The Three Treasures

The “Three Treasures” of the Buddhist tradition are the BuddhaBuddha means “awakened one” and specifically refers to Shakyamuni Buddha, also known as Siddhartha Gautama (traditional date, sixth c. BCE), the historical founder of the tradition that became known as Buddhism. All Buddhist traditions agree that ther..., the DharmaDharma means religion, religious duty, religious teaching. The word dharma comes from a Sanskrit root meaning “to uphold, support, bear,” thus dharma is that order of things which informs the whole world, from the laws of nature to the inner workings ..., and the SanghaThe Sangha is the community of monks or, more broadly, the community of Buddhists. To formally become a Buddhist, one takes refuge in the Three Treasures: the Buddha, Dharma (the Buddha’s teachings), and Sangha. In its widest sense, “sangha” refers .... Throughout the Buddhist world, Buddhists have these Three TreasuresThe Three Treasures are the central symbols of the Buddhist tradition in which one “takes refuge” in becoming a Buddhist: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. Buddha refers to Siddhartha Gautama and other enlightened ones who have awakened to the t... in common. To be a Buddhist means “taking refuge” in the Three Treasures, that is, to put one’s trust in them. Buddhists see as central to their lives the Buddha as well as enlightenmentEnlightenment means awakening to or realizing the true nature of reality. The term is used with various nuances in the Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu traditions to express the spiritual awakening that is the goal of religious life. “The Enlightenment” also... in general, the teachings of those who are enlightened, and the community that follows these teachings.

In the ancient PaliPali is an early middle-Indic language in which Buddhist texts were written. The group of Theravada Buddhist texts is collectively referred to as the Pali Canon. language the words of “taking refuge” are these:

  • Buddham saranam gacchami. “I take refuge in the Buddha.”
  • Dhammam saranam gacchami. “I take refuge in the Dharma.”
  • Sangham saranam gacchami. “I take refuge in the Sangha.”

The Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha continue to provide inspiration to Buddhists, but they are not understood in exactly the same way everywhere. A Sri Lankan TheravadaTheravada, literally “the way of the elders,” was one of the eighteen earliest sub-schools of Buddhism. Today, the term designates the various traditions of Buddhism most prominent in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia. Although these traditions differ in i... Buddhist might insist that the Buddha was a human pathfinder, nothing more. A Chinese Pure LandPure Land is a term used in the Mahayana Buddhist traditions to denote the realm under the auspices of a particular Buddha, most often referring to Sukhavati, the Land of Ultimate Bliss presided over by Amitabha Buddha. A Pure Land is an ideal place of cu... Buddhist might chant the name of AmitabhaAmitabha Buddha, called Emituofo in China and Amida in Japan, is the Buddha of “Infinite Light.” This Buddha is the main focus of devotion in the Pure Land school of Chinese Buddhism, and the Pure Land (Shin) and True Pure Land (Jodo Shinshu) schools ... Buddha, seen as the eternal Buddha of Endless Light, with a prayerPrayer is the vocal or silent address to the Divine. It may consist of fixed words, spontaneous words, or rest in silence with no words at all. Some forms of prayer are accompanied with specific postures or gestures, while others are not. to be reborn in the Pure Land after death. A Japanese Zen masterBecause the Chan (Zen) tradition eschews traditional Buddhist textual, institutional, and ethical guides for the attainment of Buddhahood, the master has a critically important role in directing his or her students along the right path. The Japanese Zen t... might shock one with the words, “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!” in recognition that grasping for the security of the Buddha creates as much suffering as any other desire.

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