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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Origins of Buddhism for Kids

The Origins of Buddhism
An Indian story tells that a traveling Brahman met a stranger one day The Brahman asked the stranger's name and received this answer:
Although born in the world, grown up in the world, having overcome the world, I abide unsoiled by the world. Take it that I am Buddha
We know little of this man who called himself Buddha, or the "Enlightened One." What we do know comes from information written many years after his death. These writings tell us that his real name was Siddhartha Gautama. Born in northern India in 563 B.C., Gautama lived a comfortable life as the son of an Indian prince. His father gave him everything he wanted and kept him from seeing the suffering of the common people.

At about age 30, Gautama went outside the walls of his palace for the first time. First he saw an old man bent over with age. Then he came upon a man too sick to care for himself. Finally he saw a dead body. Gautama asked a servant to explain what he had seen. The servant said that age, sickness, and death come to us all. This answer was not enough for Gautama. Why, he asked, was there so much suffering? How might this suffering be ended? Gautama decided to spend the rest of his life searching for the answers to his questions.

He left his father's palace and lived the life of a wandering beggar.
For years Gautama continued his search for knowledge by studying and praying with Brahman priests. Nothing helped him find answers. One day Gautama sat down to rest and think under a tree. After several hours of deep thought, Gautama felt that he understood the meaning of life. He decided that people should seek love, truth, the joy of knowledge, and a calm mind. At that moment he became Buddha.

Gautama spent the rest of his life teaching his message, which centered on Four Noble Truths:

(1) Suffering is a part of life.
(2) Wanting things brings suffering.
(3) People can find peace by giving up wants.
(4) Following eight basic rules, called the Eightfold Path, can lead to peace.

After his death in 483 B.C., his followers told of his teachings. Buddhism, the religion based on those teachings, eventually spread across Asia.

Neither Buddha nor his followers organized a church or wrote holy books like the Vedas. They wished only to set an example for others through peaceful behavior.

Why did Gautama begin a search for truth?


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