Buddha, a Sanskrit word, translates as Awakened One. Every buddha at the beginning of their spiritual journey was an ordinary being like you and me. If we walk the path of awakening, we too can become a buddha.
An awakened being has eliminated negative states of mind and false perceptions to reveal their buddhanature, which is replete with the qualities of love, compassion, peace, and wisdom.
In Tibetan, the word for Buddha is SANG GYAY. SANG translates as purified and expresses the full eradication of all negative states and subtle obscurations of mind. GYAY translates as fully blossomed and expresses the complete blossoming of all positive qualities. Through purification, liberation from suffering is achieved. Through the blossoming of qualities, inherent within buddhanature, an enlightened being continually enacts benefit for oneself and others.
In our world 2500 years ago, after becoming fully awakened, the Buddha Shakyamuni shared his wisdom. When he first started teaching, he had only 5 students. We are fortunate to still have the teachings of the Buddha Shakyamuni.
The teachings of a buddha are called the Dharma. The Dharma of the Buddha Shakyamuni was not recorded until 400 years after his passing. His teachings spread out from India in many directions creating different Buddhist lineages. These lineages vary in the way they teach and practice the Buddha-Dharma. As practitioners, it is our job to explore and examine the teachings and discover for ourselves the Dharma of the Buddha.
At Bell Garden Buddhist Center we encourage practitioners to maintain an open mind to the many authentic lineages of the Dharma. Each practitioner's understanding and practice of the Dharma is unique. Understanding differs from one student to another student, as well as, one teacher to another teacher.
One might ask, "How will I know if I'm on the right track with my understanding and practice of the Dharma?" One way to test the authenticity of your practice is to examine your state of mind. Are you more loving, more compassionate, and more at peace with yourself and others? Are you less reactive to life's ups and downs? If your love, compassion, and inner peace is growing, then you're on the right track. Just keep going.