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Buddhism originated in India and is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama. The religion is 2,500 years old and is followed by 350 million Buddhists worldwide.

How is Buddhism different from other religions?

Buddhists do not believe in a personal creator God.

What do Buddhist believe?

Buddhists believe that Buddha was important because he gained Enlightenment, and he chose to teach other people how to reach it too.

Who is the founder?

Siddhartha Gautama is the founder of Buddhism.

Why is Siddhartha Gautama so important to Buddhists?

Siddhartha Gautama found the path to Enlightenment: he was led from the pain of suffering and rebirth towards the path of Enlightenment and became known as the Buddha or "awakened one".  He lived in the 4th or 5th century B.C. in India.

Who was Siddhartha Gautama?

He was born around the year 580 BC in Nepal. He was born into a royal family and for many years lived with in the palace. As an adult Siddhartha went outside the royal palace and saw for the first time, an old man, a sick man, and a corpse.  These greatly worried him

Why did Siddhartha Gautama decide to become a Holy Man?

Siddharta had also seen a monk and thought this a sign of how he should live his own life.  He searched for a way to escape the inevitability of death, old age and pain by studying with religious men.

What are the symbols of Buddhism?

  • The wheel of life which symbolizes the cycle of life, death and rebirth.  The eight spokes remind people that about eight ways of life.
  • The lotus flower symbolizes purity and divine birth.
    The lotus flower grows in mud at the bottom of a pool, but rises above the surface to become a beautiful flower.
  • Images of Buddha include lots of symbols. There are 32 symbols in Buddhism which show that the Buddha was a special person. Any of these symbols can be used on statues.

Where do Buddhists Worship?
Buddhist can worship at home or at a temple.  At home Buddhists will often have a shrine. There will be a statue of Buddha, candles, and an incense burner.  Buddhist temples come in many shapes. Perhaps the best known are the pagodas of China and Japan.  All Buddhist temples contain an image or a statue of Buddha.

How to Buddhists Worship?

Buddhist worship is called puja. People chant to show their love for the Buddha. They make offerings of flowers, candles, incense and pure water at a shrine.   When Buddhist worship alone they usually meditate and read from the Buddhist holy books.

What is Enlightenment and Nirvana?
Buddhist believe in a cycle: birth, life and death and rebirth. They believe that unless someone gains Enlightenment the cycle will never be broken. Breaking out of the cycle is called Nirvana . It is perfect peace, free of suffering and misery.


Meditation means training the mind to empty it all of thoughts.

What is the sacred text (Holy Book) of Buddhists?
The sacred book of Buddhism is called the Tripitaka.  It is written in an ancient Indian language called Pali which is very close to the language that the Buddha himself spoke.   It is a very large book.
The three section of the Tripitaka (three baskets of Wisdom) are

  • Vinaya Pitaka (the Discipline Basket) - A rule book for monks and nuns
    There are 227 rules for monks, and more for nuns.
  • Sutta Pitaka (the Teaching Basket)- The actual experiences of Buddha
  • Abhidhamma Pitaka (the Higher Doctrine Basket)- An explanation on the teaching of Buddha. Most of these are called Sutras

What is Karma? 

Karma is the law that every cause has an effect.  Buddhists believe that our past actions have an effect on who or what we are in our next life.  You are not necessarily reborn in human form.

The Central Beliefs in Buddhism
There are three central beliefs to Buddhism. These are known as the three jewels.

1.  Belief in Buddha

2.     Dharma - The teaching of Buddha

3.     Enlightenment.  


At the heart of the Buddha's teaching lies The Three Signs of Being, The Four Noble Truths and The Eightfold Path which lead the Buddhist towards the path of Enlightenment.

The Three Signs of Being 
The Three Signs of Being are the ways that the Buddha used to describe life.

1.  Nothing in life is perfect. ( dukkha)

2.Everything in life - even solid things such as mountains - is changing, all the time. (anicca)

3. There is no soul. (anatta)

The Four Noble Truths

  • Dukkha: Suffering exists:
  • Samudaya: There is a cause for suffering.
  • Nirodha: There is an end to suffering.
  • Magga: In order to end suffering, you must follow the Eightfold Path.

The Noble Eight-Fold Path

Three Qualities

Eightfold Path

Wisdom (panna)

Right View (understanding)


Right Thought

Morality (sila)

Right Speech


Right Action


Right Livelihood

Meditation (samadhi)

Right Effort


Right Mindfulness


Right Contemplation (concentration)

What are the 5 Precepts 
These are rules to live by. They are:

  • Do not take the life of anything living. (Do not kill)
  • Do not take anything not freely given. (Do not steal)
  • Abstain from sexual misconduct and sensual overindulgence.
  • Refrain from untrue speech, (Do not lie)
  • Do not consume alcohol or other drugs. The main concern here is that intoxicants cloud the mind.