The journey to this ultimate state involves freeing the mind from its grosser limitations, such as anger, selfish desire, pride etc., and also its subtle limitations, mainly consisting of conditioned thought- patterns of dualistic perception (subject-object, me-you, mind-body etc.). Someone who completes this journey of liberation, perfectly, is a Buddha. Such was Sakyamuni, who achieved his total enlightenment over 2,500 years ago, in India.
Through the great clarity of his mind, he taught the universal truths of existence, in their entirety. There are thought to be 1,002 such teaching Buddhas during the lifetime of our solar system. Sakyamuni was the fourth.
The Buddha's teachings spread from India throughout Asia, even reaching as far as Greece at one point (Buddhist Greek monarch - Melinder). They reached what are today Japan, Indonesia, Mongolia and Russia, and countries (such as China, Burma etc.) on the way from India to these continental extremities. Today they are to be found throughout the world.
The teachings themselves are addressed to 3 different audiences:
Each of us is unique. We have different needs and different aspirations.
Among those who benefit from practising the Buddhist meditation techniques
and way of life, one can distinguish three major capacities (yãna):
... the hinayana - the first two audiences mentioned above. The keypoints of their spiritual path are non- violence, pure ethics and meditation (mainly concentration meditation).
... the mahayana - the third audience. Their path, which has a broader ethical dimension and a wider and deeper scope of meditation, is underpinned at all times by a compassionate longing to achieve the ultimate potential of one's own existence in order to be truly capable of helping others.