Buddhism Facts for Kids

Posted: March 1, 2019 at 7:50 pm


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Buddhism is a religion founded by Siddhartha Gautama. Buddhism teaches people how to end their suffering by cutting out greed, hatred and ignorance. When people do bad things, they will get bad consequences. When people do good things, they will get good consequences. Good and bad things do not cancel out.

This cause-and-effect chain is reflected in the endless cycles of life, death and rebirth. Buddhism believes in reincarnation (rebirth). The ultimate goal of a Buddhist is to reach the state of enlightenment (Nirvana) and liberate oneself from endless reincarnation and suffering. Some see Buddhism as a religion, others see it is a philosophy, and others think it is a way of finding reality. Some think that it is unnecessary to label Buddhism.

Gautama Buddha a man who lived between about 563 BCE and 483 BC was born in Lumbini, Nepal, as a rich prince. He gave up everything to find a way to end suffering. His teachings spread, after his death, through most of Asia, to Central Asia, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, and the East Asian countries of China, Mongolia, Korea, and Japan and have now spread to the west.

The Buddha's teachings are about suffering and how to overcome it. According to the Buddha, overcoming suffering allows a person to be truly happy. The Buddha taught that if people make good decisions they would be happy and have peace of mind. The Buddha taught that life is imperfect and that we will suffer. He taught that we suffer because of desire, anger and stupidity, and he showed that we could end our suffering by letting go of desires and overcoming anger and stupidity. The complete letting go of these negative influences is called Nirvana, meaning "to extinguish", like putting out the flame of a candle. The end of suffering, when one is fully awake (put an end to one's own ignorance) and has let go of all desire and anger, is also called Enlightenment. In Buddhism Enlightenment and Nirvana mean the same thing.

Buddhism teaches non-harm and moderation or balance, not going too far one way or the other. Buddhists often meditate while sitting in a special or specific way. They often chant and meditate while walking. Buddhists sometimes do these things to understand the human heart and mind. Sometimes they do these things to understand the way the world works. Sometimes they do these things to find peace.

Buddhism does not say if gods exist or not, but one can read many stories about gods in some Buddhist books. Buddhists do not believe that people should look to gods to save them or bring them enlightenment. The gods may have power over world events and they might help people, or they might not. But it's up to each person to get to enlightenment. Many Buddhists honor gods in ritual. Other Buddhists believe the stories about gods are just there to help us learn about parts of ourselves.

Buddha is a word in the very old Nepalese and Indian languages Pli and Sanskrit which means "Enlightened one". The word "Buddha" often means the historical Buddha named Buddha Shakyamuni (Siddhartha Gautama), but "Buddha" does not mean just one man who lived at a certain time. It is used for a type of person, the equivalent of a prophet, and Buddhists believe there have been many - that there were Buddhas a very long time ago and there will be for a long time in the future.

Buddhists do not believe that a Buddha is a god, but that he is a human being who has woken up and can see the true way the world works. They believe this knowledge totally changes the person. Some say this puts them beyond birth, death, and rebirth. Others think this represents the final extinction of desire. This person can help others become enlightened too.

According to Buddhism, there were countless Buddhas before Gautama Buddha and there will be many Buddhas after him. In short, he is not the first, nor will he be the last.

The first Buddha in Buddhavamsa sutta was Tahakara Buddha, The Mahapadana sutta say the first Buddha was Vipassi Buddha, however, counting from the present kalpa (the beginning of our present universe) Buddha Gautama is considered the fourth Buddha. The first is Kakusandho Buddha, second Konakamano Buddha and the third Kassapo Buddha. The last Buddha of this kalpa will be Maitreya Buddha. Then the universe will renew itself and from then begins a new kalpa.

Old stories say that Siddhrtha Gautama was born around the 6th century BC. He was the one who would become the first Buddha in written history. Some Buddhists believe that Siddhrtha Gautama was a perfect person.

He was born a prince and was unsure about if he wanted to become a religious man or a prince. At age 29 he noticed pain and suffering. He then wanted to learn the answer to the problem of human suffering, or pain. He gave up all his money and power, and became a monk without a home. He walked from place to place, trying to learn the answers to life.

At last he found enlightenment while sitting under a big tree called the Bodhi Tree. He was the first person to teach Buddhism to the people, and Buddhists love him for that. A cutting was made from the Bodhi Tree and planted in Sri Lanka. When the original tree died, a cutting from the Sri Lankan tree was planted in the original spot and so today there is a second-generation clone of the first tree in the Indian city of Bodh Gaya.

After Siddhrtha Gautama died, his students taught the Buddha's teaching to more people. After a long time, they wrote down the things that he may have said.

Buddhists often talk about the Three Jewels, which are the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.

The Dharma is the way the Buddha taught to live your life. The Sangha is the group of monks and other people who meet together, like a congregation.

Buddhists say "I take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha." This means that these three things keep them safe. They give themselves up to the community and teachings inspired by the Buddha.

The Buddha's first and most important teachings are the Four Noble Truths.

The Buddha told people to follow a special way of life called the Noble Eightfold Path if they want to understand the Four Noble Truths. These are:

Buddhists are encouraged to follow five precepts, or rules, that say what not to do.

If a person wants to be a monk or nun, he or she will follow other precepts as well.

"The Great Departure", relic depicting Gautama leaving home, first or second century (Muse Guimet).

Dhamek Stupa in Sarnath, India, where the Buddha gave his first sermon. It was built by Ashoka.

Buddha statue depicting Parinirvana (Mahaparinirvana Temple, Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh, India).

The Buddha teaching the Four Noble Truths. Sanskrit manuscript. Nalanda, Bihar, India.

Traditional Tibetan Buddhist Thangka depicting the Wheel of Life with its six realms

Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, India, where Gautama Buddha attained nirvana under the Bodhi Tree (left)

Dna or charitable giving to monks is a virtue in Buddhism, leading to merit accumulation and better rebirths.

Relic depicting footprint of the Buddha with Dharmachakra and triratna, 1st century CE, Gandhra.

Monks performing a ceremony in Hangzhou, China

Statue of the Buddha in meditation position, Haw Phra Kaew, Vientiane, Laos

Statue of Buddha in Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat, Phitsanulok, Thailand

Monks debating at Sera Monastery, Tibet

The Great Statue of Amitbha in Kamakura, Japan

Bhatti (devotion) at a Buddhist temple, Tibet. Chanting during Bhatti Puja (devotional worship) is often a part of the Theravada Buddhist tradition.

Buddhist monk Geshe Konchog Wangdu reads Mahayana sutras from an old woodblock copy of the Tibetan Kanjur.

The Tripiaka Koreana in South Korea, an edition of the Chinese Buddhist canon carved and preserved in over 81,000 wood printing blocks.

The Buddhist "Carpenter's Cave" at Ellora in Maharashtra, India

Buddha at Xumishan Grottoes, ca. 6th century CE.

A Buddhist triad depicting, left to right, a Kushan, the future buddha Maitreya, Gautama Buddha, the bodhisattva Avalokitevara, and a monk. Secondthird century. Guimet Museum

The spread of Buddhism at the time of emperor Ashoka (260218 BCE).

Coin depicting Indo-Greek king Menander, who, according to Buddhist tradition records in the Milinda Panha, converted to the Buddhist faith and became an arhat in the 2nd century BCE . (British Museum)

Distribution of major Buddhist traditions

The ideas of the 2nd century scholar Nagarjuna helped shape the Mahayana traditions.

7th-century Potala Palace in Lhasa valley symbolizes Tibetan Buddhism and is a UNESCO world heritage site.

Ginkaku-ji, a Zen temple in Kyoto, Japan

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Buddhism Facts for Kids

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March 1st, 2019 at 7:50 pm

Posted in Buddhist Concepts