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The Buddha Siddhartha Gautama founded Buddhism in Northern India He was born circa 563 in Lumbini which is in modern-day Nepal At the age of 29 he left his wife children and political involvements in order to seek truth this was an accepted practice at the time for some men to leave their family and lead the life of an ascetic He studied Brahmanism but ultimately rejected it In 535 BCE he reached enlightenment and assumed the title Buddha one who has awakened He is also referred to as the Sakyamuni sage of the Sakya clan He promoted The Middle Way rejecting both extremes of the mortification of the flesh and of hedonism as paths toward the state of Nirvana He had many disciples and accumulated a large public following by the time of his death in his early 80s in 483 BCE Two and a half centuries later a council of Buddhist monks collected his teachings and the oral traditions of the faith into written form called the Tripitaka This included a very large collection of commentaries and traditions most are called Sutras discourses 1 Buddhism like most of the great religions of the world is divided into a number of different traditions We will deal in this essay with Theravada Buddhism 2 Buddhism is a religion which shares few concepts with Christianity For example they do not believe in a transcendent or immanent or any other type of God or Gods the need for a personal savior the power of prayer eternal life in a heaven or hell after death etc They do believe in reincarnation the concept that one must go through many cycles of birth living and death After many such cycles if a person releases their attachment to desire and the self they can attain Nirvana The Buddhas Four Noble Truths may be described somewhat simplistically as 1 All existence is dukkha This word has been
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