The Teachings of Buddha
Who was Buddha?
“In general, Buddha means “Awakened One,” someone who has awakened from the sleep of ignorance and sees things as they really are. A Buddha is a person who is completely free from all faults and mental obstructions”. –Introduction to Buddhism
The founder of Buddhism in this world was Buddha Shakyamuni who lived and gave teachings in India some two and a half thousand years ago. Since then millions of people around world have followed the spiritual path he revealed. The Buddhist way of life of peace, loving kindness and wisdom can be just as relevant today as it was in ancient India. Buddha explained that all our problems and suffering arise from confused and negative states of mind, and that all our happiness and good fortune arise from peaceful and positive states of mind.
What is Buddhism?
“Buddhism is the practice of Buddha’s teachings, also called Dharma, which means “protection.” –Modern Buddhism
Buddha taught methods for gradually overcoming our negative minds such as anger, jealousy and ignorance, and developing our positive minds such as love, compassion and wisdom. Through this we can come to experience lasting peace and happiness.
These methods can work for anyone, in any country, in any age. Once we have gained experience of them for ourselves we can pass them on to others so they too can enjoy the same benefits.
Meditation is at the heart of the Buddhist way of life. It is essentially a method for understanding and working on our own mind. We first learn to identify our different negative mental states known as ‘delusions’, and learn how to develop peaceful and positive mental states or ‘virtuous minds’.
During meditation we overcome our delusions by becoming familiar with these virtuous minds. During the meditation break, when we are out of meditation, we try to maintain the virtuous minds we have developed and use our wisdom to solve the problems of daily life.
As our mind becomes more positive our actions become more constructive, and our experience of life becomes more satisfying and beneficial to others.
Anyone can learn basic meditation techniques and experience great benefits, but to progress beyond basic meditation requires faith in the Three Jewels – Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Usually people find this develops naturally as they experience the benefits of their meditation practice.
We don’t need to change our activities; we just need to change our mind. Busy lives are perfect conditions for practicing Dharma and training our mind. Our work and family, for example, are ideal places to reduce our attachment and self-cherishing and improve our cherishing of others.
“Activities such as cooking, working, talking, and relaxing are not intrinsically mundane; they are mundane only if done with a mundane mind. By doing exactly the same actions with a spiritual motivation they become pure spiritual practices.” –Eight Steps to Happiness
With practical Dharma methods in our heart, we will be more prepared for any challenges that may arise and actually be able to grow from the different circumstances we encounter. We will also be able to spread joy and peace to others.
What is Kadampa Buddhism?
Kadampa Buddhism is a Mahayana Buddhist school founded by the great Indian Buddhist Master Atisha (AD 982–1054). His followers are known as Kadampas.
“Ka refers to Buddha’s teachings, and dam refers to Atisha’s instructions on Lamrim (the “Stages of the Path to Enlightenment,” also known as Kadam Lamrim). Kadam therefore refers to the union of Buddha’s teachings and Atisha’s instructions, and sincere practitioners of Kadam Lamrim are called Kadampas.” –Modern Buddhism
Kadampa Buddhists are encouraged to use Buddha’s teachings as practical methods for transforming daily activities into the spiritual path. Kadam Dharma accords with people’s daily experience; it cannot be separated from daily life.
Over 1,200 Kadampa Buddhist Centers and groups in over 30 countries offer study programs on Buddhist psychology, philosophy, and meditation instruction, as well as retreats for all levels of practitioner. The emphasis is on integrating Buddha’s teachings into daily life to solve our human problems and to spread lasting peace and happiness throughout the world.