As Buddhists, we take refuge in what are known as the Three Jewels. These are the three infallible objects which we can count on to lead us out of our confusion, out of our bewilderment and finally out of the endless suffering that characterizes our experience of cyclic existence. The first of these is the Buddha, or the teacher. The teacher is the one who has gone through all of the necessary steps to liberate him or herself from the suffering of samsara. Though we must do the hard work ourselves, out of their great kindness and compassion, our teachers patiently guide us along the sometimes difficult path of spiritual life and towards the ultimate goal of our own awakening.

From Calling the Lama From Afar by Pabongka Rinpoche
Abbreviated Version

Lama, think of me!
Lama, think of me!
Lama, think of me!

Magnificently glorious guru, dispelling the darkness of ignorance;
Magnificently glorious guru, revealing the path of liberation;
Magnificently glorious guru, liberating from the waters of samsara;
Magnificently glorious guru, eliminating the diseases of the five poisons;
Magnificently glorious guru who is the wish-granting jewel;
I beseech you:
Please grant me blessings to remember impermanence and death from my heart. And to generate the thought of no-need in my mind…