What and Where is Buddhism?

Buddhism is a religion and philosophy practiced by over 300,000,000 people world wide, usually in East and South-East Asia including India. It grows by about 156,609 people per year, mostly in Western countries. Buddhism is a non-theistic religion based on the concept of 'Enlightenment.' Enlightenment is a state of peace and wisdom Buddhists believe can be gained by following the teachings of the Buddha and by resisting earthly desires. Buddhism is a Universalizing religion.

A History of Buddhism

Founded by Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) in the 6th century BC, Buddhism has a long history. Although it started in Northern India, Buddhism has spread across the heartland of Asia. Siddhartha Gautama was born a warrior prince in modern day Nepal. After years of meditation, he discovered the Middle Way-- a path away from following self-destructive human desires and indulgence. The ruler of Magadha found wisdom in Gautama and accepted his teachings as his own religion. This encouraged Buddhism to spread across the country. In northern India, Buddha delivered his first sermon to a group of five people who were with him on his journey to Enlightenment. After his death, Buddhism continued to spread across Asia.

Facts and Elements of Buddhism

Buddhism is based on many principals such as:

Samsara- the cycle of rebirth caused by positive/negative Karma and following earthly desires.

Karma- the force that drives Samsara by cycling positive and negative energy put out by each person by their actions

Reincarnation- rebirth of a soul into a new body on its journey to achieve Enlightenment. This process is discontinued for a soul when that person achieves Enlightenment.

Enlightenment- a state of peace and inner wisdom achieved through meditation and following the Middle Way

The Four Noble Truths- four truths proclaimed by the Buddha which show the way to rejecting desires and finding the way to Enlightenment and Nirvana.

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Why Buddhism

Many people follow Buddhism because it is non-theistic, so there is no commitment to a certain God or gods. The philosophy that suffering is caused by desire is universally considered valid by most philosophers. A path to inner peace is what many people search for in their lives, and Buddhism offers a way and truth to find this" peace.