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should always begin with the act of
in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha

The Threefold Refuge
in the Jodo Shinshu/Pure Land tradition

Hard it is to receive human form. Now we have received it.
Difficult is it to hear the Buddha Dharma. Now we hear it.
If we do not receive awakening in this life, in what life shall we do so?
With sincerity, let us take refuge together in the Three Treasures.

I take refuge in the Buddha.
Together with all beings, may we attain the Great Way of Enlightenment,
awakening to the supreme intent of the Buddha.

I take refuge in the Dharma.
Together with all beings, may we enter the storehouse of the Dharma,
acquiring Wisdom as deep as the ocean.

I take refuge in the Sangha.
Together with all beings, may we become united as the Great Assembly,
being free of all bondage.

Hard is it to encounter the supreme, profound and wondrous Dharma
even in a hundred thousand million kalpas.
Now we are able to hear it and receive it.
Let us thoroughly understand the true intent of the Tathagata.

The Three Refuges
in General Buddhist tradition

In the time of Sakyamuni Buddha, one was permitted to join the Buddhist community (sangha) upon receiving the precept of the three refuges under the guidance of a monk and shaving one's head to symbolise a departure from worldly ways and into a life devoted to the path of Buddhism, which transcends the mundane world.

To receive the precept of the three refuges means to declare before one's teacher that one takes whole-hearted refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and to vow to not deviate from them.

"Buddha" here refers to Sakyamuni. "Dharma" to Sakyamuni's teachings, and "Sangha" to the community of followers who have entrusted themselves to Sakyamuni Buddha's teaching. Because these form what the basis of what one values most of all in life, they are called the "three treasures".
The International Association of Buddhist Culture, Kyoto, Japan supports the Shin Buddhist Fellowship UK. Chomon House, 6 Southcliff Road, Southampton SO14 6FH