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Buddhism: Most Popular Articles

These articles are the most popular over the last month.
Can You Name the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism?
The 4 Noble Truths are the foundation of Buddhism. The Buddha's first sermon after his Enlightenment centered on these Four Noble Truths
Learn About the Life of the Buddha, Founder of...
This simple account of the historic Buddha's life covers his early life, the Four Passing Sights, the Renunciation, the Quest, his Enlightenment, and his later life as a teacher.
What Do You Know About Buddhism?
There's more to Buddhism than shaving one's head and being blissful. Here is an introduction to Buddhism for beginners.
The Dharma Wheel
The dharma wheel is a symbol of Buddhism.
Introduction to the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism
Understanding the Four Noble Truths is critical to understanding Buddhism. Here is a simple introduction for beginners.
What Is the Buddhist Eightfold Path to...
The Eightfold Path is the Buddha's prescription for relieving suffering. It is the means by which one can realize enlightenment and enter Nirvana.
What Buddhism Says About Right View
The Buddha taught that Right View is an essential part of the Buddhist path. In fact, it is part of the Eightfold Path, which is the basis of all Buddhist practice.
What Buddhists Really Mean by 'Life Is Suffering'
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The Buddha didn't
What Zen Buddhism Really Means
This is a bare-bones introduction to Zen Buddhism for those who don't know Zen from spinach. It includes a brief history of the school and the Zen definition of Zen.
What the Buddha Didn't Teach About Reincarnation
Would you be surprised to hear that reincarnation is not a doctrine of Buddhism? If so, be surprised -- it isn't.
What Buddhists mean by Buddha Dharma
As used in Buddhism, the word dharma has many meanings. This article explains the many aspects of Buddha Dharma.
What Buddhism Teaches About Self and No-Self
The Buddha taught that an individual is a combination of five aggregates, called the Five Skandhas. The skandhas are empty of intrinsic self; the self is no-self (anatman or anatta in Theravada Buddhism and shunyata in Mahayana Buddhism). These teachings are difficult to understand but essential to Buddhism.
The Six Realms of Existence in the Buddhist...
The Six Realms are an allegorical description of conditioned existence, or samsara, into which beings are reborn. The nature and conditions of one's existence is determined by karma. Certainly some realms seem more desirable than others -- heaven sounds preferable to hell -- but all are dukkha, meaning they are temporary and imperfect.
What Do Buddhists Believe?
What do Buddhists believe? In Buddhism, beliefs are beside the point, and doctrines are a means to an end, not the end itself.
The Second Noble Truth of Buddhism
The Second Noble Truth of Buddhism explains why life is unsatisfactory (dukkha).
What Nirvana Means to Buddhists
What is Nirvana? The Buddha told his monks that Nirvana cannot be imagined. Even so, the word needs a definition. Here is an explanation of Nirvana in Buddhism -- what it is, and what it is not.
The Five Skandhas
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The historical
Right Action
Right Action is the fourth aspect of the Buddhist Eightfold Path. But what is Right Action, exactly? Here is a brief explanation
What Are the 8 Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism?
Images of the Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism, with explanations of their meanings.
The Symbol of the Lotus
An explanation of the symbolic meanings of the lotus in Buddhist art and literature.
What Is Enlightenment in Buddhism
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Most people have
What Buddhism Teaches About Sex
Buddhism challenges us to think about sexual ethics and morals very differently from the way most of us have been taught to think about them. What does Buddhism teach about sex?
The Mustard Seed: The Buddha Helps a Mother...
In this famous parable, the Buddha sent a grieving mother on a quest for a mustard seed to help her accept the death of her small son.
Buddhism and Karma
Understanding the laws of karma is essential to understanding Buddhism. Yet karma is mostly misunderstood by Westerners. This essay briefly explains the Buddhist view of karma.
The First Noble Truth of Buddhism
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The study of Buddhism
Learn the Importance of Compassion in Buddhism
The Buddha taught that compassion isn't just a nice virtue; it is essential to realizing enlightenment.
Buddhism: Is It a Philosophy or Religion?
Is Buddhism a philosophy or a religion? Clarifying this point is important to understanding Buddhism.
Are There Gods in Buddhism?
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >It is often asked
Brief Guide to Major Schools of Buddhism
Buddhism comes in many sectarian flavors. This is a very basic guide to major schools for people new to Buddhism.
Everything You Need to Know About Buddhist...
Buddhist scriptures comprise an enormous and complicated variety of texts, not one of which is considered authentic and authoritative in all schools. This article provides a basic explanation of
What Is Mahayana Buddhism?
There are a few basic teachings that distinguish all forms of Mahayana. Here Mahayana and Theravada are compared to make these distinctions clear.
The Third Noble Truth of Buddhism
The Third Noble Truth explains the cessation of things that bind us to suffering.
Prince Siddhartha - The Prince Who Became the...
The historical Buddha's original name was Siddhartha Gautama, and he was said to have been a prince. What do we know about young Prince Siddhartha?
What Does Darma Mean in Buddhism?
In Buddhism, dharma most commonly is used to refer to the teachings of the Buddha. But the word has a great many other significant meanings.
War and Buddhism
Buddhism opposes war, but sometimes Buddhists must go to war. Buddhism values pacifism, yet Buddhism is associated with martial arts. What does Buddhism teach about war?
What Is Buddhist Tantra Really All About?
The esoteric teachings, secret initiations and erotic imagery associated with Buddhist tantra have fueled no end of interest. But tantra may not be what you think it is.
The Wheel of Life:
The Wheel of Life is one of the most common subjects of Buddhist art. The detailed symbolism of the Wheel is rich with meaning that can be interpreted on many levels.
Theravada Buddhism Teachings and Overview
The distinctive practices and teachings of Theravada, the oldest school of Buddhism.
The Enlightenment of the Buddha
This is the story of the enlightenment of the Buddha, including his meditation under the bodhi tree and the temptations of Mara.
Why 'Right Intention' Is So Important to Buddhism
The second aspect of the Eightfold Path of Buddhism is Right Intention or Right Thought. Why are our thoughts or intentions so important?
What Buddhism Teaches About Anger
Anger is a poison and an obstacle to enlightenment, the Buddha said. Yet we all get angry. What does Buddhism teach about dealing with anger?
The Fourth Noble Truth of Buddhism - The...
In the Fourth Noble Truth, the Buddha presented the path to enlightenment.
What Buddhism Teaches About the Ethics of...
Right Livelihood is the fifth. Buddhism.
Buddhist Holidays 2015 Online Illustrated...
This calendar of Buddhist holidays for 2015 is ordered by date instead of by holiday, so that you can follow along through the year. Note that the several traditions of Buddhism do not all observe the same holidays at the same time.
Why Do Buddhists Avoid Attachment?
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >You may have heard
Right Mindfulnes - Mindfulness as Buddhist...
Mindfulness is a whole-body-and-mind awareness of the present moment that is a cornerstone of Buddhist practice
The practice of metta, or loving kindness, is...
Loving kindness is the antidote to selfishness, anger, and fear.
Are Buddhists Also Atheists?
If atheism is the absence of belief in gods, then many Buddhists are atheists. Why then do Buddhists pray and bow to Buddha figures on altars?
The Buddhist Precepts
The Buddhist Precepts are not a list of commandments to follow. Here is an introduction to the Precepts, both Theravada and Mahayana
What Is a Buddha, Anyway?
The Buddha is pictured in many ways, and the word Buddha is used to mean many things. Just who or what is a Buddha?
How Do Buddhists Define Enlightenment?
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: The
Do You Know the Legend of the Birth of the...
The story of the Buddha's birth is rich with mythical symbolism.
Buddhism in China: A History of the First...
A condensed 1,000-year history of Buddhism in China, from the year 1 to 1000 CE.
Right Effort
A brief explanation of Right Effort as the sixth part of the Buddhist Eightfold Path
What Does Samsara Mean in Buddhism?
The Sanskrit word samsara refers to the cycle of birth, death and rebirth.
The Fifth Buddhist Precept
The Fifth Precept of Buddhism, translated from the Pali Canon, is
Mahayana Buddhist Scripture: Learn about the...
Of the countless scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism, few are more widely read or revered than the Lotus Sutra. This article gives a brief overview of the sutra and its history.
Right Speech
Right Speech is a portion of the Buddhist Eightfold Path. What do Buddhists mean by Right Speech?
The Six Perfections
The Six Perfections are guides for those who seek enlightenment in Mahayana Buddhism.
Where Did the Laughing Buddha Come From?
When Westerners think of Buddha, usually they picture the short, fat, bald version, not the austere and serious meditating Buddha. Where did the Laughing Buddha come from?
Get an Overview of the Robes Worn by Buddhist...
Although the robes of Buddhist monks and nuns come in many colors and styles, they are all part of a tradition going back to the time of the historical Buddha, 26 centuries ago.
Offering Food - Buddhist Rituals and Traditions
Offering food is one of the oldest and most common rituals in Buddhism. Food is offered to monks and ritually to deities and hungry ghosts. Here is a brief explanation of the meaning and purpose of Buddhist food offerings.
The Wheel of Life: The Realm of Hungry Ghosts
Hungry Ghosts (Pretas) are beings with a hunger that can never be satisfied. They have huge, empty stomachs, but their thin necks don't allow nourishment to pass. Food turns to fire and ash in their mouths. Page 5.
Karuna is compassion, active sympathy and gentle affection.
Buddhism and Sexism
Is sexism intrinsic to Buddhism, or did Buddhist institutions absorb sexism from Asian culture? Can Buddhism treat women as equals, and remain Buddhism?
Evil in Buddhism -- How Buddhists Understand Evil
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Evil is a word
Becoming a Buddhist - Taking Refuge in the...
To become a Buddhist, a person vows to take refuge in the Three Jewels or Three Treasures. The Three Jewels are the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. This essay explains what each jewel represents. Page 2.
Dependent Origination
Dependent Origination is a Buddhist teaching on the nature of existence -- nothing exists independently of other things.
Ever Think of Going on a Buddhist Retreat?
Retreats are a great way to initiate a personal exploration of Buddhism, and of yourself. Here is advice about how to find authentic Buddhist retreats and what to expect when you participate in one.
The Metta Sutta
The Metta Sutta, or Sutra of Loving Kindness, is one of the most beloved of all Buddhist texts. Here is an explanation of the sutta and links to online English translations.
The Wheel of Life: Yama, Lord of the Underworld
The creature holding the Wheel of Life in his hooves is Yama, the wrathful dharmapala who is Lord of the Hell Realm. Dharmapalas are not evil beings, but rather are the fierce protectors of Buddhism and Buddhists. Page 2.
Are All Buddhists Vegetarians?
The historical Buddha and his disciples were not vegetarians. Why then did vegetarianism come to be associated with Buddhism?
What Is a Bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism?
Bodhisattvas are idealized in Mahayana art and literature, and they are also ordinary people. They exemplify compassion and wisdom, and they vow to help all beings realize enlightenment and enter Nirvana.
Three Turnings of the Dharma Wheel
The three turnings of the dharma wheel mark three significant developments in Buddhist history.
The First Buddhist Precept
The first precept of Buddhism -- do not kill -- touches on some of today's hotter issues, from veganism to abortion and euthanasia. Let's take a look at this precept and at what some Buddhist teachers have said about it.
What Buddhism Teaches About Karma and Rebirth
The law of karma is a law of cause and effect, or an understanding that every deed produces fruit. The fruits of karma affect our lives and cause rebirth.
What Buddhists Should Know About the Heart Sutra
A brief introduction to the Heart Sutra for the completely baffled.
What Is Nirvana in Buddhism?
In Buddhism Nirvana is not a place, and it is neither existence nor non-existence. So what is it?
Brahma-Vihara: Four Divine States or Immeasurab...
The Buddha taught his monks to cultivate four states of mind, called the Brahma-vihara -- loving kindness, compassion, empathy and equanimity.
How to Learn About Buddhism
Learning about Buddhism can be intimidating. Where do we even begin? Here are some suggestions for how to put one's toe in the water, so to speak.
The Faith of Buddhism - Trust the Practice,...
In Buddhism, the word faith does not refer to belief. Instead, it means trust or confidence, in oneself and in the dharma.
Anatman, Anatta
No-self; the central Buddhist teaching that individual identity is ephemeral.
About Buddhist Nuns - Their Lives and Role
There are Buddhist nuns as well as monks, but nuns have not always been supported by Buddhist institutions in Asia.
What Does it Mean to Practice Buddhism?
Buddhists often speak of Buddhism as a practice rather than a faith. What exactly is Buddhist practice?
Mara, Lord of Death
The demon Mara plays a role in many stories of the Buddha and his monks, and in particular the story of the Buddha's enlightenment. This article discusses Mara's origins and what he represents in Buddhism.
New to Buddhism? Try One of These Popular Books
In the West, many of us begin our journey in Buddhism by reading a book. We are fortunate today that there are several books in the English language that can introduce us to Buddhism, and more are published every year. I don't presume to know which book is
Right Concentration
Right Concentration is the eighth part of the Buddhist Eightfold Path. Through Right Concentration, the mind finds its way to wisdom and enlightenment.
Greed and Desire
Desires are inexhaustible, especially in our consumerist culture. What does Buddhism teach about greed and desire?
How Buddhism Approaches Morality
A look at Buddhist approach to morality, which avoids absolutes and rigid commandments and encourages one to weigh and analyze situations on one's own.
Why Convert to Buddhism?
Why I can give you no good reason to convert to Buddhism.
The Five Dhyani Buddhas: Amitabha Buddha
The Five Dhyani Buddhas are transcendent Buddhas visualized in tantric meditation. The five Buddhas are Aksobhya, Amitabha, Amoghasiddhi, Ratnasambhava and Vairocana. Each represents a different aspect of enlightened consciousness to aid in spiritual transformation. Often in Vajrayana art they are arranged in a mandala, with Vairocana in the center. Page 2.
What Are Buddhist Teachings on the Self?
You can find Buddhist teachings about finding the self, losing the self, small self, big self, original self, true self, and no self. What's a self?
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: The
Siddhartha's Renunciation - On the Path to...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The historical
Which School of Buddhism Is Right for You?
Advice for choosing a school of Buddhism that is right for you
The Wheel of Life: The Hell Realm
The Hell Realm is marked by anger, terror and claustrophobia. Hell Beings (Narakas) are known for their aggression. Page 6.
Earth Witness
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The "earth witness"
Reincarnation Without Souls? Understanding...
A Buddhist answer to the question, if the human population of earth is growing, where do all the new souls come from?
Buddha Nature
Buddha Nature, an essential doctrine of Mahayana Buddhism, is the already enlightened nature of all beings.
Vajrayana - The Esoteric Path or Diamond...
This is a brief introduction to basic Buddhist Vajrayana -- what is is, how it originated.
It's All Karma, Right? 11 Myths About Buddhism
Much of what people in the West believe about Buddhism is mistaken. It is all too common to find a magazine or web article about Buddhism that begins
Vesak - Vesak Is the Observance of the Buddha's...
What is Vesak? Vesak is a major Buddhist holiday observing the historical Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death (Parinirvana).
The Wheel of Life: The Realm of the Gods
The Realm of the Gods (Devas) is the highest realm of the Wheel of Life and is always depicted at the top of the Wheel. It's nice being a Deva, but even the Devas are subject to karma, death and rebirth. Page 3.
The Buddha's Path to Happiness - An Introduction
We all want to be happy, but what is happiness, and how do we find it? Here is what the Buddha taught.
An Overview of the Diamond Sutra
The Diamond Sutra is a jewel of the world's religious literature and one of the most revered texts of Mahayana Buddhism. This article describes the sutra's origins and history.
What Are the Origins and Practices of Pure Land...
Buddhist scholars generally understand a Pure Land as a transcendent state of being. In Asian folklore, Pure Land is thought of as a real place.
Definition of the Buddhist Term Skandha
In Buddhism, the Five Skandhas are aggregates of mental and physical characteristics that come together to create an individual. Personality and ego are creations of the skandhas.
The Wheel of Life: The Realm of Asuras
The Asura (Jealous God) Realm is marked by paranoia. Asuras are hyper-competitive and paranoid. They are driven by a desire to beat their competition, and everyone is competition. Page 4.
12 Links of Dependent Origination - Buddhist...
The Buddha said there are twelve links ( nidanas ) in the "chain" of Dependent Origination . Dependent
How the Doctrine of the Two Truths Explains...
The Two Truths Doctrine of Mahayana Buddhism explains the nature of reality.
Samsara: The World We Create
In Buddhism, samsara is the world of delusion and suffering through which unenlightened beings must travel. It is also a world we create with our thoughts.
Dragons often appear in Buddhist art and literature. Where did they come from, and what do they represent?
Buddhists Don't Have to Be Nice - Avoiding...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >"Buddhists are
Sunyata - The Perfection of Wisdom in Buddhism
Sunyata, or Emptiness. Buddhism.
: Mahayana, which means "Great Vehicle" in Sanskrit, is one of the two major schools of Buddhism . It
11 Famous Buddhist Temples and Their Legends
These eleven temples are among the most legendary in Buddhist history, including Shaolin, Angkor Wat, and the Temple of the Tooth.
Pali Canon: Early Buddhist Scriptures
The earliest written scriptures of Buddhism, the texts were kept alive through the years by being memorized and chanted by generations of monks.
What Do Rituals Symbolize in Buddhism?
Can there be Buddhism without the rituals? Maybe, but the rituals do have a purpose.
Gods, Goddesses and Buddhist Tantra - An...
The veneration of tantric deities looks like polytheism, but it isn't. Instead, it is a means to realize enlightenment by realizing oneself as a goddess or god.
The Four Dharma Seals and the Definition of...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >In the 26 centuries
What Buddhism Teaches About Equanimity
The Buddha taught his disciples to develop equanimity. What do Buddhists mean by equanimity, and how do you develop it?
Three Poisons
The Three Poisons - Greed, Hate and Ignorance - are the primary causes of evil (akusala) in Buddhism.
Buddhism and Abortion
Buddhism teaches that abortion is the taking of a human life, but at the same time most Buddhists are reluctant to interfere with a woman's personal decision to abort. From a Buddhist perspective, these positions are not contradictory.
The Wheel of Life: The Animal Realm
Animal Beings (Tiryakas) are solid, regular and predictable. They cling to what is familiar and are disinterested, even fearful, of anything outside their limited experience. Page 7.
Manjusri - Buddhist bodhisattva of wisdom
Manjusri is one of the most important iconic figures of Mahayana Buddhist art and literature. He represents prajna, wisdom that is not confined to conceptual knowledge.
Kathina is an ancient ceremony for giving Buddhist monks and nuns gifts of cloth to make robes.
Perfection of Discerning Wisdom in Theravada...
In Theravada Buddhism, wisdom, or panna, refers primarily to penetrating insight into the true nature of reality.
An introduction to the Buddhist concept of vijnana - awareness or consciousness.
The Wheel of Life: The Center
At the center of the Wheel of Life are the forces that keep it turning -- hate, desire and ignorance. Page 9.
Impermanence (Anicca) and the Path to...
The Buddha taught that all phenomena are impermanent. How is this teaching essential to enlightenment?
The First Buddhist Nuns
The historical Buddha’s most famous statements on women came about when his stepmother and aunt, Maha Pajapati Gotami, asked to join the Sangha and become a nun. The Buddha initially refused her request. Eventually he relented, but in doing so he made conditions and a prediction that remain controversial to this day.
The Four Foundations of Mindfulness in Buddhism
The Buddha taught mindfulness by providing four foundations, or frames of reference, that we can use to train ourselves to be mindful.
The Koan Mu, Its Origin and Use in Zen Buddhist...
The koan Mu, also known as Chao-chou's Dog, is one of the most famous Zen koans. Here is a brief introduction to the koan.
Three Buddhist Verses to Chant Before Eating
How do Buddhists give thanks for food? Here are meal chants from three schools of Buddhism that are chanted before meals, expressing gratitude.
The Vimalakirti Sutra
The Vimalakirti Sutra is a popular and influential Mahayana Buddhist scripture. This article provides a brief summary and background.
Vajra or Dorje
A vajra is a Buddhist symbol and ritual object with several meanings. Learn more about this word and its definition.
Meet Avalokiteshvara, Buddhism's Bodhisattva of...
Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is beloved to Mahayana Buddhists as the embodiment of infinite compassion.
What Buddhism Teaches About Romantic Love and...
What does Buddhism say about issues related to romantic love, including marriage and divorce? And are same-sex marriages okay?
The Succession of Dalai Lamas - 1391 to the...
A list of the 14 Dalai Lamas, with brief biographies.
Samadhi, concentration, means. Buddhism.
Sunyata, Shunyata
According to the Mahayana Buddhist teaching of sunyata -- emptiness or void -- all beings and phenomena are empty of independent, permanent essence.
Introduction to Bodhisattva Vows of Buddhism
In Mahayana Buddhism, the ideal of practice is to become a bodhisattva who strives to liberate all beings from the cycle of birth and death. The Bodhisattva Vows are vows taken formally by a Buddhist to do exactly that. The vows also are an expression of bodhichitta, the desire to realize enlightenment for the sake of others.
The Wheel of Life: The Human Realm
Of the Six Realms, it is only in the Human Realm that the path of liberation from the Wheel can be found. Page 8.
An Introduction to Koan Study in Zen Buddhism
A brief overview of the origin an use of koans in Zen Buddhism
Not All Buddhists Celebrate Buddha's Birthday...
Buddha’s birthday is celebrated on different dates by various schools of Buddhism. Whatever the date, it is a joyous holiday featuring parades, hanging lanterns, and the sharing of food and flowers.
Buddhism Came to Tibet
This is a brief history of Tibetan Buddhism from in 641 CE, when King Songtsen Gampo unified Tibet and married two Buddhist princesses, to 1642, when the 5th Dalai Lama became ruler of Tibet.
Upaya -The Buddhist Teaching of Skillful Means
In Mahayana Buddhism, upaya refers to a teacher's wise and compassionate acts to help others reach enlightenment.
A Brief Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is distinguished by its rich mythology and art, its esoteric tantra practices, and its reincarnated lamas. Here is a basic introduction to Tibetan Buddhism.
What It Means in Buddhism to Take Refuge in...
In Buddhism, what does it mean to take refuge in the Dharma? This article looks at the second of the Three Jewels: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.
An Overview of Nichiren Buddhism
Nichiren claimed his were the only true teachings of Buddhism. Today Nichiren Buddhism has millions of followers worldwide.
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