Just what is Buddhism and what is its attraction to
so many who are looking for meaning. The
population of Buddhist worldwide numbers about
360 million1. The Dali Lama2 , the leader of
Tibetan Buddhism, who won the Nobel Peace
Prize in1989 often meets famous Hollywood
celebrates, US Presidents and UN dignitaries.
Many people in the West today are looking at
Buddhism as an alternative to their traditional
The history of Buddhism in the United States can
be traced back to the Chinese laborers who came
to the United States to work on the railroads in the
1820. By 1875 there were 400 “Joss houses” 3in
California. American Poet, Henry David Thoreau,
also popularized Buddhism with his translation of the Lotus Sutra, a third century Buddhist text.
Authors D. T. Suzuki and Alan Watts through their books on Zen Buddhism opened Buddhism as
an alternative religion to Westerners.
As of 1993 there were over 1000 Buddhist centers including temples and monasteries in the
United States, including multimillion dollar facilities in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.
This includes all of the three major forms, and many subsets of Buddhism. All these groups
however can trace their origin back to an individual by the name of Siddhartha Gautama.
Hinduism the foundation of Buddhism
To understand Buddhism, we have to
understand the roots its basic its roots,
which stem from Hinduism. Siddhartha was
raised a Hindu, and many of the beliefs of
Buddhism are common to Hinduism.
Hinduism developed from ancient indo-
Europeans known as Arians who migrated
into northern India about 1500 BC from
present day Iran. Their religion, known as
Vedism, this name was from the collections
of their sacred texts, the Veda.
The Veda adorned hereditary
deities, who personified various natural and
cosmic forces, such as fire (Agni), sun