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The History of Buddhism



The History of Buddhism
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 9 to 12
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.18

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    arhats, bodhisattva, bodhisattvas, koan, koans, yaks, fairer, nirvana, liberal, enlightenment, saffron, monk, twentieth, nuns, temples, oriental
     content words:    Prince Siddhartha, Awakened One, Four Noble Truths, Noble Eightfold Path, Southeast Asia, Mahayana Buddhists, East Asia, Zen Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhists


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The History of Buddhism
By Colleen Messina
  

1     Buddhism began about 2,500 years ago when a young prince gave up his kingdom to seek enlightenment. It is said that Prince Siddhartha left behind his lovely wife, a rich palace, and every material comfort to find inner peace. Evil spirits assailed him, but he persisted in sitting in meditation. After six years, he achieved true understanding, or enlightenment. He became the Buddha, or the Awakened One.
 
2     The Buddha traveled around India for fifty years until his death in 483 B.C. He taught the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path (the eight steps to achieve enlightenment). No one wrote down his teachings, but the Buddha formed a community of monks to carry on his message.
 
3     After Buddha's death, five hundred monks met in a council. One monk, an exceptionally sharp fellow with an excellent memory, could recite all the Buddha's teachings! The other monks debated about the details until they were satisfied. These lessons from the Buddha, called the Sutras, were translated into many languages and passed along by word of mouth for over 200 years. Later, the teachings of Buddha were written down on palm leaves in the first century A.D.

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