Q: Rinpoche, can you explain the meaning of Buddhists’ name we receive when we take refuge?
A: I think the most important about the name is not really that important. It’s just more like a ceremonial, because we take refuge every day. The most important is not the name, it is the symbol of making a haircut, the small haircut on the top. That is the most important symbol when you are becoming a Buddhist practitioner. But basically, you cannot say that I am becoming or I’m not, or I’m already a Buddhist. You don’t have to say any of that because we are all Buddhist. Not because that Buddha demands our devotion, it’s because that we all seek the truth.
And Buddha does not demand for your devotion. He does not demand for your love, or your kindness, or your praises to towards him. He doesn’t need any of that. He only wants you to see the truth and to continue your life with the truth and wisdom and harmony and (being) beneficial to all the sentient beings as much as possible. And that is Buddhism. It sounds simplified but it is like that at the end of the day. But to reach that few sentences of great quality understanding, you have to sacrifice and invest so much time from our side in the direction of the Buddha dharma as much as possible, right?
So the name is not really important. The most important is when you are going to take a refuge for the first time, making that haircut, that symbol gesture is very important. Because when the Buddha Shakyamuni said that ‘I want to abandon everything that is samsaric reflection, whatever the reflection of the samsara it was, I will abandon that. Therefore, from now on, I will continue with the path that is truthful and no longer distracted with the worldly things.’, right? Then he cut off his hair, and then he cleaned himself, and then he took the commitment, vow, ordain, etc. and so on and so forth.
As a practitioner, as a follower of the Lord Buddha, that’s why we do a little bit of a symbol gesture when we take a refuge, which is quite important. Receiving a name is also important, and you should receive refuge vows as many as you can, and from different masters as much as possible. Because some people they think that, ‘Oh! I received a refuge vow from this master, then maybe I am not allowed to be with other master.’ If that is the limit of Lord Buddha’s teaching, then I don’t know how we can help other people, isn’t it? So common sense sometime helps everything.
With love and respect from your Kalu Rinpoche
5th, Sep. 2018 Facebook Live