I don't believe this concept belongs exclusively to the religion of Buddhism. I believe Buddhism only expresses it through its own particular paradigm. In fact, I think these 3 treasures - these three jewels - are universal truths. I see these as three Lotuses.
“Nirvana shares one quality with the lotus. As the lotus is untainted by water, so is Nirvana unstained by all the defilements”.
The first jewel – the Buddha – does not necessarily have to mean Siddhartha Gautama himself, but, in all likelihood, might refer to the awakened nature of all beings. I see this as extremely similar to the martial art's Taekwon-do's tenet Guk-gi (Self-Control). (And Solace is a fruit of Guk-gi).
The second Jewel, Dharma, is the teaching, but let's not take this too literally. This doesn't have to mean Buddhism's teaching(s). We shouldn't become frightened that to accept this Dharma means a path away from whatever belief or religion we currently belong to. No, I think this treasure - this universal truth - is simply being open to learning. I take Dharma as taking and accepting truth whenever and wherever we find it. (In fact, this might very well fly in the face of propositional truth [fundamentalism?]). I see this Dharma as akin to what is borrowed from the Chinese -do, or Dao, or possibly Tao, meaning the way or path or route to something, and that something is the fundamental nature of the universe.
The Sangha in Buddhism generally refers to the Buddhist's community itself. But the further we take this concept the larger one's Sangha becomes. On its largest level we are faced with the global community as our own, and I think this is a perfect place for us to reflect on the underlying concept of Compassion. I think it is important not to mistaken, or force a necessary interpretation, of this Sangha as meaning a specific and exclusive religious body of followers. I take this Sangha concept as being boundless and without boarders.
I believe the most valued truth that we can discover is that of Solace and Compassion.
And Solace and Compassion are entangled by Dharma.
These are what I call the Three Lotuses.
Solace, Compassion, and Dharma
That's one of the reasons I have three lotuses tattooed on my arm. It is one symbolism it holds to me. But not the only one.
The third lotus has a skull within its heart. It reminds me of impermanence; of both mortality and immortality. As I myself am mortal, I know of my own impermanence, of my own mortality. Yet the other two lotuses represent my children, and through them I have achieved immortality.
The final significance is the only method I have discovered to overcome Lust. (See A Practical Guide for the Spiritual Sojourner: A Cure for Lust).