The teaching of the Buddha is called Dharma.
Four "seals" caracterize this Dharma:
All compounded phenomena are impermanent
All coumpounded phenomena are substanceless
All coumpouned phenomena are suffering
Nirvana (Enlightenment) is Peace.
The Buddha also claimed that he was not promoting any dogmatic opinion and that he was solely teaching about suffering, the origin of suffering, the removal of suffering and about the path allowing the exctinction of suffering. These four topics correspond to The Buddha first teaching, called "The Four Noble Truths".
Due to the non-recognition of these Four Noble Truths, and gripped by greed, anger and ignorance, the beings are carried away in an endless circling in the wheel of existence, from lifetime to lifetime.
The Buddha said: "Not committing any fault, excellently practicing the vertue, fully mastering one's own mind, that is the teaching of the Enlightened One."
Through His teaching, He urges us : "In this lifetime, if you torment or harm others, then in the future the resulting negative karma will harm you ; therefore, abandon the non-vertues as much as possible. Moreover, accomplish the welfare of others in this very lifetime as that is the supreme means to accomplish your own welfare in the future." Such is the Buddha-Dharma, the teaching that enlightens.
Those who adhere to it, who support it and develop it are called "buddhists".
During the centuries that followed the passing of the Buddha, several schools emerged, that underlined certain aspects of His teaching, favouring certain interpretations and adapting to the cultures of the countries in which the Dharma was spreading.
Nowadays, there are three great "trends":
Theravada buddhism, practiced in Sri Lanka, Thaïland, Cambodia...
Mahayana buddhism (or "The Great Vehicle"), practiced in China, Japan, Korea...
Vajrayana buddhism (or "The AdamantineVehicle"), particularly practiced in Himalayan countries, such as Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan...).
According to Vajrayana, the Bhagavan Buddha gave three cycles of teaching in order to enable all of the beings to escape the immeasurable number of sufferings of samsara, to set them in an unchanging and constant happiness: Perfect Buddhahood.
Many have reached liberation by practicing the teachings of the Buddha. Moreover, by practicing them assiduously, those beings in turn engage themselves for the liberation of future generations.