds, So many times I make reverent salutation To all the Budd has of the T hree Era s, To the Saddharma, And to the ex cellent C omm unity.

I pay hom age to all the shrines, And places in which the Bodhisattvas have been.

I make p rofound obeisanc e to the Te achers, And those to whom respectful salutation is due.

Going For Refuge This very day I go for my refuge To the powe rful protectors, W hose purpose is to guard the universe; The mighty conquerors who overcome suffering everywhere.

W holeheartedly also I take my refuge In the Dharma they have ascertained, W hich is the abode of security against the rounds of rebirth.

Likewise in the host of Bodhisattvas I take my refuge.

REFUGES AND PRECEPTS Nam o T assa Bh agavato A rahato Sa mma S ambu ddha ssa Nam o T assa Bh agavato A rahato Sa mma S ambu ddha ssa Nam o T assa Bh agavato A rahato Sa mma S ambu ddha ssa Buddham Saranam Gacchami Dhammam Saranam Gacchami Sangham Saranam Gacchami Dutiyampi Buddham Saranam Gacchami Dutiyampi Dhammam Saranam Gacchami Dutiyampi Sangham Saranam Gacchami Tatiyampi Buddham Saranam Gacchami Tatiyampi Dhammam Saranam Gacchami Tatiyampi Sangham Saranam Gacchami Panatipata Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami Adinnadana Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami Kamesu Micchacara Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami Musavada Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami Surameriya Majja Pamadatthana Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami Sadhu - Sadhu - Sadhu W ith dee ds of lo ving kind ness, I p urify my b ody.

W ith ope n-hand ed ge nerosity, I purify my b ody.

W ith stillness, simp licity, and c onten tment, I p urify my b ody.

W ith truthful communication, I purify my speech.

With mindfulness clear and radiant, I purify my mind.

Confession of F aults The evil which I have heaped up Thro ugh my ignora nce and foolishness - Evil in the world of everyday experience, As well as evil in understanding and intelligence - All that I acknowled ge to the Pro tectors.

Standing before them W ith hands raised in reverence, And terrified of suffering, I pay salutations again and again.

M ay the Lead ers rec eive this kindly, Just as it is, with its many faults! W hat is not good , O Pro tectors, I shall not do again.

Rejoicing In M erits I rejoice with delight In the good done b y all beings, Thro ugh which they ob tain rest W ith the end of suffering.

M ay those who h ave su ffered b e hap py! I rejoice in the release of beings >From the sufferings of the rounds of existence; I rejoice in the nature of the Bodhisattva And the Buddha, W ho are P rotectors.

I rejo ice in the a rising of the W ill to Enligh tenme nt, And the Teaching: Tho se Oce ans which bring ha ppiness to all being s, And a re the abo de of welfare o f all beings.

Entreaty and Supplication Saluting them with folded hands I entreat the Bud dhas in the all the quarters: May they make shine the lamp of the Dharma For those wandering in the suffering of delusion! W ith hands folded in reverence I implore the conquerors desiring to enter Nirvana: M ay they remain here fo r endless ages, So that life in this world does not grow dark.

The Section on The Way "The best of ways is the Eightfold Way. The best of truths are the Four Truths .....(and the whole chapter up to ) ... .the way le ading to N irvana ." The Heart Sutra The B odhisattva of Compassion, W hen he med itated d eep ly, Saw the emptiness of all five skandhas And sundered the bond s that caused him suffering.

Here then, Form is no other than em ptiness, Emptiness no other than form.

Form is only emptiness, Emptiness only form.

Feeling, thought, and choice, Co nsciousness itself, Are the sam e as this.

All things are the primal void, Which is not born or destroyed; Nor is it stained or pure, Nor does it wax or wane.

So, in emptiness, no form, No feeling, thought, or choice, No r is there consciousne ss.

No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind; No co lour, sound, smell, taste, touch, Or w hat the m ind takes hold of, Nor even act of sensing.

No ignora nce o r end of it, Nor all that comes of ignorance; No withering, no death, No end of them.

Nor is there pain, or cause of pain, Or c ease in pain, o r nob le path To lead from p ain; Not even wisdom to attain! Attainment too is emptiness.

So know that the Bodhisattva Holding to nothing whatever, But dwelling in Prajna wisdom, Is freed of delusive hindrance, Rid o f the fear b red b y it, And reaches clearest Nirvana.

All B udd has of past an d present, Buddhas of future time, Using this Prajna wisdom, Come to full and perfect vision.

He ar then the grea t dhara ni, The radiant peerless mantra, Th e Prajnap aram ita W hose words allay all pain; Hear and be lieve its truth! Gate Gate Pa ragate Parasamgate Bod hi Svaha Gate Gate Pa ragate Parasamgate Bod hi Svaha Gate Gate Pa ragate Parasamgate Bod hi Svaha Transference of Merit and Self-Surrender May the merit gained In my acting thus Go to the alleviation of the suffering of all beings.

M y personality througho ut my existences, M y possessions, And m y merit in all three ways, I give up withou t regard to myse lf For the b enefit of all beings.

Just as the earth and o ther elemen ts Are se rvicea ble in m any wa ys To the infinite number of beings Inhabiting limitless space; So may I become That which maintains all beings Situated throughout space, So long as all have not attained To peace.

The Section on Hap piness "Happy indeed we live, friendly amid the hateful... (and the whole chapter up to) ....the ideal man, the truly wise as the mo on follows the path o f the stars." W ell with those wo rds o f the B udd ha from the D ham map ada we co me to the pu blic ordina tions, as w e call them. I said a few words at the beginning of the week about the significance of the private ordination, stressing that it represented one's individual, even solitary going forth from the group, going forth which one was p repa red to unde rtake e ven if no bod y else too k that step .

W ell today we see, so to speak, the other side of that coin. And the other side of the coin consists in the fact that tho ugh o ne wa s read y, though one w as pre pare d to go it alone, fo rtunately and h app ily one d oesn 't in fact have to go it altogether alone. One has to still go it alone in the sense that as this last chapter of the Dhamm apada stressed we ourselves have to make the effort, but we make the effort in company with others who are also making the effort, who have also gone forth, who have also taken Refuge, who are also trying to be individ uals, who are also trying to be idea l men.

So that fact is represented by the public ordination. That is in fact the public ordination. Having taken the step of going for refuge alone, having perhaps sort of closed your eyes and just taken that step almost in the dark, when you ope n your eyes you find yo urself surrounded by a whole ho st of peop le who have also taken that step, so that by virtue of taking that step as an individual you become a member of a spiritual com munity o f individuals, or at least of tho se who are asp iring to ind ividua lity.

So this is what is happening this morning, in the case of those who've had their private ordination, they're as it were opening their eyes and looking round and finding themselves in the midst of the spiritual com munity, in the midst o f the sang ha.

So I'm going to ask them now to come forward one by one. I think they'll come forward in their order of former mitra senior ity and m ake the tradition al offering s.

First of all the flower, representing impermanence. The flower represents impermanence for obvious reaso ns because as pro bab ly the org aniser k now s better than an ybod y else flow ers do n't last very lo ng.

They have to be replaced and renewe d. So one could say that the understanding of impermanence ...

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