Buddhism is a philosophy and a spiritual tradition focusing on personal cultivation and understanding the true nature of life. Starting in the Indian Subcontinent 2,500 years ago (6th and 4th centuries BCE), it later spread to most of Asia later on and then declined in Medieval India.
It is a major world religion (4th largest) in the East Asian and South East Asian cultural sphere. There are about 500 million adherents of Buddhism all over the world. Buddhist ideas have been major cultural influences for many civilisations.
Buddhists try to attain nirvana/enlightenment/satori by living a life based on the teachings of the Buddha. Buddha was a young prince named Siddharta Gautama born in what is now modern-day Nepal. Shocked by the suffering he saw in his kingdom, and began to question how one can overcome suffering. He abandoned his luxurious life to seek answers. He eventually succeeded and became the Buddha, or “Tathagata”, the enlightened one. As the Buddha, he spent rest of his life teaching about the Dhamma to the Sangha.
Over time, Buddhism has diverged into many forms. Some of them focus on rituals and worship of deities while others deny them completely in favour of meditation. However, the core teachings and beliefs remain the same. They all have the common goal of ending suffering and the cycle of death and rebirth.
There are two major extant branches of Buddhism which are generally accepted on the basis of core ideas: Theravada and Mahayana.
Branches of Buddhism differ on specifics to the path to liberation, the practices and the authenticity of various scriptures and teachings.
The conception of a personal god does not exist in Buddhism. They believe that everything is impermanent and change is the natural law of life. Enlightenment can be achieved by practicing meditation, morality and wisdom.
Buddhism teaches that existence is impermanent and endless. Impermanence, suffering and insecurity are naturally faced in life. Impermanence, Suffering, and Insecurity are the three marks of existence (Tilakhana).
Existence is endless because of the cycles of reincarnation and suffering throughout their lives.
It is also impermanent because nothing lasts forever. The belief that things will continue to last is a major cause of suffering.
Buddhist Practices involve finding refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha (triple refuge). Studying sacred texts, giving up desires and attachments, following moral precepts, cultivation of wisdom, meditation, cherishing consideration and empathy.
- Buddhism is a consequence of the Buddha’s quest for Enlightenment circa 500 BCE
- It is about 2,500 years old
- Everything is impermanent, change is inevitable.
- The idea of a personal God or deity is not a core belief.
- Enlightenment can be achieved through personal practice.
- The Four Noble Truths, The Noble Eightfold Path and The Five Precepts form the core basis of Buddhism.
- Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism are two major branchess