Introduction & The Life of the Buddha

Introduction & The Life of the Buddha


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Buddhism emphasises spiritual development to achieve knowledge about the meaning of existence. Buddhist teachings see strong connections between all of life on Earth.

The religion dates back 2,500 years and has 376 million adherents around the world. The origins of Buddhism are in the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama’s search for enlightenment. He probably lived sometime in the 6th century BC and in his quest for knowledge became the Buddha. Some researchers put his dates later, in the 5th Century BC.

There are many Buddhist sects. Two of the main ones are Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism.

Buddhists do not believe in a personal God and the religion is not concerned with the relationship between believers and a God. Buddhists believe in the concept of the Three Refuges, sometimes called the Three Diamonds. These are

– The Buddha.

– The Dharma, the teachings of Buddhism.

– The Sangha, those who have achieved a high level of enlightenment, Bhikkhus (monks) and Bhikkhunis (nuns).

Another important Buddhist concept is Karma, the belief that bad deeds will not go unpunished.


The Life of the Buddha

The Buddha is the first of the Three Refuges.

Stories relating to the birth of the Buddha

The birth of the Buddha has been much mythologised and there are many stories about it. It is believed his father was King Suddhodana and his mother was Queen Maha Maya, and that the Buddha was born in the 6th century BC in Lumbini, a city in modern day Nepal.

When Siddhartha was a boy, he saw four signs: an old man; a sick man; a dead body; and a penniless holy man. The suffering of the first three people he saw made him realise how privileged his wealthy upbringing had been, shielding him from suffering and pain. The fourth sign, the holy man who was a beggar and had renounced all worldly goods, made him feel that this was the path he should follow.