Any person can be a Buddhist. One does not have to be “born” into Buddhism nor does one’s parents have to be Buddhists. One can be from any race, country, socio-economic background, gender. People wishing to identify themselves as Buddhists typically participate in a ceremony known as taking refuge in the Triple Gem. This is the simple act of reciting the refuge verse three times before a monastic. The refuge verse expresses an individual’s confidence in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha as a means to alleviate suffering and attain buddha nature expressed through humanistic buddhism enlightenment.
In accepting the path of the Triple Gem, one also agrees to observe the Five Precepts or rules that engender good conduct:
1. To refrain from killing
2. To refrain from taking what is not given.
3. To refrain from sexual misconduct
4. To refrain from telling lies
5. To refrain from taking intoxicants.