"Awakened One" (Buddha): Prince
Siddhartha Gautama, who would one day be known as the Buddha, began his
life as a prince in a kingdom in ancient India.
Prince Gautama (Buddha) was born about 553 BCE. He
had parents who loved him, many servants to wait on him, the finest
clothes, and a different palace for each season of the year. Yet, he
found his world full of suffering. It upset him that painful old age,
sickness, and death were all part of life in this world.
One day, he met a monk. He was amazed that this
monk could find calm and peace in a world filled with such sufferings.
That day he made a very difficult decision. He decided to leave his
wealth, his comfort, his wife, and his newborn son, to become a monk.
For the next six years he traveled throughout
India. But the answers he found were not enough. One day, while sitting
under a fig tree, an understanding came to him. This understanding was a
way to end suffering. That was the day Prince Siddhartha Gautama began
to earn a new title, the Buddha, which means "Awakened One".
Four Noble Truths:
journey to find the meaning of life had concluded. The Buddha realized
that life is ruled by Four Noble Truths:
Life is filled with suffering
Suffering is caused by people's wants.
Suffering can be ended if people stop wanting
things, like more pleasure or more power.
To stop wanting things, people must follow 8
basic laws, called the Eightfold Path.
Path: In brief, these are the laws of the Eightfold Path:
To know the truth
To intend to resist evil
To not say anything to hurt others
To respect life, property, and
To work at a job that does not
To try to free one's mind from evil
To be in control of one's feelings
To practice appropriate forms of
Way: The Eightfold Path was designed to guide people
without making life too strict or too easy. The Middle Way is the name
Buddhists call lives guided by the laws of the Eightfold Path.
Buddha spent the rest of his life
traveling around India and sharing his message with everyone. He had
many followers, who lived according to his Four Noble Truths. Some of
his followers became Buddhist monks. They gave up all they owned and
depended on other followers and kind hearted people to give them food.
Their message was one of love.
After the Buddha's death in 483 BCE,
Buddhism spread rapidly throughout Southern and Eastern Asia.
everywhere live by Buddha's teachings, which were written down as
proverbs. Here are two of Buddha's proverbs, from an ancient Buddha
text, written in about 100 BCE (Over 2000 years ago!)
As a solid
rock is not shaken by the wind,
even so the wise are not ruffled by praise or blame.
Hatreds never cease
by hatred in this world;
by love alone they cease.
This is an ancient law.
The Laughing Buddha
Have you ever seen a ceramic or carved representation
(a statue) of the Buddha, perhaps in a Chinese restaurant, or for sale
in a store, or in your home or garden? Have you ever wondered why the
Buddha is laughing?
The laughing Buddha reminds us that to be
happy we need to have a loving heart. A big heart gives you tolerance.
It helps you to greet each day with joy and all people with gladness. It
helps you to tolerate a great many things with a big happy smile that
reaches your eyes and your heart.
Buddha says that the best way to solve a
problem we might have with someone else is to have a warm and loving
heart. By not being resentful, by not bearing grudges, only then are we
able to smile like the Buddha - only then can we be truly happy.
The Goal - To
Become The Greatest Person in the World: Buddhism teaches
that being the greatest is an absolute achievement free of comparison.
What does that mean? It means that to be the greatest is not an
achievement that can be attained through competition. You can't win
greatness - but you can achieve it. That means everyone can be the
Here's an example: For a healthy ant to
successfully carry one grain of rice is a great achievement. For a
healthy horse to successfully carry one grain of rice is not all that
terrific. The ant has put his best effort into his job. It has fulfilled
its purpose as an ant. When this truth is achieved, the ant is no longer
just an ant. The ant has moved into the realm of Truth - it has become
the greatest ant in the world.
Buddhism teaches that a person is
successful not because he or she is better than someone else, and not
because they received a higher grade on a test or won a Gold Medal at
the Olympics, or beat out other ants to see who could carry the biggest
and heaviest grain of rice. True achievement does not come from
competition or comparison. A person (or an ant, or a horse) is
successful because he or she has given their best within their means.
For this reason, every single person can become the greatest person in
the world, all at the same time.
The Growth of
Buddhism: Buddhism values love, wisdom, goodness,
calm, and self-control. Buddhists believe that The Buddha and his
teachings should be honored, that people should try to end suffering,
that they should follow the Eightfold Path. In T'ang times, people
thought of Buddhism as a chart of behavior that they could follow to
lead them to a life beyond the grave.
Today, Buddhism is a major world
religion. There are over 300 million Buddhists in the world.
Buddha - story, explore, challenge game
Presentations (PowerPoint format) about Buddhism
3 Teachings for Kids
Plans about Buddhism for Teachers
Games & Activities