Buddhaism is an Indian religious philosophy based on a set of original teachings attributed to Gautama Buddha, the Buddha who preceded Buddha. It originated in ancient India sometime between the sixth and fourth centuries BCE, becoming extremely popular as a Sramana school of Buddhism in India. Buddhism in India has had a complex history going back to at least the seventh century, when it was brought by traders from China, Tibet, Nepal, and Myanmar and later put together by Indian Buddhist scholars and monks headed by the scholar Mahayana Buddha. The Buddhism that spread throughout India in the seventh and eight centuries CE was referred to by the great Pali texts – the Tripitaka – as the Buddha Sangharaj.
Today’s view of buddhism differs substantially from the original teachings. While some things remain the same such as its acceptance of the existence of a supreme being (Buddha), it is also believed that one can achieve Nirvana – which is neither death nor extinction but rather a state of no suffering at all. For many people who are not interested in spiritual philosophies, Buddhism offers an approach to life that involves a strong commitment to helping others and a willingness to give of oneself, as well. The basic teachings of buddhism include a belief in karma and reincarnation, the necessity of self-examination, karma removal, and the idea of eliminating suffering through constant practice of meditation.
The main emphasis of buddhist meditation is the need to obtain nirvana, or enlightenment, and that the path to this state is through a lengthy practice of disciplined mind and body techniques, the goal of which is enlightenment. As the path to nirvana is challenging, it is recommended that anyone who is practicing guided meditation use a buddhist teacher rather than a practitioner of other religions, as the former will be better able to guide and instruct. Many people who have become followers of buddhist principles have become full monks, and others who live in countries where Buddhism is not the main religion and are available to spread the word have converted to buddhism and made their homes in temples dedicated to the practice of buddhism.