1. Religion & Spirituality
Send to a Friend via Email

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.
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.
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 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 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?
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
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.
Buddhism: Is It a Philosophy or Religion?
Is Buddhism a philosophy or a religion? Clarifying this point is important to understanding Buddhism.
The Dharma Wheel
The dharma wheel is a symbol of 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 Are the 8 Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism?
Images of the Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism, with their meanings.
Why Do Buddhists Avoid Attachment?
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >You may have heard
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 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?
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 Buddhists Really Mean by 'Life Is Suffering'
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The Buddha didn't
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.
Are All Buddhists Vegetarians?
The historical Buddha and his disciples were not vegetarians. Why then did vegetarianism come to be associated with Buddhism?
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?
Rinzai
Rinzai is one of the two schools of Japanese Zen Buddhism.
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.
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?
Chanting
A Basic Guide to Buddhist Chanting.
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 Symbol of the Lotus
An explanation of the symbolic meanings of the lotus in Buddhist art and literature.
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.
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
What Is Dharma in Buddhism?
As used in Buddhism, the word
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
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 Buddhists Should Know About the Heart Sutra
A brief introduction to the Heart Sutra for the completely baffled.
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.
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.
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.
Why Convert to Buddhism?
Why I can give you no good reason to convert to 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.
The Buddha's Path to Happiness
We all want to be happy, but what is happiness, and how do we find it? Here is what the Buddha taught.
What Does Samsara Mean in Buddhism?
The Sanskrit word samsara means. Buddhism.
The Five Skandhas
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The historical
Feeding the Buddha
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 Buddhism Says About Having the '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.
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?
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.
Evil in Buddhism -- How Buddhists Understand Evil
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Evil is a word
Theravada Buddhism
The distinctive practices and teachings of Theravada, the oldest school of Buddhism.
Do You Know the Legend of the Birth of the...
The story of the Buddha's birth is rich with mythical symbolism.
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.
What Buddhism Teaches About the Ethics of...
Right Livelihood is the fifth. 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
Right Speech
Right Speech is a portion of the Buddhist Eightfold Path. What do Buddhists mean by Right Speech?
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.
Dependent Origination
Dependent Origination is a Buddhist teaching on the nature of existence -- nothing exists independently of other things.
What Does it Mean to Practice Buddhism?
Buddhists often speak of Buddhism as a practice rather than a faith. What exactly is Buddhist practice?
How Do Buddhists Define Enlightenment?
The Sanskrit word for enlightenment is
Vajra or Dorje
A vajra is a Buddhist symbol and ritual object with several meanings. Learn more about this word and its definition.
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?
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?
The Six Perfections
The Six Perfections are guides for those who seek enlightenment in Mahayana Buddhism.
Beginner Zen Books
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.
Right Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a whole-body-and-mind awareness of the present moment that is a cornerstone of Buddhist practice
What Is Enlightenment?
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Most people have
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.
The Four Seals of the Dharma
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >In the 26 centuries
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.
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.
Gods in Buddhism
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >It is often asked
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.
Buddhism and 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?
Shakyamuni Buddha - The Historical Buddha
Shakyamuni Buddha is name often given to the historical Buddha. This article discusses the significance of the name Shakyamuni.
Yes, There's More Than One Buddha
A list of Buddhas found in Buddhist art and scripture, with brief explanations of who they are.
Understanding the 3 Marks of Existence in...
The three characteristics -- impermanence, suffering and egolessness -- mark all compounded things.
The Fifth Buddhist Precept
The Fifth Precept of Buddhism, translated from the Pali Canon, is
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.
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.
Meet Avalokiteshvara, Buddhism's Bodhisattva of...
Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is beloved to Mahayana Buddhists as the embodiment of infinite compassion.
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Mani Padme Hum (Sanskrit) or Om Mani Peme Hung (Tibetan) is a Tibetan Buddhist mantra meaning
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.
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.
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?
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.
What Do Rituals Symbolize in Buddhism?
Can there be Buddhism without the rituals? Maybe, but the rituals do have a purpose.
Earth Witness
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The "earth witness"
The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination
The Buddha said there are twelve links ( nidanas ) in the "chain" of Dependent Origination . Dependent
Buddhism in Burma, Part 2
Background on the violence between Muslims and Buddhists in Burma (Myanmar)
Brahma-vihara: The Four Divine States or Four...
The Buddha taught his monks to cultivate four states of mind, called the
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.
Giving Thanks for Our Food
How do Buddhists give thanks for food? Here are meal chants from three schools of Buddhism that are chanted before meals, expressing gratitude.
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.
The Pali Canon: The First 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.
The Six Schools of Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism has developed into six distinctive major traditions - Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, Gelug, Jonang, and Bonpo. Here is a brief explanation of each.
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.
Manjushri Bodhisattva
Manjushri 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.
Is Mount Meru Still the Center of the Universe...
Buddhist texts and teachers sometimes refer to Mount Meru, also called Sumeru (Sanskrit) or Sineru (Pali). Mount Meru is a sacred mountain in Buddhist, Hindu and Jain mythology. For a time, the existence (or not) of Meru was a heated controversy.
Vajrayana
Vajrayana is an extension of Mahayana that is characterized by use of rituals and tantra yoga.
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.
Dragons!
Dragons often appear in Buddhist art and literature. Where did they come from, and what do they represent?
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.
Right Action
Right Action is the fourth aspect of the Buddhist Eightfold Path. But what is Right Action, exactly? Here is a brief explanation
Big Buddhas: A Photo Gallery
A photo gallery of the world's biggest Buddha statues, including the Leshan giant of China, the Monywa reclining Buddha of Burma, and the Ushiku standing Buddha of Japan.
Sunyata, or Emptiness
Sunyata, or Emptiness. Buddhism.
Five Major Bodhisattvas
Bodhisattvas work to bring all beings to enlightenment. Countless transcendent bodhisattvas are found in Buddhist art and literature, but these five are the most important.
Sutra
The name sutra (Sanskrit for thread) in Buddhism originally was given only to the sermons of the historical Buddha.
Anatman, Anatta
No-self; the central Buddhist teaching that individual identity is ephemeral.
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.
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.
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.
Sunyata, Shunyata
According to the Mahayana Buddhist teaching of sunyata -- emptiness or void -- all beings and phenomena are empty of independent, permanent essence.
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.
Pure Land Buddhism
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.
Three Poisons
The Three Poisons - Greed, Hate and Ignorance - are the primary causes of evil (akusala) in Buddhism.
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.
Koan
In Zen Buddhism, koans are small presentations of the nature of ultimate reality, usually presented as a paradox.
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.
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.
Eight Dharmapalas
They're wrathful, they're terrifying, and they're the good guys. Dharmapalas are fearsome creatures of Vajrayana Buddhism who aid and protect Buddhists.
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?
Which School of Buddhism Is Right for You?
Advice for choosing a school of Buddhism that is right for you
The Jataka Tales
The Jataka Tales are stories and fables about the previous lives of the Buddha. Where did these stories come from? What is their history?
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.
Why the Dalai Lama Is So Important to Buddhists
The Dalai Lama is revered and despised; a media star and an enigma. Just who is the 14th Dalai Lama?
Tripitaka, Tipitika (Pali Canon)
The Pali Canon is the earliest canon of Buddhist scripture. It is also called the
Mudras: Buddha's Hands
Buddhas and bodhisattvas often are depicted in Buddhist art with stylized hand gestures called
The Four Foundations of Mindfulness
The Buddha taught mindfulness by providing four foundations, or frames of reference, that we can use to train ourselves to be mindful.
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 Effort
A brief explanation of Right Effort as the sixth part of the Buddhist Eightfold Path
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.
Bodhichitta
: In Sanskrit, bodhi means "awakened" and chitta means "mind" or "heart." Bodhichitta -- "awakened heart-mind"
Dukkha
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: The
Tibetan Buddhism: An Introduction
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.
Bhavana: An Introduction to Buddhist Meditation
All Buddhist meditation practices are forms of bhavana. Here is a basic explanation of bhavana and how it is practiced in Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism.
Impermanence
The Buddha taught that all phenomena are impermanent. How is this teaching essential to enlightenment?
Karma
Karma means. Buddhism.
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.
Jizo Bosatsu
Jizo Bosatsu (Bodhisattva) is one of the most beloved figures of Japanese Buddhism. He is known in particular as the protector of deceased children.
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.
The Lost World of Buddhist Gandhara
The ancient Buddhist kingdom of Gandhara stretched across what is now Afghanistan and Pakistan and made invaluable contributions to Buddhist art.
Hungry Ghosts
Hungry Ghosts are characters from Buddhist iconography who suffer from their greed, envy and jealousy.
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.
Bardo Thodol: The Tibetan Book of the Dead
The Bardo Thodol --. Buddhism.
The Four Noble Truths
Understanding the Four Noble Truths is critical to understanding Buddhism. Here is a simple introduction for beginners.
Enlightenment and Nirvana
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >What Is Enlightenment?
Buddha Nature
Buddha Nature, an essential doctrine of Mahayana Buddhism, is the already enlightened nature of all beings.
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.
The Thirty-Two Marks of a Buddha
The 32 Marks of a Buddha are characteristics said to distinguish Buddhas from ordinary people.
The First Noble Truth
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The study of Buddhism
The Wheel of Life
The rich iconography of the Wheel of Life can be interpreted on several levels. The six major sections
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.