|Name Means||Teachings of the Buddha (Buddha means the "Enlightened One")|
|Beliefs||Varies: Theravada atheistic; Mahayana more polytheistic. Buddha taught nothing is permanent.|
|Practices||Meditation, mantras, devotion to deities (in some sects), mandalas (Tibetan)|
|Holidays||Many festivals, most of which commemorate important events in the life of the Buddha or various Bodhisattvas. They are based on the lunar calendar and often differ by country and tradition.|
|Texts||Tripitaka (Pali Canon); Mahayana sutras like the Lotus Sutra; others.|
Buddhism began in India 2,500 years ago and remains the dominant world religion in the East. There are over 360 million followers of Buddhism worldwide and over a million American Buddhists. Buddhist concepts have also been influential on western culture in general, particularly in the areas of meditation and nonviolence.
Buddhism is based on the teachings of a Nepali prince named Siddharta Gautama who lived around 500 BCE. According to Buddhist tradition, the sheltered young prince was shocked by the suffering he saw outside his palace walls, so he left his life of luxury to seek answers. Eventually he succeeded, becoming the Buddha--the "Enlightened One." He spent the remaining 45 years of his life teaching the dharma (the path to liberation from suffering) and establishing the sangha (a community of monks).
Over its long history, Buddhism has taken a wide variety of forms. Some emphasize rituals and the worship of deities, while others completely reject rituals and gods 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 rituals, devotion to deities, meditation, or a combination of these elements. Zen, Nichiren, Tendai, and Pure Land are the major forms of Mahayana Buddhism.
Table of Contents
- Keown, Damien, Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2000).
- Michael Carrithers, The Buddha: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2001).
- Wisdom of the Buddha: The Unabridged Dhammapada (Dover Thrift Editions) (Dover Publications, 2000).
- Steve Hagen, Buddhism Plain and Simple (Broadway Books, 1998).
- Rahula, Walpola, The Heritage of the Bhikkhu: The Buddhist Tradition of Service (Grove Press, 2003).
- Landaw, Jonathan; Stephan Bodian; Gudrun Bühnemann, Buddhism For Dummies (For Dummies, 2011).
- Thubten Chodron, Buddhism for Beginners (Snow Lion, 2001).
- Jesus and Buddha: The Parallel Sayings (Ulysses Press, 2004).
- Richard Hooper, Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, and Lao Tzu: The Parallel Sayings (Hampton Roads Publishing, 2012).
- Thich Nhat Hanh, Living Buddha, Living Christ 10th-Anniversary Edition (Riverhead Books, 2007).
- Ryuho Okawa, Messages from Heaven: What Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, and Moses Would Say Today (IRH Press USA Inc., 2015).
- Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Modern Buddhism: The Path of Compassion and Wisdom - Volume 1 Sutra (Tharpa Publications, 2011).
- Bob Smith, Buddhism: Buddhism Beginner's Guide: Improve your Focus, find Peace and Happines with Buddhism (Buddhism For Begginers, Buddhism philosophy, meditation, zen, Anxiety,) (2015).
- Dalai Lama, How to Practice: The Way to a Meaningful Life (Atria Books, 2003).
- Hanh, Thich Nhat, The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation .
- Cousins, L.S., “Buddhism.” Hinnells, John R. (ed.), The Penguin Handbook of the World's Living Religions (Penguin Books).
- Keown, Damien, Oxford Dictionary of Buddhism (Oxford University Press, 2008).