(A handbook of religion was published by the Foundation for Pluralism in August 2004. All the groups were given the same set of questions, and some are really silly like denominations in Atheism.  Here is the production of such writings from Atheism to Zoroastrianism and every one in between; it is in two parts, essence of the faith and general information about it. We invite you to send your suggestions to  for updates and new information.- Please send us the preferred websites to be linked at the bottom - THE INFORMATION IS IN TWO PARTS)


Compiled by : Ben Boothe

Origins:  Northern India and Nepal

Originator:  Siddhartha Guatama  (Buddha=the enlightened one)

People who shaped the religion:  Buddha lived, roamed and taught this
religion from 535 BC to 483 BC, when he died in his early 80's.  The
religion took the place of many pagen religions, and swept all of Asia.  
250 years later a council of Buddhist monks collected his teachings and oral
traditions into written form called: Tripitka

People who wrote the books:  See above

Who is worshiped?  No person or God is worshipped. The religion is unique in
that it calls for personal responsibility and introspective study of the
mind and mentall processes, with emphasis on gaining enlightenment.  The
principal goal is to be compassionate to others.  Various mythical figures
like "Tara" (the symbol of compassion), or "Manjushri" (symbol of replacing
ignorence with wisdom and knowledge) are used as visual tools to help in

Holy Books (Original Language): Tripitaka....all languages of the world,
although the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition in Sanscrit and Tibetan is
considered the most pure form of ancient teachings.

Holy Places of Worship:  Buddhist temples throughout the world. A few:  The
Potala (in
Lhasa, Tibet (now controlled by China), Daramsala, India (where
the Dalia Lama lives), Lumbini (where he was born in Nepal, Bod Gaya,
India(Where he found enlightenment), Sarnath (near Varinasi India) where he
preached his first sermon.

Key Tenets: Compassion, love for mankind, respect, taking full
responsibility for your mind and actions, meditation, respect for nature,
respect for all human life, enlightenment and the search for it, kindness
and generosity to those in need.

Prayer Rituals: "OM MANI PADNE HUN"   Is the most ancient prayer of
Buddhists, meaning: "All hail to the jewel in the lotus"  or meaning, 'We
acknowledged and are in awe of the beauty and value of the Dharma, Sangha,
and Buddha, and the process of trying to attain enlightenment, like the
simple lotus that grows from the murkey mud, and blooms in glory when it
sees the light."

Current Leadership:  Each nation has autonomous leadership, although His
Holiness the Dalai Lama is the current symbolic head of Buddhism, from the
Tibetan tradition.

Decision Makers:  See above

Interpretations:  Varies with the nation

Great Mountain in the high mountains is the source of power and holy
water representing the ultimate stupa symbol, with symbolic levels of
spiritutual and intellectual growth.  All of the holy rivers flow from it,
including the Ganges.

Denominations:  Theravada,Mahayana, and Tibetan

Major Festivals:  Losar, February 21 is the most important festival

Dietary Laws:  Many Buddhists are vegitarians, although others will eat meat
if someone else kills and slaughters the animal.

Sensitivities:  Don't kill any living being

What is not polite?  Talking while eating, a meal is to be enjoyed and each
bite considered and fully appreciated, when with monks.

Customs from birth to death:

Textual support for Pluralism:  Buddhists believe there is beauty and truth
in all religions.

World Population: The world's 4th most populous religion

US population: Unknown but growing

North Texas Population: Unknown but growing


Contributed by: Ben B. Boothe

Buddhism has the characteristics of what would be expected in a cosmic religion for the future: it transcends a personal God, avoids dogmas and theology; it covers both the natural & spiritual, and it is based on a religious sense aspiring from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity" Albert Einstein

Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world, being exceeded in numbers only by Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. It was founded in Northern India by the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama. He was born circa 563 BCE in Lumbini which is in modern-day Nepal. At the age of 29, he left his wife, children and political involvements in order to seek truth. It was an accepted practice at the time for some men to leave their family and lead the life of an ascetic. He joined a group of similarly-minded students of Brahmanism in a forest where he fasted for six years. He is said to have brought himself to the brink of death by only eating a few grains of rice each day. Ultimately, he rejected this path. He realized that enlightenment lay in pursuing a "Middle Way" rejecting both extremes of the mortification of the flesh and of hedonism as paths toward the state of Nirvana - a state of liberation and freedom from suffering.  His Middle Way was largely defined by moderation and meditation.

In 535 BCE, he attained enlightenment and assumed the title Lord Buddha (one who has awakened) He is also referred to as the Sakyamuni, (sage of the Sakya clan). He had many disciples and accumulated a large public following by the time of his death in his early 80's in 483 BCE.

Two and a half centuries later, a council of Buddhist monks collected his teachings and the oral traditions of the faith into written form, called the Tripitaka. This included a very large collection of commentaries and traditions; most are called Sutras (discourses).

As Buddhism expanded across Asia, it evolved into two main forms, which evolved largely independently from each other:


Theravada Buddhism (sometimes called Southern Buddhism; occasionally spelled Therevada) "has been the dominant school of Buddhism in most of Southeast Asia since the thirteenth century, with the establishment of the monarchies in Thailand, Burma, Cambodia and Laos."


Mahayana Buddhism (sometimes called Northern Buddhism) is largely found in China, Japan, Korea, Tibet and Mongolia.

To which might be added:


Tibetan Buddhism, which developed in isolation from Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism because of the isolation of Tibet.

Since the late 19th century:


Modern Buddhism has emerged as a truly international movement. It started as an attempt to produce a single form of Buddhism, without local accretions, that all Buddhists could embrace. It stresses non judgmental, compassionate teachings, and encourages all to meditate and strive for inner “enlightenment”

Two attractive features of Buddhism are:

  1. The stress on Compassion as a guiding rule of life in relationship to all sentient beings.
  2. The concept that each person takes responsibility for his actions, thoughts, his life, and does not rely upon a third party or “God”  to control, dictate, or judge his life.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a widely published speaker, author, and teacher.  His teachings are:

  • Open to scientists efforts to study mental functions during meditative states. Modern science has verified and proven many ancient Tibetan meditative practices as useful and beneficial.
  • The Dalai Lama teaches that if modern findings disagree with traditional beliefs then those beliefs must be questioned and tested. He believes we should give credence to truth, even if scientific evidence disagrees with ancient tradition, truth must prevail…thus truth is whatever holds the most valid evidence.
  • His Holiness encourages the exchange between spiritual people and modern physicists and scientists.
  • Nonviolence:  H.H. advocates nonviolence as the only way to solve conflicts in the long run. His efforts to Free Tibet have always demanded non violence.
  • Non Judgementalism: H.H. defines secularism as “Being aware of other traditions and having respect for all religions, but not taking any one of them as the only possible viewpoint.”
  • Happiness: H.H. teaches that all human beings desire and should pursue happiness in the most effective way possible. Wisdom in the path to happiness is important.

Other ethical teachings:    *Do not lie *Do not steal *Love one another *Help the poor

*Help widows and orphans *Be kind to all creatures *Do not kill *Be generous with your time and wealth *Consider the needs of others *Work hard, with diligence and work well with every effort being a reflection of your “beliefs”. *In all things, show compassion. *Take full responsibility for your actions. *Every action causes an effect.  This is called Karma.

Buddhism teaches the respect and reverence for nature, the ecology and that every human should care for this globe, our environment, as a sacred duty.


January 22, the 1st day after the new moon is a festival celebrated as New Years Day by Buddhists in China, Vietnam and Korea.  2002 was the year 4702 by the Chinese Buddhist Calendar.

February 21  Losar: The first day after the new moon is a religious and cultural festival celebrated by Tibetan Buddhists as New Years day.  2004 is year 2131 in the Tibetan calendar.

March 10:  To become a Bodhisattva (Saint), the Dwan Yin dispenses compassion with 1000 arms. Tibetans call him: Avoletksvara.

March 20: Spring Ohigon is a special time to listen to the teaching of Buddha and meditate on enlightenment.

April 13-14: The Saka calendar’s New Year’s day is a celebration for Sinhalese, Indians, Burmese, Kampucheans, Laotians and Thai Buddhists

June 27:  The Wassana marks beginning of a 3 month “rain retreat” for monks and nuns

July 6:  Marks the Buddha’s 1st discourse, called Turning of the Wheel of Dharma, and Kwin Yin’s “Setting on the Path”

August 31 “Ullambana”  Buddhist make offerings to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha (precious jewel of 3) on behalf of ancestors. Some call it Happy Buddha Day.

September 22 The fall Ohigon celebrates the September equinox

October 3  Pavarana marks the end of the rain retreat.















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