The Three Jewels are thus.

The Buddha.

The Buddha is both the historical Buddha and the ideal of Buddhahood. The Buddhist tradition regards the historical Buddha as their guide and inspiration, and see him as the ultimate teacher and spiritual example. This idea also means that a practitioner of Buddhism is commited to achieving Buddhahood—Enlightenment for the sake of all beings, seeing reality exactly as it is, living in accordance with that vision. This is the goal of Buddhist spiritual life.

The Dharma.

The Dharma is the teachings of the Buddha, comprised of the truth he gained. Dharma means “unmediated Truth,” and encompasses Buddhist teachings—the entirety of the scriptures in the Buddhist canon, which is many times longer than even the Bible. Dharma also encompasses the practices outlined in those scriptures—essentially “learning to do good; ceasing to do evil; purifying the heart”.

The Sangha.

The third jewel is the Sangha, which is simply the Buddhist spiritual community, and the teachings, support, and friendship of other practitioners. In the most general sense, Sangha means all Buddhists in the world, past and future.

Buddhism, as you can see, is more philosophy or way of life than religion, but like other faiths, it is a path toward finding the purpose of life, why suffering occurs, and how we can separate ourselves from that suffering and achieve true happiness. It is now becoming popular in western countries because it provides great insight into the human mind, and because its teachings can act as a panacea for our contemporary, materialistic lifestyles, which often lead to deep-seated, nebulous dissatisfaction.

If you find yourself wanting to know more, simply ask! Although Buddhist tradition does not encourage evangelizing, practitioners are often more than willing to explain and teach. You may just find a nugget of wisdom to incorporate into your own life.

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