Both Buddhist religion and philosophy are based on the on the teachings of Gautama Buddha, who is believed to have lived in India between 600 and 400 BCE. His followers believe that the he was enlightened and that by following his teachings, one could achieve Nirvana, or cessation of suffering. The best methods of how to do this vary by sect.
The two largest branches of Buddhism are: Theravada, which is prevalent throughout Southeast Asia; and Mahayana, which is more common in East Asia. Within these two branches are many subdivisions, that have been influenced by region and culture. Examples of these would be Tibetan Buddhism and Zen Buddhism.
Beliefs about the nature of the Universe and divinity vary within Buddhism. Generally speaking, Buddhism is non-theistic, meaning they don’t believe in a creator deity; rather, they look a the creation of the Universe as a natural event. Some Buddhists do believe in deities; however, they are not revered as superior entities, nor besought for help.
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