I visited Daishi Kyokai,大師教会 (the administrative center of Shingon Buddhism) in Koyasan in Nov 2017 and found out that one can participate in a refuge and precepts commitment ceremony there. It’s available everyday and cost 500 yen per person. There are 7 sessions per day and each session takes about 30 min. It’s conducted in Japanese.

Here’s the time table and you need to register at least 10 minutes in advance.

1st session – 9am, 2nd session – 10am, 3rd session – 11am, 4th session – 1pm, 5th session – 2pm, 6th session – 3pm and 7th session – 4pm.



Since Buddhism does not work by blind faith, this ceremony is nothing unless you conciously commit yourselves to become a Buddhist. Even if you had committed yourselves and had gone through the ceremony; your subsequent actions in life may also “disqualify” you as a Buddhist. (I’ll discuss that separately).

According to the center, anyone can participate in this ceremony. Even for those who are just there for the experience of it without any true intention of becoming a Buddhist.

There’s an English reception desk here and the lady I met is such a wonderful person, exuding an air of clamness and patience. I was the only one there when I visited.

The following is a short explanation based on my understanding. If you happen to be there on vacation and does not have refuge ceremony in your home country, then I think it will be nice experience to participate. Here’s a link to their official website.

The 1st part of the ceremony is a confession prayer.

The idea here is that we humbly acknowledge our imperfections and sincerely wish to be a better person by following the Buddha’s teachings from this point onwards.

Here’s the prayer translated into English.

All the unwholesome Karma I have committed in the past, were caused by my greed, hatred and ignorance since beginningless time.

These unwholesome karma were committed through my action, speech and thought, I hereby repent everyone of them.

Note: In Mahayana Buddhism, such repentance prayer infer karma from our previous lifes as well. Although we cannot remember what we had committed in our previous lifes, we nevertheless confess all of them in one go through reciting this prayer. The idea is an acknowledgement of our infinite past misdeeds since beginningless time. That should hopefully induce some kind of humbleness and anxiousness to start doing good immediately.

The 2nd part of the ceremony prayer is recited to state our intention and also declare that we take refuge in the Triple Gems. Here’s the translation in English.

This disciple (refering to oneself) henceforth till the end of time,

Take refuge in the Buddha

Take refuge in the Dharma

Take refuge in the Sangha

Note: Taking refuge means to rely on the triple gems as a mean of being free from suffering, to seek safety away from Samsara.

The 3rd part of the ceremony prayer is recited to “seal” our commitment. Basically it is a declaration to the world of the seen and unseen that you have already taken refuge. Your refuge is complete and without faults (we ‘ll take about the faults of refuge separately)

Here’s the translation in English.

This disciple (refering to oneself) henceforth till the end of time,

Had completely and fully taken refuge in the Buddha

Had completely and fully taken refuge in the Dharma

Had completely and fully taken refuge in the Sangha

The 4th part of the ceremony is making a commitment to observe the Buddhst precepts that are meant for lay person. It is quite similar to the 5 precepts but it contains further commitment to guard one’s mind and thoughts.

I personally believe that the power of mantra and prayers are magnified by disciples who practice the perfection of speech. Therefore in Shingon Buddhism, it is important that one must guard the precious speech well to make our mantra efficacious.

Furthermore, it is wise and important to guard our mind well. Being mindful that our heart is pure and not confused so that one does not easily fall prey to mental obstacles.

Here’s the 10 wholesome precepts translated into English

This disciple (refering to oneself) henceforth till the end of time,

3 precepts in relation to actions

  • I will not kill or harm any living beings
  • I will not take anything that is not given to me
  • I will not have sexual misconduct

4 precepts in relation to speech

  • I will not lie
  • I will not speak carelessly or engage in idle speech
  • I will not speak abusively or harshly
  • I will not speak to cause discord or disharmony

3 precepts in relation to mind

  • I will not have thoughts of greed (Greed)
  • I will not have thoughts of ill-will (Hatred)
  • I will not hold false views (Ignorance)

The next part is transmission of mantra. The ceremony master will recite mantra and you repeat after him (sorry, no translation for this part)

Last but not least is the sharing of merits with all sentient beings.

I personally, find the 10 wholesome precepts extremely meaningful. If we remind ourselves of these 10 precepts every morning and make an effort to observe them throughtout the day, we will be walking the path towards perfections and enlightenment!

Anyone can start reciting this every morning as a reminder. Yes immediately. No need to wait till you have a chance to visit Koyasan.

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