Refuge (Buddhism)

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Gautama Buddha delivering his first sermon in the deer park at Sarnath, Varanasi with his right hand turning the Dharmachakra, resting on the Triratna symbol flanked on either side by a deer. Statue on display at the Prince of Wales museum in Mumbai.

Buddhists take refuge in the Three Jewels or Triple Gem (also known as the "Three Refuges").

The Three Jewels are: 

  • the Buddha, the fully enlightened one
  • the Dharma, the teachings expounded by the Buddha
  • the Sangha, the monastic order of Buddhism that practise the Dharma

Refuge is common to all major schools of Buddhism. Pali texts employ the Brahmanical motif of the triple refuge, found in Rig Veda 9.97.47, Rig Veda 6.46.9 and Chandogya Upanishad 2.22.3-4.[1]

Faith (saddha)[edit]

Veneration of the Three Jewels, Chorasan, Gandhara, 2nd century AD, schist - Ethnological Museum of Berlin.

Faith is an important teaching element in both Theravada and Mahayana traditions. In contrast to perceived Western notions of faith, faith in Buddhism arises from accumulated experience and reasoning.

In the Kalama Sutra, the Buddha explicitly argues against simply following authority or tradition, particularly those of religions contemporary to the Buddha's time.[2] There remains value for a degree of trusting confidence and belief in Buddhism, primarily in the spiritual attainment and salvation or enlightenment. Faith in Buddhism centres on belief in the Three Jewels.

Precepts[edit]

For someone who wishes to study and practice Buddhism, the five ethical precepts encouraged are to voluntarily undertake the practice to:

  1. refrain from killing.[3][4][5]
  2. refrain from stealing.[6][7][8]
  3. refrain from lying.[9][10][11]
  4. refrain from consuming intoxicants.[12][13][14]
  5. refrain from improper sexual conduct.[15][16][17]

Note: The precepts may be listed in order of the gravity of harmful actions guarded against. Improper sexual conduct can roughly mean 'hurtful or harmful' sexual conduct.

For those interested in slightly more advanced practices, on full moon, new moon, and sometimes other quarter moon days, it is encouraged to undertake the eight ethical precepts, which also includes:

  1. refrain from eating after noon[18][19][20]
  2. refrain from singing, dancing, music, watching entertainment, wearing jewelry, using perfumes and colognes, and wearing make-up.[21][22][23]
  3. refrain from sleeping on high and luxurious beddings[24][25][26]

Wording[edit]

Sanskrit version:

बुद्धं शरणं गच्छामि।
धर्मं शरणं गच्छामि।
संघं शरणं गच्छामि।
Buddhaṃ śaraṇaṃ gacchāmi.
Dharmaṃ śaraṇaṃ gacchāmi.
Saṃghaṃ śaraṇaṃ gacchāmi.
I take refuge in the Buddha.
I take refuge in the Dharma.
I take refuge in the Sangha.

Pāli (Theravāda) version:

बुद्धं सरणं गच्छामि।
धम्मं सरणं गच्छामि।
सङ्घं सरणं गच्छामि।
Buddhaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi.
Dhammaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi.
Saṅghaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi.
I go to the Buddha for refuge.
I go to the Dhamma for refuge.
I go to the Sangha for refuge.

Khmer characters:

ពុទ្ធំ សរណំ គច្ឆាមិ ។
ធម្មំ សរណំ គច្ឆាមិ ។
សង្ឃំ សរណំ គច្ឆាមិ ។
To the Buddha for refuge I go
To the Dharma for refuge I go
To the Sangha for refuge I go

Uyghur version:

Namo but.
Namo dram.
Namo sang.

Chinese version:

南無皈依佛
南無皈依法
南無皈依僧
To the Buddha for refuge I go.
To the Dharma for refuge I go.
To the Sangha for refuge I go.

However, some substitute the above with a (Mahāyāna) version taken from the Avatamsaka Sutra which reads:

自皈依佛,當願眾生,體解大道,發無上心。
(I take refuge in the Buddha, wishing for all sentient beings to understand the great way and make the greatest vow.)
自皈依法,當願眾生,深入經藏,智慧如海。
(I take refuge in the Dharma, wishing for all sentient beings to deeply delve into the Sutra Pitaka, gaining an ocean of knowledge.)
自皈依僧,當願眾生,統理大眾,一切無礙。
(I take refuge in the Sangha, wishing all sentient beings to lead the congregation in harmony, entirely without obstruction.)

Tibetan : The basic refuge in Tibetan is:

སངས་རྒྱས་ལ་སྐྱབས་སུ་མཆིའོ།
ཆོས་ལ་སྐྱབས་སུ་མཆིའོ།
དགེ་འདུན་ལ་སྐྱབས་སུ་མཆིའོ།
Sang-gyé la kyap-su chio (I go for refuge to the Buddha)
Chö la kyap-su chio (I go for refuge to the Dharma)
Gendün la kyap-su chio (I go for refuge to the Sangha)

A Mahayana refuge in Tibetan:

སངས་རྒྱས་ཆོས་དང་ཚོགས་ཀྱི་མཆོག་རྣམས་ལ།
བྱང་ཆུབ་བར་དུ་སྐྱབས་སུ་མཆི།
བདག་གིས་སྦྱིན་སོགས་བགྱི་པ་འདི་དག་གིས།
འགྲོ་ལ་ཕན་ཕྱིར་སངས་རྒྱས་འགྲུབ་པར་ཤོག
Sang gyé chö dang tsok kyi chok nam la
Jang chup bar du kyap su chi
Dak gi jin sok gyi pa di dak gi
Dro la pen chir sang gyé drup par shok
In the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha most excellent,
I take refuge until enlightenment.
By the merit of generosity and so on,
May I achieve Buddhahood to benefit all sentient beings.

Three Roots[edit]

Symbol of the Three Jewels

In Tibetan Buddhism there are three refuge formulations, the Outer, Inner, and Secret forms of the Three Jewels. The 'Outer' form is the 'Triple Gem', (Sanskrit:triratna), the 'Inner' is the Three Roots and the 'Secret' form is the 'Three Bodies' or trikaya of a Buddha. These alternative refuge formulations are employed by those undertaking Deity Yoga and other tantric practices within the Tibetan Buddhist Vajrayana tradition as a means of recognizing Buddha Nature.

  Tibetan Buddhist Refuge Formulations
Outer or 'Three Jewels' Buddha Dharma Sangha
Inner or 'Three Roots' Lama (Guru) Yidam (Ista-devata) Khandroma (Dakini)[27]
Secret or 'Trikaya' Dharmakaya Sambhogakaya Nirmanakaya
Three Vajras Mind Speech Body
seed syllable blue hum red ah white om

Three refuge motivation levels are: 1) suffering rebirth's fear motivates with the idea of happiness, 2) knowing rebirth won’t bring freedoms motivates attaining nirvana, while 3) seeing other’s suffering motivates establishing them all in Buddhahood.[28] Happiness is temporary, lifetimes are impermanent and ultimately refuge is taken until reaching unsurpassed awakening.[29][clarification needed]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Shults, Brett (May 2014). "On the Buddha’s Use of Some Brahmanical Motifs in Pali Texts". Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies. 6: 119. 
  2. ^ "Kalama Sutta, The Buddha's Charter of Free Inquiry" by Soma Thera
  3. ^ http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sila/atthasila.html
  4. ^ http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nanavara/uposatha.html
  5. ^ http://en.dhammadana.org/dhamma/practice/8_precepts.htm
  6. ^ http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sila/atthasila.html
  7. ^ http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nanavara/uposatha.html
  8. ^ http://en.dhammadana.org/dhamma/practice/8_precepts.htm
  9. ^ http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sila/atthasila.html
  10. ^ http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nanavara/uposatha.html
  11. ^ http://en.dhammadana.org/dhamma/practice/8_precepts.htm
  12. ^ http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sila/atthasila.html
  13. ^ http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nanavara/uposatha.html
  14. ^ http://en.dhammadana.org/dhamma/practice/8_precepts.htm
  15. ^ http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sila/atthasila.html
  16. ^ http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nanavara/uposatha.html
  17. ^ http://en.dhammadana.org/dhamma/practice/8_precepts.htm
  18. ^ http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sila/atthasila.html
  19. ^ http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nanavara/uposatha.html
  20. ^ http://en.dhammadana.org/dhamma/practice/8_precepts.htm
  21. ^ http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sila/atthasila.html
  22. ^ http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nanavara/uposatha.html
  23. ^ http://en.dhammadana.org/dhamma/practice/8_precepts.htm
  24. ^ http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sila/atthasila.html
  25. ^ http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nanavara/uposatha.html
  26. ^ http://en.dhammadana.org/dhamma/practice/8_precepts.htm
  27. ^ In Sarma traditions, this root is the Chokyong (Skt: dharmapāla, Wylie: chos-kyong)
  28. ^ Rinpoche, Patrul. Words of My Perfect Teacher: A Complete Translation of a Classic Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism (Sacred Literature) (2011 ed.). Yale University Press. pp. 176–177. ISBN 0300165323. 
  29. ^ Dorje, Choying Tobden; Zangpo, Ngawang (June 2, 2015). The Complete Nyingma Tradition from Sutra to Tantra, Books 1 to 10: Foundations of the Buddhist Path (First ed.). Snow Lion. pp. 224–227. ISBN 1559394358. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]