Four hundred million people call themselves Buddhists today. Yet most Westerners know little about this powerful, Eastern-spawned faith. How did it begin? What do its adherents believe? Why are so many Westerners drawn to it? ESSENTIAL BUDDHISM responds to these questions and many more, offering an accessible, global perspective on the religion's past, present, and future. It identifies how the principal concepts and practices originated and evolved through diverse cultural adaptations into three basic formats. ESSENTIAL BUDDHISM is the single best resource for the novice and the expert alike, exploring the depths of Buddhism's popularity and illuminating its tenets and its sensible approach to living.