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Date Submitted: 04/14/2012 08:51 AM

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Buddhism is the fourth largest religion of the world Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Guatam, “The Buddha.” It was the first world religion to spread beyond the society in which it was born. In this essay I will address the origins of Buddhism, how it spread and its main principles.

Siddhartha Guatam was a prince of the warrior class who felt his life was unsatisfying. A popular lifestyle man took when pursuing religious goals was a life of asceticism. Asceticism is a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from various worldly pleasures. After seven years, Guatam felt this wasn’t the right path to take. He realized that enlightenment did not come from the many material possessions or lack thereof; there must be a balance, which he called the Middle Way. This led him to create a strict and moral doctrine which aimed at liberation from suffering. To achieve higher states of consciousness and receive liberation from suffering, he taught his disciples

“to shed the demands of the flesh that no obstacle should prevent the soul from attaining the blessed state of nirvana or self-annihilation, freedom from the endless cycle of rebirth and transmigration, a doctrine urging men mot to do something, but to be something—in order not to be anything.” (Roberts, 131)

Guatam had an eightfold path of “moral and spiritual improvement” (Roberts, 131) in order to attain nirvana and meaningful existence, and lead away from suffering.

The ruler Asoka promoted the Buddhist evangelization. In his reign brought about the first expansion of Buddhism. Buddhism had spread however only in north-eastern India. Asoka sent missionaries to Burma, Ceylon, Macedonia and Egypt. Although the missionaries in Macedonia and Egypt weren’t very successful, Buddhist teachings influenced the philosophies of the Hellenistic world, and later some Greeks were converted. Later on the Kushanas carried Buddhism very far, and “the Greek models gradually gave way to the forms of Buddha familiar...