What is the Triple Gem?

 

The Triple Gem is also known as the Three Jewels, the Three Treasures or the Triple Refuge

 

Triratna (Sanskrit) / Tiratna (Pali)

 

Triple Gem is the collective term used to describe Buddha, Dhamma (Pali) or Dharma (Sanskrit) and Sangha. 

 

A practicing Buddhist takes refuge in Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha and often begins their spiritual path by formally declaring this intention during a brief ceremony.

 

There are slight variations on how these Three Refuges can be defined and as such I will summarize each according to my layperson understanding/interpretation and then list a number of scholarly and more in-depth references for those who want to penetrate deeper into the teachings.  

 

Buddha fully awakened, enlightened or liberated one

 

By taking refuge in Buddha I acknowledge the existence and follow the teachings of the historical Siddartha Gautama also known as Shakyamuni.   I also seek refuge in the wisdom and teachings offered by all the Buddhas that have and will follow.  By doing so, I  recognize that all sentient beings have the potential to awaken and be liberated from suffering. 

 

Dhamma in the context of the Triple Gem, represents the teachings of a Buddha or the Law of Truth

 

By taking refuge in Dhamma I seek refuge in Truth. Truth that is not based on faith or dogma but based on my own direct inquiry and investigation into the nature of existence.

 

Sangha  a community of monks or nuns, or a group of individuals that have achieved a certain level of understanding, or can simply apply to a group of  individuals that share a common practice or set of values

 

By taking refuge in the Sangha, my intention is to share and contribute to creating a harmonious community where its members support each other in the understanding of Dhamma

 

I take refuge in Buddha
I take refuge in Dhamma
I take refuge in Sangha

 

Resources and References

 

http://www.accesstoinsight.org
http://www.buddhanet.net
http://www.vri.dhamma.org/archives/
http://www.nibbana.com/

 

May all beings be free from suffering