Questions & Answers

Buddhism: A Westerner’s Quest for Meaning

Butterfly MiracleFor most of my life, I have been drawn to spirituality in the Christian faith tradition. In the search for deeper meaning, I acquired both undergraduate and graduate degrees relating to theology and spirituality.

It was within my Christian heritage that I was first indirectly introduced to Buddhism through a well-respected and internationally-known Christian meditation teacher. Sometimes he would quote from the Dhammapada is his meditation talks.

This source piqued my interest, and from that small, insignificant beginning, my interest in Buddhism and Buddhist spirituality has grown over the past few years.

Now, on this page, I am seeking to answer questions that have crossed my path and have at times puzzled me. May the questions and answers prove instructive and enlightening for all who may be drawn to explore Buddhism for one reason or another.

What Is Theravada Buddhism?

The Theravada tradition of Sri Lanka and South-East Asia, is also sometimes referred to as ‘southern’ Buddhism. Its canonical scriptures are preserved in Pali, an ancient Indian language closely related to Sanskrit. The school exemplifies a certain conservatism. Relative to the other two traditions [Mahayana and Vajrayana), it can be regarded as generally closer in doctrine and practice to ancient Buddhism as it existed in the early centuries BCE in India. Today it is the religious tradition followed by a population of over 100 million in Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos. (Source: Gethin, Rupert. The Foundations of Buddhism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. Page 1)