Buddhism as traditionally conceived is a path of salvation attained through insight into the ultimate nature of reality. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices that are largely based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha (Pali/Sanskrit for "The Awakened One")
The estimations on the number of Buddhist in the world vary according to different sources available, between 350 million and 500 million. However, it was difficult to estimate accurately the number of Buddhists because they did not have congregational memberships and often did not participate in public ceremonies.
The Four Noble Truths Edit
The Four Noble Truths were the first teaching of Gautama Buddha after attaining Nirvana. They are sometimes considered as containing the essence of the Buddha's teachings and are presented in the manner of a medical diagnosis and remedial prescription – a style common at that time:
- Life as we know it ultimately is or leads to suffering/uneasiness (dukkha) in one way or another.
- Suffering is caused by craving or attachments to worldly pleasures of all kinds. This is often expressed as a deluded clinging to a certain sense of existence, to selfhood, or to the things or phenomena that we consider the cause of happiness or unhappiness.
- Suffering ends when craving ends, when one is freed from desire. This is achieved by eliminating all delusion, thereby reaching a liberated state of Enlightenment (bodhi);
- Reaching this liberated state is achieved by following the path laid out by the Buddha.
The impact of Buddhism is largely personal. It is difficult to gauge any impact of Buddhism in the world at large, except to consider that Buddhists have non-violent teachings and seek peace and the end of suffering.