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.


Top ten words every Buddhist convert must learn

Below are some of the most important words for new Buddhists to learn. The main words are Pali. If there are more common Sanskrit equivalents, they are in parentheses.


This refers to someone who has attained enlightenment on his own and establishes a community of enlightened disciples. All the Buddhas of the past share the same nine qualities. Our Buddha is Sidhattha Gotama.

Dhamma (Dharma)

The teachings of the Buddha that lead to full enlightenment. This word is also used by other religions but has different meanings.


There are two groups that Sangha refers to. One is all of the Buddhas disciples that have attained some level of enlightenment. The other is the community of monks and nuns. The use of the word sangha to refer to any group of people who practice together is new. It is important to remember that this third group is not the group we go for refuge to.


Someone who has attained full enlightenment.

sutta (sutra)

The collected sermons, discourses and verses spoken by the Buddha and some of his enlightened disciples.

kamma (karma)

In general, kamma just means action. In the Buddha’s Dhamma it specifically refers to actions that we do intentionally by body, speech, and mind that will give a result related to the wholesome or unwholesome nature of the action.


Pali is the language that the suttas are written in. It is still used today for liturgies.


Bhante is a way to address a monk, equivalent to Reverend or Venerable. (“Yes, bhante”). It is now often used as a noun, although it is not in Pali (“Have you seen any of the bhantes?”) As well it is commonly used as a title. (Bhante Sivali)

vandana & puja

Vandana means a worship service. Puja means an offering. Since they usually happen together, the two words are used interchangeably.


Puñña means merit. It is equivalent to good kamma. Specifically the Buddha taught that merit is collected through giving, being virtuous, and by developing the mind.