Buddha, whose real name was Siddhartha Guatama, lived from approximately 563 B.C. to 483 B.C.. There is little objective history about him. He was born in what is now Kapilavaata, just inside Nepal; his father was a ruler of the Sakya clan, of the Hindu warrior caste. His mother died a few weeks after his birth and his mother's sister, the ruler's second wife, raised him. According to tradition, soothsayers were asked about Siddhartha's birth; they foretold that the child was very unusual and would follow one of two paths. One path would make him a powerful king, the second a great spiritual leader. Siddhartha would not chose the second path unless he saw an old man, a sick person, a corpse, and a monk.
His father therefore endeavored to surround him with pleasure and keep from him these four types of people. Siddhartha married and had a son, but eventually he encountered the four things his father feared. When he was 30, he left his home and wife and wandered in search of enlightenment. Buddhists call this "The Great Renunciation." He investigated Hinduism, but he found the caste system repelling and ascetism useless. Finally in 528 B.C. under a Bo tree, he experienced what Buddhists call "The Great Enlightenment."
Buddha completely repudiated all Hindu scriptures. Buddha never claimed to be a god but a teacher of the way of the "Middle Road" between pleasure and ascetism. After founding many monasteries, he died in Nepal.
In the centuries following Buddha's death, great councils were held to add and clarify teaching, patch up differences and try in vain to keep all Buddhism together. Buddhism is a family of religions with over eighteen different schools.
Good stuff Good starter and ideas to work on. If I may, I would suggest a couple things to add. Karma is the bedrock of Buddhism and forms the core of how Buddhists think, regardless of affiliation. Something ought to be said regarding how the Christian would respond to the claims of karma (of course, there are many useful things to say here.) Secondly, I recommend working on your pronunciation of some of the terms to better show your Buddhist friends that you have made an effort to study their beliefs well.
Larry Wessels graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, Texas in 1981 with a degree in Advertising & on May 16 of that same year he had a supernatural "born again" experience (John 3:3-8, Romans 8: 8-17, etc.) by a sovereign act of the God of the Bible. Larry has been...