The Rime Center provided me with a few important things.
It was a place I could meet other Buddhists. It was a quiet place I could go meditate.
But, more importantly, it gave me the opportunity to take vows. Vows are considered an important part of Buddhist practice. When we vow to do something, we tend to take it a little more seriously, I think. Also, vows in Buddhism function as a kind of initiation.
I took Refuge Vows. This is when one formally becomes a Buddhist. I was given a Tibetan name, Kelsang Dakpa, which means fame and fortune. (I would trade that in for another name when I found my root teacher). From then on, I took the path more seriously. I didn’t think of myself as someone who was interested in Buddhism. I thought of myself as a real Buddhist.
A short time later I took a membership class and became an official member of the Rime Center. I was given a mala that was blessed by the Dalai Lama.
A little later I took Bodhisattva Vows. This is a set of vows that are designed to help us in cultivation of the six perfections: generosity, virtue, patience, diligence, wisdom, and concentration. The cultivation of the six perfections is the road to enlightenment as defined in Mahayana Buddhism.
I wish for my life to be a reflection of my desire to cultivate the six perfections. In the areas where it isn’t, that is where my work lies.