The Human Truth Foundation


By Vexen Crabtree 2014

#atheism #buddhism #hinduism #india #japan #monotheism #polytheism #religion #vedic_faiths

Links: Pages on Buddhism, Other Religions
The symbol of Buddhism
God(s)Atheist / Monotheist / Polytheist / Other
TextsMultifaceted. Includes Pali Canon and the Mahayana sutras, depending.
AfterlifeReincarnation until escape
Area of OriginIndia
When1st millennium BCE
FounderTraditions based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama
Numbers in the UK (Census results)
2001144 4532011248 000
Buddhists Worldwide (Pew & WM)
World: 5.91%. Cambodia (96.9%), Thailand (93.2%), Myanmar (Burma) (80.1%), Bhutan (74.7%), Sri Lanka (69.3%), Laos (66%), Mongolia (55.1%), Japan (36.2%), Singapore (33.9%), South Korea (22.9%) 1

The historical evidence does not make it easy to trace the beginnings of Buddhism except that it sprung out of, and shares many basic beliefs, with Hinduism and other Vedic Faiths. "During the reign of emperor Ashoka (3rd century BCE) Buddhism became a major Indian religion and was subsequently established across the whole subcontinent and beyond"2 and is now counted as one of the great world religions3,4,5,6. It has grown so diverse that it is very hard to define its core nature - in 1913 one scholar pointed out that "in Japan alone it has differentiated itself into thirteen main sects and forty-four sub-sects". Buddhism is a well-liked and respected religion in the West; many attend Buddhist retreats, meditation centres and classes, and western Buddhist communities nearly all run such events for the general public. But in the West many who put "Buddhist" on census forms have merely attended some of these and who have an interest, but are not committed Buddhists, which artificially inflates the numbers.

1. Main Pages on Buddhism

Minor pages:

2. Numbers of Buddhists Around the World, by Country


Pos.Pew Forum (2010)1Worldmapper (2005)7
3Myanmar (Burma)80.1%73.7%
5Sri Lanka69.3%68.4%
10S. Korea22.9%15.1%
16Hong Kong13.2%10.0%
17Northern Mariana Islands10.6%
25New Zealand1.6%1.5%
26N. Korea1.5%1.5%
39New Caledonia0.6%

The population of 7 countries are half (or mostly) Buddhist (2011)1. Comparing those 7 country(ies) to the rest of the world:

3. Karma

#afterlife #buddhism #christianity #hinduism #india #jainism #karma #new_age #reincarnation #sikhism #taoism #vedic_religions

Book CoverWilliam James says that Buddhism, like Christianity, is more "complete" than many other religions because it has attempted complex explanations of why suffering exists. See "The Varieties of Religious Experience" by William James (1902) [Book Review] and The Problem of Evil: Why Would a Good God Create Suffering?.

Karma is an important concept in a range of Vedic religions and cultures, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism12,13, all stemming from Indian beliefs. Karma is a universal principal and cosmic law, like the Tao of Taoism14. Unlike Taoism, individual beings (and the entire universe) go through a large number of incarnations. It is closely linked to the concept of continual rebirth (reincarnation)15. Although belief in Karma is a good tool for improving motivation to treat others well, it also has a worrying implication: Karma creates blames on those suffering from disabilities and other ailments, unfairly insinuating that they deserve their problems.

Original Jain beliefs had it that all actions had negative karma and only complete serenity and detachment could help the situation16. Later Jain beliefs came closer Hindu and Buddhist ideas: Acts of merit such as pilgrimages and worship can improve your next fate17. Eventually, beings can break free from the cycle and scape the evil world in which we all are trapped. In Hinduism and Jainism this liberation is called moksha and in Buddhism the result is the attainment of enlightenment and nirvana. Western New Age movements have also taken on the concept "though sometimes with a degree of misunderstanding"17. All in all, more people on Earth believe in Karma through a series of rebirths than in any other religious principle.15,16,17,18,19,20

"How Does Karma Work in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism?" by Vexen Crabtree (2017)

Karma. A volitional action which is either wholesome or unwholesome, and in consequence either rewarded or punished.

"Buddhist Scriptures" by Edward Conze (1959)21

In Buddhism, karma is not simple22. There are many streams of cause and effect (niamas). Ken Jones in "The Social Face of Buddhism"23 writes "all, however, are also expressions of a Universal Consciousness, alayavijnana. The 'law' of kamma and the 'law' of cause and effect are thus not synonymous in Buddhism. Kammaic 'law' is simply one kind of cause and effect relationship"22. Buddhism "rejects a fatalstic view of karma"17 which means that individuals can do something about it, by changing their behaviour, improving their outlook, avoiding bad deeds, and engaging in ethical behaviour22. Karma isn't just about actions: a lot of it is about internal state of mind, internal desire and internal psychology22. When it comes to Buddhism's multistreamed laws of cause and effect, thought crime has ramifications across multiple lifetimes.

Buddhists believe that we are tied to the cycles of death and birth through desire and can be born again in many different forms. But they believe they can find a way to escape this cycle, to be finally released from reincarnation to reach nirvana.

"Religions of the World" by Breuilly, O'Brien & Palmer (1997)18

Traditional and canonical Buddhism extends the span of kamma through successive rebirths. The succession, however, is that of a vital energy, not of a reincarnated personality.

"The Social Face of Buddhism" by Ken Jones (1989)22

Karma was a pivotal concept in Indian thinking, around which turned the whole question of why life is as it is. ... It can act as an explanation of why misfortune happens when it is not recognisably the result of particular actions. [...] The importance of karma is that i[t] demonstrates the practicality of Buddhist teachings. Ethical considerations become paramount, because liberating oneself from the dis-ease of samsaric existence is a karmic matter.

"Buddhism" by Clive Erricker (1995)20

Bad karma resulting from previous bad decisions, in this life or in former lives, can cause suffering in the current incarnation. The Buddha said:

Evil in the future is the fruit of bodily offence. Evil is the fruit of offence by word, by thought, in the future life. If I offend in deed, in word, in thought, should not I, when the body breaks up, after death be reborn in the Waste, the Way of Woe, the Downfall, the Purgatory?

The Buddha
In Anguttara Nikaya Part 2, Chapter 1:124

4. Religion in China 25

#buddhism #china #confucianism #taoism

Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and Chinese folk religion are the four main forms of religion in China; their beliefs and practices have intermingled and interchanged over thousands of years, and most local communities combine parts of all of them26,27,28,29,30. China's earliest dynasties continued folk practices that have existed since pre-history, with religious leaders being shamans and guides speaking on behalf of the spirit world31 and a multitude of local gods and practices, and some of those ancient practices persist today in rural areas. Despite liberalisation over the past several decades, large numbers of Chinese - two thirds - do not consider themselves religious at all32 and most new religious movements are suppressed33,34.

Although Buddhism can be found in China from the 1st century CE, it didn't have much influence27 until after the tumultuous era at the end of the Han dynasty in the 3rd century CE when Confucianism fall out of favour35.

... although it was not until at least the fifth century that reliable translations and scholarly study were being carried out in China. Buddhism complemented existing Chinese thought by adding a religious dimension related to the explanation of suffering and the path to liberation. Buddhist thought also added to Chinese metaphysics.

"The Phenomenon Of Religion: A Thematic Approach" by Moojan Momen (1999)27

For more, see: