Essay by Amanda BrownHigh School, 10th gradeA+, March 1997

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What is Buddhism?

        Buddhism is a path of teaching and practice. Buddhist

practices such as meditation are means of changing oneself in

order to develop the qualities of awareness, kindness, and

wisdom. The experience developed within the Buddhist tradition

over thousands of years has created an incomparable resource

for all those who wish to follow the path of spiritual

development. Ultimately, the Buddhist path culminates in

Enlightenment or Buddhahood.

Who was the Buddha?

        The word Buddha is a title not a name. It means 'one

who is awake' in the sense of having 'woken up to reality'. The

title was first given to a man called Siddharta Guatemala,

who lived about 2,500 years ago in Northern India. When he

was 35 he found Enlightenment whist in profound mediation,

after searching for years. In the next 45 years of his life

he spent it traveling through India teaching his way of life.

His teaching is known as Buddha-dharma.

        Traveling from place to place, the Buddha gained many

disciples. They also taught of the enlightment, and the chain

has continued on to this present day.

        The Buddha was not a God, and he made no claim to

divinity. There is no concept of a creator in Buddhism. He was

a human being who, thought tremendous efforts, transformed


        The state of Enlightenment which he reached has three

main facets. It is a state of wisdom, of insight into the true

nature of things. It is also a source or boundless compassion,

manifesting itself in activity for the benefit of all beings. and

it the total liberation of all the energies of the mind and the

body so they are at the service of the fully conscious mind.

What Happened After the Buddha's Death?

        Buddhism died out in India a thousand years ago,