The great Buddha statue in Lantau Island, Hong Kong
Buddhism teaches people how to reduce their suffering by understanding themselves better. Sometimes, people do bad things, and Buddha didn't like that. Some see it as a religion, other people think it is a philosophy and for others, Buddhism is a way of finding reality. The teachings of Gautama Buddha - a man who lived between about 563 and 483 BC - tell us how to live a good life. The Buddha was a rich prince. He gave up everything to work out how best to live. His teachings started in India and slowly spread, after his death, through most of Asia, to Central Asia, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, and the East Asian countries of China, Mongolia, Korea, and Japan and have now spread to the west.
02. Seth Piritha I
03. Seth Piritha II
05. Jaya Piritha
14. Bodhi Pooja
The Buddha's teachings are about suffering and how to overcome it. Overcoming suffering allows a person to be truly happy. Buddha taught that if people make good decisions they would be happy and have peace of mind. Buddha taught that life is imperfect and that we will suffer (Dukkha). 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, or think deeply, 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 Buddhist books. Buddhists do not believe that people should look to gods to save them or bring them enlightenment. 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. Many believe the stories about gods are just there to help us learn about parts of ourselves.
What is a Buddha?
Buddha is a word in the very old Indian languages Pāli and Sanskrit which means "Enlightened one". The word "Buddha" often means the historical Buddha named Buddha Shakyamuni (Siddhartha Gautama), but "Buddha" does not mean just one man who lived at a certain time. It is used for a type of person, the equivalent of a prophet, and there have been many.[needs proving] There were Buddhas a very long time ago[needs proving], and there will be for a long time in the future.[needs proving]
A Buddha is a human being who has woken up and can see the true way the world works[needs proving]. This knowledge totally changes the person.[needs proving] Some say this puts them beyond birth, death, and rebirth. Others think this represents the final extinction of desire. This person can help others become enlightened too.[needs proving]
To learn more, read: Buddha.
Who was the first Buddha? According to Buddhism, there were countless Buddhas before Gautama Buddha and there will be many Buddhas after him. In short, he is not the first, nor will he be the last.
However, counting from the present kalpa (the beginning of our present universe) Buddha Gautama is considered the fourth Buddha. The first is Gakusandho Buddha, second Gonakamano Buddha and the third Gassapo Buddha. The last Buddha of this kalpa will be Mettaya 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 the one who would become the first Buddha in written history. Some Buddhists believe that Siddhārtha Gautama was a perfect person.
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 found 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.
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.
To learn more, read: Siddhārtha Gautama.
What do Buddhists believe?
The Three Jewels
Main article: Three Jewels
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, like a congregation.
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
Main article: Four Noble Truths
The Buddha's first and most important teachings are the Four Noble Truths.
- Everything in life is painful. Nothing in life is ever good enough and what is good does not last forever.
- The reason for this pain is our desires, anger and ignorance. We want more and more, so we feel pain. We feel pain even when we get what we want - because one day we will surely lose it. We feel pain through our anger and hatred and we are led into painful situations through our ignorance.
- There is hope. There is a way to end pain.
- The way to end pain is to follow the Noble Eightfold Path.
Noble Eightfold Path
Main article: Noble Eightfold Path
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:
- Know and understand the Four Noble Truths
- Give up all worldly things and don't harm others
- Tell the truth, don't gossip, and don't talk badly about others
- Don't commit evil acts, like killing, stealing, or live an unclean life
- Do rewarding work
- Work for good and oppose evil
- Make sure your mind keeps your senses under control
- Practice meditation as a way of understanding reality
Buddhists are encouraged to follow five precepts, or rules, that say what not to do.[needs proving]The Buddha taught that killing, stealing, having sex in a harmful way, and lying are not signs of skill.
These are the Five concepts.
- I will not hurt a person or animal that is alive.
- I will not take something if it was not given to me.
- I will not have sex in a way that is harmful.
- I will not lie or say things that hurt people.
- I will not take intoxicants, like alcohol or drugs.
In some types of Buddhism, when a person wants to be a monk, he will follow other precepts also.
Books about Buddhism
- Bechert, Heinz & Richard Gombrich (ed.) The World of Buddhism, Thames & Hudson, 1984
- Harvey, Peter (1990). An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, History and Practices. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-31333-3.
- Armstrong, Karen (2001). Buddha. Penguin Books, 187. ISBN 0-14-303436-7.
- Gunaratana, Bhante Henepola (2002). Mindfulness in Plain English. Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-321-4. Also available on-line:   
- Robinson, Richard H., and Johnson, Willard L. (1982). The Buddhist Religion: A Historical Introduction. Wadsworth Publishing. ISBN 0-534-01027-X.
- Smith, Huston; Phillip Novak (2003). Buddhism: A Concise Introduction. HarperSanFrancisco. ISBN 978-0060730673.