What we nowadays call Buddhism, started with prince Siddharta in India. For the benefit of all sentient beings, he renounced princehood and began to search for the truth of all being. On his search he met many people involved in spiritual practice. He recognized that the path they followed could not lead to the ultimate goal. So he entered a solitary retreat and practiced until his mind had fully overcome all extremes. Finally he attained the state of mind which is known as enlightenment.
From then on known as Buddha Shakyamuni, the Enlightened One out of the clan of the Sakyas, he bestowed teachings for 50 years. He always taught the whole truth, all means necessary to liberate oneself out of the cycle of suffering, Samsara. Due to the capacity of his followers, these explanations were perceived on 3 different levels, also called Three Yanas, (respectively Hinayana, Mahayana, Vajrayana).
Although very wide and comprehensive, both in scriptures and methods, Buddhism roots on the simple virtues of loving kindness and compassion to become more elaborate and deeper from Yana to Yana. Developing these virtues, peace arises in our mind continuum - peace for us, for the world, for all sentient beings.
Throughout the ages, Buddhism spread and reached many countries, taking on particular styles of life without ever changing in essence. What evolved were not the teachings but phenomena such as habits of daily life, adjusted under the found conditions.
Buddhism came to Tibet in the 5th century, tantric Buddhism or Vajrayana, in the 9th century with Guru Rinpoche, both from India.
excerpted from “The Himalayas and Beyond“