An Introduction to the

Buddha, Dhamma, & Sangha


Thanissaro Bhikkhu

(Geoffrey DeGraff)


Copyright 1996 Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu, (Fifth edition, revised, 2012)

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Unported. To see a copy of this license visit “Commercial” shall mean any sale, whether for commercial or non-profit purposes or entities.

Questions about this book may be addressed to

Metta Forest Monastery

Valley Center, CA 92082-1409


Additional resources

More Dhamma talks, books and translations by Thanissaro Bhikkhu are available to download in digital audio and various ebook formats at

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  • Copyright
  • Quotation
  • Preface
  • I. Introduction
  • II. Readings
    • Buddha
      • The Quest for Awakening
      • The Buddha’s Passing Away
    • Dhamma
      • Basic Principles
      • Generosity
      • Virtue
      • Heaven
      • Drawbacks
      • Renunciation
      • The Four Noble Truths
      • The First Truth
      • The Second and Third Truths
      • The Fourth Truth
      • Right View
      • Right Mindfulness and Concentration
      • Liberation
    • Sangha
      • The Rewards of the Contemplative Life
      • Aids to Awakening
      • Sister Sona on Aging
      • Ven. Punna on Death
      • Sister Patacara on Awakening
  • III. Essays
    • Buddha
      • The Meaning of the Buddha’s Awakening
    • Dhamma
      • Life Isn’t Just Suffering
      • No-self or Not-self?
      • Nibbana
    • Sangha
      • The Economy of Gifts
    • Summary
      • A Refuge in Skillful Action
        • Background
        • The Principle of Skillful Action
        • The Teaching of Right View
        • This/That Conditionality
        • Dependent Co-arising
        • The Four Noble Truths
        • The Knowledge of Unbinding
        • Faith in the Principle of Kamma
  • Glossary
  • Abbreviations


They go to many a refuge,

to mountains, forests,

parks, trees, and shrines:

people threatened with danger.

That’s not the secure refuge,

that’s not the supreme refuge,

that’s not the refuge,

having gone to which,

you gain release

from all suffering and stress.

But when, having gone for refuge

to the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha,

you see with right discernment

the four noble truths—


the cause of stress,

the transcending of stress,

and the noble eightfold path,

the way to the stilling of stress:

That’s the secure refuge,

that, the supreme refuge,

that is the refuge,

having gone to which,

you gain release

from all suffering and stress.


This book is a short introduction to the basic principles of Buddhism: the Buddha, the Dhamma (his teachings), and Sangha (the community of his noble disciples), also known as the Triple Gem or the Triple Refuge. The material is divided into three parts: (I) an introductory essay on the meaning of refuge and the act of going for refuge; (II) a series of readings drawn from the earliest Buddhist texts illustrating the essential qualities of the Triple Gem; and (III) a set of essays explaining aspects of the Triple Gem that often provoke questions in those who are new to the Buddha’s teachings. This last section concludes with an essay that summarizes, in a more systematic form, many of the points raised in the earlier parts of the book.

The readings on Dhamma form the core of the book, organized in a pattern—called a graduated discourse (anupubbi-katha)—that the Buddha himself often used when introducing his teachings to new listeners. After beginning with the joys of generosity, he would describe the joys of a virtuous life, followed by the rewards of generosity and virtue to be experienced here and, after death, in heaven; the drawbacks of sensual pleasures, even heavenly ones; and the rewards of renunciation. Then, when he sensed that his listeners were inclined to look favorably on renunciation as a way to true happiness, he would discuss the central message of his teaching: the four noble truths.

My hope is that this introduction will help answer many of the questions that newcomers bring to Buddhism, and will spark new questions in their minds as they contemplate the possibility of developing within their own lives the qualities of refuge exemplified by the Triple Gem.

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Metta Forest Monastery
Valley Center, CA 92082-1409

Dhamma Paññā

BQT trang Theravāda cố gắng sưu tầm thông tin tài liệu Dhamma trợ duyên quý độc giả tìm hiểu về Dhamma - Giáo Pháp Bậc Giác Ngộ thuyết giảng suốt 45 năm sau khi Ngài chứng đắc trở thành Đức Phật Chánh Đẳng Chánh Giác vào đêm Rằm tháng 4, tìm hiểu thêm phương pháp thực hành thiền Anapana, thiền Vipassana qua các tài liệu, bài giảng, pháp thoại từ các Thiền Sư, các Bậc Trưởng Lão, Bậc Thiện Trí.