Siddhartha Guatama, known as the Buddha (the Enlightened One) lived from about 563 B.C. to 483 B.C. He grew unsatisfied with conventional life and became a wanderer and an ascetic. He abandoned his family's Hindu beliefs and looked for a more universal truths.
Buddha believed in "Four Noble Truths"
1) Pain and suffering are inescapable parts of human life
2) Suffering and anxiety are caused by greed and selfishness
3) People can triumph over their weaknesses
4) It is possible to overcome one's weaknesses by following the "Eightfold Path."
The Eightfold Path is:
1) Release can only be achieved if one as a clear view of pain and suffering
2) One must decide to free oneself of suffering
3) One must conduct oneself correctly
4) One must have proper speech
5) One must choose the right livelihood
6) One must work to eliminate distracting and harmful desires
7) One must constantly contemplate one's deeds and words
8) The final step is deep meditation
By reaching the eighth step, one can attain nirvana, an extreme state of happiness and contentment.
Buddhism's most important teaching is that everyone, whatever their education or social status, could follow the Eightfold Path.
A basic tenets of Buddhism is that the eightfold path is not dogmatic and that individuals could find their own way.