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Religious aspect of the Buddha’s teaching is comprehended in the notion of the Three Refuges according to which the Buddha, his teaching and his community are the refuge from the saṃsāric suffering and those who seek for religious salvation can find there the way to enlightenment and nirvāṇa. The first Refuge is the Buddha and his nature being equal to the nature of other buddhas and bodhisattvas his follower, achieving refuge in one of them achieves it in all the buddhas. Thereby the adept becomes the object of buddhas’ great compassion (mahākaruṇā), i.e. active compassion that let buddhas and bodhisattvas help saṃsāric beings on their way to salvation. The second Refuge is the Buddha’s teaching that presents the way to salvation and states the actions that a person is to undertake to achieve nirvāṇa. The third Refuge is the Buddhist community that keeps the teaching and helps its members on their way to perfection in religious practices. Buddhas and bodhisattvas are the highest part of the community, their precepts are the Buddha’s teaching in its purest form and all their actions including miracles that they make are elements of admonition or instruments necessary for the most exact presentation of the teaching to their listeners. Therefore, all the Three Refuges are finally one entity that is divided into three different components only for being more easily comprehended by the adepts of the teaching.

Key words: religious teachings of ancient India, Mahāyāna, Madhyamaka, Buddha, Dharma, Saṃgha

DOI: 10.22250/20728662_2022_4_55

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About the author

Sergey L. Burmistrov– D.Sc. in Philosophy, Leading researcher, section of South Asian studies, department of Central and South Indian studies,
Institute of Oriental Manuscripts RAS; 18A Dvortsovaya emb, St. Petersburg, 191186, Russia; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.