The number three frequently occurs in Buddhist teachings. For example:
nèdék – Striking the Essence in Three Incisive
Indications. These three are: Direct Introduction, Remaining Without Doubt, and
Continuing in the State. These three incisive indications were the final
essential indicative presentation describing the direct meaning of Dzogchen
given by Garab Dorje (dGa’ rab rDo rJe).
- Könchog Sum (dKon mChog gSum) – the three jewels and the
source of refuge at the outer
They are: sang-gyé (sangs gyas) – the Buddha or Awakened
One; chö (chos) – the Dharma or body of teachings; and
gendün (dGe ’dun) – the Sangha or community of practitioners.
Sang-gyé is the source of chö and those whose minds are turned
towards chö are gendün.
- Ma Za Dor Sum
rDo gSum) – the three protectors of the Nyingma tradition. These
three are: Mamo Ekajati (man mo e mKha dza ’ti), Za Rahula (Za
Ra hu la), and Dorje Legpa (Dam chan rDo rJe Legs pa).
- Ku sum (sKu
the three Spheres of Being. These are: the Sphere of Unconditioned
Potentiality, the Sphere of Visionary Appearances and the Sphere of Realised
Manifestation – chö-ku (chos sku), dharmakaya; Long-ku
(longs sku), sambhogakaya; and Trül-ku
(sprul sku), nirmanakaya.
- Gyüpa sum (khyad par gyi
brGyud pa gSum) – the three special gTérma lineages of the
Nyingma Tradition. These are: Kabab Lung-ten gi gyüdpa (bKa’ babs
lung bsTan gyi brGyud pa) – prophetic mandate lineage; Mönlam
dBang-kur gi gyüdpa (sMon lam dBang bsKur gyi brGyud pa) –
lineage of empowerment through aspiration; and Khandro Tad-gya gi gyüdpa
(mKha’ ’gro gTad rGya gyi brGyud pa) – Mind mandate
lineage of the khandros.
- Nyipa sum (nyes pa gSum): the wind (rLung), bile (mKhris
pa), and phlegm (bad kan) of
Tibetan Medicine (gSo ba rig pa). The long-term causative factors of
Nyipa sum are understood to be the nyon mong-pa dug sum (nyon mongs pa
dug gsum) – the three
primary misconceptions of attraction,
aversion and indifference.
- Thegpa sum (theg pa gsum) – the three vehicles of Hinayana,
Mahayana and Vajrayana.
- Tsa sum (rTsa gSum) – the three roots of practice:
and khandro/pawo. The inner refuge at the level of outer tantra.
- Dé sum (sDe gSum) – the three series of Dzogchen:
(sems sDe), long-dé (kLong sDe) and men-ngak-dé
(men ngag sDe). Sem-dé is the series of the Nature of Mind and has
the greatest proportion of explanation. Long-dé has less explanation and
is the series of Space. Men-ngak-dé has no explanation and is the series
of Implicit Instruction.