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The Jedi Order of Knights tradition, principles & belief system are in part based on the Knights Templar, Shaolin martial arts tradition, Buddhism, and Zen.
Shaolin is considered by many to be both the technical, secular, and spiritual origins of Northern Chinese Martial Arts and is based at Song Shan Mountain locally in Henan province or Mount Song internationally in Dengfeng, China and the Shaolin Temple Chinese National Park area and is headed by an Abbott who oversees all of the warrior knights typically who typically adhere to a strict set of training and dietary regimens. Typically the spirit of DaMo, or BodhiDharma, embodies the teachings of the Buddha in China. Dharma is said to have sat zazen or wall-gazing for 9 years to reach enlightenment and prove himself to the Chinese Dynasties at the time.
Buddhism is a non-theistic, peaceful, and compassionate religion (as most are) and philosophy with between 230 to 500 million adherents worldwide. The vast majority live in Asia. Two major schools are Mahayana (skrt. for Greater Vehicle) and Theravada (skrt. for Lesser Vehicle). Mahayana is in turn grouped into East Asian (including Pure Land, Chan/Zen, Nichiren, Shingon and others) and Tibetan (sometimes grouped with Shingon under the term Vajrayana, skrt for Diamond Vehicle). However there are many other sects besides these. These distinctions reflect a combination of doctrinal differences and regional nuances.
Buddhism is based on the teachings of the Gautama Buddha, who lived in parts of what is now Nepal and northeast India circa the fifth century BCE. While there is disagreement between denominations over the Buddha's teachings nearly all Buddhists recognize some version of the Tipitaka ("Three Baskets"), though it plays a far more central role in Theravada than in Mahayana. Also, Mahayana Buddhists recognize a set of texts called the Mahayana Sutras which Theravadins do not accept. A Jedi may also draw inspiration from Tao or Dao.
Gautama, whose personal name was Siddhartha, was born in the city of Lumbini and was raised in Kapilavastu. Very little of the traditional story of his life is historical. It is as follows: Born a prince, his father, King Suddhodana, was visited by a wise man shortly after Siddhartha was born. The wise man said that Siddhartha would either become a great king (chakravartin) or a holy man (Sadhu) based on whether or not he ever saw life outside of the palace walls. Determined to make Siddhartha a king, the father tried to shield his son from the unpleasant realities of daily life. However, despite his father's efforts, at the age of 29, he discovered the suffering of his people, first through an encounter with an elderly man, then on subsequent trips outside the palace, he encountered a diseased man, a decaying corpse, and a monk or an ascetic. These are often termed 'The Four Sights.'
Gautama was deeply depressed by these four sights and sought to overcome old age, illness, and death by living the life of an ascetic. Gautama escaped his palace, leaving behind this royal life to become a mendicant. For a time on his spiritual quest, Buddha "experimented with extreme asceticism, which at that time was seen as a powerful spiritual practice... such as fasting, holding the breath, and exposure of the body to pain... he found, however, that these ascetic practices brought no genuine spiritual benefits and in fact, being based on self-hatred, that they were counterproductive."
He abandoned asceticism and concentrated instead upon meditation and, according to some sources, Anapanasati (awareness of breathing in and out). Gautama is said to have discovered what Buddhists call the Middle Way—a path of moderation that lies mid-way between the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification. He accepted a little milk and rice pudding from a village girl and then, sitting under a pipal tree or Sacred fig (Ficus religiosa), also known as the Bodhi tree, in Bodh Gaya, he vowed never to arise until he had found the Truth. His five companions, believing that he had abandoned his search and had become undisciplined, left. After 49 days meditating, at the age of 35, he attained bodhi, also known as "Awakening" or "Enlightenment" in the West. After his attainment of bodhi he was known as Buddha or Gautama Buddha and spent the rest of his life teaching his insights (Dharma). According to scholars, he lived around the fifth century BCE, but his more exact birthdate is open to debate. He died at the age of 80 in Kushinagara (Pali Kusinara) (India).