This is Buddhism explained to children by children. Hope you enjoy!


Buddhism began in northeastern India and is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama. The religion is nearly 2,600 years old and is followed by 350 million Buddhists worldwide.

Buddhism is the main religion in many Asian countries. It is a religion about suffering and the quest to be rid of it. A key concept of Buddhism is Nirvana, the most enlightened, and blissful state that one can achieve. A state without suffering. 

How is Buddhism different to all those other religions?
Buddhism is different from many other faiths because it is not centred on the relationship between people and God. Buddhists do not believe in a personal creator God.

Who is the founder of Buddhism?
The Buddhist tradition is founded on and inspired by the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama. He was called the Buddha and lived in the 5th or 6th century B.C. in India.

Why is this Siddhartha Gautama guy so important to Buddhists then?
Siddhartha Gautama found the path to Enlightenment. By doing so he was led from the pain of suffering and rebirth towards the path of Enlightenment and became known as the Buddha or "awakened one".

Who was Siddhartha Gautama really?
The Buddha
The story is told that he was born around the year 580 BCE in the village of Lumbini in Nepal. He was born into a royal family and for many years lived within the palace walls away from the sufferings of life; sufferings such as sickness, age, and death. He didn't even know what they were!

One day, after growing-up, marrying and having a child, Siddhartha went outside the royal palace and saw, each for the first time, an old man, a sick man, and a dead person. He was worried by what he saw. 

He learned that sickness, age, and death were the inevitable fate of human beings — a fate no-one could avoid. He chose to find a way out of suffering.

Why on earth did Siddhartha Gautama stop being a prince and become a Holy Man!?! Is he crazy?

Siddharta had also seen a holy man, and he decided this was a sign that he should leave his protected royal life and live as a homeless Holy Man too!

Siddharta's travels showed him much more of the the suffering of the world, but also understood that it isn't owning things like ipods and fast cars that make us happy (Not that there were fast cars or ipods around then anyway! But you get the point!)

He searched for a way to escape the inevitability of death, old age and pain first by studying with religious men. This didn't provide him with an answer though, in fact he got quite unhappy as they didn't eat much at all. He realised that there are some things we need like food, but somethings we want that we don't need to worry about, like lots and lots and lots of money!

What is Enlightenment and Nirvana? (Aren't they a band?)
Some Buddhists believe that there is a cycle of birth, life and death and rebirth. This goes on and on. They believe that unless someone gains Enlightenment, when they die they will be reborn. If a person can gain Enlightenment, they can break out of this cycle. Breaking out of the cycle is called Nirvana (sometimes called Nibbana). It is the end of everything that is not perfect. It is perfect peace, free of suffering (No more fights with your younger sibling! YES!)

What's all this meditation stuff Buddhist's do?
Some Buddhists try to reach Nirvana by following the Buddha's teaching and by meditating. Meditation means training the mind to observe its thoughts. when this happens what is important comes clearer (maaaaybbee saying sorry to that friend you have upset) and the things that aren't important (that goal you missed in football 15 minutes ago).

What do Buddhist actually believe in then?
Buddhist believe that the Buddha saw the truth about what the world is like. They believe that nothing in the world is perfect, and that the Buddha found the answer to why it is like this. They do not believe that the Buddha was a god. He was just a regular person like you or I! They do believe that he was important though, because he gained Enlightenment, and he chose to teach other people how to reach it too (nice guy!)

What do you usually need to believe to be a Buddhist?
Well Buddhists sure do like numbers! They have the Three Jewels, Four Nobles Truths, Five Precepts (check out our school precepts here! - they are much easier to understand!) & The Eightfold Path! Blimey!

The Three Jewels

There are three Buddhist central beliefs. These are known as the three jewels as they are felt to be so precious.
  1. The Buddha - Symbolises our Buddha nature (how we think, how we feel, what is passing through our minds).
  2. Dharma - The teaching of Buddha. It also stands for the way things are. 
  3. The Sangha - the Buddhist community made up of ordinary people as well as the monks and nuns. The purpose is to follow the Buddha's teachings so it can continue and be passed on to anyone.
At the heart of the Buddha's teaching lie The Four Noble Truths and The Eightfold Path which lead Buddhists towards the path of Enlightenment.

The Four Noble Truths

The Four Noble Truths were taught by the Buddha to help any person realise there is a way out of suffering.

1. There is suffering. Suffering can be understood. 

2. The origin of suffering can often be found in our desire for things or attachment to things.

3. Suffering can cease by letting go of the desire for things or attachment to things.

4. The 8 fold-path is an approach to life that the Buddha set out for people to try and follow. He said that if we follow this path then we could experience release from suffering. (See below)

In our recent topic, Ocean Class explored The Four Nobles Truths and came up with their own version to help apply the ideas within The Truths to their everyday experience. To read the children's version of The Four Noble Truths as well as some of their examples please CLICK HERE.

The Five Precepts

The Five Precepts for our School and Community
  1. I will try not intentionally harm people, animals, plants and any part of our school environment, caring for them in a way I would like to be cared for myself or looking after the school in a way I would like my own belongings to be looked after.
  2. I will try not to take things that belong to others, remember to ask when borrowing, and try to share when appropriate.
  3. I will try to be caring towards my friends and be respectful at all times even to those who are not my friends.
  4. I will try to say things that are honest and truthful, and be mindful in my speech and voice.
  5. I will try to keep my body fit and healthy and my mind calm and clear by following that which brings health and happiness.
We have highlighted "try" because we know that these can sometimes be really, really difficult! Sometimes even impossible! But the trick is just to try really hard, people appreciate it.

The Eight Fold Path

1 Right Understanding
(Trying to understand the Buddha's teachings)

2 Right Attitude
(Try to be clear and positive about things while also doing good, for its own sake and not for the reward.)

3 Right Speech
(Thinking about speaking wisely and truthfully and not telling lies.)

4 Right Action
(Trying to do good deeds, not bad ones.)

5 Right Work
(Doing a job that tries not to harm others.)

6 Right Effort
(Putting effort into the things you do, keep trying, perseverance when things are difficult.)

7 Right Mindfulness
(Thinking before you speak or act. Being in the present moment.)

8 Right Meditation
(To try and develop a clear and happy mind.)

What is Karma maaannnn?
Karma is the law that every cause has an effect, i.e., our actions have results. Most Buddhists believe that their actions could effect their current life either positively or negatively. So doing random acts of kindness could mean that some kindness could come your way too! But if you're that annoying kid who is always doing mean things, you might want to think again, because it could come back to haunt you!

This video shows some bad Karma coming into effect for some little birds, who choose the wrong behaviour to show another bird who is a bit different.

(We would like to thank Maddy Barrow at http://chiddingstone.kent.sch.uk/homework/ for these contributions.)

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