Outline of Buddhism
Buddhism is the oldest of the four major religions in the world today. Its followers
inhabit such countries as India, China, Bhutan, Mongolia, Korea, Vietnam, Japan, and
much of southeastern Asia and parts of Malaysia. A rough estimate of the amount of
devotees is 400 million followers and one million monks and nuns. Buddhism can be
considered a religion, a philosophy, and ideology, or even a cultural lifestyle.
The philosophy itself originated over 2,500 years ago in India. The term Buddha,
"Enlightened One," was generated during the 6th century B.C. The personal name of
the man who created the name Buddha was Siddhartha Guatama. A member of the Sakya
clan and warrior class, he was born in Lumbini, a village in northern India. His mother
died when he was a week old and his father married his maternal aunt, who brought her
stepchild up affectionately. Siddhartha had a pleasant childhood; he was a a very erudite
child who mastered his lessons. In keeping with the customs, he married at age sixteen.
His bride was a beautiful young princess; Yasodhara, his first cousin. They had a happy
Marriage for thirteen years and eventually had a son. When Siddarthra was twenty-nine,
He entered a state of homelessness and went in search for answers to the problems he
Had seen. His own rich and happy existence had failed to content him because he still
Had seen the realities of life. For six years he studied under the famous teachers of
India and mastered the current philosophies and religious thoughts. None of these
Satisfied him however.
Determined to come to an understanding, he sat beneath the Bodhi (tree)
One day until dawn. He then realized the problems of life and cessation. From
That day on he was known as the Enlightened One, or Buddha. The next 45 years
of his life were dedicated to missionary work throughout India and creating a group
of disciples. People of all castes began to follow his teachings. Buddha died at the age
of eighty in the village of Kusinara.
The concept of Buddha is based on this man. Followers seek to reach a stage of
enlightenment by following the Dharma, or Law of the Buddha. Neophytes must first
learn the five precepts of Buddhism:
1. Refrain from taking life
2. Refrain from stealing
3. Refrain from improper sexual activity
4. Refrain from lying
5. Refrain from indulging in intoxicants
To reach enlightenment, one must follow the eightfold path; right views, right
thinking, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right endeavor, right memory,
and right meditation. Following these guidelines is the only way to reach Nirvana-
the state of no longer being reincarnated and no longer suffering.