Buddhism – A Very Short Introduction

Buddhism is an Indian religious tradition based on a set of original teachings ascribed to Gautama Buddha. It originated in India sometime between the 6th to 4th century CE, spreading into much of Asia, including China and Southeast Asia. In addition to a vast geographic influence, Buddhism is also influenced by Zen, Hindu, and other Eastern religious traditions. Today, there are more than 80 million Buddhists worldwide, with the largest concentration in China and Thailand.


What are the basic beliefs of buddhism? Although all buddhists believe in a deity, the nature of this deity varies widely from tradition to tradition. In general, buddhists worship a god or diety whom they consider most worthy of worship, usually a respected holy man such as an saint or Buddha, or an entity representing qualities associated with these holy men. The nature of buddhism’s religious texts vary widely, as well. Some emphasize the Buddha as the ultimate practitioner of bodhisattvasati, while others focus on the Buddhist path as the way to liberation from karma and suffering.

Buddhism differs significantly from most other religions in that it has a spiritual path which leads to enlightenment, rather than an institution whose followers perform specific ceremonies to bring salvation. Unlike most Abrahamic faiths, buddhism avoids ritualistic ritual such as prayer and fasting, and places greater emphasis on the study and practice of yoga, which can be seen as an essential component of the path to enlightenment. One of the most important aspects of buddhism, especially for beginners, is the presence of a teacher who can teach the fundamental teachings of buddhism to those unfamiliar with them. Mahayana Buddhism, the most popular form of buddhism in modern times, is the path that most people in the West learn about, and a core part of this path is the vedanta, or “benevolence” which is often taught at Buddhist monasteries.