Who is the Buddha in Three refuges?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
SarathW
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Who is the Buddha in Three refuges?

Post by SarathW » Wed Jul 09, 2014 3:24 am

Who is the Buddha in Three refuges?

I think Buddha (or later monks) are very clever in organisational management.
They implement the three refuge according to modern management techniques.
a) Set a goal
b) Have a vehicle (path) to attain the goal
c) Have a mentor (instructor) to guide you in the path.

If I apply above to three refuge it will be as follows:

a) My goal is to attain Nirvana
Buddham saranam gacchami
I go for refuge to the Buddha;

b) Dhamma (Four Noble Truths) is my vehicle to attain my goal.
Dhammam saranam gacchami
I go for refuge to the Dhamma;

c)I rely on Sangha to guide me on my path to attain my goal.
Sangham saranam gacchami
I go for refuge to the Sangha.

=============
Bikhu Bodhi is given the general explanation to mean Buddha mean Gothama Budda.
But see what he is thinking in his subconscious mind.
===========
The Buddha comes first because he is a person. Since we are persons we naturally look to another person for guidance, inspiration, and direction. When it is ultimate deliverance that is at stake, what we look for in the first place is a person who has himself reached complete freedom from danger and can lead us to the same state of safety. This is the Buddha, the enlightened one, who comes first in the triad for the reason that he is the person who discovers, achieves, and proclaims the state of refuge. In the second place we need that state of refuge itself, the state beyond fear and danger; then we need a path leading to this goal; and also we need a set of instructions guiding us along the path. This is the Dhamma, which as we will see has this threefold denotation. Then, in the third place, we need persons who began like ourselves — as ordinary people troubled by afflictions — and by following the way taught by the guide reached the state of safety beyond fear and danger. This is the Sangha, the community of spiritual persons who have entered the path, realized the goal, and can now teach the path to others.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el282.html
Last edited by SarathW on Mon Dec 22, 2014 3:36 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Goofaholix
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Re: Who is the Buddha in Three refuges?

Post by Goofaholix » Wed Jul 09, 2014 3:33 am

To me the aspect of the Buddha's teaching is already covered by taking refuge in Dhamma.

The aspect of the inspiration of an (historical) enlightened person is already covered by taking refuge in Sangha.

Buddha means the "one who knows" or the "awakened one" so to me taking refuge in Buddha is to take refuge in knowing, take refuge in the minds capacity to be aware and awaken.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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Aloka
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Re: Who is the Buddha in Three refuges?

Post by Aloka » Wed Jul 09, 2014 5:29 am

SarathW wrote:Who is the Buddha in Three refuges?
Hi SarathW,

I like what Ajahn Sumedho had to say about the first of the refuges In "Buddha Dhamma Sangha" :


"After sixteen years as a monk I still like to chant 'Buddham saranam gacchami', in fact I like it more than I did fifteen years ago because then it didn't really mean anything to me, I just chanted it because I had to, because it was part of the tradition.

Merely taking refuge in the Buddha verbally doesn't mean you take refuge in anything, a parrot could be trained to say 'Buddham saranam gacchami', and it would probably be as meaningful to a parrot as it is to many Buddhists. These words are for reflection, looking at them and actually investigating what they mean: what 'refuge' means, what 'Buddha' means. When we say 'I take refuge in the Buddha' what do we mean by that? How can we use that so that it is not just a repetition of nonsense syllables but something that really helps to remind us, gives us direction and increases our devotion, our dedication to the path of the Buddha.

The word Buddha is a lovely word, it means 'the one who knows', and the first refuge is in Buddha as the personification of wisdom. Unpersonified wisdom remains too abstract for us, we can't conceive a bodiless, soulless wisdom, and so as wisdom always seems to have a personal quality to it, using Buddha as its symbol is very useful.

We can use the word Buddha to refer to Gotama, the founder of what is now known as Buddhism, the historical sage who attained Parinibbana[*] in India 2500 years ago, the teacher of the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, teachings from which we today still benefit. But when we take refuge in the Buddha it doesn't mean that we take refuge in some historical prophet but in that which is wise in the universe, in our minds, that which is not separate from us but is more real than anything we can conceive with the mind or experience through the senses.

Without any Buddha-wisdom in the universe life for any length of time would be totally impossible, it is the Buddha-wisdom that protects. We call it Buddha-wisdom, other people can call it other things if they want, these are just words.We happen to use the words of our tradition. We're not going to argue about Pali words, Sanskrit words, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, English or any other, we're just using the term Buddha-wisdom as a conventional symbol to help remind us to be wise, to be alert, to be awake."

http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma2/bds.html
With kind regards,

Aloka :anjali:
Last edited by Aloka on Wed Jul 09, 2014 6:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Who is the Buddha in Three refuges?

Post by culaavuso » Wed Jul 09, 2014 5:58 am

SarathW wrote: Who is the Buddha in Three refuges?
[url=http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/refuge.html]Refuge: An Introduction to the Buddha, Dhamma, & Sangha[/url] by Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote: The Buddha, on the external level, refers to Siddhattha Gotama, the Indian prince who renounced his royal titles and went into the forest, meditating until he ultimately gained Awakening. To take refuge in the Buddha means, not taking refuge in him as a person, but taking refuge in the fact of his Awakening: placing trust in the belief that he did awaken to the truth, that he did so by developing qualities that we too can develop, and that the truths to which he awoke provide the best perspective for the conduct of our life.
...
On the internal level, the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha are the skillful qualities we develop in our own minds in imitation of our external models. For instance, the Buddha was a person of wisdom, purity, and compassion. When we develop wisdom, purity, and compassion in our own minds, they form our refuge on an internal level. The Buddha tasted Awakening by developing conviction, persistence, mindfulness, concentration, and discernment. When we develop these same qualities to the point of attaining Awakening too, that Awakening is our ultimate refuge. This is the point where the three aspects of the Triple Gem become one: beyond the reach of greed, anger, and delusion, and thus totally secure.
[url=http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/wheel282.html#ref3.1]Going for Refuge & Taking the Precepts[/url] by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote: On one level the word "Buddha" refers to a particular figure — the man Siddhattha Gotama who lived in India in the fifth century B.C. When we take refuge in the Buddha, we take refuge in this person, for he is the teacher of the Dhamma and the historical founder of Buddhism. However, in going to him for refuge, we do not take refuge in him merely in his concrete particularity. We rely upon him as the Buddha, the enlightened one, and this has a significance transcending the limits of what can be given by empirical, historical fact. What enables the Buddha to function as a refuge is his actualization of a supramundane attainment. This attainment is the state of Buddhahood or perfect enlightenment, a state which has been realized by other persons in the past and will be realized again in the future. Those who realize this state are Buddhas. When we take refuge in the Buddha we rely upon him as a refuge because he embodies this attainment in himself. It is his Buddhahood that makes the Buddha a refuge.
...
When we go for refuge to the Buddha we resort to him as the supreme embodiment of purity, wisdom and compassion, the peerless teacher who can guide us to safety out of the perilous ocean of samsara.

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Re: Who is the Buddha in Three refuges?

Post by SarathW » Sat Jul 12, 2014 1:22 am

Another good discussion relating to this OP:


"You are your own refuge, for who else could be"

Therefore, Ānanda, dwell with yourself as your own island (dīpa),¹ with yourself as your own refuge, take no other refuge. Take the Dhamma as your island, take the Dhamma as your refuge, take no other refuge. And how, Ānanda, does a monk dwell taking himself as his own island, taking himself as his own refuge, taking no other refuge? Here, Ānanda, a bhikkhu dwells contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, and mindful, having abandoned covetousness and grief concerning the world. He dwells contemplating feelings in feelings ... thoughts in thoughts ... mind-objects in mind-objects...

So, gaining self-reliance entails practising the four foundations of mindfulness, ardently, clearly comprehending, and mindfully until the goal is reached. This is best done by following the guidance of a qualified meditation instructor, but if one cannot find one, it can also be done by careful study in conjunction with practice.


http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 85#p232249
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

SarathW
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Re: Who is the Buddha in Three refuges?

Post by SarathW » Fri Dec 05, 2014 6:16 am

Ajahn Chah’s teachings also parallel Dzogchen in regard to the nature of the Buddha. When you come right down to it, aware- ness is not a thing. Nevertheless, it is an attribute of the funda- mental nature of mind. Ajahn Chah would refer to that aware- ness, that knowing nature of mind, as Buddha: “This is the true Buddha, the one who knows (poo roo).” The customary way of talking about awareness for both Ajahn Chah and other masters of the forest tradition was to use the term “Buddha” in this way—the fully aware, awake quality of our own mind. This is the Buddha

P41
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Re: Who is the Buddha in Three refuges?

Post by Dhammanando » Fri Dec 05, 2014 9:04 am

The Paramatthajotikā’s account of the Three Refuges (Khp-a. 14-22), translated by Ñāṇamoli in Minor Readings and Illustrator.

Saranattayam.pdf
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SarathW
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Re: Who is the Buddha in Three refuges?

Post by SarathW » Mon Dec 22, 2014 3:34 am

Thank you Bhante.
I found the following in my reading:
First of all, you did the traditional salutation in Pali: 'Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammasambuddhassa.’[See Note 1] This is a way of reminding ourselves to be with that which is perfect, the purified, the truly compassionate, the enlightened. Then the taking of the Three Refuges – Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha. What do you really mean by taking refuge in Buddha? [See Note 2] Recollect that a refuge is a place that you go to for safety; and that refuge of a Buddha means the refuge of wisdom. It's pointing to something very real, not something idealistic, or far and remote, but that which is wise within us, that which is wise in the universe, awake and clear. So, when you take refuge in Buddha,. it's not just an empty recitation, but a way for you to recollect, because we do forget and get caught up in our feelings and thoughts.

Then ‘Dhammam Saranam Gaccahmi'. Dhamma is the Pali word for the Ultimate Reality, that which is ultimately true. We're taking refuge in the immortal Truth, reminding ourselves to be with that which is true. 'Sangham Saranam. Gacchami' – taking refuge in the Sangha, the virtuous ones, those who live by a code of nobility and virtue. This is the Bhikkhu-Sangha, the order of monks, but it also means that you are taking refuge in a community, or with all human beings who are virtuous. Or you can look at it as taking refuge in that in yourself which is virtuous, compassionate and good – and in the practical way of relating and living as a human being. Our way of relating to each other is through kindness, compassion and morality, rather than through exploitation and selfishness. In this way, you remind yourself to take refuge in Sangha.

http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books2/Ajahn ... viveka.htm
==========
In regard to "Buddham Saranam Gaccahmi" I have no objection to accepts Ajahn Sumedho's explanation.

However:

In regard to Dhamma and Sangha explanation it appears incorrect to me.

The way I understand Dhamma is not the Ultimate Reality in this case. It should be Buddha's teaching which is Four Noble Truths
In regard to Sangha it include only the teachers who has gone refuge of Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.

:thinking:
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Re: Who is the Buddha in Three refuges?

Post by SarathW » Wed May 27, 2015 3:49 am

Can someone explain what refuge (Sarana) means?
:thinking:
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Aloka
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Re: Who is the Buddha in Three refuges?

Post by Aloka » Wed May 27, 2015 7:12 am

SarathW wrote:Can someone explain what refuge (Sarana) means?
:thinking:
Hi SarathW,

At the link "The Buddha, Dharma and Sangha" in my previous post, Ajahn Sumedho also said :
..when we take refuge in the Buddha it doesn't mean that we take refuge in some historical prophet but in that which is wise in the universe, in our minds, that which is not separate from us but is more real than anything we can conceive with the mind or experience through the senses. Without any Buddha-wisdom in the universe life for any length of time would be totally impossible, it is the Buddha-wisdom that protects. We call it Buddha-wisdom, other people can call it other things if they want, these are just words.We happen to use the words of our tradition. We're not going to argue about Pali words, Sanskrit words, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, English or any other, we're just using the term Buddha-wisdom as a conventional symbol to help remind us to be wise, to be alert, to be awake.

http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma2/bds.html
Ajahn Sumedho's article at that link above makes a lot of sense to me, but there's also a more formal section on Refuge by Bhikkhu Bodhi at ATI which you might prefer :

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... .html#ref5

Kind regards,

Aloka

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samseva
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Re: Who is the Buddha in Three refuges?

Post by samseva » Wed May 27, 2015 8:26 am

The meaning of the Three Refuges is twofold, both lokiya and lokuttara (mundane and supermundane). Meaning that the Buddha symbolizes both the Buddha and every sentient being's "buddha-nature", the Dhamma as both the teaching and the "universal truth" and the Sangha as both the congregation of monks and the four kinds of noble persons.

This is a very good read.
http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh076.pdf

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Aloka
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Re: Who is the Buddha in Three refuges?

Post by Aloka » Wed May 27, 2015 9:35 am

samseva wrote:.. every sentient being's "buddha-nature",
"Buddha Nature" is a term which is more common to Mahayana/Vajrayana than to Theravada, There's an article by Thanissaro Bhikkhu "Freedom from Buddha Nature" which might be of interest:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ature.html

:anjali:

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samseva
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Re: Who is the Buddha in Three refuges?

Post by samseva » Wed May 27, 2015 10:38 am

I meant it in the "possibility for Enlightenment" way. At least, that is what I think "buddha-nature" means.

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Re: Who is the Buddha in Three refuges?

Post by Dhammanando » Wed May 27, 2015 10:43 am

samseva wrote:The meaning of the Three Refuges is twofold, both lokiya and lokuttara (mundane and supermundane). Meaning that the Buddha symbolizes both the Buddha and every sentient being's "buddha-nature", the Dhamma as both the teaching and the "universal truth" and the Sangha as both the congregation of monks and the four kinds of noble persons.

This is a very good read.
http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh076.pdf
It's an excellent article by Nyanaponika, but I think you've misunderstood the terms lokiya and lokuttara. These don't apply to the refuges but rather to the act of going for refuge.

The mundane going for refuge is when a worldling makes his faith and discipleship known, whether by recitation or prostration or asking a Buddhist teacher for a meditation subject. The supramundane refuge-going is a term for the attainment of the noble fruitions, starting with stream-entry. See pages 3-6 of your link.

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Re: Who is the Buddha in Three refuges?

Post by samseva » Sat Jun 13, 2015 12:41 am

Dhammanando wrote:
samseva wrote:The meaning of the Three Refuges is twofold, both lokiya and lokuttara (mundane and supermundane). Meaning that the Buddha symbolizes both the Buddha and every sentient being's "buddha-nature", the Dhamma as both the teaching and the "universal truth" and the Sangha as both the congregation of monks and the four kinds of noble persons.

This is a very good read.
http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh076.pdf
It's an excellent article by Nyanaponika, but I think you've misunderstood the terms lokiya and lokuttara. These don't apply to the refuges but rather to the act of going for refuge.

The mundane going for refuge is when a worldling makes his faith and discipleship known, whether by recitation or prostration or asking a Buddhist teacher for a meditation subject. The supramundane refuge-going is a term for the attainment of the noble fruitions, starting with stream-entry. See pages 3-6 of your link.
In the 'Ṭīkā to the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta' (page 9 and at the end of the third paragraph), it is written:
[...] Therefore, the consummate refuge meant in the traditional formula is of supramundane nature—lokuttara, world-transcending.

Thus the first refuge is not the Recluse Gotama, but the Buddha as the personification of world-transcending Enlightenment. In the Vīmaṃsaka Sutta it is said of the noble disciple: “He believes in the Enlightenment of the Exalted One” (MN 47).

The Dhamma of the second refuge is not the faint, fragmentary, or even distorted picture of the doctrine as mirrored in the mind of an unliberated worldling. It is the supramundane path and its consummation in Nibbāna. The commentator underlines the supramundane nature of the second refuge by saying that the Dhamma, as an object of learning, is included in the refuge only in so far as it is a formulation of the consummate knowledge acquired on the path to liberation.

The Sangha of the third refuge is not the all-inclusive congregation of monks, having all the weaknesses of its single members and sharing in the shortcomings attached to any human institution. It is rather the Order of noble disciples who are united by the invisible tie of common attainment to the four stages of liberation. In other words, it too is of supramundane nature: the assurance of possible progress to the world-transcending heights of a mind made holy and pure.

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