January 25 : Taking Refuge in the Three Jewels

Bound himself in the jail of cyclic existence, what worldly god can give you protection? Therefore, when you seek refuge, take refuge in the Three Jewels which will not betray you. This is the practice of Bodhisattvas. 

In Buddhism, we take refuge in the Three Jewels: The Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Refuge is important to consider. The Buddha, who broke free from cyclic existence, can show us the way to awakening. The Dharma is the actual refuge, the true path, and the true cessation of suffering that, when actualised, frees our mind and turns it into our refuge. We take refuge in the Arya Sangha, those beings that have directly realised emptiness. Sangha in the conventional sense refers to a community of four or more monastics. 

Sometimes in the West people use the term Sangha to refer to anybody who goes to a Buddhist centre. The latter usage is particularly confusing because people who attend Buddhist centres are not necessarily Buddhists and may not have taken the five lay precepts. The Sangha we take refuge in is special — those with actual realisations, who are represented by the monastic community. 

We can be sure that the Three Jewels will not betray us because compassion is what propelled the Buddha to realise the nature of reality, and he has absolutely no self-centred motivation to harm, mislead or manipulate us. However, chances are great that we will be misled by worldly gods, spirits, or psychics. It is funny how concerned we get when a fortune-teller tells us some bad karma is about to ripen and immediately do purification practices, but there is no rush when the Buddha tells us the same thing. It is important to learn about the qualities of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha so our faith in them becomes stable. We should know what we believe in and why we believe it after having examined the teachings and gained conviction. Otherwise, somebody else might come along and teach something that sounds good, and we will end up as followers of the next Jim Jones. 

“365 Gems of Wisdom” First Volume (January — March) e-book is out now!