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BUDDHISM RELIGION or PHILOSOPHY

 
Dharmic religions are a family of religions which originated in the Indian subcontinent. They encompass the Vedic religion (now Hinduism), Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Dharmic religions are one of the three major schools of religion in the world, the others being Abrahamic religions and Taoic religions. The theology and philosophy of Dharmic religions center on the concept of Dharma, a Sanskrit term for fixed decree, law, and duty, especially in a spiritual sense of natural law, and reality. It is mostly influential across the Indian subcontinent, East Asia, and South East Asia, with lesser influence felt throughout the world. These Dharmic religions are very closely interrelated.
 
Buddhism (also known as Buddha Dharma, "the teachings of the awakened one") is a dharmic, non-theistic religion, a way of life, a practical philosophy, and arguably a form of psychology. Buddhism focuses on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, known as Gautama Buddha, who was born in Kapilavastu, ancient India which now falls under modern day Nepal, with the name Siddhartha Gautama around the fifth century BCE. Buddhism spread throughout the Indian subcontinent in the five centuries following the Buddha's passing, and propagated into Central, Southeast, and East Asia over the next two millennia.
 
 
There are Three Ages of Buddhism following the historical Buddha's passing: the Former Day of the Law, the first thousand years; the Middle Day of the Law, the second thousand years; and the Latter Day of the Law, which is to last for 10,000 years. The three periods are significant to Mahayana adherents, particularly those who hold the Lotus Sutra in high regard, for example, the Tiantai (Tendai) and Nichiren Buddhists, who believe that different Buddhist teachings are valid (i.e., able to lead practitioners to enlightenment) in each period due to the different capacity to accept the teaching of the people born in each respective period.
 
The three periods are further divided into five five-hundred year periods, the fifth and last of which was prophesied to be a when the Buddhism of Sakyamuni would loose all power of salvation and a new Buddha would appear to save the people. This time period would be characterized by unrest, strife, famine, and other, natural disasters.
 
Today, Buddhism is divided primarily into three traditions: Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. Buddhism continues to attract followers worldwide, and it is considered a major world religion. According to one source, "World estimates for Buddhists vary between 230 and 500 million, with most around 350 million." However, estimates are uncertain for several countries. Buddhism is the fourth-largest organized religion in the world, and the monks' order Sangha is amongst the oldest organizations on earth.
 
Most Buddhists also believe that the Dharma as taught by the Buddha predates the Tripitaka. Buddhists believe in a long lineage of Buddha's in the world, with Kassapa Buddha, Konagamana Buddha, and Kakusandha Buddha appearing in the world previous to the present Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha.
 
 
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