Buddhism An Ancient Religion

Buddhism is an ancient religion that originated in India between 563 B.C. and 483 B.C. It came to be when a sheltered, isolated prince named Siddharta Gautama decided to see what the outside world was like. He had been sheltered to be a good king because that was the belief of ancient people; however, he left his palace at age 29 and was humbled by what he saw. For the first time, Siddharta Gautama saw human suffering, and he vowed not to return to the palace until he had figured out how to end it. He put himself through various tests that stripped him of basic human necessities to learn more about the world and travelled until he came across a tree. He meditated in front of this tree for 49 days, during which he learned the cause of human suffering: humans. This realization and the understanding of how to rid the world of this suffering made him a Buddha, which can be translated as "the enlightened one" or "the awakened one."
Buddhist Symbols such as Shwedag Pagoda (top left), the Thailand Bangkok Temple (bottom left), and a Buddha fig smoke sculpture (right).
A key belief of Buddhism is that by following the Eightfold Path, or the Middle Way, one will be able to attain nirvana and join Buddha in his world of no pain or selfishness. According to National Geographic, Buddhists believe that there is more than one Buddha and that there will be many more. They also trust in three key things: rebirth, karma, and nirvana.
The Eightfold Path, or Middle Way.
Rebirth is a cycle of being born again and again, unable to attain true peace with Buddha until you, too, become enlightened. Karma is a popular idea in everyday life and an ideal in other religions such as Hinduism. Simply put, it is the idea that what goes around comes around; if you do good deeds, you will be rewarded later. However, if you do a bad deed, you will be punished. Nirvana is the idea that when you become enlightened, you will join Buddha in his perfect world, and your cycle of rebirth will end.
  1. The First Noble Truth: There is suffering in life.
  2. The Second Noble Truth: The suffering in life is caused by human greed.
  3. The Third Noble Truth: The way to end that suffering is to end desire.
  4. The Fourth Noble Truth: By following the Eightfold Path, you will be able to become enlightened.
Important Texts
Haeinsa Temple, a head temple in the Korean Buddhism in the Gaya Mountains.

The Tripataka, or the Pali Canon, is the traditional Buddhist scripture. Similarly to the Christian Bible, it is separated into books, or three baskets as they are called by Buddhists. These three baskets are known as the "Vinaya Pitaka," the "Sutra Pitaka," and the "Abhidharma Pitaka." It is very likely that these books were written down for the first time during the first century according to Barbara Crandall's Gender and Religion, 2nd Edition. The first book covers what is expected of those who have decided to follow Buddha's path, the second tells about meetings between monks and disciples after the first Buddha's death, and the third is a somewhat analytical view of Buddhism. The word "abhidharma" can be translated as "higher teachings" or "about the teachings."


Originating in India, Buddhism spread largely to areas of southeast Asia through the traveling of disciples and monks along Chinese trade routes. It is speculated that Buddhism never became very popular in India because Buddha was considered an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu. As years passed, and time has flown by, Buddhism has become a global religion. Asia is heavily saturated with Buddhists. According to Harvey Peter's (2010) An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, History and Practices, there are about 535 million Buddhists in the world, which means almost eight percent of the population are Buddhists. Finally, according to buddhanet.net, Thailand has the highest percentage of its people as Buddhists, with a staggering 95 percent of people following Buddha's way.

Buddhism has had a big impact on the course of the world. Its idea of karma has shaken the way people view decisions they must make, the enticing offer of nirvana has made followers more mellow and understanding, and the idea of endless rebirth has made those who would do others harm decide against it. In ancient times, and even today, followers of Buddhism have followed Buddha's wishes and have rejected marriage, live lives of poverty, and practice nonviolence.

Some notable Buddhists include Orlando Bloom, Kate Bosworth, and Tiger Woods. One Buddhist changed the way humans interact with technology by creating devices such as the iPhone and iPad; his name was Steve Jobs. Buddhism is a religion of knowledge and peace, and those who follow it are promised a wonderful chance to join Buddha in his perfect world with no harm.

  • buddhanet.net
  • nationalgeographic.com
  • pbs.org
  • An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, History and Practices
  • Gender and Religion, 2nd Edition
  • youtube.com
  • pewresearchcenter.org
Created By
Jordan Walker


Created with images by Jeremy Weate - "Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon" • Simon - "thailand bangkok temple" • bykst - "buddha fig smoke" • awenstrom - "pagoda spires temple" • suc - "thailand buddhists monks" • Arian Zwegers - "Haeinsa Temple, Tripitaka Koreana" • MIKI Yoshihito. (#mikiyoshihito) - "Buddhism." • Marko Mikkonen - "untitled image"

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