what is Buddhism?
[history, Buddhism]

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What is Buddhism?

  Of all the eastern religions it is the various forms of Buddhism that seem to have gained the greatest hold on the Western imagination.
  In some ways Buddhism is not so much a religion as a philosophical approach to life and to ethical behaviour in life.

A history of Buddhism

  Siddhartha Gautama Buddha who was born circa 563 B.C.E. and lived into his eighties, having taught for more than forty years based on his Enlightenment experiences.
  He left behind him a monastic tradition that uniquely, in the northern India of the times, tended to ignore the birth-caste of individuals and that also, uniquely, allowed women to form themselves into monastic communities!!!

  Buddha did not however leave behind him a fully recognised canon of religious writings. Moreover Buddha, prior to his demise, refused to comply with requests that he nominate a successor preferring to recommend that individual people should look to their own spirituality.

  A Great Council was held at the time of Buddha's death in the hope of reaching an agreement as to what Buddha's teachings had actually been and also on the imposition of monastic discipline.

  Notwithstanding the convening of this Council, and indeed of other Councils in later centuries, Buddhism fragmented, in the shorter time-frame, into some eighteen schools or approaches to faith. In the longer time-frame the foundations were laid for the eventual emergence of two major traditions - the Theravadan and the Mahayanan.

Theravada Buddhism

  Theravada the Way of the Elders sees its origin as being within the first monastic community established by Gautama Buddha. 

Mahayana Buddhism

  Mahayana Buddhism began to more formally emerge in distinction to Theravada after a Third Council held at Patna circa 250 B.C. under the authority of the notable King Asoka.


Zen Buddhism

  The Origins and Philosophy of Zen are outlined on a another dedicated page of this Web site.

Zen Buddhism

Introductory quotations
A history of Buddhism
Dalai Lama

Start of a history of Buddhism