Buddhist Studies

Buddhism is one of the world’s most well-known religions spanning the globe. There are three major schools: Mahayana, Theravada, and Vajrayana. Each school has its own belief system and suggestions for practice, with each school being divided even further into subsets. This comprehensive guide provides links to information about each sect, along with Buddhism’s historical background.

HistoryMahayana TheravadaVajrayana


  • A History of Buddhism: The Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies published this detailed history of Buddhism. Some beautiful images of Buddhist art break up the text.
  • Buddhism: The Imported Religion: Though with a specialized focus on the history of Buddhism in China, this site also offers an in-depth history of Buddhism in general. The writer covers karma and reincarnation, the three jewels, and the term “Buddha.”
  • Life of Buddha: This site, dedicated to publishing information on the life of Buddha, offers information on his life and provides links to relevant books and online resources. Read the story of Siddhartha Gautama by starting at this page.
  • Life of the Buddha: The Buddhist Society provides a general description of the life of the Buddha. His life is categorized by the beginning, the four sights, renunciation, enlightenment, and more.
  • The History of Buddhism: This is an essay written by Dr. C. George Boeree of Shippensburg University about the history of Buddhism. It is subdivided into different sects and countries, making it easily readable.


  • Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition: This is the FPMT organization’s website, which was founded by Lama ThubtenYeshe in the 1970s. Especially useful is the online learning center, which allows access to a variety of printed material regarding this tradition.
  • Mahayana Buddhism (a.k.a. Northern Tradition): This site explains the basics of Mahayana Buddhism and its history. The comparison chart with Theravada Buddhism is helpful for those interested in the differences of the two.
  • Mahayana Buddhism: Washington State University maintains this brief history of Mahayana Buddhism. The essay focuses on comparing and contrasting Mahayana with Theravada Buddhism.
  • Tendai: Tendai is a subset of Mahayana Buddhism. This site hosts several articles educating people on its principles, its founder, and its history.
  • Zen Buddhism: The Metropolitan Museum of Art presents the history of Zen Buddhism from the perspective of art. After you’ve read the summary, you can browse the museum’s collection related to Zen Buddhism.


  • Access to Insight: This site provides information about specific beliefs of the Theravada Buddhists. Viewers enjoy access to a massive online library of Theravada literature as well. 
  • The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation: Originally presented in Switzerland by S.N. Goenka, this speech illustrates the purpose of practicing Vipassana meditation. It’s meant to be digestible, so it’s easy to read while still being thorough. 
  • Theravada Buddhist Society of America: Theravada Buddhists living in the United States will find this site to be a great resource. Event and retreat news and links to selected publications are provided. 
  • Vipassana Research Institute: Ever wondered about the scientifically proven benefits of meditation? This site offers information about a variety of studies conducted and about Vipassana courses worldwide. 
  • What is Theravada Buddhism?: The Buddhist Society of Queensland takes an interesting look at Theravada Buddhism and includes its historical aspects and implications. It is published on the Urban Dharma website. 

Vajrayana (Tibetan)

  • A View on Buddhism: Presented from a Tibetan Buddhist point of view, this site offers a breakdown of several aspects of their specific philosophy. Also discussed are meditation guidelines and how to deal with negative emotions.
  • Emaho Foundation: The home page of the Emaho Foundation offers a broad description of Vajrayana Buddhism’s basic teachings. You can also watch videos on talks given by different monks.
  • Shambhala: Shambhala is a community for practitioners of and for those interested in Tibetan Buddhism. You will find information about meditation, a description of beliefs, and information about global events and centers.
  • Some Facts about Vajrayana Buddhism: This is a pointed essay written by Acharya Mahayogi Sridhar Rana Rinpoche dissecting the widely held beliefs of this Buddhist school. It explores its existence in Nepal in particular.
  • Tibet Buddhist Resource Center: For those of you interested in dissecting hard-to-find pieces of Tibetan Buddhist literature, this is a great resource. Aside from ancient texts, you can also stay up to date with their blog.

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