- The religion founded in India in the 5th century BC by Siddhartha Gautama (usually 563–483 BC; an alternative date of death based on Chinese sources is 368 BC), the Buddha or enlightened one. Buddhism teaches salvation through escape from samsara , the endless cycle of birth and rebirth (see four noble truths, eightfold path ). The state of Enlightenment or nirvana is a state of liberation from the passions and frustrations of ordinary living, a radiant state of living in the present, obtained by following the Way. Two main kinds of Buddhism are recognized. Theravada Buddhism is found mainly in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka. Mahayana Buddhism is found in Nepal and the countries surrounding and including China. Theravada Buddhism is conservative and simple in its forms; Mahayana Buddhism includes more elaborate rituals, scriptures, and a gallery of saints (bodhisattvas). The Buddha's own awakening came with realization that neither the way of meditation, nor of asceticism, contained the key to awareness of a ‘Self’ conceived of as a permanent, unchanging object of yogic contemplation (see atman ). Buddhism therefore attracts both by its ethical code, and by its philosophical rejection of the desire to constitute oneself as a single ego or self, on which point it is sometimes acknowledged as a precursor of the bundle theory and the no-ownership theory of the self. Philosophically Buddhism, as much as Christianity, has a long history of diverse schools, representing different attitudes to reality, mind, scepticism, and experience. See also Zen.
Philosophy dictionary. Academic. 2011.