Aṅgulimâla replied to the Bhagavat, "Who are the novices in the world ? Who are the fully ordained ? Who are the true ascetics in the world ? Who are the worthy recipients of alms in the world ?"
The Bhagavat remained silent with answering and so Aṅgulimâla then said to the Bhagavat, "Bhagavat, the two other refuges of expedience were established for those people in the world who do not take refuge in the single, ultimate refuge.
Those two are refuges for people in the world, so are those from novices to the fully ordained, who are not yet truly pure, ascetics ? How can those who do not know the single refuge engage in refuge ! If those who do not go to the Bhagavat for refuge are not refined in taking refuge from the start, how can they be ascetics ?
If they do not go for refuge and are not truly pure, how can they become worthy recipients of alms !
Those who do not know the difference between the ultimate refuge and the refuge of expedience are unskilled novices in the world."
I'm sure many of you who read the Nikayas, wondered why Buddha is always mentioned first in the recollections... I always wondered about it's significance -- or if it had any significance. The Buddha anusmriti (recollection of Buddha) is always mentioned FIRST over all other recollections, so the other recollections are lesser meditations! They can lead to Arahanthood, but faith in Buddha alone one gains Bodhisatvahood!!!!
In the Triple Gem refuge, Buddha is FIRST. There is no refuge without Buddha!