"When the iron bird flies and horses run on wheels, the Tibetan people will be scattered like ants across the face of the earth, and the Dharma will come to the land of the red men." - Padmasambhava, founder of Tibetan Buddhism, ca. 800 C.E.

Buddhism, one of the world's great spiritual traditions and the fastest growing religion in America today, was originally taught by Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, about twenty-five hundred years ago. Siddhartha was born a prince in ancient India but gave up his crown to search for the cause of human suffering. After years of study and meditation, Siddhartha eventually attained what the Buddhists call enlightenment, or liberation from the forces that bind us all to the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. After attaining enlightenment, the Buddha taught his doctrine, the dharma, for the next forty-five years. While his teachings are vast and complex, the core principles are very simple.

The Buddha taught that all things in the universe are in a state of flux, constantly changing. There is never a moment where things can be said to be stable or permanent. Our suffering as human beings arises from our desire for things to remain the same. So rather than focus on short term happiness, we should instead cultivate compassion and loving kindness for all beings. This, the Buddha said, is where true satisfaction lies.

After the Buddha's death, his teachings spread to Tibet, China, Japan, Southeast Asia, and even Russia and Afghanistan. Buddhism was firmly established in Tibet in the eighth century by King Trisong Detsen and Padmasambhava, a mystic from Northwest India. Over the next ten centuries, Buddhism grew and flourished in Tibet and became an integral part of Tibetan art, politics, social structure and daily life.

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