Who was the Buddha?
Buddhism is the spiritual path founded by Siddhārtha Gautama. Born a prince in Lumbini, Siddhārtha left the palace and his life of luxury at the young age of 29, seeking the answers to why we suffer, die and then are reborn to suffer again and again, in an endless cycle called saṃsāra. After much searching and practising with the holy men of his time, he finally found the way to Enlightenment at the age of 35. From this moment, he was called Śākyamuni Buddha, the Awakened Sage of the Śākyas.
What is the Dharma?
What we call Buddhism is also known as the Dharma. The word Dharma has many meanings; law, way, that which is established, and in Buddhism it refers specifically to the teachings of the Buddha.
What is Mahāyāna Buddhism?
As Buddhism grew and spread, new ideas, practices and texts began to emerge. Although not a unified group, the Mahāyāna or Great Vehicle movement grew and spread to become the dominant form of Buddhism. There are many different schools or branches of Mahāyāna Buddhism, however they all share a common philosophy; that ALL living beings possess Buddha-nature and therefore, all beings are capable of achieving enlightenment, and that out of compassion, we should aspire to help all sentient beings achieve their potential. This resolution is known as the awakening mind or Bodhicitta, and the Bodhisattva Path is the best way to fulfill our altruistic aspirations.
What is a Bodhisattva?
A Bodhisattva is a person who practises the Dharma for the sake of all beings. There are many levels of Bodhisattvahood. Some Bodhisattvas have already achieved enlightenment but have made a vow to remain in this world until all sentient beings have achieved enlightenment. As Mahāyāna Buddhists, we take the Bodhisattva Vows and try to emulate these great beings.