What is the Meaning of the Three Jewels?

A Meditation on the Three Jewels or the Triple Gem

The Buddha, Dharma and Sangha comprise the Three Jewels of life.

The Jewels serve as an important foundation for the depth of exploration into the human experience.

All three jewels matter equally.




The teachings encourage practitioners to ‘Go for Refuge’ in the Three Jewels.

Some people mistakenly translate the text as ‘Taking Refuge.’

The Buddhist tradition encourages Going for Refuge three times

I go for refuge in the Buddha, I go for refuge in the Dharma etc…..

For the second time, I go for refuge in the Buddha, Dharma  etc

For the third time, I go for refuge in the Buddha, Dharma etc.

Going for Refuge does not mean becoming a Buddhist.

Teachings encourage looking into any identity and going deeper than identity.

The Buddha

A fully Awakened One, of past, present or in the future, who teaches the Dharma.

The Buddha is not tied to a specific person in history.

Buddha is a Pali word essentially meaning ‘fully awake.’

A Buddha is fully awake (no unresolved personal issues) and teaches the Dharma, which includes the conditions for the arising of suffering and the conditions for the ending of suffering. Teachings point to ultimate truth known as Liberation, Nirvana, Emptiness of ego, the Immeasurable and other concepts.

The Buddhist tradition usually refers to ‘The Buddha’ as Gotama the Buddha (563 BCE to 483 BCE) of the Sakyan Kingdom of north India.

Gotama the Buddha gave the name Dharma (in Sanskrit and Dhamma in Pali, the language of Gotama (Gautama in Sanskrit)  to his teachings.

The Dharma

Dharma gives priority to the exploration of the human experience with an emphasis on several areas including non-violence, ethics, mindfulness, meditation, empathy, kindness, compassion, wisdom, liberation and fully waking up.

Dharma has a threefold meaning:

  • That which supports awakening
  • Teachings and practices that the Buddha taught to realise liberation through wisdom
  • Truth

The Sangha

The Noble Sangha. Men and women who have realized a profound freedom and live deeply committed to ethics and wisdom.

The Noble Ones include those who know this same freedom to explore states of mind that need insight and understanding.

The Sangha of monks/nuns/householders/travellers also includes people committed to Dharma practice,

In Buddhist countries, Sangha often refers only to monks and nuns.

At the time of the Buddha, the word Sangha also referred to any assembly of people – religious, social and political.

The Buddhist tradition often chants Three Jewels. There is no mention of this approach in the Buddha-Dharma. Chanting can contribute to peace of mind, harmony of body/mind and help a person get through painful states of mind.

We reflect and meditate on the Three Jewels to recognise their significance.

1, Being awake rather than sleepwalking through life.

2. Exploring the teachings/practices to end suffering over any situation.

3. Giving priority to Sangha, gathering of like-minded women and men who cherish ethics, mindfulness/meditation/ and wisdom.

The Buddha said (Dhammapada v.190-192)

“One who has gone for refuge To the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha,
Penetrates with transcendent wisdom the four Noble Truths.* This indeed is the safe refuge, this is the refuge Supreme. Having gone to such a refuge, one is freed from all suffering.”

*Truth of suffering. Truth of causes/conditions for suffering. Truth of freedom from suffering. Truth of the way towards freedom of suffering.

 May all beings be committed to awakening

May all beings be committed to teachings/practices that support awakening

May all beings be committed to gatherings of those committed to awakening.


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