Trang

THE TRIPLE JEWEL

The Buddha knew it would be difficult for people to follow his teachings on their own, so he established the Three Refuges for them to rely on. If a person wants to become Buddhists take refuge in and rely on the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. These are known as the Triple Jewel. The Sangha are the monks and nuns. They live in monasteries and carry on the Buddha's teaching. The word Sangha means 'harmonious community'. The Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha together possess qualities that are precious like jewels and can lead one to enlightenment.

 
A refuge is a place to go for safety and protection, like a shelter in a storm. Taking refuge does not mean running away from life. It means living life in a fuller, truer way.
 
Taking refuge is also like a man traveling for the first time to a distant city. He will need a guide to show him which path to follow and some traveling companions to help him along the way.
  • The Buddha is the guide.
  • The Dharma is the path.
  • The Sangha are the teachers or companions along the way.
There is a special ceremony for taking refuge with the Triple Jewel. With a sincere mind, one recites the following verse in front of an ordained monk or nun.

I go to the Buddha for refuge.
I go to the Dharma for refuge.
I go to the Sangha for refuge.
 
For a Buddhist, taking refuge is the first step on the path to enlightenment. Even if enlightenment is not achieved in this life, one has a better chance to become enlightened in a future life. One who take the precepts is called a lay person.


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Lay Follower

"Venerable Sir, to what extent is one a lay follower?"

"Jivaka, when one has gone to the Buddha for refuge, has gone to the Dhamma for refuge, and has gone to the Sangha for refuge, then to that extent is one a lay follower."

"And to what extent, venerable sir, is one a virtuous lay follower?"

"Jivaka, when one abstains from taking life, from stealing, from sexual misconduct, from lying, and from fermented and distilled drinks that lead to heedlessness, then to that extent is one a virtuous lay follower."

"And to what extent, venerable sir, is one a lay follower who practices both for his own benefit and the benefit of others?"

"Jivaka, when a lay follower himself is consummate in conviction and encourages others in the consummation of conviction; … in virtue and encourages others …; … in generosity and encourages others ….; … desires to see the monks and encourages…; … wants to hear the true Dhamma and encourages others…; …habitually remembers the Dhamma he has heard and encourages…; …explores the meaning of the Dhamma he has heard and encourages…; …knowing both the Dhamma and its meaning, practises the Dhamma in line with the Dhamma and encourages others…: then to that extent he is a lay follower who practices both for his own benefit and the benefit of others."

Anguttara Nikaya VIII.26 (Jivaka Sutta)

5 PRECEPTS

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