The Buddha posed the challenge to break free from “the wheel of life” which is the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth
The steps towards Nirvana, which will end the suffering of life, are referred to as the Noble Eightfold Path.
The first category in the Noble Eightfold Path (Wisdom) is as follows: Right Views and Right Intent
The second practice is Mortality: Right Speech, Right Conduct, and Right Livelihood
Finally, Mental Discipline: Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration
Today, Buddhist’s chant “I take refuge in the Buddha. I take refuge in the dharma, I take refuge in the sangha.” to express their faith.
The Buddha, his teachings, and his community, are referred to as the three jewels. To take refuge in them one must avoid material pleasures, mental annoyances, and worldly concerns, and instead attempt to mimic the lifestyle the teachings of the Buddha represent.
There are many ways one can create positive karma and therefore increase their chances of being enlightened in their next lives; giving to the needy, doing good deeds, and worshiping (whether at a home altar or at a shrine.) Karma can also be transferred to others who need it by, say, doing a good deed in another’s name.
Women and men both followed Buddha but their place as “wards and servants” of men in India at that time would not have allowed it.
Pajapati Gotami, the Buddha’s own aunt and foster mother, was the first to speak out for women. She walked 357 miles to the Jetavana Monastery with a shaved head and dressed in monk’s clothing.
She proposed an order of nuns (bhikkuni) equal to that of the monks but was not immediately accepted by the Buddha. Two other women joined the fight but even now there are some countries where nuns are not considered equal to monks. However, most Buddhist orders consider nuns equally important and there is a movement spreading the bhikkuni to places where they were lost or never existed in the first place
The Buddha finally died in his 80s. His last words were, “Decay is inherent in all component things, but the truth will remain forever. Work out your salvation with diligence!”