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Siddhartha Gautama was born in 563 B.C.E. as a wealthy Indian prince. He was raised Hindu, and was exposed to very little suffering in his early life. Eventually, he became restless and unhappy with the way he lived and decided to live as an ascetic in order to find salvation. After starving himself close to death, he realized that self-indulgence and self-denial in extremes were equally bad. While sitting underneath a bodhi tree, he achieved enlightenment and became a teacher of his "Middle Way," with the Four Noble Truths and Eight-Fold Path. He was then called "The Buddha."

Tennets of Buddhism

563 B.C.E.-The Buddha is born Siddhartha Gautama534 B.C.E. - Siddhartha Gautama sees the error of his ways383 B.C.E.: Buddhism is split into Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism

Four Noble Truths: 1. All life is suffering. 2. Suffering is due to desire. 3. Desire can be overcome. 4. The way to do this is by following the eight-fold pathEight-Fold Path, or "Middle Way": Right view, right aspiration, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentrationBuddhists believed in the concepts of reincarnation, or rebirth, also called samsara, and karma, or the idea that actions have consequences later. If one lives by the Four Noble Truths and the Eight-Fold Path, it is possible to achieve Nirvana, or eternal peace.

Lasting Impact

Buddhism is now a world religion, with between 150 million and 300 million followers between Theravada and Mahayana sects. The Dalai Lama, one of the most important religious figures of the world, is the head of Tibetan Buddhism


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Mahayan vs. Theravada

Theravada Buddhism: More conservative Buddhism based strictly on the teachings of the Buddha, believes that souls who have achieved nirvana, or arhats, are the highest form of purityMahayana Buddhism: Deified the Buddha by giving him three "bodies of transformation;" added spirituality to Buddhism; bhodisattvas, or souls who have achieved nirvana but stay behind to help others reach salvation, are the highest form of purity; rituals are more important than in Theravada



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