The Triple Gem, also known as the Three Jewels, is a central concept in Buddhism and is considered the foundation of the Buddhist faith. The Triple Gem consists of:
- The Buddha: The Buddha is the enlightened teacher who discovered the path to liberation from suffering and taught it to others. He is not considered a god but a historical person who lived, attained enlightenment and passed away.
- The Dharma: The Dharma refers to the teachings of the Buddha, which provide guidance and instructions for attaining enlightenment. It includes the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, and other teachings on ethics, meditation, and wisdom.
- The Sangha: The Sangha refers to the community of Buddhist practitioners, including both monastics and laypeople. The Sangha is considered essential for spiritual development, providing support and guidance for the practitioner.
Taking refuge in the Triple Gem means that one recognizes and respects the Buddha as a teacher, the Dharma as the path to liberation, and the Sangha as a community of fellow practitioners, and it is considered the first step on the Buddhist path. By taking refuge in the Triple Gem, one commits to following the Buddha’s teachings, and to the goal of attaining enlightenment.