By Kaitlyn Rausch


Siddhartha Gautama- the founder of Buddhism

  • Lived from 563-483 B.C.
  • Divided into three periods

Enjoyment: 563-534 B.C.

  • born into a life of luxury
  • very sheltered
  • not allowed outside palace during childhood
  • at 29 he went outside and saw four sufferings

Enquiry: 534-528 B.C.

  • left family, wife, and child
  • wandered India for six years
  • searching for source of suffering and how to end it
  • almost died

Enlightenment: 528-483 B.C.

  • ended fasting
  • meditated under tree for 49 days at Gaya
  • reached enlightenment
  • gave first sermon at Benares
  • spent last 45 years spreading his message


Main Points

  • Reincarnation
  • Final Goal- nirvana
  • No castes
  • Four Noble Truths
  • Eightfold Path (Middle Way)

Four Noble Truths

First Noble Truth: Life is filled with suffering and sorrow

Second Noble Truth: The cause of all suffering is people’s selfish desire for the temporary pleasures of this world.

Third Noble Truth: The way to end all suffering is to end all desires.

Fourth Noble Truth: The way to overcome such desires and attain enlightenment is to follow the Eightfold Path, which is called the Middle Way between desires and self-denial.


  • Buddha
  • monks and nuns
  • other believers
  • trade


  • Mahayana (the greater vehicle)
  • Theravada (the teaching of the elders)



-Vocabulary Terms-

Buddha- the enlightened one

Enlightenment- wisdom, understanding

Nirvana- a perfect state of understanding an a break from the chain of reincarnations

Sangha- Buddhist religious order (originally just monks and nuns, now the whole Buddhist community)

Dharma- Buddhist doctrine or teachings

Stupas- sacred mounds that contain the Buddha's relics

Samsara- the cycle of life, death, and rebirth (reincarnation)

Karma- the consequences of our moral actions (closely tied with reincarnation)