The Three Jewels
To become a Buddhist is to take refuge in the Three Jewels, also called the Three Treasures or the Three Refuges. The Three Jewels are the Buddha (The Teacher), the Dharma (The Teaching), and the Sangha (The Buddhist Community).
In Zen Buddhism, instead of looking for any external saviour like it’s the case in Christianity, Buddhists believe one can take refuge in oneself.
The English word refuge refers to a place of shelter and protection from danger. What danger? We seek shelter from the passions that jerk us around, from feeling distressed and broken, from pain and suffering, from the fear of death.
The implication is that by finding my home in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha I can free myself from blind conditioning and realize true nature, with sincerity and commitment.
As it is said in Zen, “I take refuge in the Buddha, wishing for all sentient beings to understand the great Way profoundly and make the greatest resolve. I take refuge in the Dharma, wishing for all sentient beings to delve deeply into Satori (enlightenment), causing their wisdom to be as broad as the sea. I take refuge in the Sangha, wishing all sentient beings to lead the congregation in harmony, entirely without obstruction.”