C2B: Are there sacraments in Buddhism?

There are no sacraments in Buddhism in the sense they are found in Christianity.

There are, however, many parallels as you can see below. While most usually involve monastics, ordination is the only one that must.


Pregnant mothers will often go to a monastery and ask monks to chant a special blessing authorized by the Buddha, known as the Angulimala Paritta. Newborns are often brought to a monastery as soon as possible to have monastics chant a blessing.


When a person is very ill, they may request monastics to visit and give a sermon and chant protective verses. This was common even in the time of the Buddha. The sick person and there family may also chant on their own.


Monastics do not officiate at weddings, but couples will often go to a monastery before or after the wedding to receive advice on lay life and to listen to blessing chants.

Going for refuge and taking the precepts

Traditionally, going for refuge to the Triple Gem and undertaking the five precepts is considered conversion to Buddhism. Often lay people will recite them repeating after a monastic but it can also be done alone. This is often done every time one goes to a monastery.


After a family member or friend dies, people will often arrange an alms-giving and share merit with the departed. This is traditionally done after seven days, one month, three months, and at the year anniversary, although the schedule is not important.

Entering the monastic order

There is an official procedure established by the Budddha for novice ordination (leaving lay life) and high ordination (officially becoming a member of the monastic community). This is explained in detail in the Vinaya. This can onlybe performed by ordained monastics.


Do you join a group or become part of a “people” when you convert to Buddhism?

When you become a Buddhist, it doesn’t involve joining a group or becoming part of a “people”.

For example, when you convert to Judaism you become part of the Jewish people. When you become a Christian you are part of the body of Christ. Many Christians believe that God works specifically through the group.

In Buddhism, conversion is really a personal matter and there is no need to join a group. In traditional Buddhist countries people don’t think of themselves as members of the local temple. They have a relationship with the temple, but it is as a supporter and participant. In western countries, Buddhist temples or groups usually maintain a membership to meet legal requirements.

When a Buddhist becomes a fully ordained monastic then they become part of a group known as the Sangha. This involves an official procedure that requires members of the Sangha accepting you into the group.