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Gautama Buddha. Siddhartha Gautama, known as the Buddha, was born in the sixth century B.C. in what is now modern Nepal. His father, Suddhodana , was the ruler of the Sakya people and Siddhartha grew up living the extravagant life of a young prince.

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Gautama Buddha

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    1. Gautama Buddha • Siddhartha Gautama, known as the Buddha, was born in the sixth century B.C. in what is now modern Nepal. • His father, Suddhodana, was the ruler of the Sakya people and Siddhartha grew up living the extravagant life of a young prince. • At the age of twenty-nine, he left his kingdom and newborn son to lead an ascetic life and determine a way to relieve universal suffering. • For six years, Siddhartha submitted himself to rigorous ascetic practices, studying and following different methods of meditation with various religious teachers. • He encouraged people to follow a path of balance rather than extremism. • He purified his mind of all defilements and attained enlightenment at the age of thirty-five, thus earning the title Buddha, or "Enlightened One".

    2. The Four Noble Truths • The Four Noble Truths comprise the essence of Buddha's teachings, though they leave much left unexplained. • They are the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering. • The Four Noble Truths are a contingency plan for dealing with the suffering humanity faces, suffering of a physical kind, or of a mental nature. • The First Truth identifies the presence of suffering. • The Second Truth seeks to determine the cause of suffering.

    3. Truths cont. • The Third Noble Truth, the truth of the end of suffering, has dual meaning, suggesting either the end of suffering in this life, on earth, or in the spiritual life, through achieving Nirvana. • The Fourth Noble truth charts the method for attaining the end of suffering, known to Buddhists as the Noble Eightfold Path.

    4. Karma • Karma refers to good or bad actions a person takes during her lifetime. • Good actions, which involve either the absence of bad actions, or actual positive acts, such as generosity, righteousness, and meditation, bring about happiness in the long run. • Bad actions, such as lying, stealing or killing, bring about unhappiness in the long run. • Finally, there is also neutral karma, which derives from acts such as breathing, eating or sleeping. Neutral karma has no benefits or costs.

    5. The Cycle of Rebirth • Karma plays out in the Buddhism cycle of rebirth. • There are six separate planes into which any living being can be reborn three fortunate realms, and three unfortunate realms. • Those with favorable, positive karma are reborn into one of the fortunate realms • The favorable realms include the realm of demigods, the realm of gods, and the realm of men. • The realm of man is considered the highest realm of rebirth. • The realm of man also offers one other aspect lacking in the other five planes, an opportunity to achieve enlightenment, or Nirvana. • Given the sheer number of living things, to be born human is to Buddhists a precious chance at spiritual bliss, a rarity that one should not forsake.

    6. Buddhism – Closing • To many, Buddhism goes beyond religion and is more of a philosophy or 'way of life'. • Buddhism is becoming popular in western countries for a number of reasons, The first good reason is Buddhism has answers to many of the problems in modern materialistic societies. • It also includes a deep understanding of the human mind which prominent psychologists around the world are now discovering to be both very advanced and effective. • Buddhism is also a belief system which is tolerant of all other beliefs or religions. • Buddhism agrees with the moral teachings of other religions but Buddhism goes further by providing a long term purpose within our existence, through wisdom and true understanding. • Buddhism is very tolerant and not concerned with labels like 'Christian', 'Moslem', 'Hindu' or 'Buddhist'; that is why there have never been any wars fought in the name of Buddhism. That is why Buddhists do not preach and try to convert, only explain if an explanation is sought.