American Buddhism

WEB VIDEO & DISCUSSION QUESTIONS This PBS video from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly examines the differences that have emerged between Asian-American Buddhists and European-American converts since Buddhism first reached America's shores in the 1840s. Asian immigrants to the United States brought their traditions and belief systems with them, giving Buddhism a foothold in the West as new immigrants found comfort in their native faith tradition. At the same time, Americans new to Buddhism discovered value and contentment in Buddhist ideas and ideals. A transcript. background essay and discussion questions support the video.

Buddhism: Religions and Religious Movements edited by Jeff Hay

BOOK Buddhists believe in no single deity but ascribe to a guide for living that offers the possibility of transcendent enlightenment. This volume outlines the tenets of Buddhism and traces the spread of the religion from its birth in India to Southeast Asia, China, Japan and ultimately the West. HS-Adult

Buddhist Art and Architecture

IMAGES & TEXT This site has examples and explanations of art influenced by Buddhist beliefs and traditions.


WEB RESOURCE This site is listed as excellent in the Digital Library of Buddhist Studies. Learn Religions - Buddhism provides an overview of basic ideas and practices, as well as information on Buddhist history and major schools of belief.

Tibetan New Year

WEB VIDEO & DISCUSSION QUESTIONS This PBS video from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly features Tibetan Buddhists in the U.S. performing the traditional services of the Tibetan New Year. The activities of the Tibetan New Year symbolize purification. They are intended to drive away evil spirits, renew positive spiritual energy and reinforce the resolutions a person has made. Download the video onto your device desktop in order to view it.


WEB RESOURCE This part of the BBC religions site on Buddhism has information on beliefs, ethics, history, holy days, people and the various sub groups within the faith.

Nen Ordination - Becoming a Buddhist Monk

WEB VIDEO and DISCUSSION QUESTIONS This PBS video from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly shows a family in the U.S. sending off their pre-teenage son to become ordained as a nen, or novice monk, in the tradition of Theravada Buddhism. Theravada, one of the two major schools of Buddhism, is considered the earliest record of the Buddha's teachings. It is the predominant religion of Thailand, Mynamar (Burma), Cambodia, and Sri Lanka, and has also blossomed in the West. To view the video, download it to the disktop of your device.

Japanese Buddhist Art

ART IMAGES The introduction of Buddhism to Japan was one of the most important events in Japanese history and had a lasting effect on the development of the country's thought, art and culture. This Asia Society site has 11 examples.

Internet Sacred Text Archive - Buddhism

SACRED TEXT This Sacred Text Archive has a large selection of modern translations of Buddhist religious texts. For schools, the collection of Jataka fables framed as previous incarnations of the Buddha, many of which either have parallels or derivatives in western folklore and literature, will be especially of value. Although the Jataka is not considered part of the canonical Buddhist scripture, it is very popular. Most tales have a short moral lesson.

Becoming Buddha: The Story of Siddhartha by Whitney Stewart

CHILDREN'S BOOK This introduction to the story of Buddhism depicts the life of Siddhartha Gautama, a wealthy young prince who gave up his worldly ways to attain supreme enlightenment to become Buddha. Gr. 5-9

Oldest Buddhist Shrine Uncovered In Nepal May Push Back the Buddha's Birth Date

WEB NEWS Excavations by a team of British archaeologists uncovered what is thought to be the oldest Buddhist shrine on record at the Lumbini Pilgrimage Center in Nepal, the legendary site of Buddha's birth. Using multiple dating methods, the archaeologists fix the shrine at around 550 BCE which seems to support Buddha's birth at about 100 years before most scholars think.

The Buddha

WEB VIDEO This three-part PBS film by David Grubin provides an overview of the Buddha's life and teachings. It has now been posted on YouTube. The topics include Early Life, Seeking, Enlightenment, Teachings, Community, Meditation, Compassion, Miracles, and Death & Legacy. Since the web version is in parts, teachers may choose the sections that are useful in the classroom and use other resources to supplement if needed. The lesson materials that support the film will be controversial in many schools so should be used after parental notification.

Features of a Chinese Buddhist Temples

WEB VIDEO This is a short narrated visually rich description of Chinese Buddhist temples are easily recognizable by features such as rolling waves of glazed tiles, architectural symmetry, lots of red paint, lotus flower motif, incense burners, and a centrally located main door. This is a useful site for teachers but the last sentence would create a negative response from most Buddhist scholars.

Buddhism: The "Imported" Tradition

WEB RESOURCE Buddhism is an interesting form of Chinese religion for many reasons, not least because it was the first major religious tradition in China that was "imported" from abroad.

Buddhism and Its Spread Along the Silk Road

WEB RESOURCE Besides silk, paper and other goods, the Silk Road carried Buddhism another commodity which was equally significant in world history. The world's oldest international highway served as the vehicle to spread Buddhism through Central Asia. This site has a brief description of the history of that process.

Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism

WEB VIDEO This Khan Academy video provides an introduction to the major schools of Buddhist thought --Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism. It is part of a series of videos on Hinduism and Buddhism that includes the relationship between the two religions, the early years of Buddhism, and the core spiritual ideas of Buddhism.

Buddhist Ash Interment

WEB VIDEO & SUPPORT MATERIAL This brief video from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly shows the rites of ash interment within a progressive form of Buddhism known as Pure Land. In some Buddhist traditions, funeral rites are considered to be a final attempt to help a person achieve a favorable reincarnation.

The Buddha Triumphing over Mara

WEB RESOURCE This stone sculpture from the 900s shows many characteristic features of images of the Buddha. The sculpture was created in India and is currently housed at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. A video by the Khan Academy describing the sculpture is included.

Seated Buddha Dated 338

WEB RESOURCE This Buddha has a unique status among Buddhas in China. It bears an inscription on the back that is equivalent to the year 338. This is the earliest date inscribed on any Buddha sculpture from China, anywhere in the world. Listen to Michael Knight, Curator Emeritus of Chinese Art at the Asian Art Museum, discusses one of the museum's masterworks, a Seated Buddha from 338, as you view images of the object and a rendering in 3D.

Masterpiece Art: The Buddhist Deity Simhavaktra Dakini

WEB VIDEO Simhavaktra means "lion faced" or "lion headed," and a dakini is a "sky-walker," an inhabitant of the realm of the sky in the mind. Simhavaktra balances deftly, despite her apparently awkward posture. To successfully create a sculpture of this type, extremely high levels of artistic skill were necessary. Curators at the Asian Art Museum explain how this sculpture symbolizes a number of Buddhist religious ideas.

Buddhism in Japan

WEB RESOURCE Buddhism is a religion that offers a spiritual path for transcending the suffering of existence. Three main types of Buddhism have developed over its long history, each with its own characteristics and spiritual ideals. A major, long-established East Asian route of trade and influence ran from northern China through the Korean peninsula and across the Korean Straits to Japan. Traveling along this route, Mahayana Buddhism was introduced to Japan from Korea in the sixth century.