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In Buddhism, refuge or taking refuge refers to a religious practice, which often includes a prayer or recitation performed at the beginning of the day or of a practice session. Since the period of Early Buddhism all Theravada and mainstream Mahayana schools only take refuge in the Three Jewels (also known as the Triple Gem or Three Refuges, Pali: ti-ratana or ratana-ttaya; Sanskrit: tri-ratna or ratna-traya), which are the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.
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Taking refuge is a form of aspiration to lead a life with the Triple Gem at its core. Taking refuge is done by a short formula in which one names the Buddha, the dharma and the saṅgha as refuges. In early Buddhist scriptures, taking refuge is an expression of determination to follow the Buddha's path, but not a relinquishing of responsibility. Refuge is common to all major schools of Buddhism.
In 1880, Henry Steel Olcott and Helena Blavatsky became the first known Westerners of the modern era to receive the Three Refuges and Five Precepts, which is the ceremony by which one traditionally become Buddhist.
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