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With about 365 million followers -- 6% of the world's population -- Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world. It is exceeded in numbers only by Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. Buddhism was founded in Northern India by the first known Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama. In the sixth century BCE, he attained enlightenment and assumed the title Lord Buddha (one who has awakened).

The core of Buddhism spread to India, China, Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia, and Tibet--where it combined with the native traditions of each place to produce results as different as Zen --with its Japanese starkness and piercing beauty--and the colorful cheerfulness of Tibetan monks. Thailand and Burma claim to be the most direct descendants of Buddha's vision, though, naturally, others claim to be the true religion as well.


Why should I be aware of this?

  • Buddhism preaches mindfulness, tolerance, non violence and wisdom.
  • It advocates the middle path.
  • The tolerance in Buddhism has given rise to many traditional practices that are not a part of Buddhism as taught by Buddha.
  • "Dharma" is the righteous way to live and can lead to enlightenment.
  • Buddhism can serve as a roadmap for personal change.
  • While most Tibetan Buddhists tend to accept that enlightenment requires many lifetimes of gradual practice, Zen Buddhists, like followers of SGI, believe that enlightenment is available here and now.

All about Buddhism

From the Buddhist point of view religion is a very different as against that defined by other religion. It allows the followers to interpret "Dharma" in their own way and not be bound by obligatory rituals. The Buddha did not introduce rituals and ceremonies as practiced in many forms of Buddhism today. As Buddhism became popular in the countries it spread to, the traditions and cultures of the place were adopted. The tolerance as practiced in Buddhism allowed some of these traditional practices to develop into rituals.

Buddhism later died out in India, but had become established in Sri Lanka. From there, it expanded across Asia, evolving into several forms:

  • Theravada Buddhism (sometimes called Southern Buddhism; occasionally spelled Therevada) "has been the dominant school of Buddhism in most of Southeast Asia since the thirteenth century, with the establishment of the monarchies in Thailand, Burma, Cambodia and Laos."
  • Mahayana Buddhism (sometimes called Northern Buddhism) is largely found in China, Japan, Korea, Tibet and Mongolia.
  • Vajrayāna Buddhism (a.k.a. Tantric Buddhism, Mantrayana, Tantrayana, Esoteric Buddhism, or True Words Sect). Some consider this to be a part of Mahayana Buddhism; others view it as a third Buddhist path.
  • Tibetan Buddhism. This developed largely in isolation from Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism because of the remoteness of Tibet.
  • Zen Buddhism. This developed from within the Chinese Mahayana school known as Chan. Zen Buddhism is becoming increasingly popular in the West.

Principles of Buddhism

  • Life is suffering
  • Suffering is caused by attachment
  • Freedom from Attachment is the Cure for Suffering
  • The Way out of suffering is through the Eightfold Path. The eight pursuits are:
  1. Right speech
  2. Right action
  3. Right livelihood
  4. Right concentration
  5. Right mindfulness
  6. Right effort
  7. Right understanding and
  8. Right thought.

Five Precepts

  1. Do not kill.
  2. Do not steal.
  3. Do not engage in sexual misconduct.
  4. Do not lie.
  5. Do not use intoxicants.

Five Powers

  1. Faith and confidence
  2. Energy and effort
  3. Mindfulness
  4. Samadhi
  5. Wisdom


Buddhism does not preach vegetarianism. Buddhism discourages slaughtering animals for their meat. However, if an animal had died a natural death or leftover meat from an animal slaughtered to feed a lay family was acceptable. The Buddha also listed certain types of meat that were not to be eaten. These included horse, elephant, dog, snake, tiger, leopard and bear.

See Also


  • Introduction to Buddhism
  • Why Buddhism, Why Now? AND WHY IN AMERICA
  • Buddhism--A Brief Introduction
  • How to practice Budhhism
  • Buddhism and Vegetarianism