According to Lama Tsong Khapa, irreversible complete refuge in the Buddha Jewel, Dharma Jewel and Sangha Jewel is the basis for generating the path.
Jetsun Chokyi Gyaltsen:
The nature or way of refuge: In dependence on these two cause for refuge, the mind being transformed into complete trust, from the depth of the mind, that the Three Jewels will rescue one from all sufferings, and accepting this with a commitment.
The two causes for refuge:
- Being afraid of all sufferings.
- Knowing that the Three Rare and Sublime Ones have the ability to rescue one.
These two are the perfect causes for refuge, because in dependence on them the mind of refuge will definitely be generated.
The are called the “Precious Rare and Sublime Ones” for six reasons:
- They are seldom present in the worlds.
- They are stainless.
- The possess the powers of clairvoyances and so forth.
- They are the sublime of all virtuous ornaments.
- They are the sublime of all qualities.
- They are not under the control of attachment or anger.
Until attaining the essence of enlightenment [2.26]
I go for refuge to the buddhas;
Likewise, I go for refuge to the dharma
And to the assembly of bodhisattvas.
Gyalstab Dharma Rinchen:
The meaning of refuge is to mentally hold the object as the basis for liberation from dangers and suffering, and to express this verbally…
Here one goes for refuge from now until the attainment of the essence of highest enlightenment… Until that time one takes refuge in the buddhas and likewise in the Mahayana Dharma Jewel and into the assembly of bodhisattvas, the superior bodhisattvas.