THREEFOLD REFUGE

A blue iris for you!

The first sentence of each stanza is the traditional formula, only in the plural to emphasize that our practice is not as individuals, but as a community. The second sentence provides an explanatory concept to help understand what the traditional formula means. The third sentence gives a concrete example of the practice involved.


To Buddha we go for refuge.
In the path of mindful awareness,
we take refuge.
The practice of conscious breathing
is our refuge.


To Dharma we go for refuge.
In the teaching of no separate selfhood,
we take refuge.
The insight that all beings are without blame
is our refuge.


To Sangha we go for refuge.
In the community of boundless compassion,
we take refuge.
The guidance of the Five Wonderful Precepts
is our refuge.


You may find it helpful to think of taking the Threefold Refuge as related to practicing the Threefold Training:

  • Training in Concentration or Mindfulness (Samadhi);
  • Training in Understanding (Panna or Prajna), and
  • Training in Discipline or Compassionate Behavior (Sila).

We can think of taking refuge in Buddha as taking refuge in mindfulness; taking refuge in Dharma as taking refuge in understanding and clarity of mind; and taking refuge in Sangha as taking refuge in the compassionate behavior that is the basis of community.

The Threefold Training can in turn be conceived as a summary of the Eightfold Path:

  • Training in Panna or Prajna (Understanding) includes Right View (Samma ditthi) and Right Thought (Samma sankappa);
  • Training in Sila (Discipline) includes Right Speech (Samma vaca), Right Action (Samma kammanta), and Right Livelihood (Samma ajiva); and
  • Training in Samadhi (Concentration) includes Right Effort (Samma vayama), Right Mindfulness (Samma sati), and Right Concentration (Samma samadhi).


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