From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Dharma Wheel.svg

Basic terms


Gautama Buddha
Dalai Lama


Nyingma Kagyu Sakya Gelug


study Dharma

Buddhism is an Indian religion, or Dharma, begun by Siddhartha Gautama. Buddhism teaches people how to end their suffering by cutting out greed, hatred and ignorance. Buddhism, along with other Indian religions, believes in Karma. When people do bad things, bad things will happen to them. When people do good things, good things will happen.

This cause-and-effect chain is reflected in the endless cycles of life, death and rebirth. Buddhism believes in reincarnation (rebirth). The ultimate goal of a Buddhist is to get enlightenment (Nirvana) and be free of endless reincarnation and suffering. Some see Buddhism as a religion,[1] others see it is a philosophy, and others think it is a way of finding reality.[2][3]

Background[change | change source]

Buddhism was started by Siddhārtha Gautama, or Gautama Buddha, after becoming englightened (563–483 BC) in northern India. He gave up everything to find a way to end suffering. His teachings spread, after his death, to Central Asia, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, China, Mongolia, Korea, and Japan, and have now spread to the west.

The Buddha's teachings are about suffering and how to overcome it.[4] According to the Buddha, overcoming suffering allows a person to be truly happy. The Buddha taught that if people make good decisions they would be happy and have peace of mind. The Buddha taught that life is imperfect and that we will suffer. He taught that we suffer because of desire, anger and stupidity, and he showed that we could end our suffering by letting go of desires and overcoming anger and stupidity. The complete letting go of these negative influences is called Nirvana, meaning "to extinguish", like putting out the flame of a candle. The end of suffering, when one is fully awake (put an end to one's own ignorance) and has let go of all desire and anger, is also called Enlightenment. In Buddhism, Enlightenment and Nirvana mean the same thing.

"To avoid all evil
To do good.
To purify one's mind.
This is the teaching of all the Buddhas."
--Dhammapāda, XIV, 5 ,

Buddhism teaches non-harm and moderation or balance, not going too far one way or the other. Buddhists often meditate while sitting in a special or specific way. They often chant and meditate while walking. Buddhists sometimes do these things to understand the human heart and mind. Sometimes they do these things to understand the way the world works. Sometimes they do these things to find peace.

Buddhism does not say if gods exist or not, but one can read many stories about gods in some Buddhist books. Buddhists do not believe that people should look to gods to save them or bring them enlightenment.[5] The gods may have power over world events and they might help people, or they might not. But it's up to each person to get to enlightenment. Many Buddhists honor gods in ritual. Other Buddhists believe the stories about gods are just there to help us learn about parts of ourselves.

Who is Buddha?[change | change source]

Buddha is a Pali word which means "The awakened one". Someone who has woken up to the truth of the mind and suffering and teaches the truth to others is called a Buddha. The word "Buddha" often means the historical Buddha named Buddha Shakyamuni (Siddhartha Gautama).[6] Buddhists do not believe that a Buddha is a god, but that he is a human being who has woken up and can see the true way the mind works. They believe this knowledge totally changes the person. This person can help others become enlightened too. Enlightened people are beyond birth, death, and rebirth.

Who was the first Buddha?[change | change source]

According to Buddhism, there were countless Buddhas before Gautama Buddha and there will be many Buddhas after him.

The first Buddha in Buddhavamsa sutta was Taṇhaṅkara Buddha, The Mahapadana sutta say the first Buddha was Vipassi Buddha, however, counting from the present kalpa (the beginning of our present universe) Buddha Gautama is considered the fourth Buddha. The first is Kakusandho Buddha, second Konakamano Buddha, and the third Kassapo Buddha. The last Buddha of this kalpa will be Maitreya Buddha. Then the universe will renew itself and from then begins a new kalpa.

Old stories say that Siddhārtha Gautama was born around the 6th century BC.

He was born a prince and was unsure about if he wanted to become a religious man or a prince. At age 29 he noticed pain and suffering. He then wanted to learn the answer to the problem of human suffering, or pain. He gave up all his money and power and became a monk without a home. He walked from place to place, trying to learn the answers to life.

At last, he gets enlightenment while sitting under a big tree called the Bodhi Tree. He was the first person to teach Buddhism to the people, and Buddhists love him for that. A cutting was made from the Bodhi Tree and planted in Sri Lanka. When the original tree died, a cutting from the Sri Lankan tree was planted in the original spot and so today there is a second-generation clone of the first tree in the Indian city of Bodh Gaya.

After Siddhārtha Gautama died, his students taught the Buddha's teaching to more people. After a long time, they wrote down the things that he may have said.

Beliefs of Buddhism[change | change source]

The Three Jewels[change | change source]

Buddhists often talk about the Three Jewels, which are the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.

The Dharma is the way the Buddha taught to live your life. The Sangha is the group of monks and other people who meet together and practice what the Buddha taught.

Buddhists say "I take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha." This means that these three things keep them safe. They give themselves up to the community and teachings inspired by the Buddha.

Four Noble Truths[change | change source]

The Buddha's first and most important teachings are the Four Noble Truths.[7]

  1. Life often—in fact almost always—involves suffering.
  2. The reason for this suffering is that we want things.
  3. The way to cure suffering is to stop the wanting.
  4. The way to stop wanting is to follow the Noble Eightfold Path, which focuses not on changing things around us, but instead it focuses on changing our own mind on how we view things.

Noble Eightfold Path[change | change source]

The Buddha told people to follow a special way of life called the Noble Eightfold Path if they want to understand the Four Noble Truths. These are:

  1. Know and understand the Four Noble Truths
  2. Turn your mind away from the world and towards the Dharma
  3. Tell the truth, don't gossip, and don't talk badly about others
  4. Don't commit evil acts, like killing, stealing, or living an unclean life
  5. Earn your money in a way that doesn't harm anyone
  6. Make your mind more good and less evil
  7. Remember the Dharma and apply it all the time
  8. Practice meditation as a way of understanding reality

Five Precepts[change | change source]

Buddhists are encouraged to follow five precepts, or rules, that say what not to do. The Buddha taught that killing, stealing, having sex in a harmful way, and lying are not signs of skill.[8]

These are the Five precepts:

  1. I will not hurt a person or animal that is alive.
  2. I will not take something if it was not given to me.
  3. I will not engage in sexual misconduct.
  4. I will not lie or say things that hurt people.
  5. I will not take intoxicants, like alcohol or drugs, causing heedlessness.

If a person wants to be a monk or nun, he or she will follow other precepts as well.

Further reading[change | change source]

  • Bechert, Heinz (1984). The World of Buddhism. Thames & Hudson. 
  • Harvey, Peter (1990). An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, History and Practices. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-31333-9. 
  • Armstrong, Karen (2001). Buddha. Penguin Books. p. 187. ISBN 978-0-14-303436-0. 
  • Gunaratana, Henepola (2002). Mindfulness in Plain English. Wisdom Publications. ISBN 978-0-86171-321-9. 
  • Robinson, Richard Hugh (1982). The Buddhist Religion: A Historical Introduction. Wadsworth Publishing. ISBN 978-0-534-01027-0. 
  • Smith, Huston; Novak, Philip (2003). Buddhism: A Concise Introduction. HarperSanFrancisco. ISBN 978-0-06-073067-3. 

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Chambers Dictionary, 2006; Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 2003; New Penguin Handbook of Living Religions, 1998; Dewey Decimal System of Book Classification
  2. For example: Thich Nhat Hanh, Path White Clouds|Old Path White Clouds For example: Dorothy Figen, Is Buddhism a Religion?
  3. For example: Narada Thera, Buddhism in a Nutshell, http://www.buddhanet.net/nutshell03.htm
  4. Buddhism
  5. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.072.than.html
  6. see, for example, Basic points unifying the Theravāda and the Mahāyāna.
  7. Buswell, Robert E. (2004). Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Macmillan Reference USA/Thomson/Gale. p. 296. ISBN 978-0-02-865720-2. 
  8. Thanissaro (2006). Thanissaro, in part, references MN 9, Sammā-diṭṭhi Sutta, to support this statement.

Other websites[change | change source]