Taking refuge is the first formal step on the Buddhist path. This concise text explains that what is meant by refuge is protection and eventual freedom from the confusion and suffering of cyclic existence (samsara). Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche describes the genuine sources of spiritual refuge, which are called the Three Jewels: the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. He explains the importance of receiving refuge from an authentic and unbroken lineage of transmission, the role of faith and trust, and how to relate to the refuge ceremony itself. Rinpoche emphasizes the importance of taking refuge with the motivation to practice the path until we reach full spiritual awakening-and to do so not just for ourselves, but for the benefit and enlightenment of all beings.
Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche is the abbot of KTD, Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Monastery in Woodstock, New York. KTD is the North American seat of His Holiness Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the seventeenth Gyalwa Karmapa. Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche was born in Tibet in 1924, and has been a Buddhist monk since the age of twelve. He received extensive scholarly and retreat training in Tibet before escaping the Chinese invasion in 1959. In 1978 he was sent to the United States as the personal representative of His Holiness Karmapa. Since then, he has taught continuously and guided countless students in the study and practice of Buddhism.