What is Buddhism
Buddhism has its origins in India about 2,500 years ago when Siddhartha Gautama, became enlightened at the age of 35. He has since then be referred to as Buddha, which means “the enlightened one”.
Siddhartha Gautama was born into a royal family but he realized that wealth and luxury did not guarantee happiness, so he explored different religions and philosophies to find the important aspects of life that would provide true happiness. After enlightenment, the Buddha spent the rest of his life teaching the principles of Buddhism — called the Dhamma, or Truth — until his death at the age of 80.
Buddhism teaches to lead a moral life, to be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions, and to develop wisdom and understanding.
To many, Buddhism goes beyond religion and is more of a philosophy or a ‘way of life’. It is a philosophy that explains a purpose to life and explains apparent injustice and inequality around the world, and it provides a code of practice that leads to true happiness.
Buddhism is a belief system which is tolerant of all other beliefs or religions and not concerned with labels like ‘Christian’, ‘Muslim’, ‘Hindu’ or ‘Buddhist’. This is because Buddhism is more of a philosophy than a religion and does not rule out other beliefs.
Buddha himself asked his followers to test his teaching rather than accept his word as true. Buddhism depends more on understanding than faith. This makes Buddhism less of a fixed package of beliefs which is to be accepted in its entirety, and more of a teaching which each person learns and uses in their own way.
Buddha did not claim to be a god and is not referred to as a god by his followers. Buddhists pay respect to images of the Buddha, not in worship, nor to ask for favors.
Buddhism has spread to many countries and has since been in many forms because the emphasis of the religion changes from country to country due to customs and culture. What does not vary is the essence of the teaching — the Dhamma or truth.
For a more detailed look into Buddhism, you can read about the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path which serve as the guidelines for a moral existence and gives us a better understanding of life.