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
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...
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.
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
monks making alms rounds in Magelang, Central Java.