Buddhism


Buddhism began in India 2,500 years ago and, although virtually extinct in India, it remains the dominant world religion in the East. There are over 360 million followers of Buddhism worldwide and over one million American Buddhists. There even a significant number of "Jewish Buddhists." Buddhist concepts have also been influential on western society in general, primarily in the areas of meditation and nonviolence.

The Buddha ("Enlightened One") was an Indian prince named Siddharta Gautama who lived around 500 BCE. According to Buddhist tradition, the young prince lived an affluent and sheltered life until a journey during which he saw an old man, a sick man, a poor man, and a corpse. Shocked and distressed at the suffering in the world, Gautama left his family to seek enlightenment through asceticism. But even the most extreme asceticism failed to bring enlightenment. Finally, Gautama sat beneath a tree and vowed not to move until he had attained enlightenment. Days later, he arose as the Buddha - the "enlightened one." He spent the remaining 45 years of his life teaching the path to liberation from suffering (the dharma) and establishing a community of monks (the sangha).

Over its long history, Buddhism has grown into a variety of forms ranging from an emphasis on religious rituals and the worship of deities, to a complete rejection of both rituals and deities in favor of pure meditation. Yet all forms of Buddhism share respect for the teachings of the Buddha and the goal of ending suffering and the cycle of rebirth. Theravada Buddhism, prominent in Southeast Asia, is atheistic and philosophical in nature and focuses on the monastic life and meditation as means to liberation.

Mahayana Buddhism, prominent in China and Japan, incorporates several deities, celestial beings, and other traditional religious elements. In Mahayana, the path to liberation may include religious ritual, devotion, meditation, or a combination of these elements. Zen, Nichiren, Tendai, and Pure Land are the major forms of Mahayana Buddhism..


  • Buddhism Bookshttp://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/books

    Due to its ever-increasing popularity in the West, there is a wide selection of books available in English on just about any aspect of Buddhism that might interest you...

  • Buddhism Overviewhttp://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/overview

    Introduction Buddhism was founded by an Indian prince named Siddharta Gautama around the year 500 BCE. According to tradition, the young prince lived an affluent and sheltered life until a journey during which he saw an old man, a sick man, a poor man, and a corpse...

  • Buddhist Beliefshttp://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/beliefs

    Religious beliefs are important in Buddhism, but its important doctrines aren't necessarily the same as those of other world religions. For example, because Buddhism isn't monotheistic, it doesn't have doctrines about God like Judaism, Christianity, and Islam do...

  • Buddhist Historyhttp://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/history

    The history of Buddhism spans over 2,500 years and is full of interesting stories.

  • Buddhist Listshttp://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/lists

  • Buddhist Objectshttp://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/objects

    The articles in this section explore the form, function and symbolism of the rich variety of objects used in the ritual and symbolic art of Buddhism.

  • Buddhist Peoplehttp://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/people

    An introductory list of important people in Buddhism. This will be expanded much further as time permits.AnandaThe Buddha's cousin and one of his primary disciples...

  • Buddhist Rituals and Practiceshttp://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/practices

    Buddhism incorporates a variety of rituals and practices, which are intended to aid in the journey to enlightenment and bring blessings on oneself and others...

  • Buddhist Sects and Schoolshttp://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/branches

    What are the sects of Buddhism? There are many subdivisions within Buddhism, but most can be classified into three major branches: Theravada ("Way of the Elders"), Mahayana ("Greater Vehicle") and Vajrayana ("Diamond Vehicle")...

  • Buddhist Symbolshttp://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/symbols

    In the earliest centuries of Buddhism, statues of the Buddha were not used. Instead, Buddhist art consisted of images symbolizing the Buddha and his teachings, such as the lotus, the Wheel of the Law, the Bodhi tree and the Buddha's footprints...

  • Euthanasia and Buddhismhttp://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/ethics/euthanasia

    What does Buddhism teach about euthanasia? In Buddhism, ethics are rooted in concerns related to virtue, karma, and liberation rather than the views of a divine being...

  • Buddhism Factshttp://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/facts

    An Overview of Buddhism Buddhism is one of the oldest religions in the world. Historically, Buddhism has been centered in the Eastern world, but the faith has experienced increased popularity in the West in the last century, leading many people to want to learn more about it, starting with the facts...

  • Buddhism Glossaryhttp://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/glossary

    Amida(Japanese; Sanskrit Amitabha; "infinite light"). Celestial buddha who, while a bodhisattva, vowed to lead all beings to the Pure Land...

  • Buddhist Holidayshttp://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/holidays

    Buddhism celebrates many holidays and festivals, most of which commemorate important events in the life of the Buddha or various Bodhisattvas...

  • Homosexuality and Buddhismhttp://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/ethics/homosexuality

    Buddhism has three main branches: Theravada, the oldest form of Buddhism that emphasizes the monastic life; Mahayana Buddhism, a later form that includes Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren, and other sects; and Vajrayana, a unique form that arose in India and Tibet and is led by the Dalai Lama...

  • Buddhism in the Newshttp://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/news

  • Buddhism Photoshttp://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/gallery

    Since a picture is worth a thousand words, we're gathering together galleries of high-quality Buddhist images to accompany our articles on Buddhism...

  • Buddhist Textshttp://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/texts

    In Buddhism, there are a vast number of Buddhist scriptures and religious texts, which are commonly divided into the categories of canonical and non-canonical...

  • Buddhism Timelinehttp://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/timeline

    Sources John Bowker, ed., The Cambridge Illustrated History of Religions (Cambridge UP, 2002). Damien Keown, A Dictionary of Buddhism (Oxford UP, 2003), Appendix VI, pp...