The Buddhist practitioners take refuge in the Three Jewels, the
Triratna in Sanskrit, which are the Buddha-treasure, Dharma-treasure,
and sangha-treasure. In the esoteric school, refuge is taken in the Four
Jewels, which, atop the former three, also includes that taken in the
spiritual master of transmission and reception, the acarya.
The Three Jewels denote the Buddha, Dharma, and sangha—all of
them the incomparable, most reverence treasures of the human realm.
The Buddha, instructor of the three realms, gracious parent to the
four forms of birth, and founder of heaven and earth, instructs all
living beings in cultivating and learning the Dharma. The Dharma is
the doctrine as told by the Buddha. The treasure-trove of Buddhist
knowledge is an assembly of the sutra, sastra, and vinaya, called the
Tripitaka. Diligent, consistent practice in acquiring such knowledge and
cultivating blessedness and wisdom along the way promises ultimate
liberation from rebirths and redeaths. The sangha instructs followers
in emulating the Buddha. Hence the title Three Jewels.