Becoming a Buddhist

Taking Refuge in the Three Jewels

When one begins to practise Buddhism, the first step is to ‘take refuge’ in the Three Jewels (the Buddha, his teachings and the community of buddhists). Taking refuge means relying on these Three Jewels so that they become the main focus of our lives. We take refuge when we have come to realise that the usual objects upon which we rely for happiness are not stable and cannot produce lasting freedom from suffering.

The Buddha

One takes Refuge in the historical Buddha, the supreme Teacher who lived in India 2,500 years ago. Taking Refuge in the Buddha also means relying on our own innate potential to achieve the same state of enlightenment as the Buddha.

The Dharma

The dharma is the Buddha’s teaching. The dharma provides the means of achieving the state of buddhahood. Taking Refuge in the dharma also entails having confidence in one’s own experiences of the value and effectiveness of the dharma.

The Sangha

The sangha is the Buddhist community, the spiritual companions in whose company one practises the dharma. The sangha also represents beings who have achieved great realisation and spiritual understanding by following the Buddha’s teaching.

The Lama or Guru

Whilst the teacher is important in all levels of Buddhist practice, in the Vajrayana the lama is the living embodiment of the Three Jewels of Refuge. He or she is able to transmit directly to us the liberating teachings of the Buddha and advise us on the path to enlightenment.

By taking Refuge, we start to travel the path and make a connection with the fundamental reality of the awakened state of mind, represented by the Lama and the Three Jewels (Buddha, Dharma and Sangha).

Refuge may be given by prior arrangement with Sakya Buddhist Centre Bristol. Please contact for more details.