Introduction to Buddhism
Buddhism is a spiritual tradition that focuses on personal spiritual development and the attainment of a deep insight into the true nature of life. Buddhists seek to reach a state of nirvana, following the path of the Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha) who went on a quest for Enlightenment around the sixth century BC.
There is no belief in a personal or creator god. Buddhists believe that nothing is fixed or permanent and that change is always possible. The path to Enlightenment is through the practice and development of morality, meditation and wisdom. In Buddhism life is both endless and subject to impermanence, suffering and uncertainty. These states are called the tilakhana, or the three signs of existence.
Existence is endless because individuals are reincarnated over and over again, experiencing suffering throughout many lives. It is impermanent because no state, good or bad, lasts forever. Our mistaken belief that things can last is a chief cause of suffering.
The history of Buddhism is the story of one man's spiritual journey to enlightenment, and of the teachings and ways of living that he developed from it.
Buddhism Key facts
- Buddhism is 2,500 years old.
- There are currently 376 million followers worldwide.
- There are over 150,000 Buddhists in Britain .
- Buddhism arose as a result of Siddhartha Gautama's quest for Enlightenment in around the 6th Century BC.
- There is no belief in a personal God. It is not centred on the relationship between humanity and God.
- Buddhists believe that nothing is fixed or permanent - change is always possible.
- The two main Buddhist sects are Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism, but there are many more.
- Buddhists can worship both at home or at a temple.
- The path to Enlightenment is through the practice and development of morality, meditation and wisdom.