Buddhism goes back to the Buddha Shakyamuni, who lived in India five centuries before our time. Today it represents the transcendental wisdom of Buddhism and its timeless validity. Only after evolving for over a thousand years did his teachings reach the Himalayas, where they became fused with pre-existing religious ideas. The form of vajrayana Buddhism (the Diamond Vehicle) practised in Bhutan shapes all aspects of life, from attaining enlightenment, to state politics to everyday life in rural areas.
The Buddha’s aim was to teach meditative practices. The single ultimate goal of these practices was to lead to liberation from the infinite cycle of rebirth. As long as a human being remains entangled in the ongoing cycle of rebirth, suffering, transience and death repeated in each new life. Release from the everlasting cycle lies in overcoming the perception that the deceptive variety of worldly phenomena represents Absolute Truth and in freeing oneself from the idea of the self. This can only be attained in meditation.
The path towards attaining liberation from the ongoing cycle of rebirth is marked by an elaborate ritualism. The Tantric tradition makes use of practices giving control over psychological and physiological processes.
After new philosophical developments had taken place in Mahayana Buddhism, the historical Buddha was joined by further deities. They all are remedies against the reasons for continuing entanglement in the ongoing cycle of rebirth.