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A Brief Teaching on Refuge by His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa

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I would like to present a brief teaching on Refuge. It is the understanding and observing of the Refuge vow which defines one as a Buddhist. It is also said, "You are not a Mahayanist if you don't have Bodhicitta." The generation of Bodhicitta or the Bodhisattva aspiration to aid all sentient beings is what defines whether or not your practice is Mahayana.
It should be understood that the entire Buddhist path is included within the principles of Refuge and Bodhicitta. All the teachings given by the Buddha Shakyamuni come down to Refuge and Bodhicitta. Therefore we have teachings on the roots of Refuge, the general and particular precepts of Refuge, and many other instructions related to Refuge. The roots of Refuge are faith and compassion. First there is trust and confidence in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha (the Three Jewels). Also, there is compassion, wishing to liberate all sentient beings from suffering.
Faith in the Three Jewels consists of three types. Inspired faith…