There is not a doubt that Buddhism was a religion of the truth and a living philoso-phy more than 26 centuries ago. It’s still now a religion of the truth and a living phi-losophy in this very century (the twenty-first century). Buddhism is in accord with all the progresses of nowadays science and it will always be in accord with sci-ence at all times. Its basic teachings of loving-kindness, compassion, joy, equanimi-ty, right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right ef-fort, right mindfulness and right concentration, as well as the basic five precepts of not kill-ing, not stealing, not committing sexual misconduct, not lying and not dring alcohol and not doing drugs... are always a torch that lights the darkness of the world. The message of peace and of love and happiness of Buddhism to living beings of all kinds is always the glorious truth for all human beings. Everyone can achieve the highest goal in Buddhism, no mater who is that person, clergyperson or lay per-son. However, the most important thing we all must remember is making an hon-est effort to follow the Buddha’s teachings. The Buddha and his great disci-ples did not achieve their ultimate goal by accident. The Buddha and his disciples were once ordinary sentient beings like us. They were once afflicted by the impuri-ties of the mind, attachment, aversion, and ignorance. They all became either Bud-dhas or Saints now, but for us, we are still creating and creating more and more un-wholesome deeds and continuing going up and down in the cycle of birth and death? Devout Buddhists should listen to the Buddha’s teachings, should purify our actions, words and mind to achieve true wisdom, the wisdom that help us un-derstand the truth and to attain the ultimate goal of Buddhism. In other words, if we sincerely cultivate in accordance with the Buddha’s teachings, one day not too far, everyone of us would be able to do good deeds, to avoid bad deeds; everyone of us would try our best to help others whenever possible and not to harm anyone, our mind would be mindful at all times. Thus there is no doubt that the Buddha’s Dharma will benefit us with happiness and prosperity in this life and in the next. Eventually, it will lead us to the ultimate goal of liberation, the supreme bliss of Nir-vana.
Someone says that the word "religion" is not appropriate to call Buddhism because Buddhism is not a religion, but a moral philosophy. For me, Buddhism is both a re-ligion and philosophy of life based on the teachings set forth by Shakyamuni Bud-dha over 2500 years ago in India. Before going further we should briefly analyze the two words “Buddha” and “Philosophy”. First, the name Buddhism comes from the word “budhi” which means ‘to wake up’ and thus Buddhism is the philosophy of awakening. This philosophy has its origins in the experience of the man named Siddhartha 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 almost one third of the population of the world are its followers. Until a hundred years ago, Buddhism was mainly an Asian philosophy but increasingly it is gaining adherents in Europe and America. Secondly, the word philosophy comes from two words ‘philo’ which means ‘love’ and ‘sophia’ which means ‘wisdom’. So philosophy is the love of wis-dom or love and wisdom, both meanings describing Buddhism perfectly. Buddhism teaches that we should try to develop our intellectual capacity to the fullest so that we can understand clearly. It also teaches us to develop loving kindness and compassion so that we can become (be like) a true friend to all beings. So Bud-dhism is a philoso-phy but not just a philosophy. It is the supreme philosophy. In the year 563 B.C. a baby was born into a royal family in northern India. He grew up in wealth and lux-ury but soon found that worldly comfort and security do not guarantee real happi-ness. He was deeply moved by the suffering he saw all around, so He resolved to find the key to human happiness. It couldn’t have been an easy thing for the Bud-dha to leave his family. He must have worried and hesi-tated for a long time before he finally left. There were two choices, dedicating him-self to his family or dedicat-ing himself to the whole world. In the end, his great compassion made him give himself to the whole world. And the whole world still benefits from his sacrifice. This was perhaps the most significant sacrifice ever made. After careful considera-tions, when he was 29 he left his wife and child and his Royal Palace and set off to sit at the feet of the great religious teachers of the day to learn from them. They taught him much but none really knew the cause of human sufferings and afflic-tions and how it could be overcome. Eventually, after six years study and medita-tion he had an experience in which all ignorance fell away and he suddenly under-stood. From that day onwards, he was called the Buddha, the Awakened One. He lived for another 45 years in which time he trav-elled all over northern India teaching others what he had discovered. His compas-sion and patience were leg-endary and he made hundreds of thousands of follow-ers. In his eightieth year, old and sick, but still happy and at peace, he finally passed away into nirvana. After the passing of Shakyamuni Buddha, his disciples recorded all of his teaching into scriptures called sutras. There is no one book that contains all the information the Buddha taught, but the total of more than 800 books that recorded a vast number of sutras, vinaya and abhidharma. In short, in Buddhism, there is no distinction between a divine or supreme being and common mortals. The highest form of being is the Buddha. All people have the inherent ability and potential to become Bud-dhas if they follow and cultivate the teachings set forth by Shakyamuni Buddha. By following the Buddha’s teachings and Bud-dhist practices, anyone can eventual-ly become Buddhas. A Buddha is also a hu-man being, but one who comes to a real-ization and thoroughly understands the workings and meaning of life and the uni-verse. When one comes to that realiza-tion and truly knows and understands one-self and everything, he is called “Bud-dha” or he is said to have attained enlight-enment. He is also called “the Enlight-ened One.”