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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 Four Noble Truths are the foundation of Buddhism.
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.
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 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.
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 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 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 Dharma Wheel
The dharma wheel is a symbol of Buddhism.
Buddhism: Is It a Philosophy or Religion?
Is Buddhism a philosophy or a religion? Clarifying this point is important to understanding Buddhism.
What Buddhists Really Mean by 'Life Is Suffering'
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The Buddha didn't
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 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?
What Is the 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.
What Are the 8 Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism?
Images of the Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism, with their meanings.
What Is Dharma in Buddhism?
As used in Buddhism, the word
Buddhist Holidays 2014
This calendar of Buddhist holidays for 2013 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
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 Wheel of Life:
The Wheel of Life is one of the most common subjects of Tibetan Buddhist art. The detailed symbolism of the Wheel is rich with meaning that can be interpreted on many levels.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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
Learn the Importance of Compassion in Buddhism
The Buddha taught that compassion isn't just a nice virtue; it is essential to realizing enlightenment.
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.
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
Everything You Need to Know About Buddhist...
A Basic Guide to Buddhist Chanting.
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.
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.
The Five Skandhas
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The historical
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.
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.
Right Mindfulnes - Mindfulness as Buddhist...
Mindfulness is a whole-body-and-mind awareness of the present moment that is a cornerstone of Buddhist practice
What Buddhism Teaches About the Ethics of...
Right Livelihood is the fifth. Buddhism.
The Six Perfections
The Six Perfections are guides for those who seek enlightenment in Mahayana Buddhism.
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?
Renunciation in Buddhism
Renunciation in Buddhism is not penance or self-punishment. Instead, it is an act of liberation from the things that bind us to suffering.
The Symbol of the Lotus
An explanation of the symbolic meanings of the lotus in Buddhist art and literature.
Are All Buddhists Vegetarians?
The historical Buddha and his disciples were not vegetarians. Why then did vegetarianism come to be associated with Buddhism?
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?
Are There Gods in Buddhism?
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >It is often asked
The Three Jewels: The Buddha, the Dharma, 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.
How Do Buddhists Define Enlightenment?
The Sanskrit word for enlightenment is
Theravada Buddhism
The distinctive practices and teachings of Theravada, the oldest school of Buddhism.
The Laughing Buddha
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?
Do You Know the Legend of the Birth of the...
The story of the Buddha's birth is rich with mythical symbolism.
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.
What Buddhists Should Know About the Heart Sutra
A brief introduction to the Heart Sutra for the completely baffled.
The Buddha's Robe
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.
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 Does Samsara Mean in Buddhism?
The Sanskrit word samsara means. Buddhism.
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.
Dependent Origination
Dependent Origination is a Buddhist teaching on the nature of existence -- nothing exists independently of other things.
Right Speech
Right Speech is a portion of the Buddhist Eightfold Path. What do Buddhists mean by Right Speech?
Why Convert to Buddhism?
Why I can give you no good reason to convert to Buddhism.
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.
What Is Enlightenment?
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Most people have
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 Buddhism Teaches About Equanimity
The Buddha taught his disciples to develop equanimity. What do Buddhists mean by equanimity, and how do you develop it?
Greed and Desire
Desires are inexhaustible, especially in our consumerist culture. What does Buddhism teach about greed and desire?
Evil in Buddhism -- How Buddhists Understand Evil
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Evil is a word
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.
Right Action
Right Action is the fourth aspect of the Buddhist Eightfold Path. But what is Right Action, exactly? Here is a brief explanation
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.
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.
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.
The Four Seals of the Dharma
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >In the 26 centuries
Right Effort
A brief explanation of Right Effort as the sixth part of the Buddhist Eightfold Path
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.
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.
The First Noble Truth of Buddhism
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The study of Buddhism
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.
The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination
The Buddha said there are twelve links ( nidanas ) in the "chain" of Dependent Origination . Dependent
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.
Understanding the 3 Marks of Existence in...
The three characteristics -- impermanence, suffering and egolessness -- mark all compounded things.
Meet Avalokiteshvara, Buddhism's Bodhisattva of...
Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is beloved to Mahayana Buddhists as the embodiment of infinite compassion.
Dukkha
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: The
What Does it Mean to Practice Buddhism?
Buddhists often speak of Buddhism as a practice rather than a faith. What exactly is Buddhist practice?
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.
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.
The Five Niyamas
The Five Niyamas are natural laws or causal factors that affect physical and mental phenomena. Karma is one of the Niyamas, but not the only one.
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.
Sunyata - The Perfection of Wisdom in Buddhism
Sunyata, or Emptiness. Buddhism.
What's a Bodhisattva?
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.
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Mani Padme Hum (Sanskrit) or Om Mani Peme Hung (Tibetan) is a Tibetan Buddhist mantra meaning
Is Buddhism Still Hip?
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Dr. Andrew Skilton,
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?
Japanese Buddhists Rally for Pacifism
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Clergy and lay
Mahayana
: Mahayana, which means "Great Vehicle" in Sanskrit, is one of the two major schools of Buddhism . It
Earth Witness
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The "earth witness"
Vajra or Dorje
A vajra is a Buddhist symbol and ritual object with several meanings. Learn more about this word and its definition.
Violence and Expression
A few days ago His Holiness the Dalai Lama called for an outside inquiry into the continuing self-immolations of Tibetan Buddhists protesting China's policies
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.
Anatman, Anatta
No-self; the central Buddhist teaching that individual identity is ephemeral.
Finding Yourself
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" >secular crew that rejects karma , rebirth
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.
Vesak Today
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Japanese Buddhism
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.
Best Books for Zen Beginners
These are good beginner-level books for people who want to learn about Zen Buddhism. Although Zen itself is not something that can be learned from books, these might tell you if Zen is something you want to explore further.
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.
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 Wheel of Life: The Buddha
A Buddha figure appears in the upper right-hand corner of the Bhavachakra, representing hope for liberation from the Wheel. Page 10.
Taking Refuge: Becoming a Buddhist
To become a Buddhist is to take refuge in the Three Jewels, also called the Three Treasures -- the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha.
The Five Dhyani Buddhas: Vairocana 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 5.
Tripitaka, Tipitika (Pali Canon)
The Pali Canon is the earliest canon of Buddhist scripture. It is also called the
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.
Perfection of Giving
Giving to others is essential to the practice of Buddhism. However, one's motivation for giving to others is at least as important as what is given.
The Five Dhyani Buddhas: Amoghasiddhi 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 3.
The Fifth Buddhist Precept
The Fifth Precept of Buddhism, translated from the Pali Canon, is
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.
Which School of Buddhism Is Right for You?
Advice for choosing a school of Buddhism that is right for you
Bodhidharma
Bodhidharma (ca. 470-543) was an Indian monk credited with founding Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism.
The Second Noble Truth of Buddhism
The Second Noble Truth of Buddhism explains why life is unsatisfactory (dukkha).
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.
How the Doctrine of the Two Truths Explains...
The Two Truths Doctrine of Mahayana Buddhism explains the nature of reality.
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.
What Is Mu?
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.
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.
Sunyata, Shunyata
According to the Mahayana Buddhist teaching of sunyata -- emptiness or void -- all beings and phenomena are empty of independent, permanent essence.
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.
Enlightenment and Nirvana
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >What Is Enlightenment?
Sutra
The name sutra (Sanskrit for thread) in Buddhism originally was given only to the sermons of the historical Buddha.
How Did the Buddha Enter Nirvana?
At his death, the historical Buddha entered complete Nirvana, also called Parinirvana. This is the story of the Buddha's final days.
Gods, Goddesses and Buddhist Tantra
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.
Dragons!
Dragons often appear in Buddhist art and literature. Where did they come from, and what do they represent?
Bodhisattva Vows
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.
What Do Rituals Symbolize in Buddhism?
Can there be Buddhism without the rituals? Maybe, but the rituals do have a purpose.
Major Mahayana Sutras
The scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism.mostly were written between the 1st century BCE and the 5th century CE, although a few may have been written as late as the 7th century CE.
Buddha Nature
Buddha Nature, an essential doctrine of Mahayana Buddhism, is the already enlightened nature of all beings.
Three Poisons
The Three Poisons - Greed, Hate and Ignorance - are the primary causes of evil (akusala) in Buddhism.
The Five Dhyani Buddhas: Ratnasambhava 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 4.
The First Buddhist Monks
The Buddha and his first disciples had no fixed place to call home. They slept under trees and begged for all of their food. Their only clothes were robes they patched together from cloth taken from rubbish heaps.
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.
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.
Rohatsu
Rohatsu, December 8, is the day Japanese Buddhists observe the enlightenment of the Buddha.
Karma
Karma means. Buddhism.
Buddhism in Japan: A Brief History
Buddhism in Japan, Part I: The First Seven Centuries. This brief history begins with the introduction of Buddhism to Japan and continues to the establishment of the two major Pure Land schools, Jodo Shu and Jodo Shinshu.
Hot-Button Issues and Buddhism: A Buddhist View...
What does Buddhism say about today's hot issues, like abortion, sexism and even the economy?
Eight Dharmapalas - Wrathful Protectors of...
They're wrathful, they're terrifying, and they're the good guys. Dharmapalas are fearsome creatures of Vajrayana Buddhism who aid and protect Buddhists.
Mudita - the Buddhist practice of sympathetic joy
In Buddhism, mudita is joy for the good fortune of others. Opening our hearts to sympathetic joy is a prerequisite for enlightenment.
Mudras: Buddha's Hands
Buddhas and bodhisattvas often are depicted in Buddhist art with stylized hand gestures called
When Is Buddha's Birthday?
The answer varies from one part of Asia to another. In most Asian nations the date is determined by the lunar calendar and changes from year to year.
Impermanence
The Buddha taught that all phenomena are impermanent. How is this teaching essential to enlightenment?
Do We Really Make Our Own Reality?
People say we create our own reality. Is that true? Here is what Buddhism has to say about making reality.
Padmasambhava
Padmasambhava ia a patriarchs of Tibetan Buddhism and a central figure in Tibetan Buddhist mythology.
The Fourth Noble Truth of Buddhism - The...
In the Fourth Noble Truth, the Buddha presented the path to enlightenment.
Introduction to Koans
A brief overview of the origin an use of koans in Zen Buddhism
Finding Your Teacher
Why do Buddhists need teachers? How do you find a teacher? How can you tell real Buddhist teachers from frauds? Here are some basic guidelines to help you find the right teacher for you.
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