A man of positivity, joy and a famous smile, Buddha did a lot to inspire the world. Learning more about him and his philosophy could even help add a touch of happiness to your own life. Read on to discover 16 facts you probably didn’t know.
1. Buddha believed you have the power to direct your own life.
Buddha was a firm believer that everyone could be who they wanted to be. Nothing is unforgivable in Buddhism. You always have the ability to choose to change for the better as long as you recognise your mistakes.
No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.
2. Buddha thought these seven elements lead to enlightenment
Buddha created the seven elements – called satta bojjhanga in Pali and sapta bodhyanga in Sanskrit – that lead to enlightenment. Buddha referred to these seven qualities several times in the Pali Tipitika.
3. Buddha encouraged people to live in the moment
The path to happiness begins at the realisation that getting what we want doesn’t make us happy, or at least, not happy for long. It’s what we do - not what we get - that cultivates happiness. When we realise this, we can let go of desire and find happiness. When scientists studied the brains of Buddhist monks, they found proof that meditation actually changed the brainwaves of the monks in a way that increased feelings of happiness and resiliency. The secret to happiness is simple - to want what you have and not to want what you don’t have.
Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.
4. Buddha grew up as a prince named Siddartha Gautama
Did you know Buddha was born a wealthy prince named Siddartha Gautama? He left his fortune and legacy behind after he witnessed the poverty and sickness of the citizens of Nepal beyond the palace walls of where he grew up. He changed his name to Buddha – which means “awakened one.”
5. Buddha taught against ignorance, hatred and anger
Buddha taught people that ignorance, hatred and anger have no place in life. Buddhism is not a fear-based religion or ideology. Instead, reason and logic are used to engage followers.
6. Buddha encouraged others to think freely and deeply
Buddha challenged people to question everything they hear and decide based on their common sense what to believe.
7. Buddha was called the Great Physician
Buddha was identifying the cause of human suffering and finding ways to eliminate it. This earned him the name ‘Great Physician’.
8. Buddha thought that the devil is our own ego
The devil does not exist in Buddhism. It teaches that the cause of most suffering is our own ego, or the concept that we are separate from the world. Heaven or hell is a state of mind.
9. Buddha created The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism
After 49 days of sitting under a tree – the Bo tree – Buddha discovered the Four Noble Truths. These are:
- Existence is suffering
- The case of suffering is desire and attachment
- Suffering stops at some point and turns into Nirvana – ultimate bliss
- Nirvana consists of eight steps called the eightfold path.
10. Buddha taught the Eightfold Path to Nirvana
Buddha believed that the Eightfold path leads to ultimate bliss (Nirvana). The path consists of: concentration, views, speech, resolve, action, livelihood, effort and mindfulness.
11. Buddha encouraged others to fulfil human potential for goodness and happiness
Many Buddhists believe in rebirth and reincarnation. The ultimate goal for Buddhism is to stop rebirth and suffering. According to their belief system, Buddhists think rebirth and suffering stops when humans fulfil their human potential for goodness and happiness.
12. Buddha and the legend of the tooth
A legend says that when Buddha was cremated, a single tooth remained. Whoever possessed the single tooth was the chosen leader of Buddhism. The tooth now resides in a temple in Sri Lanka.
13. The real Buddha did not have a big belly
Buddha is portrayed differently than how he looked in reality. For example, he was not as chubby as he is depicted in pictures and statues. His big stomach is a symbol of happiness in the East. Buddha actually fasted frequently and spent most of his time walking to spread his philosophy of enlightenment.
14. Buddha would never define himself as a Buddhist
The term ‘Buddhism’ was created by a Western scholar, and Buddhists do not refer to themselves as Buddhist. They call themselves either dharma – which means law – or Buddha-sasana – which means teachings of the Buddha.
15. Buddha’s last words before he died were…
Buddha’s journey ended in a small Indian town called Kushinagar. One of his faithful disciples begged him to hold on longer, so Buddha could die in a famous place with lots of people to honour him at his funeral. Buddha responded with the sentence: ‘a small place is fitting’. He died of old age, and his last words were: 'All created things most pass, strive on, diligently'.
Buddha was cremated in Kushinagar; the relics were placed in monuments or stupas.
All created things most pass, strive on, diligently
16. Buddha believed that everyone deserves happiness
Buddha extended good will and understanding towards all of the world’s creatures. He believed each being had the same right to happiness—from insects to humans. The fact that both women and men were allowed to join the monastic order was very exceptional for that period in time.