Buddhism is a dharmic, non-theistic religion, a philosophy, and a life-enhancing system of psychology. Buddhism is also known in Sanskrit or Pali, the main ancient languages of Buddhists, as Buddha Dharma or Dhamma, which means the teachings of "the Awakened One". Thus was called Siddhartha Guatama, hereinafter referred to as "the Buddha". Early sources say that the Buddha was born in Lumbini (now in Nepal), and that he died aged around 80 in Kushinagara (India). He lived in or around the fifth century BCE, according to recent scholarship. Buddhism spread throughout the Indian subcontinent in the five centuries following the Buddha's passing, and thence into Central, Southeast and East Asia and Eastern Europe over the next two millennia.
Buddhism continues to attract followers worldwide and is considered a major world religion. According to one source, "World estimates for Buddhists vary between 230 and 500 million, with most around 350 million." However, estimates are uncertain for several countries. According to one analysis, Buddhism is the fifth-largest religion in the world behind Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and traditional Chinese religion. The monks' order (Sangha), which began during the lifetime of the Buddha in India, is amongst the oldest organizations on earth.
In Buddhism, any person who has awakened from the "sleep of ignorance" by directly realizing the true nature of reality is called a buddha. Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, is thus only one among other buddhas before or after him. His teachings are oriented toward the attainment of this kind of awakening, also called with various nuances enlightenment, Bodhi, liberation, or Nirvana.
Part of the Buddha's teachings regarding the holy life and the goal of liberation is constituted by the "The Four Noble Truths" about dukkha, a term that refers to suffering or the sorrow of life. The Four Noble Truths about suffering state what are its nature, its cause, its cessation, and the way leading to its cessation. This way to the cessation of suffering is called "The Noble Eightfold Path", which is one of the fundamentals of Buddhist virtuous or moral life.
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