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A further difficulty is that recent scholarship tends to avoid generalization, , so the general statements making up most of this article may be unrepresentative.
Yet a further problem is that scholars have mostly tended to study scriptures and other classical literature rather than real live Buddhism (Journal of the International Association of Buddjist Studies, volume 30, page 282. (But Buddhist sources are even worse. Would you trust the Pope or Billy Graham for a reliable unbiased account of Christianity?)
Buddhism is usually considered a religion, though most scholars agree that there is not a clear-cut distinction between religion and philosophy in Buddhism. It is the oldest of the three religions that have transcended ethnicity and spread round the world on a large scale. It is the official religion in Bhutan, Cambodia and Sri Lanka. There are significantly large communities of Buddhists in 126 countries. More than half the world population is located in areas where Buddhism has been dominant at some point in history. Most estimates of world Buddhist population are between 200 million and 300 million.
- life is suffering
- the cause of suffering is craving
- cessation of suffering can be brought about by cessation of craving
- this can be achieved by the Noble Eightfold Path:
- Right View
- Right Resolve
- Right Speech
- Right Action
- Right Livelihood
- Right Effort
- Right Mindfulness
- Right Meditation
There is a growing consensus among scholars that Mahayana is not characterized by a collection of beliefs or practices. It emphasizes adapting the teachings to suit different people, and is thus very diverse. The most popular form of Buddhism is Pure Land. It offers a way of salvation based on faith alone. It believes the Buddha Amitabha has the power to take his devotees to his Pure Land. The other main forms of Mahayana are Nichiren, Zen and Tibetan Buddhism.
Nearly all Buddhists use ritual for spiritual ends.
Devotion is a major part of the lives of most Buddhists.
For most of Buddhist history, meditation has been mainly monastic, and by no means universal even in that context.
Different branches of Buddhism use different collections, though with some overlap.
There is now a more or less established,  though not final, consensus among specialist historians that the Buddha died some time around 400 BC. Certain teachings are found with such frequency throughout the early texts that most historians conclude that he must have taught at least something of the sort.
Little or nothing is known of the origins of Mahayana.
The Buddhism that has made significant numbers of converts in the West is almost entirely of a style that emphasizes modernist elements.
- Routledge Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2007, page ix
- Lopez, (Story of) Buddhism, Harper/Penguin, 2001, Acknowledgements
- Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, 30, page 289
- Numen, volume 49, page 388/Williams, Buddhism, Routledge, Volume III, 2005, page 403
- Schroeder, Skillful Means, University of Hawai'i Press, 2001, page 5
- Bechert and Gombrich, World of Buddhism, Thames & Hudson, 1984, page 7; Sopher, Geography of Religion, Prentice-Hall, 1967, page 7; the other two are Christianity and islam; others have done so on a much smaller scale
- Fox, World Survey of Religion and the State, Cambridge University Press, 2008, Table 7.1 [page 182]
- World Christian Encyclopedia, 2nd ed, Oxford University Press, 2001, volume 1, page 3
- Penguin Handbook of the World's Living Religions, 2010, page 371
- Oxtoby & Amore, World Religions: Eastern Traditions, Oxford University Press, 2010, page 181/Oxtoby & Segal, Concise Introduction to World Religions, Oxford University Press, 2nd ed, 2012, page 376
- History of Religions, volume 42, page 389; following explanation summarized from Keown, Buddhism, Oxford University Press, 1996, chapter 4
- Bechert & Gombrich, World of Buddhism, Thames & Hudson, 1984, page 9
- History of Religions, volume 43, page 167
- Keown, Buddhism, Oxford University Press, 1996, page 11
- Oxtoby & Amore, World Religions: Eastern Tradtions, Oxford University Press, 2010, page 205/Oxtoby & Segal, Concise Introduction to the World Religions, Oxford University Press, 1st ed, 2007, page 398/2nd ed, 2012, page 394
- Gombrich, Theravada Buddhism, Routledge: 1st ed, 1988, page 21/2nd ed, 2006, page 22
- Gombrich, Theravada Buddhism, Routledge, 1st ed, 1988/2nd ed, 2006, page 3
- Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, volume 30, page 219
- Williams, Mahayana Buddhism, 2nd ed, 2006, Routledge, pages 1f
- Flesher, Exploring Religions, University of Wyoming
- Oxtoby & Amore, World Religions: Eastern Tradtions, Oxford University Press, 2010, page 211/Oxtoby & Segal, Concise Introduction to World Religions, 2nd ed, 2012, page 398
- Mitchell, Buddhism, Oxford University Press, ist ed, 2002, page 206/2nd ed, 2008, page 226
- [http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Buddhism.html?id=A7UKjtA0QDwC Fowler, Buddhism, Sussex Academic Press, 1999
- Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2004 (Volume One), page 139
- Harvey, Introduction to Buddhism, Cambridge University Press, 1990, page 170
- Lopez, Buddhist Scriptures, Penguin Classics, 2004, page xxxii; Routledge Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2007, pages 502f
- Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2004 (Volume Two), page 756
- Gethin, Sayings of the Buddha, Oxford World Classics, 2008, page xv
- Routledge Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2007, page 107
- Mitchell, Buddhism, Oxford University Press, 1st ed, 2002, page 34
- , page 91
- Keown & Prebish, Routledge Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2007, page 286