What the Buddha taught is popularly known as Buddhism. Some people embrace Buddhism as a religion, while others think of it as a philosophy. However, Buddhism is too vast and too profound to be neatly placed in any single category.
Buddhism is a way of moral, spiritual and intellectual training leading to complete freedom of mind. It is an intellectual approach to reality through mental development and purification. It is a method to get rid of miseries and to find liberation. Buddhism is a righteous way of life for the peace and happiness of every living being.
While Buddhism can bring greater understanding on how to lead a good, worldly life, its main focus is how to gain spiritual liberation through the development of wisdom and mental culture.
It is neither mere love of, nor inducing the search after wisdom, nor devotion (though they have their significance and bearing on mankind), but an encouragement of a practical application of the teaching that leads the follower to dispassion, enlightenment and final deliverance.
The fountainhead of all Buddhism is this experience, called 'Enlightenment.' With this experience of Enlightenment, the Buddha began His Teaching not with any dogmatic beliefs or mysteries, but with a valid, universal experience, which He gave to the world as universal truth.
Buddhism is a teaching which furnishes men with a guide to conduct that is in accord with its in-look, a teaching which enables those who give it heed to face life with fortitude and death with serenity, or a system to get rid of the ills of life.
On the lower level, Buddhism teaches the individual how to adjust and cope with events and circumstances of daily life. At the higher level, it represents the human endeavour to grow beyond oneself through the practice of mental culture or mind development.
Buddhism is not mere mumbo-jumbo, a myth told to entertain the human mind or to satisfy the human emotion, but a liberal and noble method for those who sincerely want to understand and experience the reality of life.
Buddhism has a complete system of mental culture concerned with gaining insight into the nature of things that leads to complete self-realization of the Ultimate Truth. This system is both practical and scientific; it involves dispassionate observation of emotional and mental states.
Buddhism also contains an excellent ethical code which is unparallel in its perfection and altruistic attitude.