As in Theravada Buddhism, the Taking of Refuge in the THREE JEWELS (q.v.) is an important element of Buddhist ritual, and usually forms the first stage of a SADHANA or other ritual sequence. For Tibetans, the Refuge is often taken in front of an elaborate visualization of Tantric deities, centred on the guru in the form of Vajradhara, Padmasambhava or some other YIDAM. The refuge may include a refuge in the Lama preceding that in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Refuge may also be taken in Guru (= LAMA), Deva (=YIDAM) and DAKINI or in some other form.
Taking refuge means entrusting one's spiritual development to the BUDDHAS, DHARMA and SANGHA. "Inner refuge" refers to refuge in our own BUDDHA-NATURE: our own natural WISDOM and the guidance we can give others.
The door to the Dharma path. Fearing the sufferings of samsara, Buddhists take refuge in the Three Jewels with the faith that Buddha, Dharma and Sangha have the power to lead them to happiness, liberation, or enlightenment.