Outline of Buddhism

Dharmacakra, symbol of the Dharma, the Buddha's teaching of the path to enlightenment

The following outline is provided as an overview of, and topical guide to, Buddhism:

Buddhism (Pali/Sanskrit: बौद्ध धर्म Buddha Dharma) is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha, "the awakened one".

The Buddha

Gautama Buddha
Main article: Gautama Buddha

Branches of Buddhism

Schools of Buddhism

Main article: Schools of Buddhism

Timeline: Development and propagation of Buddhist traditions (ca. 450 BCE – ca. 1300 CE)

  450 BCE[note 1] 250 BCE 100 CE 500 CE 700 CE 800 CE 1200 CE[note 2]







Early Buddhist schools Mahāyāna Vajrayāna






Sri Lanka &
Southeast Asia










Tibetan Buddhism








East Asia


Early Buddhist schools
and Mahāyāna
(via the silk road
to China, and ocean
contact from India to Vietnam)


Nara (Rokushū)




Thiền, Seon
Tiantai / Jìngtǔ









Central Asia & Tarim Basin





Silk Road Buddhism


  450 BCE 250 BCE 100 CE 500 CE 700 CE 800 CE 1200 CE
  Legend:   = Theravada   = Mahayana   = Vajrayana   = Various / syncretic


Theravada — literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", it is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India. It is relatively conservative, and generally closer to early Buddhism,[2] and for many centuries has been the predominant religion of Sri Lanka (now about 70% of the population[3]) and most of continental Southeast Asia.


Mahayana — literally the "Great Vehicle", it is the largest school of Buddhism, and originated in India. The term is also used for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice. According to the teachings of Mahāyāna traditions, "Mahāyāna" also refers to the path of seeking complete enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings, also called "Bodhisattvayāna", or the "Bodhisattva Vehicle."[4][5]


Main article: Vajrayana
The vajra, a distinct symbol of Vajrayana

Early Buddhist schools

Buddhist modernism

Main article: Buddhist modernism

Buddhism worldwide

Main article: Buddhism by country
Percentage of formal/practicing Buddhists by the numbers of registered adherents (according to the least estimates).
Percentage of cultural/nominal adherents of combined Buddhism with its related religions (according to the highest estimates).

Buddhist scriptures and texts

Main article: Buddhist texts

Theravada texts

Main article: Pali literature
A collection of the Pali canon.

Mahayana texts

The Tripitaka Koreana in storage at Haeinsa.

Vajrayana texts

History of Buddhism

Main article: History of Buddhism

Doctrines of Buddhism

Core Buddhist concepts and their relationships
The relationship between the major concepts in Buddhism

Three Jewels (TiratanaTriratna)

The triratna, a symbol of the Three Jewels
Main article: Three Jewels

Four Noble Truths (Cattāri ariyasaccāniCatvāri āryasatyāni)

Main article: Four Noble Truths

1. The Noble Truth of Suffering (Dukkha ariya sacca)

2. The Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering (Dukkha samudaya ariya sacca)

3. The Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering (Dukkha nirodha ariya sacca)

4. The Noble Truth of the Path leading to the Cessation of Suffering (Dukkha nirodha gāminī paṭipadā ariya sacca)

Three Marks of Existence (TilakkhaṇaTrilakṣaṇa)

Five Aggregates (Pañca khandhaPañca-skandha)

Main article: Skandha

Dependent Origination (PaticcasamuppādaPratītyasamutpāda)

Main article: Pratītyasamutpāda

Specific Conditionality (Idappaccayatā)

Main article: Idappaccayatā
When this is, that is.
From the arising of this comes the arising of that.
When this isn't, that isn't.
From the cessation of this comes the cessation of that.
Imasmiṃ sati, idaṃ hoti.
Imass’ uppādā, idaṃ uppajjati.
Imasmiṃ asati, idaṃ na hoti.
Imassa nirodhā, idhaṃ nirujjhati.
Main article: Twelve Nidānas
Former life
Current life
Future life

Transcendental Dependent Origination

Karma (Kamma)

Main article: Karma in Buddhism

Rebirth (PunabbhavaPunarbhava)

Main article: Rebirth (Buddhism)

Buddhist cosmology

Main article: Buddhist cosmology
The bhavachakra, a symbolic depiction of the six realms.

Sense bases (Āyatana)

Main article: Ayatana

Six Great Elements (Dhātu)

Faculties (Indriya)

Main article: Indriya

Formations (SaṅkhāraSaṃskāra)

Main article: Saṅkhāra

Mental Factors (CetasikaCaitasika )

Theravāda abhidhamma

Mahayana abhidharma

  1. Sparśa — contact, contacting awareness, sense impression, touch
  2. Vedanā — feeling, sensation
  3. Saṃjñā — perception
  4. Cetanā — volition
  5. Manasikara — attention
  1. Chanda — desire (to act), intention, interest
  2. Adhimoksha — decision, interest, firm conviction
  3. Smṛti — mindfulness
  4. Prajñā — wisdom
  5. Samādhi — concentration
  1. Sraddhā — faith
  2. Hrī — self-respect, conscientiousness, sense of shame
  3. Apatrāpya — decorum, regard for consequence
  4. Alobha — non-attachment
  5. Adveṣa — non-aggression, equanimity, lack of hatred
  6. Amoha — non-bewilderment
  7. Vīrya — diligence, effort
  8. Praśrabdhi — pliancy
  9. Apramāda — conscientiousness
  10. Upekṣa — equanimity
  11. Ahiṃsā — nonharmfulness
  1. Raga — attachment
  2. Pratigha — anger
  3. Avidya — ignorance
  4. Māna — pride, conceit
  5. Vicikitsa — doubt
  6. Dṛiṣṭi — wrong view
  1. Krodha — rage, fury
  2. Upanāha — resentment
  3. Mrakśa — concealment, slyness-concealment
  4. Pradāśa — spitefulness
  5. Irshya — envy, jealousy
  6. Mātsarya — stinginess, avarice, miserliness
  7. Māyā — pretense, deceit
  8. Śāṭhya — hypocrisy, dishonesty
  9. Mada — self-infatuation, mental inflation, self-satisfaction
  10. Vihiṃsā — malice, hostility, cruelty, intention to harm
  11. Āhrīkya — lack of shame, lack of conscious, shamelessness
  12. Anapatrāpya — lack of propriety, disregard, shamelessness
  13. Styāna — lethargy, gloominess
  14. Auddhatya — excitement, ebullience
  15. Āśraddhya — lack of faith, lack of trust
  16. Kausīdya — laziness, slothfulness
  17. Pramāda — heedlessness, carelessness, unconcern
  18. Muṣitasmṛtitā — forgetfulness
  19. Asaṃprajanya — non-alertness, inattentiveness
  20. Vikṣepa — distraction, desultoriness
  1. Kaukṛitya — regret, worry,
  2. Middha — sleep, drowsiness
  3. Vitarka — conception, selectiveness, examination
  4. Vicāra — discernment, discursiveness, analysis

Mind and Consciousness

Obstacles to Enlightenment

Two Kinds of Happiness (Sukha)

Two Kinds of Bhava

Two Guardians of the World (Sukka lokapala)

Three Conceits

Three Standpoints

Three Primary Aims

Three Divisions of the Dharma

Four Kinds of Nutriment

Four Kinds of Acquisitions (Upadhi)

Eight Worldly Conditions

The "Eight Worldly Winds" referenced in discussions of Equanimity (upekkhā, upekṣhā)

Truth (SaccaSatya)

Main articles: Sacca and Satya

Higher Knowledge (AbhiññaAbhijña)

Main article: Abhijna

Great fruits of the contemplative life (Maha-Phala)

Main article: Phala

Concepts unique to Mahayana and Vajrayana

White A - Symbol Dzogchen

Other concepts

Buddhist practices

Buddhist devotion

Buddhists making offerings at Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep
Main article: Buddhist devotion

Moral discipline and precepts (SīlaŚīla)

Main article: Śīla

Three Resolutions

Three Pillars of Dharma

Threefold Training (Sikkhā)

Main article: Threefold Training

Five Qualities

Five Powers of a Trainee

Five Things that lead to Awakening

Five Subjects for Contemplation

Main article: Upajjhatthana Sutta

Gradual training (Anupubbikathā)

Main articles: Gradual training and Anupubbikathā

Seven Good Qualities (Satta saddhammā)

Ten Meritorious Deeds (Dasa Punnakiriya vatthu)

Perfections (PāramīPāramitā)

Main article: Pāramitā

Ten Theravada Pāramīs (Dasa pāramiyo)

Six Mahayana Pāramitās

States Pertaining to Enlightenment (BodhipakkhiyādhammāBodhipakṣa dharma)

Main article: Bodhipakkhiyādhammā

Four Foundations of Mindfulness (Cattāro satipaṭṭhānāSmṛtyupasthāna)

Main article: Satipatthana

Four Right Exertions (Cattārimāni sammappadhānāniSamyak-pradhāna)

Main article: Four Right Exertions

Four Bases for Spiritual Power (IddhipādaṚddhipāda)

Main article: Iddhipada

Five Spiritual Faculties (Pañca indriya)

Main article: Indriya

Five Strengths (Pañca bala)

Main article: Five Strengths

Seven Factors of Enlightenment (Satta sambojjhaṅgāSapta bodhyanga)


Noble Eightfold Path (Ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggoĀrya 'ṣṭāṅga mārgaḥ)

Main article: Noble Eightfold Path
Wisdom (Paññākkhandha)
Dharmachakra, symbol of the Noble Eightfold Path, the Buddha's teaching of the path to enlightenment
Moral discipline (Sīlakkhandha)
Concentration (Samādhikkhandha)
Acquired factors

Buddhist meditation

Main articles: Buddhist meditation and Bhavana

Theravada meditation practices

Tranquillity/Serenity/Calm (SamathaŚamatha)
Main article: Samatha
A Buddhist monk meditating
Concentration (Samādhi)
Main article: Samadhi (Buddhism)
Insight meditation (VipassanāVipaśyanā)
Main article: Vipassanā

Zen meditation practices

Vajrayana meditation practices

Other practices

Attainment of Enlightenment





Buddhist monasticism and laity

Buddhist monks on daily alms round.
Main article: Buddhist monasticism

Major figures of Buddhism

Main article: List of Buddhists


Buddha's disciples and early Buddhists

Chief Disciples

Great Disciples




First five disciples of the Buddha

Two seven-year-old Arahants

Other disciples

Later Indian Buddhists (after Buddha)

Indo-Greek Buddhists

Chinese Buddhists

Tibetan Buddhists

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, a renowned Tibetan lama.

Japanese Buddhists

Vietnamese Buddhists

Burmese Buddhists

Thai Buddhists

Sri Lankan Buddhists

American Buddhists

British Buddhists

German Buddhists

Irish Buddhists

Buddhist philosophy

Main article: Buddhist philosophy
Golden statue of Nagarjuna at Samye Ling Monastery.

Buddhist culture

Vesak celebration in Singapore.
Imitation currency burned for ancestors, during the Ghost Festival
Mala, Buddhist prayer beads.

Buddhist pilgrimage

Main article: Buddhist pilgrimage
Mahabodhi Temple in India, a common site of pilgrimage.

Comparative Buddhism

From a 12th-century Greek manuscript: Saint Josaphat preaches the Gospel.


See also



  1. Cousins, L.S. (1996); Buswell (2003), Vol. I, p. 82; and, Keown & Prebish (2004), p. 107. See also, Gombrich (1988/2002), p. 32: “…[T]he best we can say is that [the Buddha] was probably Enlightened between 550 and 450, more likely later rather than earlier."
  2. Williams (2000, pp. 6-7) writes: "As a matter of fact Buddhism in mainland India itself had all but ceased to exist by the thirteenth century CE, although by that time it had spread to Tibet, China, Japan, and Southeast Asia." [1] (Originally 1958), "Chronology," p. xxix: "c. 1000-1200: Buddhism disappears as [an] organized religious force in India." See also, Robinson & Johnson (1970/1982), pp. 100-1, 108 Fig. 1; and, Harvey (1990/2007), pp. 139-40.


  1. Embree 1988.
  2. Gethin, Rupert. The Foundations of Buddhism, p1. Oxford University Press, 1998.
  3. "The World Factbook: Sri Lanka". CIA World Factbook. Retrieved 2006-08-12..
  4. Keown, Damien (2003), A Dictionary of Buddhism: p. 38
  5. "The Mahayana, 'Great Vehicle' or 'Great Carriage' (for carrying all beings to nirvana), is also, and perhaps more correctly and accurately, known as the Bodhisattvayana, the bodhisattva's vehicle." - Warder, A.K. (3rd edn. 1999). Indian Buddhism: p.338
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