The Three Shelters
Practice in the Bodhisattva Dharma begins with the acceptance of the Three Shelters, namely the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Shanga. The Three Shelters are otherwise known as the Three Precious Gems, or the Triple Gem. Taking shelter, we also take refuge in the Triple Stone within us. This means that our mind, which is enlightened in its essence, takes the place of the Buddha within us. Our speech, which we use to teach and help other people, is Dharma. And our bodies and our behavior are the symbols of Sanga. Still, taking refuge, we are connected with the tradition of practicing the Dharma of the Bodhisattvas, but without caring about which Master was the wisest and who had developed the highest wisdom and virtue. We must first and foremost be interested in cultivating our own good roots, developing harmony with all, and helping all people. Our heart and mind must naturally lean towards the Dharma, and it must feel as if its mind, spirit and body are in the arms of the Dharma.
He who takes the Three Shelters must understand that the Buddha is a virtuous being worthy of all respect, and that the Buddhist Mind represents an incomparable field of bliss and blessing in this world. He must also understand that the Dharma is a complete Teaching, full of principles that clearly describe the path to the Supreme Awakening. Just as the nature of a drop of water and the ocean are the same, so is the nature of a small and a large space. Similarly, there should be no differentiation and distinction between the lover and the adored. This implies that there is no duality between the same nature of a person and his Buddhist nature. That is, there is no idea of an ego, a personality, an existence, etc. The only reality is the complete identification of the same nature of a person with the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas, and with their unlimited compassion that extends to all sentient beings.