Kadampa Buddhism is a Mahayana Buddhist School founded by the great Indian Buddhist Master Atisha (AD 982-1054). His followers are known as ‘Kadampas.’ ‘Ka’ means ‘word’ and refers to all Buddha’s teachings, ‘dam’ refers to Atisha’s special Lamrim instructions known as ‘the stages of the path to enlightenment,’ and ‘pa’ refers to a follower of Kadampa Buddhism who integrates all the teachings of Buddha that they know into their Lamrim practice.
By integrating their knowledge of all Buddha’s teachings into their practice of Lamrim and by integrating this into their everyday lives, Kadampa Teachers are famous not only for being great scholars but also for being spiritual practitioners of immense purity and sincerity.
The Lineage of these teachings, both their oral transmission and blessings, was then passed from Teacher to disciple, spreading throughout much of Asia and now to many countries throughout the western world. Buddha’s teachings, which are known as ‘Dharma,’ are likened to a wheel that moves from to country to country in accordance with changing conditions and people’s karmic inclinations.
The external forms of presenting Buddhism may change at times with different cultures and societies, but its essential authenticity is ensured through the continuation of an unbroken lineage of realized practitioners.
Kadampa Buddhism was first introduced into the West in 1977 by the renowned Buddhist Master Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Since that time he was working tirelessly to spread Kadampa Buddhism through out the world by giving extensive teachings, writing many profound texts on Kadampa Buddhism, and founding the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT), which now has over a thousand Kadampa Buddhist Centers and groups worldwide.
Each Center offers study programs on Buddhist psychology, philosophy and meditation instruction, as well as retreats for all levels of practitioner. The emphasis is on integrating Buddha’s teachings into daily life to solve our human problems and to spread lasting peace and happiness throughout the world.
Kadampa Buddhism of the NKT is an entirely independent Buddhist tradition and has no political affiliations. It is an association of Buddhist Centers and practitioners that derive their inspiration and guidance from the example of the ancient Kadampa Buddhist Masters and their teaching, as presented by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.
There are three reasons why we need to study and practice the teachings of Buddha:
- To develop our wisdom
- To cultivate a good heart
- To maintain a peaceful state of mind
If we do not strive to develop our wisdom, we shall always remain ignorant of ultimate truth – the true nature of reality. Although we wish for happiness, our ignorance leads us to engage in non-virtuous actions, which are the main cause of all our suffering.
If we do not cultivate a good heart, our selfish motivation destroys harmony and good relationships with others. We have no peace, and no chance to gain pure happiness. Without inner peace, outer peace is impossible.
If we do not maintain a peaceful state of mind we are not happy even if we have ideal conditions. On the other hand, when our mind is peaceful we are happy even if our external conditions are unpleasant.
Therefore, the development of these qualities is of utmost importance for our daily happiness.