The Three Jewels of Buddhism

How They Can Improve Your Relationship

When I began to study Buddhism in the 1980’s, I quickly realized that faith had as many lists as Catholicism, the religion I grew up in. And like a lot of the Catholic lists, I couldn’t always understand their value.

But I grew to love the teachings on the Three Jewels, as they are readily applicable to regular people in their relationships and in everyday situations.

In Brief, the Three Jewels are: Buddha, Dharma, Sangha.

Buddha: In the Three Jewels teaching, the Buddha is recognized, not just as the historical figure from 2500 years ago, but also as the Buddha within each of us, the part of us that wants to wake up to our conditioning. The Buddha within seeks liberation from the shackles of habitual thoughts and reactions.

I find this concept quite reassuring! I have a Buddha within, and that mysterious entity wants me to heal and wants me to find a path, with my beloved, to heal.

Couples can support each other in becoming more aware of their Buddha nature.


The Dharma is the Way that the Buddha taught for us to attain enlightenment. These are the methods of thought, intention and speech which would lead to freedom from negative habits of thinking and reacting.

I find it comforting that the Buddha laid out a clear plan for my healing and growth!

When I teach relationships to Couples on the Path, I lean into important concepts directly from the Eightfold Path.

For example, intentions are used world-wide as practices which can shape our thinking and alert us to negative thoughts and actions.

An example of right intention: “I’m willing to create a safe, loving relationship with you.” After working with intentions with many teachers over the years, I have come to see how powerful it is to have guiding aspirations.


In the Buddhist tradition, sangha, or community is the group of people working together for liberation. Those of us on a spiritual path know how hard it is to progress without friends and allies who understand our struggles and who want to practice with us.

These friends give us inspiration and support.

In a relationship, you have your own built-in Sangha. You and your partner give each other feedback all the time. How powerful it would be if that feedback were oriented towards liberation from conflict and suffering! Towards joy and contact!

Buddha, dharma, sangha: foreign words, but hopefully this short essay has shown you how these important concepts can inform your vision of your relationship, and can help you create a mutual path of healing and awakening.