I got to the Tibetan centre early today before the time I had arranged for my refuge ceremony, so that I’d have time for a hot drink and a bit of meditation to get me in the right headspace for the ceremony itself. I made myself a cup of peppermint tea. I don’t know why, but for some reason I must have mentally associated peppermint with Buddhism, because I rarely drink it except at Buddhist centres!
I headed into the shrine room (pictured above) with my offering and my khata and sat in silence for a while, meditating and contemplating the major step I was about to take. I had no doubts; I knew this was the right thing to do, the direction I wanted my life to take.
When the Lama came in, he and I were the only people present.
I prostrated three times to the Buddha, then knelt on one knee before the Lama, who led me through my refuge vow in call-and-response Tibetan. (He explained what it meant in English too, but I actually said the vow in Tibetan.) I repeated the vow three times using my birth name, then three more times using the new Dharma name that I had been given. At that point the Lama clicked his fingers, and I was now officially a Buddhist. He then cut a bit of my hair from the crown of my head to offer to the shrine.
I then resumed my seat and Lama gave me some instructions and explanation of the commitment I had made, and what would be expected of me.
So, to cut a long story short, I am now a Buddhist officially as well as by practice. A Tibetan Buddhist at that, in the Karma Kagyu lineage, although I also fully intend to keep up my connection with the Triratna tradition as well.