Links: Pages on Buddhism, Other Religions
God(s)Atheist / Monotheist / Polytheist / Other
TextsMultifaceted. Includes Pali Canon and the Mahayana sutras, depending.
AfterlifeReincarnation until escape
Area of OriginIndia
FounderTraditions based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, 1st millennium BCE
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%), Korea, South (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. "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. 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

TOP 202011
Pew Forum
Social & Moral
Development Index

(Lower is better)
3Myanmar (Burma)80.1%73.7%147
5Sri Lanka69.3%68.4%122
10Korea, S.22.9%15.1%31
16Hong Kong13.2%10%12
17Northern Mariana Islands10.6%
Data Source

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

3. Misc

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?.

The following pages mention this religion. The 10 most relevant are listed:

Criticisms of Buddhism: Its History, Doctrine and Common Practices, 231 times, in the following sections:
    2. Nothing New
    6.1. Buddhism's Part in War and Strife
    6.2. The Inequality of Women
    4. Western Buddhism is Schizophrenic and Shallow
    6.5. The Social Vampirism of Monasteries
    4.4. Real Buddhism is Social, not Individualistic
    5.2. World Rejection
    4.3. The Census Exaggerates Buddhist Numbers
    6.3. Sex Scandals and Cover-ups: the Same as Other Religions
    4.2. The Imbalanced Interest in Selected Practises, Devoid of Rationality
    4.1. The Imbalanced Interest in Selected Rational Texts Only
    1. The Literary Foundation of Buddhism: Divisions and Denominations
    5.1. The First Cause Dilemma: A Fundamental Contradiction
    7. Conclusions
    3. The Buddha Was Not a Historical Person
    6.4. Human Suffering: Paying the Price for the Sins of a Previous Life
    5.3. Buddhist Psychology is Too Idealistic

The Nine Satanic Sins, 15 times:
    6. Historical Progression
    7. Conclusions

Cultural Religion Versus Scholarly Religion, 12 times, in these sections:
    1.2. Examples from Ancient Babylon to the Christian Present
    3. Soka Gakkai: All Believers Excommunicated by the Shoshu Priesthood

Satan and The Devil in World Religions, 12 times, in these sections:
    * Top of page
    2.2. Buddhism (Māra)

Religion Versus Womankind, 12 times, in these sections:
    5. Buddhism and Women
    1. The Dominance of Men in Traditional Religions

Review of 'Varieties of Religious Experience' by William James, 9 times, in these sections:
    * Top of page

Religion and Intelligence, 9 times, in these sections:
    2.4. The Exceptions of Minority Religions

Review of 'The Phenomenon of Religion' by Moojan Momen, 6 times, in the following sections:
    * Top of page

Atheism and Secularism, 6 times, in these sections:
    4.1. Lower-case or Upper-case Atheism?
    * Top of page

Buddhism is an Atheist Religion, 6 times, in these sections:
    * Top of page

Read / Write LJ Comments

By Vexen Crabtree 2014 Jan 10
(Last Modified: 2015 May 25)
Originally published 2005 Jan 06

Social Media

References: (What's this?)

Book Cover

Book Cover

Book Cover

Breuilly, O'Brien & Palmer
(1997) Religions of the World. Subtitled "The Illustrated Guide to Origins, Beliefs, Traditions, & Festivals". By Elizabeth Breuilly, Joanne O'Brien & Martin Palmer. Hardback. Published for Transedition Limited and Fernleigh Books by Lionheart Books.

Conze, Edward
(1959) Buddhist Scriptures. Published by Penguin Books.

Hinnells, John R.. Currently professor of theology at Liverpool Hope University.
(1997, Ed.) The Penguin Dictionary of Religions. References to this book simply state the title of the entry used. First published 1984. Published by Penguin Books, London, UK

Humphreys, Christmas
(1954) Buddhism. Christmas was President of the Buddhist Society, London, from its foundation in 1924 until its Silver Jubilee.

James, William
(1902) The Varieties of Religious Experience. From the Gifford Lectures delivered at Edinburgh 1901-1902, first Edition printed 1960. Quotes from fifth edition, 1971, Collins. [Book Review]

Jones, Ken
(1989) The Social Face of Buddhism. Published by Wisdom Publications, London, UK.

Nukariya, Kaiten. Professor of Kei-O-Gi-Jiku University and of So-To-Shu Buddhist College, Tokyo.
(1913) Zen - The Religion of the Samurai. Subtitled "A study of Zen philosophy and discipline in China and Japan". Amazon digital edition. Produced by John B. Hare and proofread by Carrie R. Lorenz.

Pew Forum. Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
(2012) The Global Religious Landscape: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Major Religious Groups as of 2010. Published 2012 Dec 18, accessed online 2013 May 01.

United Nations
(2013) Human Development Report. This edition had the theme of The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World. Published on the United Nation's HDR website at hdr.undp.org/.../hdr2013/ (accessed throughout 2013). UN Development Program: About the Human Development Index.

(2008) Worldmapper Datasets 551-582: Religion. Worldmapper Datasets 551-582: Religion (2008 Mar 26) on worldmapper.org/.../religion_data.xls, accessed 2013 Nov 11. Authored by John Protchard, published by SASI, University of Shieffield. Data is for year 2005, with some datasets being edited from original sources to remove the effects of double-counting, and, adjusting for population changes between 2002 and 2005.


  1. Pew (2012).^^
  2. Hinnells (1997) entry Buddhism.^
  3. "Religions of the World" by Breuilly, O'Brien & Palmer (1997) counts Buddhism amongst 10 world religions, devoting a chapter to each.^
  4. Worldmapper (2008).^
  5. UN (2013) Table 1 provides Life Expectancy At Birth for all countries.^
  6. UN (2013) Table 14.^
  7. UN (2013) Table 1.^
  8. UN (2013) Table 4.^

© 2015 Vexen Crabtree. All rights reserved.