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Buddhism: Its history and development

06-12-2010 09:57 BJT Special Report: Miniature stupa reveal secret |

The history of Buddhism spans from the 5th century BC to the present, starting with the birth of Buddha Siddhartha Gautama. It is one of the oldest religions still practiced today.

Buddhism is a tradition that focuses on personal spiritual development. The history of Buddhism is the story of one man's spiritual journey to enlightenment.

Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha, was the historical founder of Buddhism. He was born as a Kshatriya prince in Lumbini, modern-day Nepal around 563 BC.

After asceticism and meditation, Siddhartha discovered the Buddhist Middle Way - a path of moderation away from the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification.

He is recognized by adherents as a teacher helping human beings escape the cycle of suffering.

The Maurya empire under Emperor Asoka was the world's first major Buddhist state.

From that time on, Buddhism spread to other countries, south to Sri Lanka and west to the Greek kingdoms, and possibly even to the Mediterranean.

Then, in the first century BC, it spread to South-East Asia and Central Asia including China, Korea and Japan.

The wheel of life is an important concept in Buddhism. This is a picture representing the Buddhist view of the universe.

The frightening figure holding the wheel is Yama. The beings he holds are trapped in eternal suffering.

In the middle of the Wheel are the three causes of suffering known as the three fires: greed, ignorance and hatred.

The realm of human life indicates the fact that humans have the best chance of enlightenment and they are born to be the most fortunate state.

In this picture, the gods live in a state of bliss in the realm of heaven. Although gods live for a long time, they have to die in the end.

At the bottom is the realm of hell. People here are tortured in many ways, but not forever.

The twelve stages of origination are shown. They include ignorance in the beginning, and ending in death.

In the top right corner, Buddha is outside the wheel to show that he has escaped the cycle of life and death.

More than 360 million people in the world are Buddhists, accounting for about six percent of the world's population.

Editor:Yang Jie |Source: CCTV.com

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