The group engages in the practice of Buddhist meditation and the study of the teachings of Buddhism in a way relevant to people today.

What is Buddhism? 

"Buddhism" is a modern western word. It refers to a traditional Eastern term "Buddha Dharma", meaning the teachings of the Buddha. This includes Buddhist concepts, meditation, ethics, devotional practices and cultural forms such as Buddhist art.

 What is a Buddhist? 

A common definition of a Buddhist is someone who "goes for refuge to the Three Jewels".

To "go for refuge to" means to place your reliance upon or to develop confidence or faith in. 

The "Three Jewels" of Buddhism are the Buddha, The Dharma (his teachings) and the Sangha (the Buddhist spiritual community).

Going for Refuge can be seen as the central spiritual act of a Buddhist life. 

It is an experience that deepens as our Buddhist practice develops over the years. It can be described as the heart's resonance with that which is most meaningful.

The Buddha

Born around 500 years b.c.e (before the current era) in what is now Southern Nepal, the Buddha was the son of the patriarch of the Sakya clan or tribe. He was accorded all the privileges of his birth and was known as Prince Siddhartha Gautama.

Despite his high birth, Prince Siddhartha was not satisfied and left his comfortable existence to explore his deep spiritual questioning of human existence and the problems of old age, sickness and death. Cutting off his hair he left behind family and wealth to become a homeless wanderer.

After six years of intensive spiritual endeavor he finally attained Nirvana at the age of 35. Out of compassion for the suffering of others he spent the next 45 years helping others to realize their own Awakening.

"Buddha" is a title meaning "he who is awake". The Buddha is credited with having rediscovered the path of awakening, the way to the peace of Nirvana. This he attained through his own efforts and for this he is revered and worshiped by Buddhists around the world. 

The Buddha is not worshiped as a creator, a god or a supernatural being.

The Dharma

The teachings of the Buddha which show the ways in which individuals can work with themselves in order to grow and develop as human beings, ultimately leading to their own freedom or "Enlightenment".

The many different schools of Buddhism have emphasized and developed particular aspects of the original teachings. While leading to variations between regions and schools this has allowed Buddhism to adapt to the needs of individuals in different times and cultures.

Buddhism does not have a central creed or book such as the Bible or the Koran. All the Buddha's teachings are said to have "the taste of Freedom".

The Buddha's path is often described as the "Middle Way". At a practical level it avoids the extreme of harsh asceticism and it's opposite, the extreme of greedy materialism. At a philosophical level it avoids the extremes of nihilism and eternalism.

The path is often divided into the stages of Ethics, Meditation and Wisdom.

A wide range of Buddhist talks from various FWBO speakers are available as free downloads from Free Buddhist Audio

The Sangha

The Sangha is the fellowship of the Buddha's disciples. This can be divided into various groupings including the Monastic Sangha, The Lay Sangha and the Noble (or Enlightened Sangha).

In terms of Going for Refuge to the Sangha, it is usual to think about this as the Noble (Enlightened) Sangha, those of the Buddha's followers who have attained Insight. 

We also use the term Sangha to describe the wider Buddhist Community   

"The Buddha was born as we are born, what he overcame we to can overcome, what he attained we to can attain"