A Guide to Religions, Religious Information and Help in Search for God


Buddhism is a religion with an estimated 307,000,000 to 350,000,000 followers or Buddhists. The religion of Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautama, a prince of the Sakya tribe in Nepal between 551 B.C. and 476 B.C.. and became the Buddha (or the Enlightened One). (NOTE: Nepal is a country between India and the Himalaya Mountains with 54,362 square miles, slightly larger than the country Greece.) Besides Nepal, Buddhism is more than a religion in Tibet and Bhutan.

Buddha was a "Bodhisattva", which is one who goes through an intense period of development and practice in order to attain the realization of Perfect Wisdom, Total Supreme Enlightenment or Buddhahood.

Buddha taught others "Dharma" or the path. The "Four Noble Truths" are:

a. suffering exists

b. suffering is caused by desires

c. suffering ceases when desires cease

d. freedom from suffering that can be achieved by following the "Noble Eightfold Path"

The "Noble Eightfold Path" is the practice of:

1. right view (or right attitude)

2. right resolve

3. right speech

4. right action (or right conduct)

5. right livelihood (or harmlessness)

6. right effort (or noble action)

7. right mindfulness (or right thinking)

8. right concentration (or right meditation)

1 and 2 are referred to as prajña (or wisdom).
3, 4, and 5 are referred to as shila (or morality).
6, 7 and 8 are known as samadhi (or meditation).

According to the religion of Buddhism, when a person has achieved the cessation of desires, he or she will have "nirvana". Nirvana (often referred to as enlightenment and liberation) is a state of mind that is completely and permanently free of suffering. It is the goal for a Buddhist. Reaching nirvana releases one from "Samsara" (the wheel of cyclic existence, birth-life-suffering-death-rebirth or simply, reincarnation).

There are only a few Chinese texts that survived a disastrous book-burning in 213 B.C. by the Emperor Ch'in Shih Huang. Most of Buddhist texts that are available were likely to be written and/or assembled after the fire.

There are now major three sects of the religion of Buddhism, that are differentiated by its set of scriptures:

Theravada Buddhism has 45 volumes of the Tipitaka - Pali Canon (NOTE: the word Pali generally refers to the Info-Aryan language used as the liturgical and scholarly language for Theravada Buddhism.) and The Dhammapada (Sayings of Buddha).

Mahayana Buddhism uses the Theravada scriptures and adds many "sutras" (or "suttas", which is the Pali form of the word sutras). Sutras are sacred texts including the Heart Sutra (about nirvana, emptiness, and ultimate reality), the Kalama Sutra (to distinguish good from bad teachers and teachings) and the Lotus Sutra (a sermon by the Buddha on Bodhisattva, buddha-nature, etc.).

Vajrayana Buddhism uses Mahayana scriptures and adds many "tantric" texts. Tantric texts deal with ultimate reality as singular unity and contains techniques or rituals, especially those dealing meditation and sexual practices.

Other popular Buddhist scriptures include The Atthakatha, Great Stages of Enlightenment dealing with ethical behavior and control of the mind and the Tibetan Book of the Dead dealing with the stages of dying, death, and reincarnation.

The symbols used in the religion of Buddhism include (the image of) Buddha, Lotus and the Wheel of Cyclic Existence. Buddha had a miracle birth. He had thousands of incarnations, before taking the form of a small white elephant and entered his mother's womb through her right side. Rivers stopped flowing, unseasonal flowers blossomed and musical instruments played by themselves.

There are also different forms of the religion of Buddhism corresponding to regional (India, China, Korea, Thailand and Japan) differences. This includes "Zen Buddhism", a Japanese sect of Mahayana Buddhism.

For further information about the religion of Buddhism, recommends The Robert A.F. Thurman Collection, a 2-disc DVD set including a Robert A.F. Thurman on Tibet disc and a Robert A.F. Thurman on Buddhism disc.


Tibetan Buddhism is regarded as a form of Mahayana Buddhism according to some sources. However, real serious Tibetan Buddhism involves a mix of all three sects, schools or traditions.

Ten Commandments (for a Buddhist monk)


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