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The founder of Buddhism is Siddhartha Shakya. He is also known as Siddhartha Shakyamuni (the -muni ending having the meaning of "able one"), Siddhartha Gautama, and lastly, Buddha. The title "Buddha" means the "Enlightened" or "Awakened One".
Originally, Buddha was born as a prince in Lumbini (in Northern India, now a part of Nepal). It was predicted by at his birth that Buddha would become a renouncer (someone who withdraws from temporal life). His father wanted to prevent this so he spoiled Buddha with all the luxuries that life at that time had to offer. However, as a young man Buddha went on many chariot rides where he saw severe forms of human suffering.
Eventually, Buddha realized that all the pleasures on Earth could only mask human suffering. This realization led Buddha to leave his wife and son to take on several teachers and lead a life of renunciation in the forest. That life soon ended when he had another realization when he was near starvation. Buddha realized that he was only adding to the suffering from what he was doing so he ate something then sat under a tree to meditate.
Some say by morning and others say six months later that Buddha had attained Nirvana/ enlightenment.
The main Deity in Buddhism is Buddha. There are a total of 10 deities, five of them being different stages in life of Buddha. The deities in Buddhism aren't really seen as Gods. They are seen as transitory beings.
Buddhist believe that rebirth happens based on the physical and mental actions in the previous life. This is also known as karma. The goal is to reach nirvana. Once nirvana is reached the cycle of rebirth and suffering ends and the goal of total transcendence is reached.
The Three Trainings:
Sila - Virtue; Good Conduct. This training has two principles, equality and reciprocity. " Do to others as you wish them to do onto you."
Samadhi: Concentration, meditation, mental development.
Prajnu: Discernment, insight, wisdom, enlightenment.
The Four Noble Truths:
- Dukkha: Suffering exists. Suffering exists in loss, sickness, pain, failure, etc.
- Samudaya: There is a cause for suffering. The cause is the desire to have and control things.
- Nirodha: Suffering stops once Nirvana is reached.
- Magga: In order to end suffering you must follow The Eightfold Path.
The Eightfold Path:
Panna: Discernment, Wisdom.
1. Right Understanding (of the Four Noble Truths)
2. Right Thinking (follow the right path in life)
3. Right Speech (Don't lie, be harsh, or give criticism.)
4. Right Conduct (By the Five Precepts)
Samadhi: Concentration, Meditation.
6. Right Effort (promote good thoughts; conquer evil thoughts)
7. Right Mindfulness (be aware of your mind body and feelings)
8. Right Concentration (Meditate to achieve a higher state of consciousness)
The Five Precepts:
The Five Precepts are basic rules for Buddhist to follow.
1. Don't kill
2. Don't Steal
3. Don't lie
4. Don't misuse sex. Monks and nuns must remain celibate. The laity (aka ordinary people) must not cheat/commit adultery.
5. Don't consume alcohol or other drugs.
The Tripitaka is also known as the Pali Canon. The Tripitaka is a collection of writings that are seen as the actual words of Buddha. It is the earliest known collection of Buddhist teachings. The word "Tripitaka" means the three baskets. The three baskets refer to the basket of discipline, the basket of discourse, and the basket of higher knowledge.
The Mahayana Sutras:
Like the Tripitaka, the Mahayana Sutras are also a vast collection of Buddhist teachings. This piece of literature mostly teaches that anyone can aspire to achieve higher awakening.
The Tibetan Book of The Dead:
The Tibetan Book of The Dead mostly teaches Buddhist how to best avoid the snares of life. Also, this book instructs you on the art of dying. There are descriptions of afterlife within the book.
Buddhism influenced the Indian society as well a large part of Asia in general. This religion taught people to live simple, ego-less, lives.
Buddhism is mostly practiced in Asia. The religion started in India but after a while the number of buddhist followers dropped. However, the religion still spreaded past India. The religion reached China (which has the largest amount of Buddhism followers), Thailand, Japan, etc. These are only a few countries that the religion has reached. It is now an estimate of 488 million people who are buddhist.
Buddhism had the impact of promoting education, and peace, also, it inspired art, architecture, and changed in the Indian society.