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            There were many religions that were practiced among the people of central Asia back in the early second and third centuries and forward. Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism were among the main three religions practiced then. Buddhism has been around since 273 B.C. It started in India and traveled into central Asia and continued on into Korea and Japan becoming one of the major religions in all of central China. By the ninth century nine-tenths of the population in northwest China was converted to Buddhism. So let's take a closer look at Buddhism and find out who started the religion and what the beliefs are behind it. How did it become central Asia's major religion and what caused its decline? Within the Gautama clan in India was a noble ranking man by the name of Siddhartha. According to the traditional story, Siddhartha had become distressed by all of the suffering around him. So he gave up his family and all his material comforts of life and set out on a life of wondering. It was during a time in his travels when he was close to the point of death that he sat beneath a papal tree and vowed not to move from the spot until Enlightment had been obtained. It was then that Siddhartha was known to have achieved Enlightment. From then on Siddhartha was referred to as "Buddha - The Enlighten One." So how was Saddhartha's enlightment defined? It has been defined into what is known as the "Four Great Truths." The first great truth is: Life is sorrow; second truth is: the cause of sorrow is desire; the third truth is: escape is only possible by stopping desire; and the fourth truth is: the cessation of desire can only be achieved by the "eight -fold path." A person who follows the "eight - fold path" must have the right belief, right ambition, right speech, right thoughts, and right pleasures, in order to reach -1- Nirvana (Stavrianos 84). The word Nirvana literally meant "emptiness." However, it was later changed to mean " an afterlife in paradise".

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