A question about the refuge

Hello everybody.
I have started reading about Buddhism quite recently and am a total newbie. The idea is I live in Moscow and the autocratic power of the orthodox Christianity here is very strong, so Moscow doesn’t have even a single Buddhist temple at all. The more I read suttas the more I understand that (though I don’t personally believe in reincarnation) practicing Buddhism really makes a person happier and makes a person better and kinder. I read that when a person accepts Buddhism as his way of seeing things he asks for a refuge. Could anybody let me know, whether it is possible to do so today? Especially distantly, because I don’t think there are good conditions for such thing here in Moscow. Sorry guyz it is most probably a totally dumb question, but I don’t know how and where else to ask.


although i personally don’t think it’s an absolute prerequisite for self-identification as a Buddhist and for following the Dhamma, there’s a formal ceremony of taking the refuge conducted in the presence of an ordained monk

Here the process is described in greater detail

so if you’re interested in a formal method there’re a few ordained Russian Theravada monks living either in Moscow or in Saint Petersburg who may want to assist you

and they frequently post on http://www.forum.theravada.ru/

as a sidenote, following Christianity faithfully too has a great potential of making one happier, better and kinder, so maybe the motives of going for refuge are worth being given a consideration


Firstly my friend let me say that even here in America I was the only Buddhist I knew in my daily life for nearly a decade until I actually moved to a monastery, and to get to the nearest Theravada monasteries was a multiple hour long drive for me. So more people around the world are in the same boat as you then you realize, in dozens of countries.

Secondly I think LXNDR made a good post with all those links. I would just like to add that no one GIVES you the refuge and the precepts, you accept them, you take them on, as part of your overall practice of Dhamma.

If you wanted to and felt you were ready, right now you could begin to live with the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha as your refuge, you don’t even have to chant any fancy words, this is about taking on a new way of life, a new path of practice, with the triple gem being the guide on that path.

I still remember when I first took the refuge and precepts. I went to the closest monastery and knelt down for 45 minutes while they went through the ceremony in Chinese… then magically I was a “Buddhist” haha.

of course I had no idea what they said the whole ceremony, but I had prepared myself to take on the refuge and understand the precepts before the ritual, the ritual was the outward sign, the refuge is internal.

when you follow the path laid out by the Buddha, and practice in accordance with the Dhamma you are taking refuge.


Hello skfir,

Let me recommend you to attend Moscow Theravada community

You may as well take refuge on your own, but laypeople and monks in this community would help you better.

Good luck! Удачи!



Don’t worry about temples… Two temples are coming to you :wink: .

It is actually Rebirth ; Not reincarnation.

Try this PDF to understand it ; www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh167.pdf

Refuge isn’t " help " at all.
Eg: I take refuge in my teacher for exam.

Like Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha…


i’m pretty sure these are gonna be, if ever, Tibetan Buddhist temples, as this is the school traditionally practiced by nationalities living in the Russian part of Asia, and that’s what the name of the chairwoman of Moscow’s Buddhist Society mentioned in the article points at
so after all maybe not a viable option for a person leaning towards Theravada

My friends! Thank you all deeply for all the answers and links. Telling you the truth, my approaching Buddhism happened very unexpectedly. I have always been an atheist. I am of a scientific background, a doctor of Musical Arts, pianist and electronic developer and I never really believed in any deity or something. Some time ago I just felt all the apparent futility of living, seeking wealth, power. I understood that everything we love or have we will lose, that inevitably everything will age, perish and die. That nothing can really be retained or kept. Such things… I couldn’t understand what to do, once I understood all that I couldn’t pretend anymore that it all didn’t happen. I couldn’t just forget about it and live as before. I didn’t know what to do, just everything looked as if there was no any solution, no way out, nothing. I lived like in hell, day after day for years. And quite incidentally, I was simply looking for some breath holding exercises and somehow found myself on the accesstoinsight.org And I started reading at random and found out that everything I felt was not really a problem in my head, but that all that had been known several thousand years before my birth! Oh my!! It was like a glue that finally put together all those random pieces of thoughts I had and I am very happy that such coincidence that I found Buddhism just all of a sudden, searching for something totally different, has taken place! What a luck. Unbelievable. I don’t know… Sorry for such a messy post, I just don’t know how else I can explain all that. According to what I read here, for me, refuge in Three Gems is enough. I would gladly take the formal lay refuge, given by an ordained person, but I don’t really want it do be some random person, whom I haven’t seen and whom I don’t know. So I will wait until I met a person, whom I really feel I trust. I was just afraid that since I was so new to all this, I might get lost or something. But after all, I read suttas and there are so many great people here apparently, so if I get a question I can always ask for advice, right? Thank you all people, really. What a lucky coincidence!


having read @skfir’s post i think i just experienced mudita


and we all remembered why


@skfir @ LYNDRX
Ah yes, beautiful

Welcome to theravada.ru website, the major comminity of Theravada buddhists in Russia.

If you don’t mind, I will tell my story, which is somewhat similar to yours. I was born and lived in Russia my whole life till I moved to Germany two and a half years ago. Being born in a small town north of Moscow, I didn’t have any access to any Buddhist temples or even communities whatsoever, and I didn’t even have any PC or access to the Internet till I was 18. Still, I felt some deep interest in the Buddhist teaching, particularly in Theravada, even though the only more or less detailed sources I could use were my kid encyclopaedia of world religions and a couple of books I accidentally found in an unexpectedly awesome bookstore not far from my house.

When I finally got access to the Internet, I devoured so many books about Theravada, I listened to any Dhamma talks I could find and was a firm believer in the truth of Abhidhamma. Being young and dumb, I had some pretty dumb ideas about the Dhamma and how well I understood it and, unfortunately, was even stupid enough to share my ideas with other people out there. Then, after this brief initial surge of activity, I kinda lost interest till my Grandpa died. He lived with us, and his death was not an easy one. It took him a whole weak to finally pass away, and I will never forget the horrible sound of his rattling breathing resonating in our apartment. I even went to sleep in my Mum’s bed because my room was next to his and I just couldn’t stand the idea of spending the night there. However, his death propelled me into studying Suttas more and more and abandoning some of my previous somewhat naive views.

Unfortunately, as time passed, I began to doubt the truth of the Buddha’s worth, as his depiction in the Suttas and some ideas in the Canon were a bit hard to digest for me back then. I started identifying as a hardcore atheist till I moved to Germany. Here, I experienced what I now consider to be my epiphany. I drank quite a lot of coffee as I had to work that evening and was sleepy as heck - which explains where I got thee weird ideas from - and then, sitting in a tram going to my dormitory, i suddenly realized that one day I am going to die, and if my atheist ideas are true, I will be no more. There is going to be no black abyss, no deep sleep, no, not even that, I will just perish and will soon be forgotten. My whole family, whole Humanity, whole planet, our entire Unvierse will perish and there will be no traces of us anywhere. And that got me thinking.

I don’t know how long I am staying in Germany. It is quite possible I am coming back to Russia this year, and, since I live in the Moscow region, it is possible we’ll be able to maintain contact there.

By the way, I don’t quite understand why you don’t want to go to a Tibetan temple. I mean, if you are not going to delve in the murky depths of Dzogchen and just want to take your precepts or pay homage to the Buddha, why not do it there? What does it matter it is not a Theravadin temple?


It you are interested, Bhante Topper make some lectures in Moscow, when he visit, you can find his contacts in facebook or vkontakte social webs. We not just take our precepts or pay homage to the Buddha, we also learn Buddha teaching, as it was given is early suttas, and trying to develop at least right views for begining to to attain eightfold path and move on to next steps. And finally Dzogchen in totally different religion.


Yes, bhante, I agree, but that way exactly my point. If skfir doesn’t really want to study Dzogchen or some esoteric Tantra teachings why not just come to a gelug-pa temple (as far as In understand all Russian dedicated Buddhist temples belong to the gelug-pa lineage) and pay his respects to the Buddha and Dhamma? He can even pay homage to the Sangha there if you define it as the Community of the Eight Noble Persons. Lastly, he can even tale the refuge in the Triple Gem, why not? And whenever Bhante Topper comes to Moscow, skfir can come to the lecture to study the Dhamma, take the refuge or the Ten Precepts on an Uposatha day, etc.

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Thank you for the feedback friends. Really, why not going there. But since I will most probably move to Vietnam soon, I can go to one of the vietnamese Theravadin temples and there are quite many of them there. The Vstakan’s story is very interesting and since we are from the same country - it does remind me my own. Thank all of you once again.

Good to remember, @skfir, that we are all ‘refugees’ from the unskillful actions that surround us – many of such ‘tangles’ sadly of our own making.

I agree with Goenka that Buddha taught Dhamma (as opposed to Buddhism). “Isms” can be quite divisive, so I try to avoid any ‘my ism is better than your ism’ stuff. Robinson suggests (for the academics) that it is reasonable to talk of three Buddhism – discriminated on the basis of their canonical scriptures – Pali, Chinese, or Tibetan.

Having said that, I am personally attracted to the Pali canon. And to the sangha (and Sangha) with whom it resonates. I do suspect it has the possibility of being a bit less transformed over the last 2500 years by surrounding cultural milieus. I happily admit to that bias.

In the end it is our own heartminds that must take the journey, however. Some of it we don’t have to take alone, bless the S(s)angha. Nor has the journey never reached a conclusion, blessed be the Tathagata – thus come, thus gone. And that which is good in the beginning, good as it persists, and good as it transforms is as true today as it was so very long ago, bless the Dharma.

In those three, that triple gem, I find it increasingly appropriate to take refuge.

May all beings find their W(w)ay…