It is believed that the religion of Buddhism first originated in India in the first century B.C. Buddhism is traced to the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, who was an enlightened teacher during this time. He is commonly referred to as the Buddha.
There are more than 350 million followers of Buddhism in the modern age, and there are three different branches of Buddhism. These branchesare:
- The Theravada, which is the Doctrine of the Elders
- The Vajrayana, the Diamond Vehicle
- The Mahayana, the Great Vehicle
Within these branches, there are also many different sects and groups. Buddhism does not believe in one "god," but rather a pantheon of deities.
Siddhartha wanted to end suffering in the world through enlightenment and meditation. His teachings are known as the Four Noble Truths as well as the Eightfold Path, which are life guides for Buddhists. Their intent is to teach people how to leave peacefully. The ultimate goal of the teachings of the Buddha is to reach a state of Nirvana.
Buddhists practice meditation and mindfulness. Buddhists do study scriptures and devotionals, and may separate from living conventionally, if necessary. Unlike Christians and the Bible, or Jews and the Torah, there is no one sacred text or book that Buddhists follow. Different sects have different sacred texts.