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Buddhism is a neologism, created in Europe in the middle of the nineteenth century CE, from the Sanskrit word ”Buddha, literally the awakened one. It is derived from an epithet attributed to Siddharta Gautama. Gautama was born in Northern India and most scholars estimate he lived between 563 and 483 BCE. The term Buddha defines all those beings who succeed through their own spiritual merits in being released from worldly pain to gain eternal bliss and omniscience.
In presenting himself as a model, the Buddha provides the disciple with all the indications needed to emulate him completely. This is something which occurs more through the seduction of conviction than through a process of persuasion based solely on his inscrutable superiority. The community of the emulator-disciples is called sangha, and together with the Buddha and his dharma forms the so-called triple gem (triratna), the foremost elements of this tradition.
Anyone who undertakes to travel the path leading to nirvana realizes from the first steps that no one else can travel this demanding path in his or her stead. All of the Buddha s teachings hinge on this premise and the emphasis returns time and time again to the central position of individual responsibility; for the Buddha is first and foremost the master (guru) who expounds the theoretical and practical means that can be used to achieve liberation.
- Phra Prayuth, P. (1995) Buddhadharma: Natural Laws and Values for Life. SUNY Press, Albany, NY.
- Polichetti, A. (1993) The spread of Tibetan buddhism in the west. Tibet Journal 18 (3): 65-7.
- Tenzin, G. (14th Dalai Lama) (1995) The World of Tibetan Buddhism: An Overview ofIts Philosophy and Practice. Wisdom Publications, Boston, MA.