Buddhism is a faith that was founded by Siddhartha Gautama (“the Buddha”) more than 2,500 years ago in India. With about 470 million followers, scholars consider Buddhism one of the major world religions. Its practice has historically been most prominent in East and Southeast Asia, but its influence is growing in the West. Many Buddhist ideas and philosophies overlap with those of other faiths.
Some key Buddhism beliefs include:
Followers of Buddhism don’t acknowledge a supreme god or deity. They instead focus on achieving enlightenment—a state of inner peace and wisdom. When followers reach this spiritual echelon, they’re said to have experienced nirvana.
The religion’s founder, Buddha, is considered an extraordinary man, but not a god. The word Buddha means “enlightened.”
The path to enlightenment is attained by utilizing morality, meditation and wisdom. Buddhists often meditate because they believe it helps awaken truth.
There are many philosophies and interpretations within Buddhism, making it a tolerant and evolving religion.
Some scholars don’t recognize Buddhism as an organized religion, but rather, a “way of life” or a “spiritual tradition.”
Buddhism encourages its people to avoid self-indulgence but also self-denial.
Buddha’s most important teachings, known as The Four Noble Truths, are essential to understanding the religion.
Buddhists embrace the concepts of karma (the law of cause and effect) and reincarnation (the continuous cycle of rebirth).
Followers of Buddhism can worship in temples or in their own homes.
Buddhist monks, or bhikkhus, follow a strict code of conduct, which includes celibacy.
There is no single Buddhist symbol, but a number of images have evolved that represent Buddhist beliefs, including the lotus flower, the eight-spoked dharma wheel, the Bodhi tree and the swastika (an ancient symbol whose name means "well-being" or "good fortune" in Sanskrit).
Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism who later became known as “the Buddha,” lived during the 5th century B.C.
Gautama was born into a wealthy family as a prince in present-day Nepal. Although he had an easy life, Gautama was moved by suffering in the world.
He decided to give up his lavish lifestyle and endure poverty. When this didn’t fulfill him, he promoted the idea of the “Middle Way,” which means existing between two extremes. Thus, he sought a life without social indulgences but also without deprivation.
After six years of searching, Buddhists believe Gautama found enlightenment while meditating under a Bodhi tree. He spent the rest of his life teaching others about how to achieve this spiritual state.
When Gautama passed away around 483 B.C., his followers began to organize a religious movement. Buddha’s teachings became the foundation for what would develop into Buddhism.
In the 3rd century B.C., Ashoka the Great, the Mauryan Indian emperor, made Buddhism the state religion of India. Buddhist monasteries were built, and missionary work was encouraged.
Over the next few centuries, Buddhism began to spread beyond India. The thoughts and philosophies of Buddhists became diverse, with some followers interpreting ideas differently than others.
In the sixth century, the Huns invaded India and destroyed hundreds of Buddhist monasteries, but the intruders were eventually driven out of the country.
Types of Buddhism
Today, many forms of Buddhism exist around the world. The three main types that represent specific geographical areas include:
Theravada Buddhism: Prevalent in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos and Burma
Mahayana Buddhism: Prevalent in China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore and Vietnam
Tibetan Buddhism: Prevalent in Tibet, Nepal, Mongolia, Bhutan, and parts of Russia and northern India
Each of these types reveres certain texts and has slightly different interpretations of Buddha’s teachings. There are also several subsects of Buddhism, including Zen Buddhism and Nirvana Buddhism.
Some forms of Buddhism incorporate ideas of other religions and philosophies, such as Taoism and Bon.
Buddha’s teachings are known as “dharma.” He taught that wisdom, kindness, patience, generosity and compassion were important virtues.
Specifically, all Buddhists live by five moral precepts, which prohibit:
Killing living things
Taking what is not given
Using drugs or alcohol
Four Noble Truths
The Four Noble Truths, which Buddha taught, are:
The truth of suffering (dukkha)
The truth of the cause of suffering (samudaya)
The truth of the end of suffering (nirhodha)
The truth of the path that frees us from suffering (magga)
Collectively, these principles explain why humans hurt and how to overcome suffering.
The Buddha taught his followers that the end of suffering, as described in the fourth Noble Truths, could be achieved by following an Eightfold Path.
In no particular order, the Eightfold Path of Buddhism teaches the following ideals for ethical conduct, mental disciple and achieving wisdom:
Right understanding (Samma ditthi)
Right thought (Samma sankappa)
Right speech (Samma vaca)
Right action (Samma kammanta)
Right livelihood (Samma ajiva)
Right effort (Samma vayama)
Right mindfulness (Samma sati)
Right concentration (Samma samadhi)
Buddhist Holy Book
Buddhists revere many sacred texts and scriptures. Some of the most important are:
Tipitaka: These texts, known as the “three baskets,” are thought to be the earliest collection of Buddhist writings.
Sutras: There are more than 2,000 sutras, which are sacred teachings embraced mainly by Mahayana Buddhists.
The Book of the Dead: This Tibetan text describes the stages of death in detail.
Nobel Laureate and exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, 2001.
David McNew/Getty Images
The Dalai Lama is the leading monk in Tibetan Buddhism. Followers of the religion believe the Dalai Lama is a reincarnation of a past lama that has agreed to be born again to help humanity. There have been 14 Dalai Lamas throughout history.
The Dalai Lama also governed Tibet until the Chinese took control in 1959. The current Dalai Lama, Lhamo Thondup, was born in 1935.
Every year, Buddhists celebrate Vesak, a festival that commemorates Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death.
During each quarter of the moon, followers of Buddhism participate in a ceremony called Uposatha. This observance allows Buddhists to renew their commitment to their teachings.
They also celebrate the Buddhist New Year and participate in several other yearly festivals.
1. Place of worship
Buddhist monasteries, temples, shrines.
2. Place of origin,
The origin of Buddhism points to one man, Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha, who was born in Lumbini (in present-day Nepal). He became enlightened at Bodhgaya, India and delivered his first set of teachings at a deer park in Sarnath, India.
Meditation, the Eightfold Path; right view, right aspiration, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration
4. Life after death
Rebirth is one of the central beliefs of Buddhism. We are in an endless cycle of birth, death and re-birth, which can only be broken by attaining nirvana. Attaining nirvana is the only way to escape suffering permanently.
5. Means of Salvation
Reaching Enlightenment or Nirvana, following the Noble Eightfold Path.
6. Belief of God
. The idea of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent creator is rejected by Buddhists. The Buddha himself refuted the theistic argument that the universe was created by a self-conscious, personal God.
7. Use of statues and pictures
Common. Statues are used as meditation objects, and revered as they reflect the qualities of the Buddha.
The Buddha (born as Prince Siddhartha)
The Buddhist Sangha, composed of bhikkhus (male monks) and bhikkhunis (female nuns). The sangha is supported by lay Buddhists.
10. Goal of religion
To attain enlightenment and be released from the cycle of rebirth and death, thus attaining Nirvana.
11. Human Nature
Ignorance, as all sentient beings. In the Buddhist texts, it is seen that when Gautama, after his awakening, was asked whether he was a normal human being, he replied, "No".
13. Original Language(s)
Pali (Theravada tradition) and Sanskrit(Mahayana and Vajrayana tradition)
1. Church building, , personal dwellings, outside, tent, etc.(Acts 2:42)
2. Jerusalem The Christian holiday of Pentecost, which is celebrated the 50th day (the seventh Sunday) commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ while they were in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Weeks, as described in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2:1–31).
3.. Prayer, worship in church of Christ, reading of the Bible, acts of charity, weekly communion. Preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ , Give as we prosper to the Lord. I Corinthians 2:8-9. II Corinthians 16:1-2
4. Eternity in Heaven or Hell, depending on whether you obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Mathew 25: 46
5.Through Christ's Passion, Death, and Resurrection.
I Corinthians 15:1-4)
6. One God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The godhead
7. Christ built His church (Matthew 1816) The churches of Christ ....Romans 16:16 / Acts 20:28
8. Jesus Christ is the ONLY founder of the church
I Corinthians 3:11-15
9: Gospel preachers, Elders, Deacons and Christians going out into the world to preach the gospel
Romans 1:16; I Corinthians 9: 14-23
10. To love God and obey his commandments while creating a relationship with Jesus Christ and spreading the Gospel so that others may also be saved. Matthew 28:18-20; John 8:31-32
11. Humans are born into the world innocent and over time they are corrupted by sin. No baby is ever born "in sin". .(for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might) Romans 9:11
12. Followers or Disciples of Jesus Christ (Christians). Never known as Catholics, Baptist, Mormons, Methodist, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventist, etc.
13. . Aramaic, Greek, and Latin.