Take your practice to the next level with our deep immersion Preliminary Practice Group
The Buddhist preliminaries are a set of preparatory practices that create a strong foundation for higher teachings, meditations and practices. They are geared towards targeted purification of negative karma and accumulation of merits. These are two of the most important supporting factors for successful spiritual transformation.
If you have already studied the foundations of Buddhism and wish to deepen your practice, there is no better method than to engage in the preliminary practices — such as prostrations, mandala offerings, Vajrasattva or Guru Yoga. Dharma practice is a gradual process of training the mind, and ridding ourselves of delusions and behavioural patterns that limit our potential. Practise and complete one step properly, and it will naturally lead to the next.
However, it can be a challenge to complete even one set of preliminaries (or any extended retreat) when the distractions of life beckon every day. Those of us who have been practising Buddhists for a while may have experienced this. This is where a support system and encouragement from fellow practitioners can be helpful.
“Good companionship is the whole of the spiritual path.”
– Buddha –
That’s why we’re starting a Preliminaries Practice Group + Practice Weekend Programme — to help you accumulate 100,000 of each preliminary practice to boost your spiritual transformation.
For the first leg of our journey, we’ll be focusing on the Preliminary Practice of Taking Refuge in the Three Jewels and completing the full set of 100,000. Why refuge? Simple. It’s the basis of all Buddhist practice. It provides a firm foundation on which all other practices are based. We begin by understanding the Three Jewels — the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, then we engage in the practice of taking refuge again and again. This provides the incredible conviction to put all other Dharma teachings into practice on our journey towards enlightenment.
“Buddha, Dharma and Sangha
Are the refuge for seekers of liberation.”
– The Seventy Verses on Taking Refuge –
Benefits of Taking Refuge
Before we fully immerse ourselves into the spiritual path, we need to know certain things. What are we following? Who taught the teachings? How to practise them? These are questions that should be answered before we begin. After we start however, we should ensure that we have enough faith and devotion in the answers. If we don’t, then the tide of daily life, our delusions and negative karma will take us away from our path.
This is where refuge comes in. When you build up enough faith in the Three Jewels, all other practices and methods become a breeze. In fact, no matter how difficult or arduous they seem now, they will be easy later. You will develop a joy in their practice. In fact, when you take refuge properly, you also receive the blessings necessary to be successful in your practices.
Preliminaries Practice Group + Practice Weekend Programme
The Preliminaries Practice Group primarily consists of individual practice at home. But with two additional benefits:
- Dedicated Online Practice Weekends to help you focus and accumulate recitations.
- Pastoral guidance + support throughout your entire retreat.
Practice Weekends are fully guided by our pastors to facilitate better meditation. This includes the ordinary preliminaries (meditations on the perfect human rebirth, death & impermanence, the law of karma, and the sufferings of samsara) to supplement and strengthen your practice of refuge. The first Practice Weekend includes a Kalarupa puja (done for you the night before) to clear obstacles for your preliminary, and the very first session will be done together as a group for an incredibly auspicious start!
Requirements to join the Preliminary Practice Group
- Attend ‘The Refuge Preliminary’ free live talk (click for details)
- Complete the Lamrim Level 1 course or be a member of staff for 3 years or more
- Make a commitment to complete the Refuge Preliminary (100,000 recitations) within one year
- Attend all Online Practice Weekends (see below for dates)
- Continue practising every day at home, at least one session per day. Guidance will be given if you need to travel, etc.
- Observe the Preliminary Practice Protocol throughout the entire duration of your preliminary (click for details)
- Be a Kechara Member
- Have formally taken Refuge
Practice Weekend Dates
- 16 – 17 July 2022 (Sat – Sun, Google Meet)
- 24 – 25 September 2022 (Sat – Sun, Google Meet)
- 24 – 25 December 2022 (Sat – Sun, Google Meet)
- 25 – 26 March 2023 (Sat – Sun, Google Meet)
Can’t make it for the Practice Weekends? You can still join our free live talk on the Refuge Preliminary. Click here for details.
- 9.00 am: Talk by pastor — Qualities of the Three Jewels + Refuge Visualisation
- 10.30 am: Guided session 1
- 12.00 pm: Lunch break
- 1.00 pm: Guided session 2
- 5.30 pm: Dinner break
- 6.30 pm: Guided session 3
- 9.00 pm: Good night
- 9.00 am: Talk by pastor — Continuing practice at home
- 10.00 am: Guided session 4
- 12.00 pm: Lunch break
- 1.00 pm: Guided session 5
- 4.30 pm: Q&A session
- 5.30 pm: Dinner break
- 6:30 pm: Guided session 6
- 9:00 pm: Goodbye
- Refuge Preliminary prayer text
- Kalarupa obstacle-clearing puja
- Detailed explanations of the practices
- Guided practice sessions, including ordinary preliminaries
- Dedicated online support group
- Pastor service + support for 1 year (limited to Refuge Preliminary queries)
- Commencement and final dedication led by a pastor
As a not-for-profit organisation, we do our best to make our programmes available at a reasonable rate. Your donation also supports the cost of facilities and overheads.
What to Prepare
- Mala/mantra counter
- Serkym set and teapot (for the last session of each day)
- Vajra and bell
- Personal image of H.E. Tsem Rinpoche
- Personal Buddha image
- Mandala set*
- Rice pot/container and rice
- Ritual cover (drikap)*
- A Dharma book (to read during breaks)*
- Notebook and pen
- Water tumbler
- Comfortable clothing that allows you to sit cross-legged on a meditation cushion
- A shawl or sweater in case you feel cold
* OPTIONAL BUT RECOMMENDED
Preliminary Practice Protocol
- Choose a personal Buddha image. This will be the focus of your preliminary practice. It can be a framed picture, statue, tsatsa, etc of any Buddha. It should be 18” or less in height. If you need to travel for emergencies during the preliminary period, you will need to bring this image with you.
- Set up a retreat altar at home. This can be a standalone altar or part of your main altar. The altar should include:
- Your chosen Buddha image
- A Dharma text
- A stupa
- Two rows of sensory offerings
- One row of water offerings
- Other deity images and offerings can be added according to your wish.
- Your altar should be set up BEFORE attending the first Practice Weekend.
- Set up your seat. This should be placed in front of your altar. It includes printing out a swastika and placing kusha grass (or similar) on it. Place this under your seat. DO NOT move your seat for the entire duration of your preliminary. Be mindful not to step over your seat or place items on it.
- Your seat should be set up BEFORE attending the first Practice Weekend.
- Set up your practice table. This should be placed in front of your seat. The table should have enough space to hold your ritual implements, prayer text and other necessary items.
- Your table should be set up BEFORE attending the first Practice Weekend.
- There are no dietary requirements to engage in the Refuge Preliminary. However, you may wish to observe a Buddhist diet, avoiding dairy (milk, butter, cheese, etc) and black foods (meat, fish, eggs, onions and garlic) throughout the duration of the preliminary.
- Continue your practice at home every day. You must complete at least one preliminary session per day without break until you have reached the accumulated total of 100,000 refuge recitations.
- Abstain from non-virtuous actions including consuming alcohol, idle chatter and lying throughout the duration of the preliminary.
- You’re encouraged to engage in Dharma activities during your free time in between practice sessions such as reading Dharma books, doing Dharma work, attending Dharma classes, circumambulating, making offerings at holy sites, and engaging in prostrations.
- Focus on your preliminary practice. Although there are no lifestyle restrictions, you’re encouraged to minimise social engagements, unnecessary travel, holidays, etc. for the duration of your preliminary. If you need to travel for work or other purposes, we will guide you on the correct protocol. Bear in mind that you must complete one session a day even if you are traveling.
Important Notes for the Practice Weekend
- To enhance your experience, you’re encouraged to minimise the distractions of daily life during the Practice Weekends. This includes using electronic devices such as mobile phones, tablets, and laptops.
- Cancellation Policy: A partial refund will be issued for cancellations made at least five working days before the practice weekend date. An administration fee of RM30 will be charged. No refunds will be issued for cancellations made less than five days before the start date.
- The management reserves the right to amend the programme and/or revise prices without prior notice.
Free Live Talk: The Refuge Preliminary
Join our pastors for a FREE LIVE TALK to discover the Preliminary Practice of Taking Refuge. If you want to join the Preliminary Practice Group, this talk is one of the pre-requisites!
- 29 May 2022 (Sun)
- 3.00 pm – 5.00 pm
- English & Chinese
During the talk, you’ll learn:
- What the preliminary practices are
- The benefits of common + uncommon preliminaries
- The correct way to Take Refuge
- The benefits of the Refuge Preliminary
- How to engage in the Refuge Preliminary
- What to expect during Preliminary Practice
- What our Preliminaries Practice Group + Practice Weekend Programme is all about
Zoom link will be sent to you a day before the talk. If you can’t make the time, register anyway and we’ll send you a replay of the session. Registration closes 28 May 2022, 12.00 am (GMT +8).