The Buddha, Shakyamuni, lived 2,500 years ago in India. He was a human being who possessed the same spiritual potential that is within us all. He realized enlightenment and spent His life helping others find what He had found. Enlightenment is the direct experience of one’s Buddha Nature, that is, the realization of one’s true nature and the nature of all existence. This reveals not only the cause of human suffering but the means by which we can bring our own suffering to an end. It engenders profound compassion for all living things.

Since the time of the Buddha, many traditions of Buddhism have developed. The aim of each has been to express the essence of the Buddha’s teaching in a manner appropriate to the time and culture.

The Serene Reflection Meditation Tradition (Soto Zen) is part of the Mahayana tradition of Buddhist schools that spread from India north into Tibet and China and from China into Japan and Korea.

To get a flavor of how our tradition understands and explains the Buddhist Teachings, here is link to an article on a teaching called the Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path is a traditional list of eight factors or elements that are necessary for following the path of Buddhism. These factors are: Correct thought, understanding, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness and meditation.

To learn more about our tradition and its approach to Buddhism, see Zen is Eternal Life, by Reverend Master Jiyu-Kennett. This book is available, in pdf form (here) with other publications from the OBC, and is available at various online booksellers.

To read more about general Buddhism see Basic Buddhist Concepts by Kogen Mizuno, (available at various online booksellers) or The Buddha And His Teachings by Narada Thera (available in pdf form here and at various online booksellers).