From its Indian context, Buddhism spread worldwide for over 2,500 years through trade, royal patronage, migration, scholarly study, and travel. Currently, about 350 million people or 6 percent of the world's population identify themselves as Buddhist, with Mahayana the largest tradition. Besides Mahayana Buddhism, the other main schools are Theravada and Vajrayana. However, Vajrayana also is regarded as a form of Mahayana Buddhism and is said to provide a faster path to Buddhahood or enlightenment. In addition, there are organizations or individuals who identify themselves as nonsectarian Buddhists. While Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana traditions each have their distinctive features the traditions also share commonalities such as the acceptance of the Four Noble Truths.

These state that life is unsatisfactory, that suffering is due to desire and ...

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