Buddhism 101

The Buddha

Over 2600 years ago in northern India, a young prince named Siddhartha, who had lived some 30 years in great luxury and ignorance of the world beyond the confines of his fathers kingdom, was suddenly faced with the reality of human life: illness, old age and death.

Shocked and sickened, he left his opulent life on a quest to find an answer to the universal problem of suffering.

After six difficult years, through profound insight into the nature of life, he found the answer. As he began to share his understanding, he became known as the Buddha,” the one who is awake”, the one who has come to the realize the depths of wisdom and compassion through his own efforts.


After the Buddha’s death, his teaching spread from India throughout Asia. As it encountered other cultures, it took different forms. Three main schools of Buddhism thrive in Asia today. The Theravada ("Way of the Elders") still flourishes in Thailand, Burma, and Sri Lanka. The Mahayana ("Great Vehicle") characterizes the various traditions within China, Korea, and Japan. The Vajrayana ("Diamond Vehicle") is associated primarily with Tibet and Bhutan.

The sangha represented by BCIMS, its teachers, and members are part of the emerging western tradition, drawing primarily from the practices and teachings of the Theravada, but also influenced by the other Buddhist traditions.