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Featured Article: The Holy Spirit, the Middle Way, and the Religions

Left: Buddhism was first introduced to Korea in the fourth century C.E. and blended with indigenous forms of Korean Shamanism. Right above: Thai Buddhist children participating in pindacara—the collection of alms. Almsgiving connects lay Buddhists with the monks’ study of Buddha’s teachings. Right below: Buddhist monks ascend the stairs of Angkor Wat, Cambodia—an ancient Hindu temple that is considered sacred by Buddhists.
An Overview of Buddhism
By Sarah Taylor
Estimates concerning the number of people currently practicing Buddhism vary widely, ranging anywhere from 360 million to 1 billion. Conflicting assessments of the size of the Buddhist population are the result of differing interpretations of the faith; the more conservatively Buddhism is defined, the smaller the estimate is. Buddhism derives its name from the word Buddha (“enlightened one”), a status to which Buddhists aspire (and an objective that most Buddhists believe takes many lifetimes to accomplish). Reaching enlightenment—gaining complete knowledge—puts an end to the suffering of the enlightened one, Buddhists believe, because experiencing suffering is the...
Birth of Buddha
A painting located in a Laotian temple depicts Queen Maya at the birth of Gautama Buddha at Lumbini, Nepal. According to legend, after his birth the Buddha made 7 steps and proclaimed that he would end suffering and attain supreme enlightenment in this life.
Angkor Wat
Built by King Suryavarman II in the 12th century, Angkor Wat (City Temple) is the largest Hindu temple complex in the world. In the 13th century, Angkor Wat became a sacred space for Theravada Buddhism.
Indonesian Monks
Indonesian monks making alms rounds in Magelang, Central Java.
Buddhist Pilgrims
Buddhism in India

by Joshua Muthalali 

India holds a special place in the Buddhist tradition as the land where Siddhartha Gautama (later known as Buddha) attained his awakening or enlightenment. This experience occurred in the present-day state of Bihar, India, in the sixth century B.C.E. Buddhism spread outside of India under the missionary zeal of the Indian King Ashoka (273–232 B.C.E.), who converted to the nonviolent religion of Buddhism after witnessing the horrors of war. Buddhism began to decline in India because of its…

Jade Buddha Temple
Buddhism in China

by Henghao Liang, PhD

In modern China, it is reported that there are fewer than 20 million formally converted monks and nuns (more than 100 million asserted Buddhists) worshipping in various temples,1 with the Shaolin Temple in Henan province as the most famous. However, the Buddhist monks in temples are not the most significant dimension of Buddhism in China. If one travels to China, one encounters the common scene of many Buddhist temples…

Thai Buddhist Monks
Buddhism in Thailand

by William Kenneth Nelson 

Auntie Nuu is a community leader in a slum in Bangkok, and she is also an example of what many Thai consider a strict Buddhist. She tries hard to keep the five precepts—abstaining from killing, lying, stealing, adultery, and intoxicating substances. Rising in the morning, she bathes and then prostrates herself three times in front of a Buddha image on a small shelf in her home…

Wat Thai Temple
Buddhism in Los Angeles

by Liam McCann 

The visit to Shambhala Meditation Center of Los Angeles presents a basic description of two everyday expressions of Shambhala Buddhism in Los Angeles: creating an “awake quality” in the surrounding environment and “coming to the [meditation] cushion every day [to sit and meditate].” The “awake quality” of the environment is designed and maintained with a respect for the world and human senses (feng shui was used in the location and arrangement of the Center). It was created this way to foster...