Buddha originates from the Sanskrit term 'bodhi'
-awakened, awakened from the sleep of ignorance. The Tibetan word for Buddha is 'sang gye.' - 'Sang'
has the meaning of being completely purified or awakened and 'gye'
means unfolded or blossomed. This refers to the purification of all defilements and the unfolding of all inner qualities. What is purified are the three kinds of veils:
- The veils of disturbing emotions and negative actions.
- The veils referring to the process of perception, i.e. wrong views and concepts about reality.
- The very subtle veils of habitual tendencies.
What is unfolded is primordial wisdom, the wisdom which arises when the mind realizes its primordial nature. Primordial wisdom can be further subdivided into two wisdoms:
- The wisdom realizing the true nature of all phenomena, the ultimate truth.
- The wisdom realizing the appearance of all phenomena to its fullest extent, the relative truth.
Buddha, the Awakened One, is someone who has purified all veils and who knows everything that can be known. He is the highest, the supreme one among all human beings. He is the only one who possesses that omniscience. Therefore he is mentioned first in the order of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Together with the omniscience, the Buddha has loving kindness and compassion for all sentient beings and teaches them in order to liberate them from suffering. Therefore, the Dharma is the second in this order.
Here, one distinguishes between the Dharma of the scriptures
and the Dharma of realization
. The Dharma of the scriptures is classified into Sutra and Tantra. Sutra is subdivided into the Three Baskets of Vinaya, Sutra and Abhidharma. Tantra is subdivided into the four Tantra classes.
The Dharma of realization is classified into three kinds of training: the training of discipline, the training of meditation and the training of wisdom. The Three Baskets correspond to these three kinds of training.
If the people who listen to the teachings of the Buddha enter the path, which means, if they listen to the teachings, reflect upon them and finally put them into the practice of meditation, then the Sangha is established. These are the friends and helpers along the way to liberation. Therefore the Sangha is the third of the Three Jewels.
Also, one distinguishes between two kinds of Sanghas, the ordinary Sangha and the extraordinary or Noble Sangha. The ordinary Sangha consists of the practitioners who have not yet attained realization of the true nature of their minds. The Noble Sangha consists of the practitioners who have accomplished one of the four levels of realization of the Smaller Vehicle (Hinayana)
or one of the Bodhisattva levels of the Greater Vehicle (Mahayana)
. Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, the Three Jewels, are the common refuge of all Buddhists in the whole world (of the southern and the northern Buddhism).