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 ... read more »
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 spiritual journey. If you wish to learn more about incorporating Buddhist practice into your daily life, or are a veteran practitioner looking to enhance or supplement your practice of Buddhism, you'll find the resources provided in this section helpful.
- Because there's such diversity in the practice of Buddhism, it's good to develop a familiarity with the different sects prior to making the decision to practice. This can be done using the "The Buddhist Faith" and "The Different Forms of Buddhism" sections of this guide.
- One valuable way to learn about a new religion is to speak with someone who practices. If you're seriously considering the faith, most Buddhist organizations, whether they're monasteries or local sitting groups, provide introductory courses and talks for aspiring Buddhists. You can learn about the programs offered on such an organization's Web site. If the directories below don't yield a group near you, try running a search in your favorite search engine; for instance, a search for "Zen Buddhism [your city's name]" will produce a list of Zen groups in your area.
- The concept, purpose, and practice of meditation vary greatly between sects. Below we've included Web sites that overview these different techniques, with an emphasis on Zen meditation because it's widely practiced in the West.
- Buddhist retreats involve intensive meditation and study of the dharma (Buddha's teachings). They can take place in purpose-built retreat centers, monasteries, or on location in nature. The following sites have databases to help you locate retreat centers worldwide.
- Pilgrimage is often an important aspect of religious worship. A number of locations throughout Asia have immense significance to the Buddhist religion, including the sites of the Buddha's birth, Enlightenment, and death. Included here is a guide to Buddhist pilgrimage. For additional information on travel, consult the findingDulcinea Travel Guide.
For an introduction to practicing Buddhism ...
answers basic questions about Buddhism and how to live the faith, like how to become Buddhist, what the three refuges are, and what changes you can expect in your life after taking the refuges.
The Berzin Archives
has links for the beginning Buddhist and for those more well versed in practice. This is a Tibetan Web site specifically, and has a link to the basics of Tibetan Buddhist practice as well as a link to the processes of advanced meditation. Visit the "Daily Practice" link for a selection of vows and prayers.
offers links to articles dealing with the practice of Buddhism. There is Ken McLeod's "Unfettered Mind," a study and practice guide, and intensive study and practice programs for which you can apply.
For meditation ...
Buddhism in Canada
offers a "Local Maintained Information" section about meditation and other Buddhist beliefs with links to essays and descriptions of meditating. This site also answers practical questions if you visit the "Questions on Buddhism and Meditation" link.
Wildmind Buddhist Meditation
thoroughly explains the process of meditation with explanations categorized by "meditation practices" and "applied meditation." Practical issues include, "Is meditation for me?" as well as explanations on walking meditation and mindfulness of breathing. Yoga and health are also addressed as they relate to meditation. Use your Buddha mindfulness to stay alert to the subtle advertising for purchasable meditation courses, however, which are sometimes pitched in otherwise objective explanations.
For kids and families ...
is a Web site with essays on the Buddha's teachings and how to bring them into family life, written by a family of practicing Buddhists. The site explains why Buddhism is of value in family life, especially for young children. The Web site also has good links to other sites that cover Buddhism in family life.
is a great resource for a younger audience. It has links like "Children's stories," "Buddhist parenting" and a how-to on teaching children meditation. There are many links to external Web sites that explain how to bring meditation into family life. There are also links to online discussion groups aimed at a younger audience, and recommended readings and Buddhist stories.
The Family Meditation Website
, created by author Kerry Lee MacLean, has a colorful, interactive guide to family meditation. Kids can "Meditate with the Piggies" by following a step-by-step, illustrated tutorial. You can also purchase Buddhist children's books by the author here.
To find a Buddhist community near you ...
The World Buddhist Directory
is a BuddhaNet project that has gathered Buddhist centers and organizations from around the world into a single database. Begin your search by clicking on the world map or take advantage of the more robust searchable database on the right side of the page. Specify your country then narrow your search by state or province, or by Buddhist tradition. A list of organizations with contact information is provided.
The Shambhala Sun
is a Buddhist magazine that offers a "Find a Center" link on its homepage. Indicate which country, region, state, and city you're hoping to practice in and the database finds all available centers in that area.
The Soka Gakkai International
(SGI-USA) is an American Buddhist association that offers resources for finding American Buddhist communities. Visit the "Find Us" section at the bottom of the page to be directed to SGI-USA centers all around the country.
posts the contact information for more than 800 Tibetan Buddhist centers all over the world. When possible, a link to the center's Web site is included. The list is organized alphabetically by country to make the search even easier.
For retreat centers ...
, a Buddhist magazine, offers a list of links to some of America's largest Buddhist centers. See the "Meditation and Retreat Centers" list at the top of the page.
For pilgrimages ...
provides an excellent introduction to Buddhist pilgrimage. This page has pilgrimage guides to India and Sri Lanka, an article addressing the significance of pilgrimage, and descriptions of "The Four Holy Sites" of Buddha's life.
offers pilgrimages in China, India and Nepal, Mount Kailas and Japan, among other places. Visit the "Featured Diary" and "Photo Gallery" to gain a greater sense of what trips are like.
offers information about pilgrimages and tours through India. It lists many different companies so that you can find exactly what you're looking for. Brief descriptions of each trip including destination and duration are included with a link to more information.
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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