The Three Jewels—also known as the Triple Gem, the Three Treasures, or the Three Refuges—are the three things from which Buddhists seek guidance: Buddha, Dharma, and sangha. Depending on the particular school of Buddhism, Buddha can refer to the specific Buddha Siddhartha Gautama or to the universal Buddha nature that potentially exists in all beings. Dharma refers to the teachings of Gautama Buddha. Sangha refers to the community of enlightened or partially enlightened beings, and more broadly to all Buddhist practitioners. A person becomes a Buddhist by “taking refuge” in the Three Jewels, a step typically facilitated by a religious ceremony.
The Three Jewels are central to Buddhist religious life, and taking refuge in them is a defining moment in the life of Buddhist practitioners. The Three Jewels are also a core part of religious practice, as Buddhists are called to mentally reflect on the true nature of each of the Jewels along the path to enlightenment. These three concepts merit high esteem as Buddhists believe them to be imperishable and unchanging. The Buddha established the practice of taking refuge in the Three Jewels and its associated ceremonies during his ministry as recorded in Buddhist scripture. Though the precise meaning of the Three Jewels can vary from school to school, taking refuge in them is one practice and belief that unites Buddhists worldwide and across the ages.