What is Buddhism?

Buddhism is one of the 6 major religions in the UK. It offers many different techniques for learning about and gaining control of your own thoughts in order to become more content, compassionate and wise.

Land of Joy offers teachings following the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, a type of Mahayana Buddhism which focuses on ways to develop wisdom and compassion in order to be happier people who are of less harm and more benefit to others.

Lama Thubten Yeshe, the founder of FPMT said:

“Buddha says that all you have to know is what you are, how you exist. You don’t have to believe in anything. Just understand how your mind works, how attachment and desire arise, how ignorance arises and where emotions come from. It is sufficient to know the nature of all that; that alone can bring happiness and peace.”

What do Buddhists Believe In?

The Gelug tradition of Buddhism focuses on the Lam Rim or graduated path to enlightenment. This explores concepts such as guru devotion, karma, rebirth, death, emptiness and bodhichitta in a way that gives a clear path which can be followed to reach ultimate happiness and the ability to help all other beings (enlightenment)

Each concept can be learnt and explored through teachings, meditations and personal experiences, giving us the opportunity to integrate them into our lives if we wish.

What does it mean to be Buddhist?

Most say to be Buddhist means to take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

Lama Yeshe says:

“Taking refuge in the Buddha involves accepting the guidance of enlightened beings as the only remedy for the confusion and dissatisfaction of our present life. The medicine prescribed by the Buddha is the Dharma. Dharma is wisdom: the wisdom that understands our own true nature and reveals our own latent power of self-liberation. Taking refuge in Dharma means using that wisdom now. Dharma means understanding reality. Meditation and prayer are not Dharma; they are merely tools for reaching this inner wisdom.”

Sangha consists of those who are endowed with wisdom. They are like the nurses and friends who help us to recuperate from an illness. Sangha is not only those who wear red or yellow robes, but also those friends who influence us beneficially. These spiritual friends energise and inspire us, and are therefore to be clearly distinguished from ordinary friends who hold us back.

However, Lama Yeshe also goes on to say:

“Being Buddhist is an inner experience and not one that necessarily can be measured by outward behaviour. I often meet people who hold no particular religious or philosophical views but who, in a quiet and simple way, take refuge in wisdom.

They are sensitive to their own and others’ needs and try to give their lives meaning by developing themselves and helping others. In my opinion, such people are Buddhists, although they may never have heard of Shakyamuni Buddha or his Dharma.”

So being Buddhist can mean different things to different people and we invite you to come and explore what it might mean for you.