Buddhism, which is one of the main religions in the globe, encompasses a wide range of traditions, beliefs, and practices. It is classified as an Indian belief system and most of its teachings are accredited to Siddhartha Guatama (Buddha) who lived in Northern India. The Buddha (Pali/Sanskrit “the awakened one”) propagated his teachings sometime between the fourth and sixth centuries BCE (Fisher, 2005, p.129). He taught people how to stop their suffering, achieve nirvana (a state of being free from suffering), and move away from the endless cycle of suffering and rebirth.
Gautama was born around 560 B.C. to a very wealthy family at a place called Kapilavastu situated in southern Nepal. His parents brought him up in a secluded type of lifestyle and he did not engage in everyday life activities. Nonetheless, one day when he was twenty-nine years old, he realized the emptiness of the life he had been living because of his childhood experiences. Therefore, he questioned the spiritual practices of that time and decided to set on a journey. His voyage in search of peace and enlightenment made him have a glimpse of the effects of human suffering. This was after seeing an aged man, a sick person, a dead person, and a monk. His encounter with the monk made him realize that worldly happiness was merely an illusion. Therefore, he left his family behind and decided to become and ascetic. Later on in his life, after abandoning his life of extreme austerities, he sat underneath a Bodhi -tree for forty-nine days and meditated. After the period of meditation, he became enlightened and came up with the “Four Noble Truths”, which became the foundation of the Buddhist religion. After this experience, he shared his teachings until his death at eighty years.
It is important to note that the modern-day religious practices of Buddhism are still in line with the teachings of Siddhartha Guatama. The various beliefs and values of Buddhists focus mainly on nature and the world that surrounds sentient beings, or the strange force that directs nature. A Buddhist seeks to reach a state of “Emptiness.” The foundation of this belief system is considered thousands and thousands of years old. Currently, it has expanded into an intricate network of individuals embracing the belief in Buddhism. Therefore, what do the Buddhists believe in? To begin with, concerning the idea of suffering, they believe that it is due to the mistakes an individual did in his or her past life. Therefore, as the person is being reincarnated he or she suffers for the mistakes in the present life. Buddhists also have the belief in a higher supernatural power of God that is above them.
More so, they employ the idea of the “Four Noble Truths” that explores various aspects of human suffering (Fisher, 2005, p.135). The first of these is called “dukka” meaning that suffering is present in and it is real and almost worldwide. The Second Noble Truth is called “samudaya”, which means suffering has its origin. The Third Noble Truth is called ‘nirodha’, which means that suffering has an end when one attains Nirvana (nothingness). The last Noble Truth is called “magga”, which consists of the Eightfold Path necessary for one to achieve total deliverance. These modern-day Buddhist practices are based on the original teachings of Guatama.
Fisher, M. P. (2005). Living Religions (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall.