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How to take refuge in the Three Jewels

The text now turns to relying on the method for happiness in future lives. Part of a series of teachings on the Gomchen Lamrim by Gomchen Ngawang Drakpa. Visit Gomchen Lamrim Study Guide for a full list of contemplation points for the series.

  • The qualities of the Dharma Jewel
  • The qualities of the Sangha Jewel and the differences between the hearers, solitary realizers, and arya bodhisattvas
  • Taking refuge by knowing the distinguishing features of the Three Jewels
    • In terms of their characteristics
    • In terms of their awakening influence
    • In terms of the fervent regard we have for them
    • In terms of how we practice
    • In terms of the what qualities to recall
    • In how we create merit in terms of each
  • Taking refuge by accepting the Three Jewels as ideals
  • Taking refuge by not speaking in favor of other refuges
  • The eight benefits of taking refuge

Gomchen Lamrim 17: How to take refuge in the Three Jewels (download)

Contemplation points

  1. Venerable Chodron touched briefly on the qualities of the hearer and solitary realizer arhats and then extensively on the qualities of the arya bodhisattvas. Consider these qualities of the Sangha and how they increase as the aryas continue to progress along the path, particularly on the bodhisattva bhumis. How do these qualities inspire faith and confidence in their ability to guide, teach, and befriend sentient beings?
  2. Understanding the differences between the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha helps to deepen our refuge, giving us clarity into how each of them help us and why it’s so important to take refuge in all three. Consider the differences in each category Venerable Chodron discussed (characteristics, awakening influence, fervent regard we have for each, how we practice, what we are mindful of, how we create merit in relation to them) and make examples of how these ways of relating to the Triple Gem would look in your own life.
  3. Why is Dharma our real refuge?
  4. Consider how deepening our understanding of the qualities of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha helps us to be clear in our refuge and not take refuge in worldly things, giving us clarity and fortitude when the Eight Worldly Concerns are pulling at us.
  5. What are the benefits of taking refuge? How have you personally benefitted from taking refuge?
  6. Consider: The Buddha, Dharma, Sangha are always 100% engaged, but you have to be receptive. Are you paying attention? Are you actively looking for their instruction and guidance in your life?
Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.