2,500 years ago, the Buddha taught a system of self-examination and self-transformation, that all our experience -- outward and inward -- is
determined by our minds. Further, he taught that by changing our minds, we
can change our experience.
He taught that happiness arises (in our minds and experiences) as the
result of cultivating the practices of virtue -- altruism, love,
compassion, generosity, patience, morality, diligence, meditation and wisdom. He taught that suffering arises because we practice the opposites of virtue -- self-centered ignorance, hatred, abusive attachment, stinginess, anger, irresponsible behavior, laziness, denial, and bewilderment.
And he taught that because of the basic continuous nature of our minds, we experience these causes, actions and results (karma) not just in
this lifetime, but in future lifetimes as well.
To take control of this process of karma and rebirth in the world of suffering (samsara), the Buddha taught the means for practing virtue and avoiding non-virtue, and the practices of taming the mind, or meditation.
By learning the nature of virtue and non-virtue, we can intellectually take hold of virtue and begin to discard non-virtue. And by practicing self-awareness and mindfulness through meditation, we are able to gain
control of our minds and actions and begin to build more constructive, more meaningful and more happy lives.
The practices given by the Buddha can eventually lead to the total spiritual transformation of the individual, resulting in the experience of the same transcendent state of spiritual awakening
experienced by the Buddha.
The Buddha taught that all sentient beings share the potential for Buddhahood, because enlightenment is the basic nature of our minds.
Study and Practice
When we first approach the buddhadharma, study helps us to understand the teachings and discover for ourselves whether they are true for us.
Study also serves as an intellectual framework for the experience of meditation.
Study is important, but meditation is equally important --if not more so-- because while study provides intellectual understanding, only with meditation practice can one have direct experience.