Buddhism is the teaching founded by the Buddha, which means “awakened one,” 2,500 years ago in Northern India. The Buddha taught that all of us have the potential to grow in awareness, wisdom, and compassion, and to live more freely from unhealthy attachment and past conditioning.

The Dharma, or Buddhist path and teachings, is whatever helps us develop in this way.

Buddhism is a path of practice and spiritual development leading to Insight into the true nature of life. Buddhist practices 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–a path which ultimately culminates in enlightenment, or Buddhahood.

Because Buddhism does not include the idea of worshipping a creator God, some people do not see it as a religion in the typical Western sense. The basic tenets of Buddhist teaching are straightforward and practical: nothing is fixed or permanent; actions have consequences; change is possible. Thus Buddhism addresses itself to all people irrespective of race, nationality, or gender. It teaches practical methods (such as meditation) which enable people to realize and utilize its teachings in order to transform their experience, and to be fully responsible for their lives and to develop the qualities of wisdom and compassion.

There are around 350 million Buddhists worldwide and a growing number of them are Westerners. They follow many different traditions of Buddhism, but all are characterized by non-violence, lack of dogma, tolerance of differences, and, usually, the practice of meditation.