Buddhism, with around 375 million followers, is the world’s fourth largest religion, after Christianity, Islam and Hinduism.  It is based on the teachings of Siddharta Gautama, known as the Buddha (in Sanskrit “the awakened one”), who lived in India sometime between the 6th and the 4th centuries BCE (Before the Common Era).The basic concept of Buddhism is that life is suffering, but that suffering can be overcome by living a moral life, being aware of thoughts and actions, and developing wisdom and compassion.  Although Buddhism is a religion as well as a philosophy, the Buddha himself never claimed to be a God. He encouraged his followers to test his ideas for themselves and not merely to take his word as truth.  His methods for overcoming negative emotions such as anger and jealousy and developing the positive ones of love and compassion are said to reveal the path to lasting happiness.The two main branches of Buddhism are Mahayana and Therabada.  Mahayana, the larger of the two is widely practiced in East Asia.  It includes Zen and Tibetan Buddhism, among other types.  Therabada, the other branch,  has many adherents in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia.Buddhism is the most important religion in China, where it has flourished since ancient times.  It has played a profound role in shaping the culture, aesthetics, philosophy, literature and medicine of the Chinese people.  Meditation is at the heart of the Buddhist way of life.  TCM,  a preventative medicine, has a holistic approach, which regards the body, mind and spirit as equally important to the health of the individual. Therefore, meditation, to quiet the mind and control the breathing, is seen as an important therapeutic practice for health and a long life. TCM recognizes that spirituality plays an important part in the healing process.

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