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Origins

Shakyamuni

Gazellenpark in Benares
The site in Benares where Gautama Buddha is said to have preached for the first time.

Buddhism originates in the teachings of Shakyamuni (Gautama Siddartha), the historical founder of Buddhism who lived in India some 2,500 years ago.

Shakyamuni was born a prince but renounced his royal upbringing to embark on a spiritual quest to understand how human suffering could be ended. In the course of his search Shakyamuni experienced a profound awakening, or enlightenment, while meditating--a deep, encompassing understanding of life and human nature.

According to tradition, he traveled throughout India for nearly 40 years sharing his enlightened wisdom, promoting peace and teaching people how to unleash the great potential of their lives. He became known as the Buddha, or "awakened one." His teachings were recorded as sutras and spread throughout Asia, giving rise to a number of distinct schools of Buddhism, generally characterized by an emphasis on peace and compassion.

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