How did Buddhism begin?
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How did Buddhism begin?

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Quick Answer

Buddhism began in the 7th century B.C., when Buddha Shakyamuni began teaching the path to enlightenment after he himself was enlightened under a Bodhi tree while living in the forest after renouncing his role as prince. Buddha began spreading the four noble truths. These truths were the first spokes in the first turn of the wheel of Dharma.

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Buddha's wheel symbol explaining Dharma became one of the most important symbols in Buddhism. Buddha later taught more truths that applied to the second and third turns of the wheel. Ultimately, the four truths are the precursors to an eightfold path to the liberation of mankind from suffering and, ultimately, enlightenment. The eight spokes of the wheel represent the eight steps to enlightenment. The truths are essentially that suffering is inevitable, one must let go of suffering in order to control it, understanding man's true nature through Nirvana or "the awakening" is the key to freedom from suffering and letting go of the limitations of reality is the only way to achieve enlightenment. Although Buddha gave many speeches throughout his life, it was not until several hundred years after his death that Buddhism began to gain a significant following. Today, Buddhism is the 4th most practiced religion in the world after Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. The name Buddhism, however, was not given to the practice until the early 19th century.

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    Some similarities between Jainism and Buddhism include their comparable behavioral proscriptions for liberation and their shared historical origin in the 6th century BC. Both were also founded by men who rejected a life of luxury for one of asceticism and the pursuit of truth.

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    What was the diffusion of Buddhism?

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    Buddhism developed in India during the life of in the Buddha in the 4th century B.C., but it took more than 1,000 years before it became the major force it is in Asia today. The Indian Emperor Asoka sent out Buddhist missionaries to southeast Asia and the Middle East in the 3rd century B.C., but it only took hold in a few places, such as Sri Lanka.

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