The founder of Buddhism in this world was Buddha Shakyamuni who lived and taught in India some two and a half thousand years ago. Since then millions of people around the world have followed the pure spiritual path he revealed.
Buddha explained that all our problems and suffering arise from confused and negative states of mind, and all our happiness and good fortune arise from peaceful and positive states of mind.
Lasting Peace and Happiness
He taught methods for gradually overcoming negative states of mind such as anger, jealousy and ignorance, and developing positive minds such as love, compassion and wisdom. Through this we will come to experience lasting peace and happiness. These methods 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. The Buddhist way of life – peace, loving kindness and wisdom – is just as relevant today as it was when Buddha appeared in ancient India.
Meditation is at the heart of the Buddhist way of life – the perfect method for understanding and improving our own mind. Through meditation we first learn to identify our different negative mental states, known as “delusions”, and then learn how to develop peaceful and positive mental states, known as “virtuous minds”.
In our daily lives we strive to practice and maintain these virtuous minds and use our wisdom to solve our problems. 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 along the Buddhist path to enlightenment we need to develop faith in the Three Jewels –
Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. This kind of faith naturally arises as we experience the benefits of meditation practice and personally verify that Dharma (the teachings of Buddha) is changing our lives for the better.
The Spiritual Path
The teachings of Buddha reveal a step-by-step path to lasting happiness. By following this path, anyone can gradually transform his or her mind from its present confused and self-centered state into the blissful mind of an enlightened being.
As Geshe Kelsang Gyatso says in his popular book, Eight Steps to Happiness:
“Every living being has the potential to become a Buddha, someone who has completely purified his or her mind of all faults and limitations and has brought all good qualities to perfection. Our mind is like a cloudy sky, in essence clear and pure but overcast by the clouds of delusions. Just as the thickest clouds eventually disperse, so too even the heaviest delusions can be removed from our mind. Delusions such as hatred, greed, and ignorance are not intrinsic parts of the mind. If we apply the appropriate methods they can be completely eliminated, and we shall experience the supreme happiness of full enlightenment.”
Having attained enlightenment, we shall have all the necessary qualities – universal love and compassion, omniscient wisdom and boundless spiritual power – to lead all living beings to the same exalted state. This is the ultimate aim of Mahayana Buddhism.
To find out more about Buddhism, read Introduction to Buddhism by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.
For this and other books, visit our bookshop page.