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A religion or spiritual practice known as Buddhism started with the Buddha. According to the Buddhist Centre, “The word ‘Buddha’ is a title, which means ‘one who is awake’ — in the sense of having ‘woken up to reality’.” History reports that the legend Buddha was born as Siddhartha Gautama around 2,500 years ago in Nepal. He was born into a royal family in a small kingdom by the Indian and Nepalese border. According to his legacy, he did not find fulfillment in his life and shed his sheltered upbringing on the path to enlightenment. He did not claim to be a god or prophet, just wanted to share his spiritual message.

As a seeker of spiritual truth, he often contemplated the meaning of life. According to the Buddhist Centre, “He became very adept at meditation under various teachers, and then took up ascetic practices. This was based on the belief that one could free the spirit by denying the flesh. He practised austerities so determinedly that he almost starved to death.”

Buddha’s Teachings

Though a very surface level understanding is outlined here, Buddhism fundamentally combats suffering. Here, the concept of the Dharma is introduced.  “Dharma” means “protection.” By living the principles that Buddha proclaims in our existence, we protects ourselves from suffering and our problems. It is understood that most of the problems we experience originate from ignorance, and the method of eliminating ignorance is to practice the Dharma.

Buddhism Today

The practice of Buddhism has created a large, spiritually-connected global community. According to “About Buddha”, “In particular there is a very deep interest in learning how to meditate, both to overcome stress and anxiety, and to deepen one’s spiritual experience. In response to this growing interest Kadampa Buddhism offers many different ways of learning about Buddhism and practicing meditation.”.  Using a hematite, beaded prayer mala is a great way to get an introduction into Buddhism.