Buddhism: Researching the Religion of the Buddha
For nearly 500 years after his death, the Buddha's teachings were passed through generations of the monastic community by oral tradition. In the late first century BCE they were first written down in a collection known as the Pali Canon. Since then a variety of additional texts and translations have appeared as a means for disseminating his ancient wisdom. Now in the 21st century we have the benefit of a new medium; the Internet is a resource utilized by lay practitioners and monastics alike for bringing the religion of Buddhism to the world.
One of the oldest enduring Eastern religions, Buddhism was founded in India during the sixth century BCE by Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha. Although specific beliefs and practices vary, Buddhism centers around the idea that earthly suffering can be relieved by attaining Enlightenment, the cessation of the eternal cycle of death and rebirth in which all sentient beings are mired. In this section of the guide we'll direct you to Web sites with information on the history of Buddhism and explanations of fundamental concepts such as karma, the three jewels, the four noble truths, the eightfold path, and nirvana.
- Reliable information on Buddhism comes from a few primary sources: active monasteries, Buddhism organizations and associations, educational institutions, and occasionally personal Web pages.
- Most of these sites offer general introductions to Buddhism without favoring any specific sects. Those sites with specific affiliations are noted in our descriptions, and can still be viewed as unbiased sources of historical information, most of which is universal.
- The following sites have a combination of walk-through tutorials (e.g., BuddhaNet), articles (Dharmanet.org), and encyclopedic definitions to aid you in developing an understanding of the religion. A good place to begin would be at BuddhaNet, as it provides a cohesive introduction to a subject with many disparate elements.
For overviews of Buddhism ...
, a site run by the Buddha Dharma Education Association, has a wealth of information covering nearly all aspects of Buddhism. Go to the "Buddhist Studies
" link at the top of the page to be directed to a "Basic Buddhism Guide," and "Buddhist History and Culture." These links can help you find essential information on Buddhist history as well as forms and methods of practice. The "Basic Buddhist Teachings
" link answers practical questions for contemporary practice. We'll reference other areas of this comprehensive Web site throughout this guide.
has links to articles on the history, fundamental beliefs, and traditions of Buddhism. Topics are organized into subsections to make searching for specific information easy. As simple as the subjects are to navigate, the text here can be extensive, so be prepared to read.
has a very well organized section on Buddhism with links to original BBC content. The explanations are divided into topics like "History," "Beliefs," and "Customs," which are then covered in easy-to-follow summaries. Visit "At a Glance" for quick facts, but expect more thorough explanations from other links. The BBC site does a great job of clearly presenting material within context. For example, the "History" section has a clear timetable of the Buddha and his teachings and also offers articles on specific topics, such as "History of Buddhism in Britain" and "Buddhism and slavery."
The Buddhist Society
is a Buddhist center in London that hosts events and regularly offers articles and discussions on Buddhism. The "Resources
" section of the homepage takes you to a list of links that define the religion by explaining the life of the Buddha and the practices that emerged from his teachings. There is also a "Library
" section that explains Buddhist texts and suggests further reading
C. George Boeree
wrote this text for classes he taught on Buddhist Psychology at Shippensburg University. Scroll down the page for a list of topics related to Buddha's history and specific elements of Buddhist practice. Subjects are clearly outlined and arranged to encourage a comprehensive understanding. The "Links and Suggested Readings" section offers lots of good information to help you continue your path to Enlightenment.
, although with a Mahayana focus, has links to basic topics in Buddhism-especially its history and teachings. The information is easy to find but dense, with lots of text involved. This thorough overview is supplemented by colorful pictures: practicing monks and ancient Buddhist artwork are two examples.
For Buddhism for kids ...
Dharma For Kids
is another Mahayana Web site with links to the stories and symbols of Buddha and Buddhism. Click on the temple icon for Q&A's on Buddhist history and doctrine, Buddhist games, and numerous mini-features. Click the temple and monk icons for coverage of the practices of Buddhism, such as Karma and the Noble Truths. Each topic is explained in brief and followed by a Q&A section and an art gallery to make learning visual.
For the role of vegetarianism in Buddhism ...
Urban Dharma provides essays with varying opinions about Buddhism and vegetarianism. You'll find lots of good insight if you're thinking of becoming a vegetarian for Buddhist purposes, and many good arguments about why you can also be a carnivorous Buddhist.
The International Vegetarian Union
explains the relationship of Buddhism and vegetarianism, offering Buddhist texts on the subject as well as the personal story of a practicing vegetarian Buddhist. The "FAQ" link on the menu bar at the top of the page has great clarifications and tips on both basic and elusive vegetarian questions. The "Recipes" link instructs on vegetarian cuisine from all over the world, categorized by region.
Buddhist Resources on Vegetarianism and Animal Welfare
is a Web site compiled by Ron Epstein for the Philosophy Department at San Francisco State University. He lists links to Buddhist scriptures and contemporary essays on vegetarianism. He also offers many vegetarian resources that can be quite helpful, though some don't open. The second half of the page links to essays on animal welfare.
During Buddhism's 2,500 year history, several thriving sects have emerged, each with a unique take ... read more »
Whether you're looking for the Pali Canon, Zen parables and koans, Mahayana text, or scholarly ... read more »
Many prominent Buddhist organizations host sites with information aimed at helping you further your ... read more »
Whether you're looking for a statue of the Buddha to serve as inspiration in your practice, a book ... read more »
Buddhism has a large, vibrant community of online practitioners. Cyberspace abounds with Buddhist ... read more »
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