Buddhism systematically teaches that everyone has had many lives and
believes there are countless universes, according to people's past actions.
Therefore, there are countless enlightened beings, known as Buddhas and
Bodhissattvas, to help us. This eon is called "a fortunate eon" because
Buddha Shakyamuni appeared on our planet and taught different teachings. The
term Buddha in Tibetan (Sangay) means "fully awakened one."
Twenty-five hundred years ago, the historical Buddha lived a family life
with the name of Sidhartha and had a child in Rajagir, India. At the age of
29 he understood true suffering and generated great compassion and then
engaged in vigorous practices for many years to overcome suffering and the
cause of suffering. Finally at the age of 37 he achieved Buddhahood in
Bodhgaya under a Bodhi tree. This place is considered the holiest of all
places in the Buddhist world. After Siddhartha became enlightened, he taught
for 40 years. His teaching deals with the endless suffering of cyclic
Buddha taught three main teachings called The Three Dharma Wheels. His
first teaching, or turning of the Dharma Wheel, was on The Four Noble
Truths. The second teaching was mainly on the Perfected Wisdom. His third
teaching was on The Clear Discrimination. At the age of 81, the Buddha
passed away. This last deed is very a powerful reminder of the impermanent
nature of all living beings.
After the Buddha passed away, there were three councils to keep the
Buddha's teachings. It was during the last council that the teachings were
put into writing and preserved in a temple or in monasteries in the form of
After the Buddha's death, his Mahayana teachings were preserved by
heavenly beings such as gods, nagas and other sprits. As the Buddha
predicted, the two great revivals of the Buddhist teachings occurred by two
renowned scholars, Nagajuna (400 years after Buddha's death) and Asanga (900
While Buddha was teaching the 2nd Dharma lesson, the Perfected Wisdom, he
also taught the tantric (esoteric) teachings in South-ern India. The
conciliation of most these profound teachings after Buddha's passing was
made by Bodhisattvas, the advanced disciples of the Buddha who follow the
Mahayana teachings and seek full enlightenment for the benefit of all
beings. The tantric teachings are thought to be at the Northen part of Mount
Sumeru, a mystical place where there are many Bodhisattvas. It is said that
many saints brought the tantric teachings to India from the pure land.
Buddhism originated in India and migrated to other countries, both as
Mahayana and earlier forms of Buddhism.
The four Major Tibetan Buddhist sects are Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyu and
Geluk. These, in turn, are divided into two Tibetan Buddhist traditions: the
old and new tantric traditions. Vajrayana Diamond path is the most dominant
Buddhist tradition in Tibet. It is also called Tantric Buddhism or "esoteric
Buddhism." The earlier Buddhist texts that have been translated into Tibetan
are called the Nyingma, or "the old tantric tradition." The Indian Buddhist
texts, translated by great translators such as Rinchen Sangpo and others
during the period of the second dissemination in the 10th century, are
called "the new tradition."
In the 7th Century a Tibetan king founded the first written Tibetan
language and established laws based on Buddhist teachings which mysteriously
appeared five generations before him. This king was considered the
manifestation of the Buddha of Infinite Compassion. During his reign, many
Buddhist sutras were translated into Tibetan. In Tibet, even small children
can recite the mantra of Buddha of compassion: OM MANI PADME HUM.
During the reign of the king Tritsong Deutsan, many scriptures were
translated into Tibetan. This king founded the first Buddhist monastery in
763 AD. The design of the building was based on the largest Indian
Under the rule of King Ralpachan, the third great Dharma King, in the
ninth century, Buddhism continued to flourish as more texts were translated
from Sanskrit into Tibetan.
There are 101 scriptural volumes of Buddha's original teachings and 225
commentaries translated into Tibetan by Buddha's great followers, Tibetans,
Indian yogis, and scholars. As generations went by, Buddhism was highly
respected as the most dominant religion in Tibet. Religious kings, great
translators, and both Indian and Tibetan scholars solidified this position.
Later in 9th century, the evil king Langdharma and his ministers
persecuted Buddhists. Tibet remained in the dark for 70 years. Two monastic
traditions came from the lower and upper regions of Tibet, and these
gradually spread to the center and the Dharma came alive again.
A Bodhisattva Yeshi Od, out of great compassion for the Tibetan people,
worked hard and to invite the great master Atisha to Tibet in the 11th
Century to refine the teachings. Atisha taught Lamp for the Path to
Enlightenment, the complete form and proper procedure of practice. Atisha's
presence in Tibet was extremely productive and his great kindness to the
Tibetan people and their religion is well remembered.
Buddhists believe that the mind is the forerunner of all acts and
experiences. All sufferings and miseries are rooted in a polluted mind or
thoughts. Examples of polluted thoughts are anger, hatred, selfishness and
intolerance. Consistent meditation on compassion and wisdom cleanse a
polluted mind by degrees. It forcibly guides us into a joyous path, which
takes us eventually to everlasting happiness. We can overcome suffering and
achieve happiness according to our own mental ability and efforts.
The Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha are the three main objects of refuge in
Buddhism. The Buddha is a perfect teacher who shows an unmistakable path,
which he has already walked correctly through his own effort. Dharma is a
personal realization that one achieves by practicing the Buddha's teachings.
The Dharma resembles medicine that cures disease directly rather than
indirectly. Furthermore, Dharma is like a safeguard. Dharma means, "to
hold." It holds one directly from falling into an ocean of unbearable
suffering. Meditation is the key instrument to achieve the higher mental
qualities of Dharma. Consequently, Dharma is the foremost object of refuge
among the three. Sangha can be considered one's spiritual community, or
people who inspire each other to engage in following virtuous paths.