Facts About Buddhism
Buddhism is a spiritual tradition that focuses on personal spiritual development and the attainment of a deep insight into the true nature of life.
There are 376 million followers worldwide.
Buddhists seek to reach a state of nirvana, following the path of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, who went on a quest for Enlightenment around the sixth century BC.
There is no belief in a personal god. Buddhists believe that nothing is fixed or permanent and that change is always possible.
The path to Enlightenment is through the practice and development of morality, meditation and wisdom.
Buddhists believe that life is both endless and subject to impermanence, suffering and uncertainty.
These states are called the tilakkhana, or the three signs of existence. Existence is endless because individuals are reincarnated over and over again, experiencing suffering throughout many lives.
It is impermanent because no state, good or bad, lasts forever. Our mistaken belief that things can last is a chief cause of suffering.
Want to know more about Buddhism? Here are some Interesting Facts about Buddhism that you probably didn’t know before reading this!
To make this even more fun, we want to challenge you as well. How many of these Buddhism facts did you know before reading this?
Siddhartha Gautama Was Born In Nepal
Siddharta was born in Nepal, where the vast majority of the people identify as Hindu. Born in a Hindu family, it is a fact that Buddhism originated from Hindu religious traditions. In fact, some Hindus worship Buddha as an incarnation of a Hindu deity.
It Originated After Siddharta Gautama Attained Enlightenment
Buddhism is basically the teachings of Siddharta Gautama, who was born in 623 B.C. He was born a prince but went on a long spiritual search for happiness and to end suffering.
After many trials and different paths, he finally found enlightenment under the Bodhi tree.
After his enlightenment, he started to teach others, and this is how the teachings of Buddhism started.
Buddhists Are Older Than The World’s Overall Population
They are also older than people in other major religious groups, such as Muslims, Hindus, and Christians.
Religiously unaffiliated adults have the same median age as Buddhists which is 36 years old.
Buddhists Don’t Believe In A God
Perhaps one of the most interesting facts about Buddhism. There is no god to follow, and there is none to worship.
Being A Monk Is The Ultimate Act Of Filial Piety
Monks have traditionally been an important part of religious life in Theravada-dominated Thailand, Laos Myanmar, and Sri Lanka, and Tibet. For many, is the ultimate act of filial piety demonstrating obedience, respect, gratitude, and devotion to the people who raised him.
Men may also become monks to honor relatives who have passed away, with a belief that spirits can be given extra merit.
Buddha Sculpture FAQs
What Are Facts About Buddhism?
With 360 million followers, Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world. In Buddhism, there is no single holy book.
Extensive scriptures have been preserved in many Asian languages. Buddhists don't believe in a supreme being or creator god.
What Are The 3 Main Beliefs Of Buddhism?
Is Buddha A God?
Followers of Buddhism don't acknowledge a supreme god or deity. The religion's founder, Buddha, is considered an extraordinary being, but not a god.
The word Buddha means “enlightened.” The path to enlightenment is attained by utilizing morality, meditation and wisdom.
What Is The Oldest Religion?
The word Hindu is an exonym, and while Hinduism has been called the oldest religion in the world, many practitioners refer to their religion as Sanātana Dharma which refers to the idea that its origins lie beyond human history, as revealed in the Hindu texts.
What God Does Buddhist Worship?
Most Buddhists do not believe in God. Although they respect and look up to the Buddha , they do not believe he was a god but they worship him as a form of respect.
By doing this they show reverence and devotion to the Buddha and two bodhisattvas .
A Buddha Is A Person Who’s Achieved Enlightenment
Many people think that Buddha is a person, but that is a misinterpretation.
Anyone can be a Buddha, and it is merely the name for a person who has reached Nirvana, the state of Enlightenment.
Siddharta Gautama was the first Buddha, and after that, there have been several Buddhas. That’s one of the reasons why the faces of Buddha statues differ.
In addition to Siddharta Gautama, one Buddha that has become especially famous is the Laughing Buddha, which is said to have been a Chinese monk named Ch’i-t’zu.
Monk Culture Is Not As Widespread In China And Japan
These countries are dominated by Mahaya Buddhism that does not think of monk culture as ideal.
This type of Buddhism does not put much of an importance on monk culture, unlike Theravada Buddhism.
Also, because of the political pressures and modern life’s comfort, men have been discouraged from becoming monks.
Gautama Buddha Uses Tathagata When Referring To Himself.
The term has a lot of interpretations, but the most generally adopted is the one who has thus (tatha) gone (gata) or the one who has thus (tatha) arrived (agata).
This implies that Guatama Buddha was not the first person who has achieved Nirvana.
There Are Several Teachings Of Buddhism
From the beginning, there was only one teaching, the one of Siddharta Gautama.
But with time, and as the teachings spread to other countries, different branches were created and the old texts and lessons were interpreted differently.
The three major branches of Buddhism are Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana.
Bodh Gaya Is The Site Where Siddharta Achieved Enlightenment.
Buddhists refer to Bodh Gaya in India as the most important religious site and a place of pilgrimage.
Buddha’s followers believed that this place cradles the Bodhi Tree where Siddharta Gautama attained his Nirvana and became the Buddha.
Buddhist Monks And Nuns Shave Their Hair
In the Pali Vinaya-Pitaka, it is written that hair should be shaved when it reaches the length of two finger-widths or every two months.
It’s a symbolic gesture that shows that the monk and nun are ready to commit and leave the past behind.
It is also a way of discouraging vanity.
However, the ritual is not something that has to be done in order to reach enlightenment. In fact, there are sources that indicate that Siddartha Gautama had hair, at least from time to time.
Suffering Is Said To Be Inevitable
Buddhism teaches that life is full of suffering, in fact, the Buddha went as far as saying that suffering is inevitable.
However, he found a way out of it, eventually.. by following the noble eightfold path.
You will still endure suffering at times, but according to the teachings, this path will minimize the suffering until you reach Nirvana.
It Follows The Wheel Of Dhamma
The wheel of Dhamma represents the noble eightfold path, which consists of the following elements: Right View, Right Thinking, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Diligence, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.
This is basically how a good Buddhist should act in order to avoid suffering as much as possible.
This will also ensure that the full focus is set on reaching enlightenment.
Each Person Is Responsible For Their Own Enlightenment
According to the teachings, there is no savior, like Jesus in Christianity or Messiah in Judaism for example.
It is up to each individual to keep good karma and work their way to attain enlightenment.
No one else is capable of making you a Buddha, only you can do this.
Meditation Is A Big Part Of The Teaching
The Buddha reached enlightenment after a long meditation under the Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya.
Meditation is very important, and every monk practices it several times daily.
Buddhists Believe In Karma
Karma is the belief that every act has a consequence later on in life.
It’s not certain when, but every genuinely good intention will get good karma, and every evil act will get bad karma.
You could summarize it with the saying “What goes around, comes around”.
Surprising Facts About Buddhism
- There is no holy bible to follow, but many important texts
- Heaven and hell are not eternal places according to Buddhist teachings
- Buddhism can exist without Buddha, he simply found a way to become enlighted, and shared his findings with others
- Buddha (Siddharta Gautama) never claimed to be a prophet or god
- Buddhism is not a religion, although the West often mentions it as a religion. It’s a way of life, and shouldn’t be confused as a religion as there is no god or supreme being to worship. The goal is to reach the state of Nirvana.
General Facts About Buddhism
Below are some general info such as total number of Buddhists, countries where Buddhism is practiced and other general facts about Buddhism that might be interesting to know.
- There are more than 500 million Buddhists in the world
- Buddhists don’t kill animals, and they eat a vegetarian diet
- All living beings are being treated with equal respect
- Mahayana is the most practiced branch of Buddhism, and it’s most common in China
- Theravada is the second most practiced branch, and it’s most common in Southeast Asia
- More than 7 million westerners say that they’re Buddhists
- China has the largest population of Buddhists with at least 244 million devotees
- However, in Thailand and Cambodia, more than 90% of their total population are Buddhists
- Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader for Tibetan Buddhism, which is part of the Vajrayana branch
There are many symbols associated with Buddhism, but these are some of the most important ones.
- The Wheel of Dhamma – Representing the eightfold path
- The Lotus flower – Symbol for the journey to enlightenment
- The symbol for “Om”
- The riderless horse represents renunciation
Another ancient Buddhist symbol is the swastika, which has unfortunately become associated with the Nazis by the West.
However, the origin is totally different, and you shouldn’t be offended when you see this symbol in Buddhist countries.
It’s often used to symbolize the feet or footprints of the Buddha in Sanskrit texts.
Zen Buddhism Is A Mixture Of Mahayana Buddhism And Taoism
Zen Buddhism started in China and became well-spread in Korea, Japan, and the West from the mid 20th century.
It commits to understanding the meaning of life directly without being misled by logical thoughts or languages.
Zen Is A State Of Being At Peace With Your Own Thoughts
Zen meditation is an act in which you train yourself to be at peace with your own thoughts and being aware of your place within the universe.
In fact, the Buddha achieved the ultimate enlightenment through this meditation.
Buddhist Monks Choose Not To Marry
Buddhist monks choose not to marry and remain single while living in the monastic community so that they can focus on achieving enlightenment.
Moreover, monks do not have to spend the rest of their life in the monastery – they are completely free to re-enter mainstream society and some only spend a year as a monk.
Buddhist Monks Can Only Bless A Marriage
Buddhist monks can only bless a marriage but will never conduct the actual ceremony.
There is also no obligation for Buddhists to marry because for them marriage is a choice. They believe that as long as both are happy with each other then it is enough.
Buddhism Is The Religion In Japan Next To Shinto
According to the data gathered by the Japanese Government’s Agency for Cultural Affairs, at the end of 2018, there are about 84 million or about 67 percent of the Japanese population who are Buddhists.
It is the second most known religion next to Shinto.
Sculptural Representations Of The Buddha Appeared In Northwestern India
The most common types of Buddha images are those that represent his calling the earth to witness against Mara by touching it with the fingertips of the right hand, the meditating Buddha protected by a cobra’s hood, and the Buddha lying on his right side as he enters the final nirvana.
Buddhism Was Also A Key Driver In Fostering Education In Japan
Introduced to Japan via Korea, Buddhism got a favorable view by the Japanese people since it mainly complimented the existing Shinto beliefs.
Buddhist monasteries became also an important part of the local community since they provide facilities to cater education, libraries, and food and shelter to the needy.
Theravada Buddhism Emphasizes Attaining Self-Liberation Through One’s Own Efforts
To achieve enlightenment, meditation and concentration should be mastered. Mahayana Buddhists aim to attain self-liberation by following the teachings of Buddha and by breaking from the cycle of samsara.
However, these Buddhists may choose to stay in the cycle out of compassion for others.
Korea Introduced Buddhism To Japan
The Korean kingdom of Baekje introduced Buddhism into Japan in either 538 CE or 552 CE.
They sent sacred objects that were important in Buddhism in Japan. These include an image of Buddha, several ritual objects, and sacred texts.
Tibetan Buddhism Is A Religion In Exile
When Tibet was conquered by China, Tibetan Buddhism was forced out of its home.
Tibetan Buddhism combines the essential teachings of Mahayana Buddhism with Tantric and Shamanic, and material from an ancient Tibetan religion called Bon.
Nichiren Buddhism Is A Japanese Buddhist Movement In The Mahayana Tradition
Nichirin Buddhism is a branch of Mahayana Buddhism, and it is based on the teachings of the 13th-century-old Japanese Buddhist priest Nichiren.
It has been a hot topic in the West and is growing fast in the UK.
Some Buddhists Abstain From Eating Some Vegetables
Most Buddhist monks abstain from eating garlic, Chinese onion, asafoetida, and mountain leek since they excite the senses and promote impulse.
It is believed that when these vegetables are eaten raw, these can cause distemper and can also be aphrodisiacs when eaten cooked. Eating these vegetables will hinder achieving a peaceful mind.
They Also Avoid Meat Consumption
It is because of the first general rule in Buddhism that refrains from taking a life.
Other Buddhists disagree with this conclusion, but many Buddhist vegetarians also oppose meat-eating based on scriptural injunctions against flesh-eating recorded in Mahayana sutras.
Anyone Can Become A Buddhist
All you have to do is take refuge in the Triple Gem and observe a ceremony in which you take a vow upholding the Five Precepts namely; to not kill, not steal, not commit sexual misconduct, refrain from false speech and not take intoxication that would lessen your awareness.
Buddhism Has Not Allowed Alcohol Intake Since The Earliest Times
The Five Precepts state that intoxication through alcohol is a big red flag, and Buddhists should abstain from drinking alcohol because it clouds the mind and hinders the path to enlightenment.
Buddhists Abstain From Doing Specific Acts
Aside from intoxication, there are four remaining vows that Buddhists should take into heart. These precepts prevent them from committing murder, stealing, sexual misconduct, and lying.
Since the ultimate goal in Buddhist doctrine is to achieve the path of enlightenment, they have to develop a strong mind and character.
The Monastic Ordination Of Buddhism Always Includes A Head Shave
Shaving one’s head is a sign of religious devotion and humility. It is also a sign that the person has already disregarded vanity and worldly ego.
In modern times, this act of shaving off the hair is called, Tonsure.
Karma In Buddhism Has A Direct Effect On The Afterlife
For Buddhists, karma has implications beyond this life. Karma can determine a person’s rebirth and status in their next life.
Being a good person would lead you to one of the heavenly realms and at the same time, people with bad karma can wake up as a mindless beast or in a realm similar to hell.
Buddhists Are Not Aiming To Go To Heaven
In Buddhism, there are several heavens, but all are still part of samsara or the illusionary reality and because heaven is temporary, Buddhists focus more on escaping the cycle of rebirth and reaching enlightenment or Nirvana.
Buddhism Does Not Believe In Reincarnation
Buddhism believes that there is no permanent essence of an individual self that survives death, so the idea clashes with reincarnation as the transmigration of a soul to another body after death.
It Also Does Not Require Believers To Believe In A Creator
Surprisingly, there are no forcing people to believe in God or a creator in Buddhism.
The term Buddha is not intertwined with the term God, too. It is a title that is used to address a few people who have achieved the ultimate enlightenment.
The Buddha Is A Canonized Saint Of The Catholic And Orthodox Churches
The Buddha has led ascetic life to find the meaning of suffering and his ideals have become a positive force in the spiritual life of Christians.
It is also simple to get admission for sainthood—to die in a suitable gruesome way while thanking the Lord for the privilege.
Meditation Changes Monks’ Brainwaves
Another study at the University of Wisconsin–Madison found that during meditation, Zen Buddhist monks show an extraordinary synchronization of brain waves known as gamma synchrony.
A Tooth That Dictates Leadership Of Buddhism
When the Buddha was cremated, a single tooth remained, and whoever possessed the tooth would become the rightful leader of Buddhism, however, this is just according to the legend.
Moreover, the tooth is currently housed in a $62 million dollar temple in Sri Lanka.
Warrior Monks Were Real In Early Japan
Sōhei or warrior monks were Buddhist warrior monks of both medieval and feudal Japan.
The warriors protected land and intimidated rival schools of Buddhism, becoming a significant factor in the spread of Buddhism and the development of different schools during the Kamakura period.
Our Ego Causes Suffering
In Buddhism, there is no such thing as the devil. Instead, Buddhism considers things as evil if it causes suffering.
According to the teachings of Buddha, our suffering is the result of our ego and desires. Happiness begins when these end.
Buddhism is a religion that was founded in India by Siddhartha Gautama, or the Buddha.
It has become one of the world’s major religions and is practiced by approximately 300 million people around the globe today.
There are many different schools within Buddhism with some being more conservative than others; however most Buddhists believe there isn't an absolute truth and no single way to achieve enlightenment because each person's experience will be unique based on their circumstances and karma the law of cause and effect.