The Buddha and his Teaching
A Buddha is not a saviour but a teacher. His teachings ("dharma") show us what to do in order to achieve the same state that he achieved. The dharma is perpetuated through the ages, as a living tradition of enlightened experience and as a philosophy, by those members of the Buddhist community who have themselves already achieved unmistaken insight. These are known as the realised sangha.
The Buddha's teachings spread from India throughout Asia, even reaching as far as the Greek empire at one point (Buddhist Greek monarch - Melinder). To the east, they reached what are today Japan, Indonesia, Mongolia and Russia, and countries (such as China, Burma etc.) on the way from India to these continental extremities. Today they are to be found throughout the world.
The teachings themselves are addressed to 3 different audiences:
... those wishing to improve their worldly experience, in this life and future lives, through a better understanding of the causal mechanisms of existence.
... those who recognise the limited, anguished nature of worldly existence, wish to free from it forever and who therefore seek a lasting peace and happiness.
... those who want not just the peace and happiness of liberation from worldly suffering, but all the myriad qualities present in total enlightenment. These qualities enable great benefit for all other forms of conscious life, as we can see from the life of Sakyamuni Buddha.
Each of us is unique. We have different needs and different aspirations.
Among those who benefit from practising the Buddhist meditation techniques
and way of life, one can distinguish three major capacities