You have many questions. For my knowledge the most important question out of all those why one should follow Buddha and his teachings? I would like to give detailed answer for that.
As a buddhist according to our master's supreme mandane he understood and told us that we are traveling birth after birth infinite period of time that we cannot count in this "samsara". it is like a circle and even lord buddha not able to find the one's beginning of the life. See this below picture. We called this is journey of "Samsara"
We believe 31 levels in this universe under this sun and moon.
- Four main hells [semi 186] - 04
- Human World on this earth - 01
- Six Heavens - 06
- Brahma loka - 20
To get better understand of their ages refer below chart.
So we keep on traveling as a result[Vipaka] of our past present future actions[Karma]. There is no creator. What we are experiencing now is mainly due to your previous result or vipaka of your karma or action. There were few more things that might be resulting into. Those are
- Utu Niyama - physical inorganic order, e.g. seasonal phenomena
of winds and rains. The unerring order of seasons, characteristic
changes and events, causes of winds and rains, nature of heat,
etc., all belong to this group.
- Bija Niyama - order of germs and seeds (physical organic
order), e.g. rice produced from rice-seed, sugary taste from sugar-
cane or honey, peculiar characteristics of certain fruits, etc. The
scientific theory of cells and genes and the physical similarity of
twins may be ascribed to this order.
- Karma Niyama - order of act and result, e.g., desirable and
undesirable acts produce corresponding good and bad results. As
surely as water seeks its own level so does Karma, given
opportunity, produce its inevitable result, not in the form of a
reward or punishment but as an innate sequence. This sequence of
deed and effect is as natural and necessary as the way of the sun
and the moon.
- Dhamma Niyama - order of the norm, e.g., the natural phenomena
occurring at the advent of a Bodhisattva in his last birth.
Gravitation and other similar laws of nature. The natural reason
for being good and so forth, may be included in this group.
- Citta Niyama - order or mind or psychic law, e.g., processes of
consciousness, arising and perishing of consciousness, constituents
of consciousness, power of mind, etc., including telepathy,
telaesthesia, retro-cognition, premonition, clairvoyance,
clairaudience, thought-reading and such other psychic phenomena
which are inexplicable to modern science.
Now you have an idea basically 95% of our present due to our Karmic actions. Lord Buddha before enlightened [we called "Bodhisathwa"] as bodhisathwa met 512,027 Buddha's and traveled "Suwisi Asankya Kalpalakshya" to experienced this world and find the path to overcome this continuous rebirth and stop birth again and again. For well understanding of those periods read this article: Explanation of time periods
Buddha gave one example for kalpa: take 1 Yoduna = 16 Miles depth height and width tank and filled with Mustard. Then every 100 year one seed removed from the tank. Lord Buddha said one day tank will be finished but kalpa not finished. Maha Kalpa includes 4 Anthak Kalpas One Antha kalpa includes 256 kalpas.
Now you have basic idea of the traveling of this Samsara through the 31 levels with their time periods. Lord buddha said the hells are our main house. For Example If a family has 7 members including mother and father. Once those 5 members married and have 5 separate houses we used to visit our main house and regularly and have family gathering. Similarly because of bad karmas we used to got hells than visiting heavens.
Lord Buddha Said:
“Unimaginable, bhikkhus, is a beginning to the round of births. For
beings obstructed by ignorance and fettered by craving migrating and
going the round of births a starting point is not evident. It is not easy,
bhikkhus, to find a being who has not formerly been one’s mother… been
one’s father… one’s brother… sister… son… daughter during this long,
People those who searching for salvation of these sufferings agonies should follow the buddhism. We have three sufferings:
Within the Buddhist sutras, duḥkha is divided in three categorie:
- Dukkha-dukkha:- The suffering of suffering - This includes the physical and
mental sufferings of birth, aging, illness, dying; distress from what is not
- Viparinama-dukkha:- The suffering of change - This is the duḥkha of pleasant
or happy experiences changing to unpleasant when the causes and conditions that
produced the pleasant experiences cease.
- Sankhara-dukkha:- , All-pervasive suffering - the duḥkha of conditioned
experience. This includes "a basic unsatisfactoriness pervading all existence,
all forms of life, because all forms of life are changing, impermanent and
without any inner core or substance." On this level, the term
indicates a lack of satisfaction, a sense that things never measure up to our
expectations or standards.
Also, Buddhism explained How to Occur "Dukka" and how to prevail "Dukka" and how to remove "Dukka" and be free from the rebirth forever. That is called "Nibbana".
I will answer your other questions one by one day by day. Was this article helpful for you.
If you want to learn buddhism visit here:- "Loving Kindness" Step by Step Guidance