Dhamma Letter No. 1

What is Buddhism?


This is the first in a series of Dhamma letters that will address questions inherent to being human. Throughout the cycle of life, we are all bound to face the unpleasant realities of aging, illness, and death.

It was the pondering of this very idea that led Shakyamuni Gautama Buddha (born ~500 BCE) to go forth from this life of comfort and luxury and seek the way of ultimate happiness. The Buddha not only self-enlightened, but continued to spend the rest of his life teaching and helping others to find their way.

We are fortunate to live in the time of a Buddha Sāsana, where the teachings are available to us as a guide and foundation for our own practice.

My hope is that The Dhamma Letter will help all be happy and reach nibbāna in this very life!

What is Buddhism? Is it a religion?

Religion is described in the dictionary as a system of mental culture that seeks to gain peace and happiness by believing in, worshipping and recognizing God or the Absolute. According to this criterion, Buddhism is not within the scope of religion because Buddha is not taken as God or the Absolute. The term ‘Buddha’ means the ‘Complete Knowing One’. There have been a number of Buddhas in the past. Gautama did not act as or seek to become a religious leader. He simply taught The Dhamma.

The Dhamma was set up as framework of his teaching . Dhamma is a Pali word that has many meanings, one of which is ‘Natural Law’. Buddha seeks a healthy human posture from "Wisdom" to maintain the "Medial mode of living (Majjima patipada)".

Wisdom(Paññā) is the ability to understand the Dhamma. Then Wisdom(Paññā) will lead to the enlightenment. For this purpose, we do meditation. Then what is meditation? The practice of meditation is a way to train the mind and develop the Wisdom (Paññā) necessary to understand the ‘Natural Law’.

This series of Dhamma Letters will explore the ways in which meditation practice, training the mind and developing Wisdom can lead to a healthy human outlook and the ultimate happiness of Enlightenment(Nibbana).

  • Pali is a language of Buddha. It was a base of Sanskrit.

  • Pali terms : Sāsana means Teaching, Paññā is Wisdom, Dhamma is known as Dharma and Nibbana is known as Nirvana in Mahayana Budhhism.

Buddha Sāsanaṁ Ciraṁ Tiṭṭhatu!
May the Buddha’s teachings last a long time!

Bhavatu Sabba Sotiṁ ca Maṅgalaṁ ca!!
May everyone be led on the path of peace and blessing!!

Sādhu Sādhu Sādhu !