In the usually accepted sense, of course, Buddhism is undoubtedly a religion. It is one of the major religions of the world, and one of the oldest, being more than 2,500 years old. It is followed by millions of people in Asia, and by growing numbers in Europe and America. Buddhists can now be found in most countries, including South Africa, Poland, the Czech Republic, Brazil, and Spain. Because it is so old, there are many different forms of Buddhism, but the original teaching can still be found if one makes a thorough investigation. The most authentic source of the teaching of the Buddha is the Pāli Canon of the Theravāda school of Buddhism. However, the Buddha warned us not just to rely on teachings handed down by tradition, but to investigate the Dhamma and test it for ourselves. Buddhism is a practical path that will lead the sincere seeker to inner realisation of universal truths. Unless one practices the Buddha’s path, one cannot know the real Dhamma. Mere academic knowledge of the teachings is useless unless it is applied in one’s daily life.
To give the Beginners forum some threads for newcomers to read and comment on, I will post some short extracts from my booklet, An Introduction to Buddhism