60 Enlightening Facts about Buddhism

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  • “Buddha” is not a personal name. It is an honorific title that means “awakened one.” Buddha’s real name was Siddhartha Gautama.[9]
  • Approximately 500 million people around the world, or about 10% of the world’s population, practice Buddhism.[5]
  • Some Buddhist monks practice sokushinbutsu (“a Buddha in this very body”), which is a type of self-mummification. Between the 12th and early 20th century, monks would eat pine needles, berries, tree bark, resin, and certain herbs to help starve and preserve the body.[5]
  • Unlike many other religions, there is no central text in Buddhism.[3]
  • According to legend, Buddha was born in Nepal under a full moon in a beautiful garden; the sky rained flower petals and the earth shook.[3]

Gautama Buddha Fact


Queen Māyā of Sakya, the Buddha’s mother, died seven days after miraculously giving birth to him


  • According to legend, the Buddha was conceived by a mortal mother (Queen Maya) and a baby white elephant in the eastern part of India sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BC.[9]
  • Often, statues of the Buddha depict him with short, curly hair to show that he denounced his privileged past. Usually, the wealthy elite would sport a fashionable topknot.[2]
  • Statues of the Buddha often show him with half closed eyes, which is meant to show a state of meditation and, moreover, a state of indifference to the material world.[2]
  • Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha) came from a Hindu family, and both religions overlap somewhat. The major difference is that Hinduism is clearly a theistic religion, whereas Buddhism is mostly non-theistic.[3]
  • Unlike other religious practices, Buddhism does not require a person to believe in a creator god or gods. Buddhism believes in three elemental concepts: 1) nothing is permanent, 2) all actions have consequences, and 3) it is possible to change.[9]
  • Because the earliest Buddhist texts were orally transmitted and written down hundreds of years after Buddha’s death, scholars cannot say with certainty what Buddha himself taught.[3]
  • When the Buddha was asked to sum up his teachings in a single word, he said, “Awareness.”[9]
  • The Buddha has often been called the “Great Physician” because he was primarily concerned with identifying the cause of human suffering and finding way to eliminate it.[3]
  • According to the Buddha, the secret to happiness is simple: To want what you have and not want what you don’t have.[3]
  • Many people in India at the time of the Buddha were Hindus, and he is often depicted alongside Hindu gods, such as Brahma “the Creator,” and Indra, “God of Rain and Warfare.”[9]
  • According to Marco Polo, “had [Buddha] been a Christian, he would have been a great saint of our Lord Jesus Christ, so good and pure was the life he led.”[12]
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