“Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’ doesn’t make any sense.” - Rumi
This field is talked about in every spiritual tradition. A place beyond dichotomy, beyond good and evil. Where every single moment is infinite in depth, and eternal in essence. The trick is: that moment, and this very moment, are identical. The field is ever-present.
But as we are right now - we’re not quite sure how to reach the field. We’re lost in the raging waters of desire and misfortune and need shelter. We must take refuge in something. The Buddhist’s understood this idea of being lost in the world, and as such, one of the first things you do in the tradition is take refuge in the Triple Gem. They are gems because they are precious and valuable. In Sanskrit, they are: Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. Taking refuge is not a rite, ritual or submission to a doctrine - but a surrendering of oneself to the quality of the gem.
Below is my understanding of these gems, and the reasons I find them precious.
Buddha: All qualities of enlightenment - Limitless compassion/love - The potential of Buddhahood that is latent within all of us
Dharma: Truth - Seeing reality clearly and correctly - Any teaching that helps expand your vision of the world
Sangha: Community of people pushing you towards virtue through honesty and diligence
The Buddha is not a person, but a a collection of ideals. A place we can all aim towards. The Dharma is not the teachings of the Buddha, but teachings of universal truth, pointing out the way things are. The Sangha is not a community of monks, but a community of honest, truth-seeking human beings.
What will protect you when the raging storms of the world threaten to overpower you? Truth, love, honesty. Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. There’s only one catch - in order for these gems to be a real refuge, you must polish them.
Make them shine within yourself
It is as it is.