Buddhism is a religion and philosophy that developed from the teachings of the Buddha Gautama (or Gautama), who lived as early as the 6th century BC.
Spreading from India to Central and Southeast Asia, China, Korea, and Japan, Buddhism has played a central role in the spiritual, cultural, and social life of the Eastern world and during the 20th century has spread to the West. This article surveys Buddhism from its origins to its elaboration in various schools, sects, and regional developments.
Ancient Buddhist scripture and doctrine developed primarily in two closely related literary languages of ancient India, Pali and Sanskrit. In this article, Pali and Sanskrit words that have gained some currency in English are treated as English words and are rendered in the form in which they appear in English-language dictionaries. Exceptions occur in special circumstances--as, for example, in the case of the Sanskrit term dharma (Pali: dhamma), which has meanings that are not usually associated with the English "dharma." Pali forms are given in the sections that deal with Buddhists whose primary sacred language was Pali (including discussions of the teaching of the Buddha, which are reconstructed on the basis of Pali texts). Sanskrit forms are given in the sections that deal with Buddhists whose primary focus was on Sanskritic traditions.
The Buddha was not a god and the philosophy of Buddhism does not entail any theistic world-view. The teachings of the Buddha are aimed solely to liberate sentient beings from suffering.
Gautama Buddha taught the four noble truths: that there is suffering, that suffering has a cause, that suffering has an end and that there is a path that leads to the end of suffering. He saw that all phenomena in life are impermanent and that our attachment to the idea of substantial and enduring self is an illusion which is the principle cause of suffering. 'The Four Noble Truths'.
Freedom from self liberates the heart from greed, hatred, and delusion and opens the mind to wisdom and the heart to kindness and compassion.
In Buddhist teaching, the law of karma, says only this: "For every event that occurs, there will follow another event whose existence was caused by the first, and this second event will be pleasant or unpleasant according as its cause was skillful or unskillful.' A skillful event is one that is not accompanied by craving, resistance or delusions; an unskillful event is one that is accompanied by any one of those things. (Events are not skillful in themselves, but are so called only in virtue of the mental events that occur with them.)
Therefore, the law of Karma teaches that responsibility for unskillful actions is born by the person who commits them.