Buddhism originated in India nearly 2,500 years ago. It was founded by the Buddha, who was born as a prince named Siddhartha Gautama in present-day Nepal. He lived between the 5th and 4th century BC.
Buddhism is the fourth-largest religion globally, and Buddhists represent 7% (488 million) of the world’s population. Up to 99% of Buddhists live in the Asia-Pacific region.
Read this post as we tell you some fascinating facts about Buddhism for kids. But before we dive into the facts, let us understand how Buddhism came into being and what its main teachings are.
Buddha And Enlightenment
Even when he was a young child, Siddhartha Gautama saw suffering among the people in the kingdom. He did not know the cause of their suffering and how to end it. Subsequently, when he was older, he left his family and his kingdom in search of the meaning of life.
Siddhartha followed the path of extreme self-denial and asceticism, and one day, while seated under the Bodhi tree in meditation, he attained enlightenment.
He found the way to free the soul from the endless cycle of desire and suffering and attain true happiness.
The Concept Of Buddhism
Buddhism is based on the main idea that there is suffering in this world, and we should find a way to end it. The main teachings of Buddha include the Four Noble Truths. From these Noble Truths comes the Eightfold Path that people can follow to attain end suffering and find happiness.
Buddhists believe that the Buddha was human, just like us, and he saw the reality of the world and thus, attained enlightenment. Hence, by following in his footsteps, we can gain enlightenment too.
Main Teachings Of Buddhism
The teachings of the Buddha can be classified into three parts, namely
- Three signs of being
- Four noble truths
- Noble eightfold path
The three signs of being
Also called the three marks of existence, these include
- Dukkha: Life is unsatisfactory and imperfect and filled with suffering and pain.
- Anicca: Nothing is permanent, and change is constant.
- Anatta: There is no permanent self or soul.
The four noble truths
The four noble truths include
1. Dukkha (Suffering)
The first truth of life is that suffering exists. Old age, pain, disease, death, frustration, loneliness, boredom, etc., are all part of this life.
2. Samudaya (The cause of suffering)
Suffering is caused by the desire to control. Desires can take many forms — the desire for fame or fortune, the desire to lead a happy life always, the desire to avoid pain, etc.
3. Nirodha (The end of suffering)
You can overcome suffering and find happiness. True contentment is possible if you let go of your desires.
4.Magga (The path)
The noble eightfold path will lead to the end of suffering.
The noble eightfold path
The noble eightfold path comprises eight practices that can help end suffering. The Buddha taught his followers to avoid extremes and adopt the “Middle Way.”
The eightfold path consists of
- Right view
- Right thought
- Right speech
- Right action
- Right livelihood
- Right effort
- Right mindfulness
- Right contemplation
Besides these, the five precepts that form the basis of Buddhism include
- Do not kill.
- Do not steal.
- Do not indulge in sexual misconduct.
- Do not lie.
- Do not consume alcohol or drugs.
Facts About Buddhism For Children
Here are some interesting facts about Buddhism you might want to know.
- The Bodhi tree under which Siddhartha attained enlightenment is in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India, and the Mahabodhi Temple, a UNESCO world heritage site, stands there now.
- Buddhists do not believe in the existence of God or the soul.
- “Buddha” means the “enlightened one.”
- In Buddhism, the lotus is the symbol of enlightenment.
- Buddha was commonly referred to as “the great physician” as he tried to identify, explain, and end human suffering.
- Meditation and mindfulness are crucial aspects of Buddhism. They are used as means to discipline the mind.
- Buddhists have shrines at home where they pay respect to the Buddha and meditate.
- One of the most important festivals in Buddhism is Wesak (Vesak), also known as Buddha Day. Most Buddhists celebrate it to commemorate the Buddha’s birth, while others celebrate it to commemorate the Buddha’s attainment of enlightenment.
- Buddhism is a very tolerant religion that respects the beliefs of other faiths.
- Buddhism does not have a main text like the Christians have the Bible. Instead, it has a collection of holy texts because the Buddha’s teachings were passed down by word of mouth through many generations.
- The Buddha taught his disciples in Pali— the language of the commons.
- Most Buddhists believe in reincarnation and rebirth.
- Buddhism was the first religion to ordain women and untouchables into it as it believed that everyone has the same potential for enlightenment.
- Buddhist monks and nuns go around and collect alms. They do not ask for anything and instead accept whatever is offered to them.
- The first mention of the Buddha in Western writing is in Clement of Alexandria’s writings (2 AD).
- There are two schools of Buddhism — Theravada and Mahayana. Both schools interpret the teachings of the Buddha in different ways.
- Approximately 50% of the followers of Buddhism live in China.
- The Buddhist take guidance from the three jewels — Buddha (belief in the teachings of the Buddha), Dharma (following the teachings), and Sangha (the monastic community of Buddhists helping themselves and others to attain Nirvana).
- The teachings of the Buddha were first written on palm leaves and then collected in baskets.
- The Tripitaka, meaning three baskets, refers to the collection of Buddhist scriptures.
Buddhism is a tolerant and loving religion that accepts people of other faiths with open arms. It generally teaches people the way to happiness and contentment. By following the Buddha’s teachings, more people will achieve clarity of mind and purity of body.
2. 5 facts about Buddhists around the world; Pew Research Center
3. Top ten facts about Buddhism; Oxford University Press
4. Buddhism: Basic Beliefs; United Religions Initiative
5. Tapas Kumar Aich; Buddha philosophy and western psychology; Indian Journal of Psychiatry (2019).
6. three treasures; Soka Gakkai – Nichiren Buddhism Library
7. Printing woodblocks of the Tripitaka Koreana and miscellaneous Buddhist scriptures; UNESCO
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