Program Details

The Six Paramitas and Refuge/Bodhisattva Vows

with Gaylon Ferguson
January 11 / 7:00 PM - January 13 / 8:00 PM

The Sanskrit word paramita means to cross over to the other shore. Paramita may also be translated as perfection, perfect realization, or reaching beyond limitation. Through the practice of these six paramitas, we cross over the sea of suffering (samsara) to the shore of happiness and awakening (Nirvana); we cross over from ignorance and delusion to enlightenment. Each of the six paramitas is an enlightened quality of the heart, a glorious virtue or attribute—the innate seed of perfect realization within us. The paramitas — generosity, discipline, patience, exertion, meditation and wisdom — are the very essence of our true nature. However, since these enlightened qualities of the heart have become obscured by delusion, selfishness, and other habitual tendencies, we must develop these potential qualities and bring them into expression. In this way, the six paramitas are an inner cultivation, a daily practice for wise, compassionate, loving, and enlightened living.

This program will combine meditation, contemplation, experiential exercises, discussion, and talks by the teacher so that students may discover a personal connection to these profound heart practices. The weekend culminates in vow ceremonies for those wishing to take refuge or the boddhisattva vow. (But the weekend course is open to everyone whether you are taking a vow or not.) Please note that those taking vows should plan to attend Friday evening. For those not taking vows, the program begins Saturday morning.

Refuge Vow

By taking refuge we commit ourselves to freedom. Having exhausted our strategies of distraction, denial, and escapism, we find that learning to experience reality directly through the path of meditation is a life-affirming choice.

"The discipline of based on a sympathetic attitude toward our situation. To work on ourselves is really only possible when there are no sidetracks, no exits." Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche

The refuge vow marks the decision to commit oneself wholeheartedly to the Buddhist path and to further one's practice and training. It is the formal commitment to being a Buddhist, following the example of the Buddha Shakyamuni, his teachings (the dharma) and joining the community (sangha) of fellow practitioners.

Read  what Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche says about taking refuge.
Read  what Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche says about taking refuge.

It is open to anyone who sincerely wants to do it as long as they have studied and practised for a while and understand what it means to take the vow. Those taking the vow may bring guests.

Some preparations are required:

Participants are encouraged to meet with their meditation instructor and have studied the Refuge Vow Sourcebook, which contains suggested readings. It can be ordered here or purchased at the centre. Please contact Helmfried Muller to express your interest in taking the Refuge Vow. He can also provide you with the Refuge Vow Sourcebook ($17) or other study materials.

Bodhisattva Vow

The bodhisattva vow is further commitment to put others before oneself and to work wholeheartedly for their benefit. The basis of this vow is the aspiration to develop friendliness, compassion, and genuine insight through the practice of the six paramitas and to undertake the view and practice of the mahayana. To take this vow, you should have taken refuge at least six months prior.

For those taking vows, there will be meetings with the teacher on Friday night. A teacher’s gift is also appropriate. Please contact Helmfried Muller for more information.

Archarya Gaylon Ferguson

Gaylon Ferguson grew up on a farm in strictly segregated East Texas. After moving east to graduate from the Phillips Exeter Academy, he studied philosophy and psychology at Yale University. There, Gaylon encountered D.T. Suzuki who confirmed "that it's not possible to learn Buddhist meditation entirely from a book." He dropped his studies and took up work on a radical Catholic fruit farm near Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Soon after reading Meditation in Action, Gaylon heard the Vidyadhara teach several summer seminars in Vermont. In 1973, after giving a "particularly panic-stricken and disorganized " open house talk, Gaylon joined Tail of the Tiger Buddhist Community (now Karme Choling) where he worked in the garden, set the tractor on fire, and took people into retreat. After attending the 1975 Vajradhatu Seminary, Gaylon taught briefly at The Naropa Institute, led a dathun at the now deceased Padma Jong, and finally returned to Karme Choling, first as a staff member in the practice and study department, and then as Executive Co-director. In 1979, Gaylon journeyed west again to serve as teacher-in-residence for the Berkeley Dharmadhatu and in 1983, he joined the Office of Three Yana Studies in Boulder. Last summer, he taught View and Practice of the Buddhadharma at the 1999 Vajradhatu Seminary.

Gaylon returned to Yale in 1987 to finish his undergraduate degree, this time in African Studies. In 1994, he was a Fulbright Fellow to Nigeria and completed a doctoral degree in cultural anthropology at Stanford University two years later. After several years teaching cultural anthropology at the University of Washington, Gaylon moved to Karme Choling as teacher in residence through 2005. For the Spring Semester of 2006, Acharya Ferguson was Visiting Professor in Religious Studies at Naropa University. His article, "Making Friends with Ourselves" (from the collection Dharma, Color, and Culture) was selected for inclusion in The Best Buddhist Writing: 2005.

"Natural Wakefulness - Discovering the Wisdom We are Born With" with foreword by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.


Note: This schedule, like life, is subject to change. If you cannot afford to pay the full program fee, see our generosity policy.

Please register for this program in advance by clicking on the "Click here to register" link below. After filling out the online registration form, you will have the option of paying online through PayPal using your credit card or PayPal account. If you prefer not to pay online, you can pay by cash or cheque at the beginning of the program.

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