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Three things are counted as extremely precious and valuable jewels. Therefore, they called three jewels. They are Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Buddhist faith is to understand these three jewels as precious and valuable ones and to take refuge in them.

Buddha is the person opening his eyes to the truth, and Sakyamuni Buddha born in India 2,600 years ago can be thought of. And then Dharma, a content elucidated for us after Buddha comprehended, has been handed down with the name of Tipitaka Koreana at present. Last, Sangha represents a religious community composed of monks and lay people.

Indeed, Dharma has been handed down ceaselessly through Sangha until now. Henceforth, Buddha is the spiritual guide leading the way kindly for us as the person having comprehended by searching for truth, Dharma is the map or milestone showing the way, and Sangha is the community of fellow travelers searching together for truth.

However, three jewels don't die down and represent the true mind we have naturally. Even Monk Wonhyo surely said, ¡°Turning around, the single mind(Ilsim) is just three jewels.¡± In other words, our innate mind is nothing but Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.

Why were Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha called the most precious jewels?

The reason is that we can reach the eternal and true world through it and return to real and true ¡°me¡± which is the origin of our existence. Hence, they are priceless jewels and are too precious to be exchanged with the world. Faith in Buddhism is geared toward the jewels. We take refuge in the Buddha. We take refuge in the Dharma. We take refuge in the Sangha. They are so called The Three Refuges. The Three Refuges are the expression of intention to fully commit to the most precious and valuable three jewels in the world. Therefore, saying of doing three refuges is an oath and a pledge to confess the direction and goal of life as ¡°I live my life this way.¡±

Likewise, Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha are three pillars supporting Buddhism and three factors enabling Buddhism to be itself. Hence, there have been three monasteries representing the three jewels in Korean Buddhism for a long time, and they are called The Three Jewel Monasteries. They are Tongdosa in Yangsan, Kyongsangnam-Do, Haeinsa in Habcheon, Kyongsangnam-Do, and Songgwang-sa in Sooncheon, Cheolanam-Do.

Tongdosa keeping Buddha's relics is called Buddha-Jewel Monastery, Haeinsa keeping the sutra panels of Tipitaka Koreana inscribing Dharma is called Dharma-Jewel Monastery, and Songgwang-sa inheriting the Buddhist spirit of Korean Buddhism is called Sangha-Jewel Monastery.