Buddhism is a path of practice and spiritual development leading to insight into the true nature of life.
Buddhist practices such as meditation are means of changing oneself in order to develop 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 this life-changing path. This path ultimately culminates in Enlightenment or Buddhahood.
Because Buddhism does not include the idea of worshipping a creator God, some people do not see it as a religion in the normal, Western sense. The basic tenets of Buddhist teaching are straightforward and practical: nothing is fixed or permanent; actions have consequences; change is possible. Thus Buddhism addresses itself to all people irrespective of race, nationality, or gender. It teaches practical methods (such as meditation) which enable people to realise and utilise its teachings in order to transform their experience, to be fully responsible for their lives and to develop the qualities of Wisdom and Compassion.
The Triple Gem
Buddhism has a 'Triple Gem' - sometimes we call it the 'Three Jewels' - but it's more helpful to think of one jewel with three facets which are: The Buddha (In both historical and archetypal terms), The Dharma (a word which means both the teachings of truth and of truth itself) and The Sangha which is a word meaning community: orginally for monastic practitioners, the term 'Sangha' infers all those practicing The Buddha's Dharma or Buddhadharma and supporting each other. All facets are of equal importance.
Worldwide, there are around 350 million Buddhists and a growing number of them are Westerners. They follow many different forms of Buddhism, but all traditions are characterised by non-violence, lack of dogma, tolerance of differences, and, usually, by the practice of meditation.