Refuge Ceremony for National Service Students

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Story and photos by Wong Weng Wah

Taking refuge means relying wholeheartedly on the Three Jewels of The Buddha, Dharma and Sangha to inspire and guide us toward a constructive and beneficial direction in our lives. On 3 July 2011, a Refuge Ceremony was conducted in The Great Compassion Hall (Da Bei Dian) for some 46 National Service students where 12 students formally took refuge. During the refuge ceremony, in addition to taking refuge in the Three Jewels, 4 of them voluntarily took the five precepts.

As part of their out-camp religious activity, this year’s second batch of students of the National Service Training Programme from White Resort Camp in Balik Pulau had been coming to Than Hsiang Temple to learn more about Buddhism since 29 May 2011. On that auspicious Sunday, after receiving some basic ceremonial briefing and training on the ceremony, the students stood calmly and confidently in the hall waiting for the arrival of Ven Zhen Ru, the Preceptor Master and his assistants, Ven Wu Guo, Ven Zhen Dao, Ven Zhen Ti and Ven Hui Nian.

When the cleansing ceremony started with the chanting of The Great Compassion Mantra and Heart Sutra, the hall was filled with vibrant energy. Ven Zhen Ru proceeded to explain in details the meaning of The Three Jewels and the objectives of taking refuge. The Master further elaborated on The Five Precepts and why we observe the precepts. The students were awesome and performed extraordinarily well repeating the Repentance, taking refuge in The Triple Jewels and making aspirations passages after The Master. Before the transference of merits, certificates were handed personally by The Master to the students who took the refuge and precepts. As the congregation respectfully bid farewell to the Venerables after the ceremony, the students were beaming with Dharmic Joy. Now that the students had chosen the Right Path to follow, we wish they could find peace, joy and meaning in their lives.