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Portal:Buddhism

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Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha (Pāli/Sanskrit "the awakened one"). Buddha who was born as a prince in Kapilvastu, in modern day Nepal, lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. He is recognized by adherents as an awakened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings end suffering, achieve nirvana, and escape what is seen as a cycle of suffering and rebirth. Two major branches of Buddhism are recognized: Theravada ("The School of the Elders") and Mahayana ("The Great Vehicle"). Theravada—the oldest surviving branch—has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, and Mahayana is found throughout East Asia and includes the traditions of Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Shingon, Tendai and Shinnyo-en. In some classifications Vajrayana, a subcategory of Mahayana, is recognized as a third branch. While Buddhism remains most popular within Asia, both branches are now found throughout the world. Various sources put the number of Buddhists in the world at between 230 million and 500 million, making it the world's fourth-largest religion.

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A traditional representation of The Vinegar Tasters, an allegorical image representing Buddhists, Confucianists and Taoists
In the study of comparative religion, the East Asian religions (also known as Far Eastern religions, Chinese religions, or Taoic religions) form a subset of the Eastern religions. This group includes Caodaism, Chen Tao, Chondogyo, Confucianism, Jeungism, Shinto, Taoism, I-Kuan Tao and elements of Mahayana Buddhism. These traditions or religious philosophies focus on the East Asian concept of Tao ("The Way"; pinyin dào, Korean do, Japanese or , Vietnamese đạo). The place of East Asian religions among major religious groups is comparable to the Abrahamic religions and Indian religions. East Asian faiths claim at least 500 million members worldwide. Early Chinese philosophies defined Tao and advocated cultivating De in that Tao. Some ancient schools have merged into traditions with different names or are no longer active, such as Mohism (and many others of the Hundred Schools of Thought), while some such as Taoism persist to the modern day. East Asian religion is usually polytheistic or nontheistic, but henotheistic, monotheistic, pantheistic, panentheistic and agnostic varieties exist, inside and outside of Asia. East Asian religions have many Western adherents, though their interpretations may differ significantly from traditional East Asian thought and culture.

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Wat Phra Sri Ratanamahatat. Phitsanulok, Thailand
Credit: Tevaprapas Makklay

Buddhist art originated on the Indian subcontinent following the historical life of Gautama Buddha, 6th to 5th century BCE, and thereafter evolved by contact with other cultures as it spread throughout Asia and the world.

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Nichiren
Nichiren (February 16, 1222 – October 13, 1282) was a Buddhist monk who lived during the Kamakura period (1185-1333) in Japan. Nichiren taught devotion to the Lotus Sutra, Namu Myoho Renge Kyo, as the exclusive means to attain enlightenment and the chanting of "Namu Myoho Renge Kyo" as the essential practice of the teaching. He is credited with founding what has come to be known as Nichiren Buddhism, a major school of Japanese Buddhism encompassing numerous sects espousing diverse doctrines.

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Richard Gere
My first encounter with Buddhist dharma would be in my early twenties. I think like most young men I was not particularly happy. I don't know if I was suicidal, but I was pretty unhappy, and I had questions like, "Why anything?" Realizing I was probably pushing the edges of my own sanity, I was exploring late-night bookshops reading everything I could, in many different directions. Evans-Wentz's books on Tibetan Buddhism had an enormous impact on me. I just devoured them.
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