400 Million Buddhists Worldwide.
World's third Largest Religious Body
Siddhartha Gautama (563-483) of the Sakyas founded Buddhism in India. Although he was brought up in luxury as a prince, Siddhartha became discontented with the world when he was confronted with the sight of old age, sickness and death. He despaired on finding fulfillment on the physical level, since the body was an inescapable object, subject to weakness.
Around the age of Siddhartha broke from the material world and sought 'enlightenment' by following various yoga disciplines. After several failed attempts he devoted the final phases to intensive contemplation. One evening as he sat beneath a bo (banyan) tree, he slipped into a deep meditation and emerged having achieved enlightenment.
His title "Buddha" means "the awakened" or "the enlightened one". Buddha founded an order of monks and preached his ideas for the next four decades until his death.
The essence of Buddhist philosophy is the view that all life is suffering. Everyone is subjected to the traumas of birth, sickness, decrepitude and death, to what they most dread; and to separation of what they love. The cause of suffering comes from desire, and specifically desires of the body, and the desires for personal fulfillment. It is not until these desires are overcome that Happiness can be achieved. This requires following the "eightfold path".
The first branch of the eightfold path is to attain "right understanding": the recognition that life is suffering, that suffering is caused by desire for personal gratification, and suffering can be overcome. The second branch is "right-mindness": cultivating a mind free from sensuous desire, ill will and cruelty. The reaming branches of the path require
that one refrain from abuse and avoid self-seeking in all actions; that
One develops virtues and curb passions; and that one practice meditation.
Buddhism has an enduring legacy. Buddhism developed in China from the 3rd to 6th centuries AD. Buddhist monasteries and temples sprang up everywhere in China, and played a similar role to the churches and monasteries of medieval Europe-functioning as guesthouses, hospitals, and orphanages for travelers and refugees. Gifts from the faithful allowed them to amass considerable wealth and set up money-lending enterprises and pawnshops functioned as unofficial banks for the poor right up to the mid-20th century. Buddhism has survived years and effected millions of individuals around the world.
Today, it is one of the largest and fastest growing religions in the world, and like many others, has a deep sense of rooted history and beliefs.
In addition to a great legacy, Buddhism was also targeted by the in the past by such regimes as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Even before the establishment of the CCP, Buddhist priests were forced to do manual labor. A lot of monasteries were seized by the CCP, and turned into the other facilities like elementary schools.
As most people know, and as many have protested, the Lamatist Buddhists in Tibet were also persecuted. Because the CCP didn't understand that Lamatist Buddhism was rooted among the people through politics, the CCP forced Lamatist Buddhists to divide into two groups, "religion" and "politics". The CCP also ruined what connected the people with religion mentally, so they couldn't grasp the heart of Lamatist. They emulated mostly intolerance, a stark contrast to the peaceful Buddhists.