How and when did the many schools of Buddhism emerge? How does the historical figure of Siddartha Guatama relate to the many teachings that are presented in his name? Did Buddhism modify the cultures to which it was introduced, or did they modify Buddhism?Leading Buddhist scholar Donald S. Lopez Jr. explores the origins of this 2,500-year-old religion and traces its major developments up to the present, focusing not only on the essential elemenmts common to all schools of Buddhism but also revealing the differences among the major traditions. Beginning with the creation and structure of the Buddhist universe, Lopez explores the life of the Buddha, the core Buddhist tenets, and the development of the monastic life and lay practices. Combining brilliant scholarship with fascinating stories -- contemporary and historical, sometimes miraculous, sometimes humorous -- this rich and absorbing volume presents a fresh and expert history of Buddhism and Buddhist life.