Centre Bouddhiste européen de méditation et de retraites Dzogchen

Sutra of Recollecting the Three Jewels

January 20, 2013, Posted Under: Uncategorized

Dear Friends,

We are glad to propose you a short excerpt from the study program of 1st year Shedra Longchen Rabjam, on the

“Sutra of Recollecting the Three Jewels”

(Könshok Djétèn)

according to Mipham Rinpoche’s commentary

on the Sutra of Recollecting the 3 Jewels (Tashi Mi-sépé Da-yang).

Teacher : Khempo Karma Wangyel

Translation from Tibetan to English : Andrzej Rybszleger

Information : new students will be able to integrate the 1st year of study up to January 2013.

Registration to the Shedra is now open.

(…) Scientists analyze things; they are very close to buddhists in this respect. They examine atoms, and how things exist, and so on. On the relative level, there are many similarities. Of course when it comes to the view, we don’t really say that buddhadharma is similar to modern science, since scientists aren’t concerned with things like ultimate truth, the nature of mind, buddhahood, and so on. Yet, on the relative level, when we examine things, there are many similarities. So in this way many of today’s scientists and buddhist scholars will agree on many things.

 We know this generally. Many people enrolled and are starting the studies; it is possible that some will want to just study intellectually, or in an academic way; but ultimately we want to attain buddhahood. That is the main goal for buddhists. If we study like scientists, of course we will get to understand the unmistaken definitive meaning. And after having understood correctly what the nature of the three jewels is, or what the ultimate result is, we can accomplish the path. Not knowing those things and embarking on a path is like going around in the dark: there isn’t going to be much virtue coming out of it.

 A person who studies buddhism starts with refuge and concludes with dzogchen (rdzogs chen) ati yoga. We have a complete list of subjects, including all the stages. First of all, we will study how to take refuge and understand the nature of the three jewels. This is what the “sutra of the recollection of the three jewels” talks about. This text is important, because if someone considers him or herself a buddhist, they have to have knowledge about the three jewels. If one does not know at all what the three jewels are and takes refuge, even though we might call such a person a buddhist, in reality they are not.

So the aim of the sutra is to develop an understanding of the three jewels, their essence and qualities, and to understand how to take refuge. That is the basis for all studies of buddhism. If we don’t know what the three jewels are, then we don’t have that foundation, and a house without a foundation will never be stable, no matter how many stories we build. To learn about those things is to lay a foundation for further studies, so that the house (of our studies) becomes stable, and we can build upon it.

This is the first subject. Some might think that this is easy: buddha, dharma, and sangha are the three jewels; that’s all there is to it. Well, studying it we find out that depending on the vehicle we follow, the understanding of the three jewels differs. It’s a difficult subject. The understanding of the three jewels and the manner of taking refuge is the complete and vast scope of the paths of sutra and tantra. Therefore it is said that refuge itself includes all the paths of sutra and tantra.

Starting with the refuge will be our base for anything we study, all the way to dzogchen, the (practices of) trekchö (khregs chod, cutting through), thögal (thod rgal, leaping-over), and so on. When it comes to refuge, buddha presented us with three approaches to it.

Depending on the vehicle, we have three approaches. First of all, if we follow the lesser or common vehicle, we base the approach on the notion of renunciation, thinking that no matter where one is born in samsara, the nature of all experiences is nothing but suffering. There is not as much happiness and comfort as there could be on the tip of a needle. Everything has the nature of suffering. Not just in this life, but wherever one is born, regardless of the place, there is nothing but suffering. Having considered the nature of suffering, and wanting to get freedom from it, is called “renunciation.”

With the common vehicle as a base, if someone is interested in following the buddhist path one needs to develop renunciation. Our teacher Buddha Shakyamuni, when he was a prince living in his palace, decided to go out of it on several occasions. Wherever he went (in the four different directions from the palace), he encountered the suffering of birth, old age, sickness, and death. Because he realized that there was no liberation from these and no escaping them, he really wanted to find a way out of suffering. We develop renunciation in a similar way when we start on the path.

Such an attitude is called renunciation or definite arising from samsara. It is difficult to really have such a wish from the depths of one’s heart. If one has it, one thinks that dharma practice is something really necessary, that there is no other way but to accomplish the path. [Conversely,] if one does not have that kind of deep renunciation, one gives priority to things like high position, and getting money or fame.

Surely not everyone will have such a thought naturally. It is not the case that we cannot be buddhists or study buddhism if we don’t have it (from the start). There are many kinds of people with different dispositions and faculties. Some, due to the power of their karma, may have renunciation from the start, yet they are really rare. Others develop it gradually through studies and personal experience, and, having built up their understanding, want to attain Buddhahood. So it’s alright for us to develop this attitude step by step as we study.

People usually start having renunciation if they have been through hardships and extreme suffering, or have seen others go through it. Usually suffering is the base on which renunciation “grows.” People who have not really experienced suffering hardly ever develop renunciation. Those who had it easy and only have been through happy times, yet end up developing renunciation, are extremely rare. So it’s not easy, one usually needs suffering as a base to give rise to such a motivation. Since it is suffering through which we develop renunciation, we must understand the suffering of samsara. Some people with sharp faculties, through the power of their karma, naturally have sadness and renunciation towards the three spheres of samsara and want to practice the dharma. There are very few, however.

Taking our teacher Buddha Shakyamuni as an example: when he was living in his palace, he didn’t have renunciation; only after having gone out of his palace and having seen the suffering he developed it. In the same way, if we have all the comforts, wealth, food, clothing, etc., the renunciation mind gets weaker. For many of today’s young people it is hard to develop renunciation, as they have everything they might want, getting food, clothing, and so on is not an issue, they can enjoy themselves and play. Some people have this view; not having seen suffering, one doesn’t experience renunciation.

So we established that without suffering it is hard to develop the renunciation mind , yet there is a way to gradually develop renunciation: education and studies. In the world everyone appreciates educated people; those without education are looked down upon and are considered unskilled, etc. Everywhere in the world education is needed. Studying properly, we ask ourselves questions like “how to really develop renunciation” and “what is the buddhist view, meditation, action; what is it?” Through studies we can understand and know these things. If we don’t have renunciation from the start it is important to develop it gradually in this way. If we want to accomplish the path to buddhahood we need renunciation as the base, otherwise it will be impossible.


Information : new students will be able to integrate the 1st year of study up to January 2013.

Registration to the Shedra is now open.


To follow the teachings in English, please contact  David Jeter: david@jamieyong.com

In Russian:      Ilya Bershin: ilyabershin@gmail.com

Rovshan Gasanov: 9727198@gmail.com

In Chinese:     Shen Yin: brigidayin@gmail.com

Lee Tien-Chen: Sherwood2046@gmail.com

In Slovenian:  Mateja Marsel: mateja.marsel@amis.net