The doctrine, attributed to prince Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, that suffering is inseparable from existence but that inward extinction of the self and of the sense culminates in a state of illumination beyond both suffering and existence.
Buddhism is the predominant religion of eastern and central Asia, and is represented by many different sects that profess it and venerate Gautama Buddha.
Buddhism was founded in India circa 528 BC by prince Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, known simply as Buddha ('the enlightened'). It is a monastic system, involving meditation, personal discipline, and spiritual exercises. Pilgrimages are also of spiritual value.
Theravada Buddhism, close to Buddha's original teachings, believes that the only road to salvation is one of strict discipline and effort.
Mahayana Buddhism, a later tradition, teaches salvation is possible for all, and introduced the doctrine of Bodhisattva. Zen Buddhism is its Japanese branch.
Buddhism affirms that suffering is always present in life, that desire causes suffering, and that suffering ends when desire is overcome. Freedom from life is achieved by nirvana, the release from the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. One can achieve nirvana by following the eightfold path, which are the right understanding, the right thought, the right speech, the right action, the right livelihood, the right effort, the right awareness and the right concentration.
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