Spread of BuddhismWith about 400 million followers, Buddhism is one of the largest religions in the world. Unlike Christianity and other monotheistic and polytheistic religions, Buddhism does not worship a deity. Nevertheless, Buddhism is a religion according to today's understanding.
Buddhism originated in northern India, where the Dalai Lama, the head of Tibetan Buddhism, is also based. In India itself, Buddhism is now barely widespread. Today, Thailand and the neighboring countries, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia as well as other Asian countries have the greatest spread.
Religious directions and formsEssentially, there are three main directions of Buddhism with different forms: The Hinayana is known today almost exclusively as Theravada and goes back to the original teachings of Buddha and his contemporaries. The Mahayana is known as a much more active faith in which the Buddhist is supposed to end their suffering and that of their environment through their own actions. Vajrayana is the name given to Tibetan Buddhism, to which the Dalai Lama also belongs. Here, Buddhist schools take on great importance in teaching students new techniques and mantras step by step. All three directions have further subdivisions, each with slightly different structures and teaching methods.
|Sri Lanka||70.2 %||15,554,000|
|South Korea||24.2 %||12,522,000|
|Hong Kong||21.3 %||1,579,000|
|North Korea||4.5 %||1,169,000|
Religious contentSimilar to Chinese Daoism, Buddhists refer to teachings and philosophical beliefs, not to an almighty God. The supreme teacher is considered to be "Buddha," who through right action and meditation became an "awakened" person and thus serves as a role model. The Buddha statues have become a widespread symbol of Buddhism today.
The goal of the religion is "awakening", i.e., to find the knowledge of one's own being. Central element are the Four Noble Truths, which all revolve around human suffering, its cause and remedy, to finally find true happiness. On the path to happiness, the fundamental sufferings and their causes must first be recognized and then eliminated. The path can only begin with the recognition. The happiness to be attained, which can also only be attained in a later life, is the final state of enlightenment, which ends the cycle of rebirth and the resulting renewed suffering.