The Three Jewels

After Shakyamuni attained enlightenment, he became aware of something profound, yet subtle – what we call the “real nature of all things.” Overcoming his doubts about whether anyone would understand, he set out to teach the path to spiritual liberation. His first teaching was to the five ascetics with whom he had trained. They became his first converts and thus the first members of the Buddhist community. This was the beginning of the “Three Jewels” of Buddhism: Buddha (Buddhahood), the teachings (referred to as “Dharma”), and the community of the faithful (Sangha). These three essential and inseparable elements of Buddhist practice are exemplified by one of the most common Buddhist chants, the “Threefold Refuge” (Tisarana):

Buddham saranam gacchami
          (In Buddha I take refuge)
Dhamman saranam gacchami
          (In Dharma I take refuge)
Sangham saranam gacchami
          (In Sangha I take refuge)


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