Buddhism facts that are interesting include its origin, belief system and influence on today's western culture. Buddhism is a religion that originated in India about 2,500 years ago from an Indian prince named Siddharta Gautama, and it still is considered the most dominant religion in the East.
As of 2015, there are over 360 million followers worldwide and over a million Americans who claim Buddhism. The Buddhist concept of meditation is adopted and popularized by western culture, in addition to the idea of non-violence. The purpose of life, according to Buddhism, is to end suffering. Buddhists believe that human suffering is caused by the desire to seek happiness through material pleasures.
Siddharta Gautama lived around 500 BCE. According to Buddhist beliefs, Siddharta, a sheltered prince, left his luxurious life within the palace after witnessing the suffering beyond the palace walls. His mission was to seek life answers. This journey is what led to him becoming Buddha, or the "Enlightened One." For the next 45 years of his life, he taught the dharma and established a community of monks call the sangha.
Buddhism is known as a religion that is adaptable by anyone, from followers who worship one or more deities to others who completely reject gods and only seek liberation through meditation. All forms of Buddhism exhibit respect for Buddha's teachings, with the goal to end suffering and the cycle of rebirth.
An atheistic form of the religion is Theravada Buddhism, which is philosophical in nature and puts a focus on meditation and its means for liberation. Mahayana Buddhism acknowledges many deities, celestial beings and traditional religious aspects.