What is Buddhism?
Buddhism is one of the major world religions and has its origins more than 2, weight loss 500 years ago when Siddhattha Gotama was fully awakened (enlightened) at the age of 35. He came to be known as the Buddha. The word Buddha comes from the word ‘budh’, psychotherapist meaning ‘to know or to awaken’.

Who was the Buddha?
The Buddha was a fully enlightened teacher who was born into a royal family in northern India, in 563 BC. Known as Siddhattha Gotama, he realised at the age of 29 that wealth and luxury did not guarantee happiness, so he explored the different teachings, religions and philosophies of the day, to find the key to human happiness. After six years of study and meditation he finally found ‘the middle path’ and gained enlightenment. After enlightenment, the Buddha spent the rest of his life teaching the Dhamma, or Truth – until his passing away at the age of 80. He taught a path to enlightenment from his own experience. His teachings (the Dhamma) came to be known as Buddhism and is maintained by the Sangha, the community of monks and nuns.

Why is Buddhism Becoming Popular?
Buddhism is becoming popular in western countries for a number of reasons. Firstly, Buddhism has holistic answers to many of the problems in modern materialistic societies. It also includes (for those who are interested) a deep understanding of the human mind (andnatural therapies) which prominent
psychologists and therapists have found to be very advanced and effective.

Is Buddhism Scientific?
Science is knowledge which can be made into a system, which depends upon seeing and testing facts and stating general natural laws. The core of Buddhism fits into this definition, because the Four Noble Truths can be tested and proven by anyone. In fact the Buddha himself asked his followers to test the teaching rather than simply accept his teaching. Buddhism depends more on understanding and practice than faith. Although Buddhism is realistic and objective, it goes beyond the limits of modern day science in its explanations. What is Compassion? ompassion is the wish for the well-being of uffering beings. This motivates us to help others with consoling speech and kind actions. Compassion includes the qualities of sharing, readiness to give comfort, empathy, concern and caring.

What is Buddhist Meditation?
The term meditation often implies deep concentration or serious contemplation, but from the Buddhist perspective, meditation involves the interaction of three factors:

· Right Effort: to prevent and overcome nwholesome (negative) states of mind, and to cultivate and maintain wholesome tates of mind.
· Right Mindfulness: mindful awareness of our body, feelings, mind and the Dhamma.
· Right Concentration: One-pointedness of a focused mind.

What is the purpose of meditation?
The purpose of meditation is to purify the mind of greed, hatred and delusion. The mind that is undeveloped and untrained has an unsteady nature and is easily distracted. It tends to dwell in the past and future, which leads to sorrow, fear, worry and anxiety –
affecting the well-being of the individual. Meditation therefore involves the development of the mind. This leads to calmness and insight, enabling one to confront and to overcome problems, difficulties and the unsatisfactoriness of life.

Mindfulness is essential at three levels of purification: correcting any unskillful habits by way of thought, speech and bodily actions. Mindfulness is explained as objective awareness or bare attention. One merely watches or observes the processes at work without getting involved with the reasoning,
speculation and intellectual activity.

Lasting inner peace
The inner peace and blissful contentment which one experiences through meditation does not depend on material things. It does not depend on personal relationships such as parents, teachers, spouses, children or friends. Neither does it depend on wealth, fame, status and power. The enjoyment and happiness derived through these worldly ways is of a fleeting nature. They come and go. But inner peace and blissful contentment is realised through detachment and realisation of the characteristics of existence. This peace that one gets through the realisation of truth is one that lasts forever. That is why we say: Nirvana is the highest bliss”.

The original document is provided by Australian Buddhist Mission Inc.
Reproduced with permission by Mitra, the network of tertiary Buddhist societies in Australia
Our Web address is www.mitra.org.au