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Buddhism founded in the late sixth century BC by Siddhartha Gautama is an important religion in most of the countries of Asia Buddhism has assumed many different forms but in each case there has been an attempt to draw from the life experiences of the Buddha his teachings and the spirit or essence of his teachings as models for the religious life Siddharthas era in general was one of spiritual intellectual and social ferment This was the age when the Hindu ideal of renunciation of family and social life by holy persons seeking Truth first became widespread As a young man he once went on a series of four chariot rides where he first saw the more severe forms of human suffering old age illness and death as well as an ascetic speaker The contrast between his life and this human suffering made him realize that all the pleasures on earth were in fact transitory and could only mask human suffering Leaving his wife and new son he took on several teachers and tried severe renunciation in the forest until the point of near-starvation Finally realizing that this too was only adding more suffering he ate food and sat down beneath a tree to meditate By morning or some say six months later he had attained Nirvana which provided both the true answers to the causes of suffering and permanent release from it Now the Buddha began to teach others these truths out of compassion for their suffering Buddha began to teach many things that he learned through Nirvana The most important doctrines he taught included the Four Noble Truths and Eight-Fold Path His first Noble Truth is that life is suffering Life as we normally live it is full of the pleasures and pains of the body and mind pleasures he said do not represent lasting happiness They are inevitably tied in with suffering since we suffer from wanting them wanting them
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