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Buddhism Overview

Introductory Courses   |   Level II Courses  |   Buddhism RetreatsBuddhism

What is Buddhism?

Buddhism is a path of teaching and practice. Buddhist practices such as meditation are means of changing oneself in order to develop the qualities of awareness, kindness and wisdom. The experience developed within the Buddhist tradition over thousands of years has created an incomparable resource for all those who wish to follow the path of spiritual development. Ultimately, the Buddhist path culminates in Enlightenment or Buddhahood.

Who was the Buddha?

The word 'Buddha' is a title and not a name. It means 'one who is awake' in the sense of having 'woken up to reality'.

This title was first given to a man called Siddharta Gautama, who lived 2,500 years ago in northern India. At the age of 35, after years of striving, he gained Enlightenment whilst in profound meditation. During the remaining 45 years of his life he travelled through much of northern India, spreading his teaching of the way to Enlightenment. The teaching is known in the East as the Buddha-dharma - 'the teaching of the Enlightened One'.

Travelling from place to place, the Buddha taught numerous disciples, many of whom gained Enlightenment in their own right. They, in turn, taught others and in this way an unbroken chain of teaching has continued, right down to the present day.

The Buddha was not a God and he made no claim to divinity. There is no concept of a creator God in Buddhism. He was a human being who, through tremendous efforts, transformed himself.

The state of Enlightenment which he reached has three main facets. It is a state of wisdom, of insight into the true nature of things. It is also a source of boundless compassion, manifesting itself in activity for the benefit of all beings. And it is the total liberation of all the energies of the mind and the body so they are at the service of the fully conscious mind.

[Read more about Buddhism at our international website]