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About Buddhism

Buddhism is a fascinating religion with a rich history that dates back over 2,500 years. Whether you're a newcomer or a seasoned practitioner, there's always something new to discover about this ancient tradition. Buddhism is not just a religion, but a way of life that emphasizes compassion, mindfulness, and self-awareness. It offers practical tools for dealing with the challenges of everyday life and finding inner peace. Below we offer a mere synopsis of the history of this great lineage.

"What is the Buddha’s teaching really? What we’re really talking about is love. We’re talking about kindness and compassion, and about how to remove and release the grasping of duality. This isn’t only taught in Buddhism. The nature isn’t dominated by any one tradition. The nature is free, open, and relaxed.

Buddha Shakyamuni

Statue of Buddha Shakyamuni in the Bodh Gaya Temple, India

Buddha Shakyamuni

Buddha Shakyamuni lived and taught over 2,500 years ago in northeastern India. He devoted his life to finding freedom from the suffering (known as samsara) that is so much a part of our lives, and to sharing that path of freedom with the rest of us.

Buddha means “Awakened One,” and the power of the Buddha’s insight inspired hundreds of thousands during his lifetime. His message continued to spread after his passing, throughout India, East Asia, and China, and west along the Silk Road. In each new place, Buddhism expressed its truths through the language of the local culture.

The Four Noble Truths

The Buddhist path is grounded in the Four Noble Truths, which are, to put in simple terms:

1. Our lives are bound up with suffering.

2. This suffering is rooted in our own minds.

3. To be free from suffering, we must free our minds.

4. We achieve freedom through the Eight-fold Path.

 

More simply put, suffering exists; it has a cause; it has an end; and it has a cause to bring about its end.

Video of Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche teaching about the Four Noble Truths and the Five Aggregates

Nalanda University

Ruins of Nalanda University, India

Beginnings in India

Buddha means “Awakened One,” and the power of the Buddha’s insight inspired hundreds of thousands during his lifetime. His message continued to spread after his passing, throughout India, East Asia, and China, and west along the Silk Road. In each new place, Buddhism expressed its truths through the language of the local culture.
 

Indian Buddhism reached its full flowering between 700 CE and 1100 CE. This was the age of great monastic universities and wandering yogis, and both of these traditions were transplanted to Tibet.

Buddhism Comes to Tibet

Buddhism was formally introduced into Tibet during the reign of King Songtsen Gampo around 600 CE. It was fully established in Tibet in the 8th century by Guru Padmasambhava, whom Tibetan Buddhists consider to be the reincarnation of Buddha Shakyamuni. Teachings and traditions continued to flow into Tibet over the next 300 years, making Tibet a Buddhist treasure house. Tibetan masters and scholars explored and expanded this treasure over the next 900 years in what became known as Vajrayana or Tibetan Buddhism.

Statue of King Songsten - Credit flickr @eriktorner

King Songtsen Gampo, statue at Samye Monastery, Tibet. Photo credit flickr @eriktorner

Guru Padmasambhava

Statue of Guru Padmasambhava, also referred to as Guru Rinpoche, meaning "precious one".

Guru Padmasambhava

The story of Guru Padmasambhava is rich and fascinating. Guru Padmasambhava is known in Tibet as one of the founding parents of Tibetan Buddhism, who appeared in Tibet in 749 A.D, and spent 54 years there. Guru Rinpoche is for most Buddhists in the area of the Himalayas the second Buddha, the Buddha of every form and teaching of enlightenment, with an accent on the tantras. 

 

In the 8th century, Guru Padmasambhava predicted:

"When the iron bird flies and horses run on wheels,

The Tibetan people will be scattered like ants across the face of the earth."

This prophecy came true in the middle of the 20th century, when Tibetan masters began appearing in India and the West, inspiring generations of new students with their remarkable wisdom and compassion.

Buddhism in the West

Our teachers, Ven. Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche and Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche, were part of this great opening of Tibetan Buddhism to the West. After living for twenty years in India, they came to America in the 1980s and worked tirelessly to establish the Dharma, in all its richness, in America and throughout the world.

Buddhist history is incredibly rich and complex. We hope that you will enjoy exploring this story, including the history of Guru Padmasambhava and Vajrayana Buddhism through this website, as well as on the main PBC website: padmasambhava.org.

Ven. Khenpos teaching at PSL

Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche and Ven. Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche teaching at PSL.

There's Lots More to Learn About Our Lineage

Our lineage is known as the Nyingma tradition. The Nyingma lineage is a school of Tibetan Buddhism that originated in the 8th century and is considered the oldest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism (Nyingma, Geluk, Sakya and Kagyu). The Nyingma lineage's teachings are said to trace back to the first Buddha, Samantabhadra, and Indian mahasiddhas like Garab Dorje, Śri Singha, and Jñanasutra.

Find out more about the lineage and about the golden chain linked to our own teachers at the Padma Samye Ling Retreat Center's webite, www.padmasambhava.org.

In addition, take a look at the many videos available on our YouTube channel.

Pema Mandala magazine
Pema Mandala magazine
Pema Mandala magazine

Pema Mandala Magazine

There is so much to see and learn in the beautiful Pema Mandala magazines published by Padmasambhava Buddhist Center. Read these and others online for free!

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