Siddhartha Gautama, born in the 6th century BCE in Lumbini (modern-day Nepal), renounced his princely life to seek enlightenment. He attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya, becoming the Buddha, which means "the awakened one."
At the core of Buddhist teachings are the Four Noble Truths, which articulate the nature of suffering, its cause, the possibility of cessation, and the path leading to the end of suffering (Nirvana).
The Eightfold Path is a guide to ethical and mental development in Buddhism. It includes principles like Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.
Buddhism teaches the concept of reincarnation, where one's actions (karma) in previous lives influence their current existence. Breaking the cycle of reincarnation is a key goal on the path to enlightenment.
Nirvana represents the ultimate goal in Buddhism—a state of liberation from the cycle of birth and death, achieving a state of perfect peace and liberation from suffering.
Buddhists take refuge in the Three Jewels: the Buddha (the enlightened one), the Dharma (the teachings), and the Sangha (the community of monks and nuns).
Buddhism has two major branches. Theravada, "the Teaching of the Elders," is prevalent in Southeast Asia, emphasizing individual enlightenment. Mahayana, "the Great Vehicle," is more diverse.
The Dharmachakra, or Wheel of Dharma, is a symbol representing the Buddha's teachings. It consists of eight spokes symbolizing the Eightfold Path.
Meditation is a fundamental aspect of Buddhist practice. Mindfulness meditation, Vipassana, and Zen meditation are some of the various meditation techniques aimed at cultivating awareness and concentration.