DHARMA, SANGHA - THE THREE JEWELS
originates from the Sanskrit term 'bodhi'-awakened,
awakened from the sleep of ignorance. The Tibetan word for Buddha
is 'sang gye.' - 'Sang' has the meaning of
being completely purified or awakened and 'gye' means
unfolded or blossomed. This refers to the purification of all
defilements and the unfolding of all inner qualities. What is
purified are the three kinds of veils:
- 1.The veils of disturbing emotions and negative actions.
- 2. The veils referring to the process of perception, i.e.
wrong views and concepts about reality.
- 3. The very subtle veils of habitual tendencies.
What is unfolded is primordial wisdom, the wisdom which arises
when the mind realizes its primordial nature. Primordial wisdom
can be further subdivided into two wisdoms:
- 1. The wisdom realizing the true nature of all phenomena,
the ultimate truth.
- 2. The wisdom realizing the appearance of all phenomena
to its fullest extent, the relative truth.
Buddha, the Awakened One, is someone who has purified all veils
and who knows everything that can be known. He is the highest,
the supreme one among all human beings. He is the only one who
possesses that omniscience. Therefore he is mentioned first in
the order of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Together with the
omniscience, the Buddha has loving kindness and compassion for
all sentient beings and teaches them in order to liberate them
from suffering. Therefore, the Dharma is the second in this
Here, one distinguishes between the Dharma of the
scriptures and the Dharma of realization. The Dharma
of the scriptures is classified into Sutra and Tantra. Sutra is
subdivided into the Three Baskets of Vinaya, Sutra and
Abhidharma. Tantra is subdivided into the four Tantra classes.
The Dharma of realization is classified into three kinds of
training: the training of discipline, the training of meditation
and the training of wisdom. The Three Baskets correspond to these
three kinds of training.
If the people who listen to the teachings of the Buddha enter
the path, which means, if they listen to the teachings, reflect
upon them and finally put them into the practice of meditation,
then the Sangha is established. These are the friends and helpers
along the way to liberation. Therefore the Sangha is the third of
the Three Jewels.
Also, one distinguishes between two kinds of Sanghas, the
ordinary Sangha and the extraordinary or Noble Sangha. The
ordinary Sangha consists of the practitioners who have not yet
attained realization of the true nature of their minds. The Noble
Sangha consists of the practitioners who have accomplished one of
the four levels of realization of the Smaller Vehicle
(Hinayana) or one of the Bodhisattva levels of the Greater
Vehicle (Mahayana). Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, the Three
Jewels, are the common refuge of all Buddhists in the whole world
(of the southern and the northern Buddhism).
YIDAMS, PROTECTORS -THE THREE ROOTS
in Tibetan Buddhism is that one additionally takes refuge in the
- The Lama represents the living connection to
enlightenment, because he, as a part of the unbroken
transmission-lineage, starting from the historical Buddha
Shakyamuni until present time, transmits his direct
experience and the blessing for our practice.
- The Buddha-aspects or Yidams are the liberating methods
given by the Lama, which express the qualities of
enlightenment and make it possible for us to achieve the
ordinary and extraordinary accomplishments (skr.
- Finally the Lama also removes all inner and outer
hindrances by means of the Protectors, who perform the
spontaneous and effortless Buddha-activity and turn all
kinds of experiences into a step on the way toward
These three aspects, Lama, Yidam and Protector are the Three
Roots, which are inseparable from the Three Jewels. All six
aspects are arranged in the so-called "Refuge Tree,"
a wish fulfilling tree, which according to Tibetan mythology is
standing in the god realm and spontaneously fulfills all wishes
there. Here the tree symbolizes the wish fulfilling qualities of
The source of the Three Jewels as well as the Three Roots is
the historical Buddha Shakyamuni, who lived approximately 2500
years ago. In this eon according to the Bhadrakalpikasutra,
appear 1000 Buddhas, of which our Buddha Shakyamuni (tib.: Shakya
Thubpa) is the fourth. The names of the first three Buddhas were:
- 1.Krakuccanda(tib. Khorvadjig)
- 2.Kanakamuni (tib. Serthub)
- 3.Mahakashyapa(tib. Ísung Chenpo).
The fifth and next Buddha will be Maitreya (tib. Djampa). Each
of these Buddhas shows twelve special deeds.
TWELVE DEEDS OF THE BUDDHA
his immeasurable compassion toward all sentient beings, every
Buddha shows these twelve deeds. He has complete omniscience and
by his all-encompassing wisdom, he is able to recognize all
phenomena in the different realms. With this wisdom of
omniscience he performs the twelve deeds.
First, Buddha Shakyamuni stayed in Tushita-heaven, where he
performed his immeasurable activity. He especially gave teachings
to the gods there. By his wisdom he saw the impure realm of human
beings and after he had appointed a representative to stay in
Tushita-heaven, Maitreya, he decided to descend to the human
realm. In the same way, Maitreya, the future Buddha, will appoint
a representative and will incarnate in the human realm.
- 1.Descending from the Tushita-heaven.
The first deed was, that he descended from Tushita-heaven
in the form of a white elephant with six tusks.
- 2.Entering the mother's womb.
He entered the womb of his mother Mayadevi, the queen of
He was born from his mother's right side in Lumbini.
Other teachings say that at the same time he entered his
mother's womb, he also went into other realms and gave
Dharma teachings there. Directly after his birth in
Lumbini he made seven steps in the eastern direction and
with each step a lotus flower blossomed under his feet
and immediately he taught a verse.
- 4.Studying arts and handicrafts.
He became very skilled in all handicrafts and arts, in
- 5.Enjoying life in the palace.
He was married to Yasodhara as well as other women, and
lived as customary for a prince of that time.
One day he left the palace and was confronted with
sickness, old age and death. After his companion
confirmed that this happens to all beings, he developed
great renunciation. Consequently he gave up his worldly
life. When everybody was sleeping in the palace, he stole
away. He was accompanied by only one servant and when
they were far away enough from the palace, he sent his
servant back with his horse.
- 7.Ascetic practices.
He cut his hair and practiced asceticism for six years at
the bank of the river Neranjana, close to Bodhgaya.
- 8.Going to Bodhgaya.
Later, he went to Bodhgaya where he reached
enlightenment, like all other Buddhas of this eon do.
- 9.Defeating all negative forces (skr. maras).
The evening before his enlightenment, Mara sent all kinds
of wrathful manifestations as well as beautiful women
with all kinds of perfumes, demonstrating their charms.
But Buddha was sitting in a deep state of samadhi,
unshakably calm due to his great compassion.
By the power of his vajra-like concentration (samadhi, at
dawn of the fullmoon day in May, he manifested complete
enlightenment. After he attained buddhahood, he did not
give teachings for seven weeks, even though one attains
buddhahood in order to help all sentient beings. There is
an ordinary and an extraordinary explanation for this.
The ordinary explanation is that during that time there
were no beings present who had the good karma to receive
teachings from the Buddha.
The extraordinary explanation states that during that
time Buddha gave tantric teachings, secret teachings, for
example the Hevajra-tantra. After these seven weeks
Brahma presented the Buddha with a beautiful conch shell,
the spirals of which all turned to the right. This shell
was so beautiful and like no other shell in this world.
Indra gave him a 1000-spoked Dharma wheel.
- 11. Turning the Wheel of the Dharma.
Following the first seven weeks of enlightenment, the
Buddha went to a Deer Park outside the city of Varanasi.
There he taught the first turning of the wheel of the
Dharma - the Four Noble Truths, mainly to gods and
animals such as gazelles, deers, etc., as well as five
human beings who were his former companions from the time
of his ascetic practices. The second turning of the
Dharma wheel took place in Rajgir, where the Buddha gave
the Prajnaparamita-teachings, and the third turning, in
which he explained the Buddha nature took place at
different places. All three turnings of the wheel of the
Dharma are counted as one deed.
- 12. Entering Parinirvana.
Finally, at the age of 84, at Kushinagara, the Buddha
passed into Parinirvana. He went beyond the opposites of
the cycle of existence (Samsara) and the liberation of
the Arhats (Nirvana). These are the twelve deeds of the
Buddha. He demonstrates them in order to establish a
connection to the human realm. He shows human beings a
path by which they can be liberated from the world of