What is Buddhism?

Buddhism is a religion and philosophy that originated about 2,500 years ago in what is now Nepal and northeastern India. It is based on the teachings of Siddartha Gautama who left an extravagant life as a young prince in search of a way to end universal suffering. He encouraged others to follow a path of balance rather than extremism, which he called the Middle Way. At the age of 35, after years of living a harsh ascetic life, Siddartha Gautama came to understand the samsara, or cycle of birth and rebirth, and how to end the cycle of infinite sorrow thus earning the title of Buddha or “enlightened one”. For the rest of his life, the Buddha preached the Dharma (the teachings of Buddhism)  in an effort to help others achieve enlightenment and free themselves of suffering.

The foundation of Buddhism lies in the Four Noble Truths, which the Buddha delivered in his first sermon shortly after his awakening. The Four Noble Truths consist of the following:

1) Suffering exists

2) Suffering arises from attachment to desires (craving)

3) Suffering ceases when attachment to desire ceases

4) Freedom from suffering is possible by practicing the Eightfold Path, a practical guideline to ethical and mental development with the goal of freeing the individual from attachments and delusions leading to an understanding about the truth of all things

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