trois-joyaux

Becoming a Buddhist means taking refuge in the Three Jewels

The three jewels in Buddhism

Also called the Three Treasures or the Three Refuges. Are the Buddha (the Master), the Dharma (the Teaching) and the Sangha (the Buddhist Community)

In Buddhism, instead of looking for an external savior like Christianity, Buddhists believe that one can take refuge within oneself.

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The word refuge refers to a place of refuge and protection from danger. What danger? We seek shelter from the passions that shake us, from the feeling of distress and brokenness, from pain and suffering, from the fear of death.

The implication is that by finding my home in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, I can free myself from blind conditioning and realize the true nature, with sincerity and commitment.

As it is said in Zen, “I take refuge in the Buddha, wishing that all sentient beings will deeply understand the great Way and take the greatest resolve.

I take refuge in the Dharma, wishing that all sentient beings delve deep into Satori (enlightenment), which makes their wisdom as broad as the sea. I take refuge in the sangha, wishing that all sentient beings sensitive people lead the congregation in harmony, without obstruction."

Theravada teacher Bhikkhu Bodhi said:

"The teaching of the Buddha can be considered as a kind of building with its own foundations, floors, stairs and roof. Like any other building, the teaching also has a door, and to enter it we we have to go through this door.

The gateway to the Buddha's teaching is the path of refuge - that is, to the Buddha as a fully enlightened master, to the Dharma as the truth taught by him, and towards the Sangha as a community of his noble disciples."

Buddhists take refuge in three different expressions of the awakened mind:

  1. Buddha
  2. Dharma
  3. Sangha

Each of them is a valuable and necessary part of the Buddhist path, which is why they are called the three jewels.

  • 1. Buddha: The Teacher

Sangha Dharma bouddha

This refers, first of all, to the historical Buddha, the original master. He was not a god but a human being like us, and his example shows us that we too can follow the path to enlightenment.

More broadly, the Buddha principle refers to all teachers and enlightened beings who inspire and guide us.

  • 2. Dharma: The Teachings

Sangha Dharma buddha

The Buddhist dharma begins with the fundamental truths that the Buddha himself taught - the four noble truths, the three marks of existence, the eightfold path, etc. - and includes the vast body of Buddhist teachings that have been developed in the intervening 2,600 years.

It is interesting to note that the Sanskrit word dharma also means a thing or object in the conventional sense of the term. In both cases, the word designates a fundamental law or the truth of reality.

  • 3. Sangha: The Community

Sangha Dharma buddha

The term sangha traditionally refers to the monasteries and arhats in which lay practitioners take refuge. This has changed in the West, where sangha now means the community of Buddhist practitioners in general, monastic and lay.

Buddhists also use this word to describe a specific community or group, and you will often hear people talking about "my sangha", which means the Buddhist community they belong to.

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