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The word ‘’ is an umbrella term usedto refer to extensive and complex religious and philosophicaltraditional teachings, which originated from India approximately 2500years ago. Prince, Siddhartha Gautama, a royal member of the NorthIndian Shakya tribe, who lived in 500s B.C, was the founder of. Shakya adopted a religious name, Buddha, which meant theawakened one. Buddha’s teaching encouraged his people to adoptcertain practices, which would enlighten and stop them from living inignorance. At the time Shakya coined , the dominant religionin India was Hinduism. However, Shakya felt the need to invent newreligious and philosophical teachings and share with other people.Hence, from North India, spread across Asia, into Persia,Mongolia, and some parts Russia. Today, scholars have identifiedthree broad categories of Buddhist traditions: the Theravadatradition, the Tibetan tradition, and the East Asia tradition(Crosby, 2014 Kozak, 2011). All these classes of werepracticed in different regions. This essay discusses the religion. In achieving this objective, the article focuses on thelife of Buddha, the teaching of Buddha, and the schools of .

Life of Buddha

According to Thomas (2013), evidence on the exactbirth or death date of Buddha is scarce. However, most scholarsaccept that Buddha lived between 563 BCE and 483 BCE. Buddha was borninto the Shakya clan of North India, Lumbini. He was a royal princehaving been born as the son of King of the Shakya. Most people of theBuddhist religion believe that Buddha had passed through variousexistence before he came to earth for his transmigration. Accordingto the antique account of Buddha’s life, his mother had a dream ofa white elephant before his birth. It interpreted as a sign of aleader abut to be born. Buddha was born as a prince of the Sakyatribe and he lived in comfortably in the palace where he was kepthappy and entertained at the order of his father. Five days after hisbirth he received his name, Siddhartha Gautama (Thomas, 2013).

In spite of his father’s attempt to keep himwithin the palace, Siddhartha Gautama left home to become a monkafter observing the suffering that was prevalent. For many years, asa monk, he studied the doctrines and philosophies of religion,including the teachings of Hindu religion and meditation. Whenever hefelt that he needed additional knowledge, Gautama traveled todifferent regions and consulted with his Vedic teachers. Over thetime, he learned about meditation and the concept of nothingness.Buddha was affected by the innate suffering of humans, and he triedto find ways to alleviate suffering through meditation. Finally,Buddha was able to reach enlightenment by attaining a spiritual path,which ended suffering. After attaining enlightenment, he spent therest of his life, teaching people the Dharma and other philosophicalconcepts he had discovered during his spiritual journey. Buddha’sfollowers adopted his teachings and transferred them to people inother regions of the world (Thomas, 2013).

Basic Teachings of Buddha

After his extensive studies on spiritualphilosophies, Buddha developed various values, and adopted them inhis teachings. The three marks of reality, “the four noble truths,and the eightfold path were the main concepts that encompassedBuddha’s values” (Thomas, 2013). In the three marks of reality,Buddha discussed the concept of impermanence, not-self, andsuffering. The teaching of impermanence indicates that nothing ispermanent and everything ends. This lesson is meant to encouragepeople to let go and stop clinging to worldly things. The teaching of‘not-self’ requires people to explore the reality of objects andthe changes that frequently occur. Buddha encourages people toembrace the idea of ‘not-self’ because different aspects of ourbodies are constantly changing.

Lastly, in Buddha’s view about suffering, heindicates that we suffer because we exist. Buddha believed in theidea that humans suffer mentally and physically. These formssuffering can be caused by physical factors such injuries or mentalfactors such as separation from loved ones. Buddha’s teachingsassert that for humans to overcome suffering they must identify thecause of their suffering and address it. While Buddha believes thatpeople should address their cause of suffering, his teachingsindicate that people should learn the difference between dealing withthe craving and pleasures in their life and addressing suffering sothat it may not return. The teachings state that desire and pleasureare a great source of pain (Kornfield, 2011).

The eightfold path is a summary of the Buddhistpath to enlightenment, which is made of practices: right review,resolve, speech, conduct, livelihood, effort, meditation (Samadhi),and mindfulness. In the traditional Buddhist religion, the first steptowards enlightenment was having the right view of life. It wasaccompanied by having the right resolve, conduct, and livelihooduntil one attained the right Samadhi. The eightfold path toenlightenment focuses on restraint and cultivation of discipline(Kornfield, 2011 Sangharakshita, 2012).

Buddha also developed the four noble truths inhis teachings, “focused on suffering, the cause of suffering, endof suffering and path to the end of suffering” (Sangharakshita,2012). These truths can be divided into two broad categories.Suffering and the root of suffering lie under the confines of lifeand death. In Buddha’s teachings, suffering and the cause ofsuffering have an unending cycle. The causes of pain producesuffering while suffering produces the cause of suffering. On theother hand, the second category of truths, “end of suffering andpath to the end of suffering”, is in a spiral structure, whichmoves upward (Kornfield, 2011). This implies that the path to endsuffering leads to the end of suffering and nowhere else. This pathcommenced with renunciation and it is accompanied by compassion,love, and kindness.

The chase for pleasant experiences and cravingsoften leads to negative experiences. Hence, Buddha advised thatpeople should only satisfy the necessary needs rather than all needs.In his teachings, Buddha states that people often suffer because theyintend to address all their needs. However, some of the requirementsthat cause pleasure are unnecessary and only lead to craving andsuffering. As such, the teaching state that the proper path tohappiness is determining what is necessary and what is not. Afterlearning the aspects in one’s life that are required and the onesthat are not, a person can reduce the pain and suffering thusprovide a clear path to enlightenment (Kornfield, 2011).

School of

The Theravada school of originated fromSri Lanka and South-East Asia. It is sometimes known as the Southern. Its scriptures were mainly written and preserved in anancient Indian language known as Pali (Crosby, 2014). The Theravadaschool of is well known for exemplifying conservatism. Thisschool of thought is closer to the traditional teachings of Buddhathan the other two schools of . The religious tenets of theTheravada mainly focused on three primary values compassion,kindness, and renunciation. According to Theravada’s teaching,renunciation is one of the most important aspects in overcoming humansuffering. This school of thought indicated that renunciation entailsrecognizing the existence of suffering in life.

Once a person has accepted pain, the scripturesstate that they should start looking for something more. Theteachings indicate that renunciation allows a person to detach frompleasure, thus enabling an individual to seek the truth about life.Additionally, the instructions of suggest that people shouldrenounce their earthly pleasures first before they can attainenlightenment. Theravada teachings also focus on the concept of loveand kindness. Love and kindness are some of the core values inTheravada spiritual tenets because they enable individuals to gaincompassion. According to the teachings, it is imperative that peopleshow compassion to both animals and other living creatures to attainspiritual enlightenment (Crosby, 2014).


is general terms used to define complexreligious and philosophical traditional teachings that wereformulated by Siddhartha Gautama, also known as Buddha. Gautama wasborn in India as a royal prince of the Shakya tribe. However, afterseeing the suffering that people underwent he renounced his positionas the prince and moved to the forest to be a monk, where he learnedthe philosophical and spiritual concepts of religion. Gautama laterformulated his teachings and gave himself the Buddha. His teachingsfocused on a person’s journey to enlightenment by alleviatingsuffering. Gautama teachings have since been adopted in many parts ofthe world and have been practiced by many people. The Theravadaschool of is one of the groups that believe in the conceptof suffering, love, kindness, and compassion.


Crosby, K. (2014). Theravada : Continuity, Diversity, and Identity. Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

Kornfield, J. (2011). Teachings of the Buddha. New york: Random House.

Kozak, A. (2011). The Everything Book: A complete introduction to the history traditions, and beliefs of , past and present. Avon, Mass: Adams Media.

Sangharakshita, B. (2012). The Buddha`s Noble Eightfold Path. Birmingham : Windhorse Pub.

Thomas, E. J. (2013). The Life of Buddha. New York: Routledge.