Many endeavors in our life require aspiration, courage and wisdom as well as external supports, including friendships, which is foremost among them. The path to inner awakening is no different. Spiritual friends and guides help to inspire us and lead us to personal transformation. This is why Buddha created the Kalyanamitrita or Noble Friendship, which he emphasized as the whole of the holy life. For this very reason, we offer the Dharmata Fellowship, which creates a mandala of friendship in which I play the role of Dharma guide. The Dharmata Fellowship has many members from around the world composed of like-minded people who entered the fellowship with an aspiration of practicing the Buddhist teachings to awaken. In this way we are walking the path in the company of well-intentioned friends.
In order to enter the Fellowship, each individual takes Refuge and the Bodhisattvas vows. These ordinations are taken by those who make a sincere commitment to the Buddhist path. These are vows that non-monastics can take without need of abandoning their ordinary lifestyle or becoming a renunciant. The vows, taken from a living teacher, are a form of commitment to ourselves to practice the dharma as the means of inner awakening. They provide us with a strong foundation for our spiritual practice that leads to freedom of mind and heart.
The meaning of the refuge vow is to take refuge in the Buddha as noble guide, Dharma as the path to inner awakening, and sangha as companions on the path. The essential precept of this vow is ahimsa, nonviolence. A Bodhisattva holds the vow to be in the world and help all beings to find happiness and freedom. The essential precept of the Bodhisattva vow is to benefit all others.
If you are interested in joining the Dharmata Fellowship, please contact Kay Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org. I offer theses vows at our temple in Point Richmond, California, and after meditation retreats conducted elsewhere. If you attend one, there may be an opportunity to participate in the ordination ceremony.