What is Buddhism?

Buddhism is the religion founded by the Buddha in approximately the 5th century BCE in the Ganges River Valley of India.

The Buddha taught that everything has a cause. He then used this idea to tackle the problems at the heart of the human condition: death, anxiety, suffering and evil.

He discovered that the cause of our spiritual disease is our erroneous perception that we are at the center of things. The Buddha called this self-centered perspective “ignorance,” and he taught that it is what causes us to suffer when the things which we think of as “me” (my body, my career, my relationships, etc) change in ways which we don’t like or fail to change in the ways we would.

The religion the Buddha founded is the set of contemplations, practices and beliefs which he and his disciples discovered help us to overcome our “selfish” tendencies and to attain liberation from the tyranny of “me.”

Course Results

This course will give you:


  • A comprehensive introduction to the core teachings of Buddhism
  • A gentle, guided introduction to the Buddha’s own words


  • Thorough lectures delivered by living masters with decades of teaching experience
  • Free textbooks and reference material you can use long after the course is over


  • Exposure to teachers from a variety of different Buddhist traditions
  • Practice applying Buddhist wisdom to your very own life.

Absolutely Free!

This course is not a commercial, academic tour of Buddhism. This course will instead immerse you in Buddhism, teaching you the fundamental concepts and how they build up to a unique and compelling worldview.

There will be homework and challenges, but there will not be grades or certificates. This is a self-directed course for those who are eager to learn what Buddhism is for themselves.

Is this course right for me?

This course will take about 2 months to complete and will contain readings and lectures in college-level, American English. To peruse the material in advance, see the bibliography.

Note that this course is geared towards complete beginners. If that’s not you, please take one of our more advanced introductory courses instead:

Office Hours

If you would like to get in touch with the instructor, please feel free to send me an email. You can connect with other students of Buddhism over at the SuttaCentral Forum

Course Outline

This course will proceed in 14 modules as follows:

  1. Hearing the Dharma
  2. Arousing Mindfulness
  3. Taking Refuge in the Triple Gem
  4. Cultivating Love
  5. Seeing the Four Noble Truths
  6. Entering the Path
  7. Understanding Karma
  8. Refining the Mind
  9. Deconstructing the Self
  10. Facing our Problems
  11. Integrating the Path
  12. Widening our Perspective
  13. Living Well
  14. Creating a Better Tomorrow

It’s recommended that you do the modules in order, doing about two modules per week as your schedule permits.

Since this course will take at least a few weeks to complete, please take a moment now to bookmark this page or share the link with a friend so you can find it later!

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