Becoming a Buddhist: Refuge in the Three Jewels

TAKING REFUGE IS THE FIRST STEP on the Buddhist Path. It is conducted as a formal ceremony during which a person officially becomes a Buddhist. It occurs for most of us as a natural outgrowth of learning about Buddhism and reflecting on what the teachings really mean to us in light of our human condition. It represents our first turning away from our own suffering in the world, and turning toward a genuine spiritual path that can be of benefit not only to ourselves but to others as well.

We take refuge in the Buddha by seeing him as the example of the sort of life we should lead in order to unfold our basic goodness and to realize freedom. We take refuge in the Dharma (the teachings of the Buddha and the experiences of truth that accompany them) by seeing them as the path that leads us to freedom. We take refuge in the Sangha (the community of practitioners) by seeing them as our companions who give us direction, feedback, friendship, and support. Refuge establishes the proper foundation for receiving teachings on and entering into practices of the Buddhist path.

Refuge teachings have been given many times at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, by many distinguished Kagyu masters. The following excerpts of actual teachings present the essence and details of refuge.