Quick facts: Buddhism

By: Michael Barrow and Kristen Kerr

Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautama, the son of an Indian king. Raised in a palace, he tired of the extravagant lifestyle and ventured outside. After experiencing the suffering that existed outside his palace walls, he resolved to put his worldly possessions aside and become a monk. While meditating under a tree, he discovered the way to escape suffering and achieve salvation. He became the Buddha, or the “Enlightened One” and spent the rest of his days traveling India and sharing his knowledge.

Buddhism is based on the Four Noble Truths, including:

  • The truth of suffering
  • The truth of the cause of suffering
  • The truth of the end of suffering
  • The truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering

Noble Eightfold Path:

  • Right view
  • Right thought
  • Right speech
  • Right conduct
  • Right livelihood
  • Right effort
  • Right mindfulness
  • Right medication

Buddhists also believe in karma and in reincarnation. Karma is based on one’s good and bad actions. Good or positive acts lead to happiness while bad actions result in unhappiness. Reincarnation, or the Buddhist cycle of rebirth, is built on karma. Good karma enables individuals to be reborn into one of three fortunate realms: demigods, gods or men. The realm of man is considered the highest and gives the opportunity to achieve enlightenment, or Nirvana. Bad karma leads to existence is one of three unfortunate realms: animals, ghosts or hell.