Buddhism is a spiritual tradition and culture founded by Gautama Buddha in the third century BCE in India, now known as the Buddhist world. It is also referred to as Mahayana Buddhism, owing to its connection to Indian Buddhism, with the former coming from the name of Buddha. Buddhism covers a broad area of philosophy and religious practice, involving an emphasis on Buddhist doctrines and the Buddhist sutras, or teachings. It is not a religion per se, but is rather a way of life, taught by the Buddha himself. The most well-known element of Buddhism is the Buddha himself, who is depicted as a bodhisattva, or a protector and teacher, often wearing the lotus. In addition, the concept of monastic living under the guidance of a master has been central to the thought of Buddhism for many years, and to this day, some of the greatest monasteries in the world are located in the Buddhist areas of China and Tibet.
In comparison to other religions, buddhism places a great emphasis on meditation. Because of this, it is commonly practiced in the modern world, blending the wisdom of buddhist teachings with Western methods of spirituality and meditation. The goal of buddhism, according to both the Buddhist and practitioner of buddhism, is to achieve enlightenment, or nibbana, in the spirit of Oneness, or oneness – which in buddhism is equated with both wisdom and bliss. Most people associate the path to enlightenment with a specific lineage or school of buddhist practice, but it can also be a path that anyone can follow to find personal liberation from the pains of life and from the tendencies of worldly desires.
It is said that bodhisattvas dwell in the nature of things as they are, without changing them for the sake of being “perfect.” In other words, bodhisattvas take pleasure in suffering for the reason that suffering is the only thing that brings about happiness and joy in this life. In the midst of much worldly pleasure, bodhisattvas practice dharana or sitting under trees in seclusion, hoping to experience ultimate bliss. Their quest is not to be saved from suffering but to escape it completely. It is this notion of an arhat – or a teacher who has attained nirvana – that provides the basis for the Buddhist path of achieving liberation from suffering.