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Buddhism is a spiritual tradition that focuses on personal spiritual development and the

attainment of a deep insight into the true nature of life. There are 376 million followers
Buddhists seek to reach a state of nirvana, following the path of the Buddha, who went on a
quest for Enlightenment around the sixth century BC.
There is no belief in a personal god. Buddhists believe that nothing is fixed or permanent and
that change is always possible. The path to Enlightenment is through the practice and
development of morality, meditation and wisdom.
Buddhists believe that life is both endless and subject to impermanence, suffering and
uncertainty. These states are called the tilakhana, or the three signs of existence. Existence is
endless because individuals are reincarnated over and over again, experiencing suffering
throughout many lives.
It is impermanent because no state, good or bad, lasts forever. Our mistaken belief that things
can last is a chief cause of suffering.
Buddhists can worship both at home or at a temple
The Buddha
The history of Buddhism is the story of one man's spiritual journey to Enlightenment, and of the
teachings and ways of living that developed from it.
Siddhartha Gautama - The Buddha
By finding the path to Enlightenment, Siddhartha Gautama was led from the pain of suffering
and rebirth towards the path of Enlightenment and became known as the Buddha or 'awakened
A life of luxury
Opinions differ as to the dates of Siddhartha Gautama's life. Historians have dated his birth and
death as circa 566-486 BCE but more recent research suggests that he lived later than this,
from around 490 BCE until circa 410 BCE.
He was born into a royal family in the village of Lumbini in present-day Nepal, and his privileged
life insulated him from the sufferings of life; sufferings such as sickness, age and death.
Discovering cruel reality
One day, after growing up, marrying and having a child, Siddhartha went outside the royal
enclosure where he lived. When he went outside he saw, each for the first time, an old man, a
sick man, and a corpse.
This greatly disturbed him, and he learned that sickness, age, and death were the inevitable fate
of human beings - a fate no-one could avoid.
Becoming a holy man
Siddhartha had also seen a monk, and he decided this was a sign that he should leave his
protected royal life and live as a homeless holy man.
Siddhartha's travels showed him much more of the suffering of the world. He searched for a way
to escape the inevitability of death, old age and pain first by studying with religious men. This
didn't provide him with an answer.
A life of self-denial
Siddhartha encountered an Indian ascetic who encouraged him to follow a life of extreme selfdenial and discipline.
The Buddha also practiced meditation but concluded that in themselves, the highest meditative
states were not enough.

asked. with the notable exception of Nichiren Buddhism. Buddhist legend tells that at first the Buddha was happy to dwell within this state. neither luxury nor poverty. seated beneath the Bodhi tree (the tree of awakening) Siddhartha became deeply absorbed in meditation. China. on behalf of the whole world. he pursued the Middle Way. king of the gods. and Mahayana Buddhism. but Brahma. The two largest are Theravada Buddhism. Enlightenment One day. The Teacher Buddha set in motion the wheel of teaching: rather than worshipping one god or gods.Siddhartha followed this life of extreme asceticism for six years. Thailand. It was these four principles that the Buddha came to understand during his meditation under the Bodhi tree. which is just what it sounds like. The Four Noble Truths contain the essence of the Buddha's teachings. but did not return to the pampered luxury of his early life. He finally achieved Enlightenment and became the Buddha. the way to achieve a release from suffering. which is most popular in Sri Lanka. who became Arahants or 'noble ones'. cessation and path. Schools of Buddhism There are numerous different schools or sects of Buddhism. The middle way He abandoned the strict lifestyle of self-denial and ascetic. Buddhism centers around the timeless importance of the teaching. In the first two Noble Truths he diagnosed the problem (suffering) and identified its cause. Instead. Japan. The majority of Buddhist sects do not seek to proselytize (preach and convert). which is strongest in Tibet. Laos and Burma (Myanmar). is now a pilgrimage site. or the dharma. is the prescription. Cambodia. The third Noble Truth is the realization that there is a cure. determined to penetrate its truth. For the next 45 years of his life the Buddha taught many disciples. its origin. The Mahabodhi Temple at the site of Buddha's enlightenment. and reflected on his experience of life. and Mongolia. declared the Buddha 2500 years ago. Taiwan. who had attained Enlightenment for themselves. but this did not satisfy him either. The fourth Noble Truth. that he should share his understanding with others. Korea. Beliefs The Four Noble Truths "I teach suffering. The First Noble Truth: Suffering (Dukkha) . The truth of suffering (Dukkha) The truth of the origin of suffering (Samudāya) The truth of the cessation of suffering (Nirodha) The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering (Magga) The Buddha is often compared to a physician. All schools of Buddhism seek to aid followers on a path of enlightenment. in which the Buddha set out the Eightfold Path. he still had not escaped from the world of suffering. That's all I teach".

or the Three Poisons. the language of the Buddhist scriptures. a snake and a pig shown rushing around in a circle. represented by a snake Language note: Tanhā is a term in Pali. This comes in three forms. which causes suffering. The Fourth Noble Truth: Path to the cessation of suffering (Magga) The final Noble Truth is the Buddha's prescription for the end of suffering. This is a set of principles called the Eightfold Path. which specifically means craving or misplaced desire. The eight divisions The eight stages are not to be taken in order. Buddhists recognize that there can be positive desires. shown in a circle. though. Pleasure does not last. which he described as the Three Roots of Evil. The Eightfold Path is also called the Middle Way: it avoids both indulgence and severe asceticism. This is the third Noble Truth . sadness from the loss of a loved one. neither of which the Buddha had found helpful in his search for enlightenment. or if it does. represented in art by a rooster Ignorance or delusion. each reinforcing the others. unsatisfied.Suffering comes in many forms. Three obvious kinds of suffering correspond to the first three sights the Buddha saw on his first journey outside his palace: old age. or the Three Fires. A bird.the possibility of liberation. But according to the Buddha. such as desire for enlightenment and good wishes for others. The Second Noble Truth: Origin of suffering (Samudāya) Our day-to-day troubles may seem to have easily identifiable causes: thirst. "Estrangement" here means disenchantment: a Buddhist aims to know sense conditions clearly as they are without becoming enchanted or misled by them. they go on to tell us what we can do about it and how to end it. greed and ignorance.and it is much more deeply rooted than our immediate worries. but realistic. but rather support and reinforce each other: . The Buddha taught that the root of all suffering is desire. Human beings are subject to desires and cravings. A neutral term for such desires is chanda. it becomes monotonous. we are unfulfilled. Some people who encounter this teaching may find it pessimistic. Fortunately the Buddha's teachings do not end with suffering. The Three Fires of hate. each holding the tail of the next in its mouth. pain from an injury. The Third Noble Truth: Cessation of suffering (Nirodha) The Buddha taught that the way to extinguish desire. the problem of suffering goes much deeper. Even when we are not suffering from outward causes like illness or bereavement. represented by a pig Hatred and destructive urges. Life is not ideal: it frequently fails to live up to our expectations. The Buddha was a living example that this is possible in a human lifetime. Buddhists find it neither optimistic nor pessimistic. the satisfaction is only temporary. the Buddha claimed to have found the cause of all suffering . These are the three ultimate causes of suffering: Greed and desire. rather. In the second of his Noble Truths. is to liberate oneself from attachment. tanhā. but even when we are able to satisfy these desires. This is the truth of suffering. sickness and death.

Right Concentration . although having different meanings. It is a state of profound spiritual joy.reaching enlightenment . Nirvana is better understood as a state of mind that humans can reach. without negative emotions and fears. action and livelihood) and Meditation (right effort. but to practice them and judge for themselves whether they were true. gossip and abusive speech. Someone who has attained enlightenment is filled with compassion for all living things. like a raft for crossing a river. Ethical Conduct (right speech. The Buddha discouraged his followers from asking too many questions about nirvana. refraining from stealing.means extinguishing the three fires of greed. (The Buddha never intended his followers to believe his teachings blindly. avoiding slander. Karma Karma is a concept encountered in several Eastern religions. mindfulness and concentration). or trading in intoxicants or weapons. Once one has reached the opposite shore. He wanted them to concentrate on the task at hand.Sammā vācā Speaking truthfully.Right Understanding .Sammā ājīva Avoiding making a living in ways that cause harm. Right Effort .Sammā sannkappa A commitment to cultivate the right attitudes. The Buddha described the Eightfold Path as a means to enlightenment. Someone who reaches nirvana does not immediately disappear to a heavenly realm.Sammā ditthi Accepting Buddhist teachings. Right Action . Attaining nirvana . feelings and states of mind. one no longer needs the raft and can leave it behind.Sammā sati Developing awareness of the body. delusion and hatred. Asking questions is like quibbling with the doctor who is trying to save your life. killing and overindulgence in sensual pleasure. which was freeing themselves from the cycle of suffering. sensations. After death an enlightened person is liberated from the cycle of rebirth.) Right Intention . Right Speech . freeing oneself from evil and unwholesome states and preventing them arising in future. The eight stages can be grouped into Wisdom (right understanding and intention). Nirvana Nirvana means extinguishing. such as exploiting people or killing animals. Right Mindfulness . but Buddhism gives no definite answers as to what happens next.Sammā kammanta Behaving peacefully and harmoniously. .Sammā samādhi Developing the mental focus necessary for this awareness.Sammā vāyāma Cultivating positive states of mind. Right Livelihood .

Teachings about karma explain that our past actions affect us. . and that our present actions will affect us in the future. either positively or negatively. or vipāka. Buddhism uses an agricultural metaphor to explain how sowing good or bad deeds will result in good or bad fruit (phala. meaning 'ripening').