To someone it can be only life of the Buddha; the example that the Buddha and his immediate disciples set, that glorious feat of a man, who stood before men as a man and declared a path of deliverance. To others, Buddhism would mean the massive doctrine as recorded in the Buddhist Tripitaka (literature), and it is de-scribed a very lofty, abstruse, complex and learned philosophy of life. The name Buddhism comes from the word “Bodhi” which means “waking up,” and thus Bud-dhism is the philosophy of Awakening. Therefore, the real definition of Buddhism is Noble Truth. The Buddha did not teach from theories. He always taught from a practical standpoint based on His understanding, His enlightenment, and His reali-zation of the Truth. This philosophy has its origins in the experience of the man named Sid-dhartha Gotama, known as the Buddha, who was himself awakened at the age of 36. Buddhism is now older than 2,500 years old and has more than 800 million fol-lowers world wide (including Chinese followers in Mainland China). Peo-ple in the West had heard of the Buddha and his teaching as early as the thir-teenth century when Marco Polo (1254-1324), the Italian traveler who explored Asia, wrote ac-counts on Buddhism in his book, “Travels of Marco Polo”. From the eighteenth cen-tury onwards, Buddhist text were brought to Europe and translated into English, French and German. Until a hundred years ago, Buddhism was main-ly an Asian philosophy but increasingly it is gaining adherents in Europe and Amer-ica. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Alan Bennett, an Englishman, went to Burma to become a Buddhist monk. He was renamed Ananda Metteya. He re-turned to Britain in 1908. He was the first British person to become a Buddhist monk. He taught Dharma in Britain. Since then, Buddhist monks and nuns from Sri Lanka, Thailand, Japan, China and other Buddhist countries in Asia have come to the West, particularly over the last seventy years. Many of these teachers have kept to their original customs while others have adapted to some extent to meet the de-mands of living in a western society. In recent years, there has been a marked growth of interest in Buddhism in Europe. The membership of existing so-cieties has increased and many new Buddhist centers have been established. Their mem-bers include large numbers of professionals and scholars. Today, Brit-ain alone has over 140 Buddhist centers found in most major cities.
To the Buddha, man is a supreme being, thus, he taught: “Be your own torch and your own refuge. Do not seek refuge in any other person.” This was the Buddha’s truthful word. He also said: “All realizations come from effort and intelligence that derive from one’s own experience. Man is the master of his destiny, since he can make his life better or worse. If he tries his best to cultivate, he can become a Bud-dha.” Buddhism is the only way that leads people from the evil to the virtuous, from deluded to fully enlightened sagehood. Buddhism is a philosophy, a way of life or a religion. The religion of the awakened one. One of the three great world reli-gions. If was founded by the historical Buddha Sakyamuni over 25 centuries ago. Sakyamuni expounded the four noble truths as the core of his teaching, which he had recognized in the moment of his enlightenment. He had shown peo-ple how to live wisely and happily and his teachings soon spread from India throughout Asia, and beyond.