Want to know more about Buddhism? Here are 15 Interesting Facts about Buddhism that you probably didn’t know before reading this!
To make this even more fun, I want to challenge you as well. How many of these Buddhism facts did you know before reading this? Share your result in the comment section!
It originated after Siddharta Gautama attained enlightenment
Buddhism is basically the teachings of Siddharta Gautama, who was born in 623 B.C. He was born a prince but went on a long spiritual search for happiness and to end suffering. After many trials and different paths, he finally found enlightenment under the Bodhi tree.
After his enlightenment, he started to teach others, and this is how the teachings of Buddhism started.
Buddhists don’t believe in a god
Perhaps one of the most interesting facts about Buddhism. There is no god to follow, and there is none to worship.
A Buddha is a person who’s achieved enlightenment
Many people think that Buddha is a person, but that is a misinterpretation. Anyone can be a Buddha, and it is merely the name for a person who has reached Nirvana, the state of Enlightenment.
Siddharta Gautama was the first Buddha, and after that, there have been several Buddhas. That’s one of the reasons why the faces of Buddha statues differ.
In addition to Siddharta Gautama, one Buddha that has become especially famous is the Laughing Buddha, which is said to have been a Chinese monk named Ch’i-t’zu.
There are several teachings of Buddhism
From the beginning, there was only one teaching, the one of Siddharta Gautama. But with time, and as the teachings spread to other countries, different branches were created and the old texts and lessons were interpreted differently.
The three major branches of Buddhism are Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana.
Buddhist monks and nuns shave their hair
In the Pali Vinaya-Pitaka, it is written that hair should be shaved when it reaches the length of two finger-widths or every two months.
It’s a symbolic gesture that shows that the monk and nun are ready to commit and leave the past behind. It is also a way of discouraging vanity.
However, the ritual is not something that has to be done in order to reach enlightenment. In fact, there are sources that indicate that Siddartha Gautama had hair, at least from time to time.
Suffering is said to be inevitable
Buddhism teaches that life is full of suffering, in fact, the Buddha went as far as saying that suffering is inevitable.
However, he found a way out of it, eventually.. by following the noble eightfold path.
You will still endure suffering at times, but according to the teachings, this path will minimize the suffering until you reach Nirvana.
It follows the wheel of Dhamma
The wheel of Dhamma represents the noble eightfold path, which consists of the following elements: Right View, Right Thinking, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Diligence, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.
This is basically how a good Buddhist should act in order to avoid suffering as much as possible. This will also ensure that the full focus is set on reaching enlightenment.
Each person is responsible for their own enlightenment
According to the teachings, there is no savior, like Jesus in Christianity or Messiah in Judaism for example. It is up to each individual to keep good karma and work their way to attain enlightenment.
No one else is capable of making you a Buddha, only you can do this.
Meditation is a big part of the teaching
The Buddha reached enlightenment after a long meditation under the Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya. The Meditation is very important, and every monk practices it several times daily.
Buddhists believe in Karma
Karma is the belief that every act has a consequence later on in life. It’s not certain when, but every genuinely good intention will get good karma, and every evil act will get bad karma.
You could summarize it with the saying “What goes around, comes around”.
5 x Surprising Facts about Buddhism
- There is no holy bible to follow, but many important texts
- Heaven and hell are not eternal places according to Buddhist teachings
- Buddhism can exist without Buddha, he simply found a way to become enlighted, and shared his findings with others
- Buddha (Siddharta Gautama) never claimed to be a prophet or god
- Buddhism is not a religion, although the West often mentions it as a religion. It’s a way of life, and shouldn’t be confused as a religion as there is no god or supreme being to worship. The goal is to reach the state of Nirvana.
General Facts about Buddhism
Below are some general info such as total amount of Buddhists, countries where Buddhism is practiced and other general facts about Buddhism that might be interesting to know.
- There are more than 500 million Buddhists in the world
- Buddhists don’t kill animals, and they eat a vegetarian diet
- All living beings are being treated with equal respect
- Mahayana is the most practiced branch of Buddhism, and it’s most common in China
- Theravada is the second most practiced branch, and it’s most common in Southeast Asia
- More than 7 million westerners say that they’re Buddhists
- China has the largest population of Buddhists with at least 244 million devotees
- However, in Thailand and Cambodia, more than 90% of their total population are Buddhists
- Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader for Tibetan Buddhism, which is part of the Vajrayana branch
There are many symbols associated with Buddhism, but these are some of the most important ones.
- The Wheel of Dhamma – Representing the eightfold path
- The Lotus flower – Symbol for the journey to enlightenment
- The symbol for “Om”
- The riderless horse represents renunciation
Another ancient Buddhist symbol is the swastika, which has unfortunately become associated with the Nazis by the West. However, the origin is totally different, and you shouldn’t be offended when you see this symbol in Buddhist countries.
It’s often used to symbolize the feet or footprints of the Buddha in Sanskrit texts.
My thoughts about Buddhism
Personally, ever since I first found out about Buddha and his teaching, I have always admired the message of peace, mindfulness, and kindness. I truly believe that if everyone followed the path of Buddhism, we would have world peace and live in harmony.
When I visited Thailand, I was fortunate enough to have a chat with a Buddhist apprentice and monk in Chiang Mai. It was very interesting, and I was allowed to ask any question that I had.
I asked a lot of questions about Buddhism in general, but after a while, I got more curious about what the monk thought of Western society and if he liked some parts of it.
My chat with the monk was very interesting and gave me many good answers.
However, I do feel that modern society has corrupted a few Buddhist societies in some parts of the world. And, I just hope that the true Buddhists will remain true to the noble eightfold path and win the battle against greed and suffering.
Some people now also worship the Buddha as some kind of deity, even though he made very clear that he should never be worshiped or thought of as a deity. Buddhism should just be about reaching Nirvana and stop suffering.
It certainly shouldn’t be about power over others or money. The true teaching is about being selfless and kind with good intentions always.
I have visited many Buddhist temples and monasteries, and you can tell right away if it’s genuine or not. Unfortunately, many temples in touristic areas have become more about donations and superstitious beliefs.
With that said, luckily there are also many genuine Buddhist temples and schools where they still teach the authentic ways, for free as it should be since a Buddhist has no interest in earning money.
In the end, we are all responsible for our own actions, and I for one, hope that more people discover the teachings of Buddha, and get inspired to live a better life. That’s at least what his teachings have taught me so far.
How many of these Buddhism Facts did you know beforehand? Share your result in the comment section below!