Manuel Brandt

Buddhism And The Fascinating Religious Practices of Taiwan


Buddhism is the fourth-largest religion, practiced mostly in East Asia, and initially came from India. Living in East Asia for years, I always got in contact with it, and finally took some time to learn about it. I got fascinated by it and its lessons, and especially the way they handle religion at my current base, Taiwan. This article summarizes the basics of Buddhism and how religion is handled in Taiwan.

Table of Contents

Who Was Buddha? 🌳

The Buddha, originally named Siddhārtha Gautama, was the founder of Buddhism. Born as a prince in the 6th century BCE in present-day Nepal, he was raised in opulence but became disillusioned by the suffering he witnessed in the world.

Renouncing his privileged life, he embarked on a spiritual quest, seeking enlightenment. After years of practice, he attained enlightenment while meditating under a bodhi tree. Afterward, he shared lots of lessons and teachings.

The Four Noble Truths 🗣

The Four Noble Truths are the basis of Buddhism.

1. Life is Suffering (Rather Meant As Dissatisfaction)

The first rule simply means that life is full of disappointments and unfulfilling.

2. This Suffering is Caused by Desire

Humans constantly desire things, which means they end up constantly being disappointed. The key to being happy is to be happy with what you have and to stop desiring what you don’t have.

3. There’s An End to the Suffering

4. The Path to End The Suffering is the Eightfold Path or Middle Way

Basically, the meaning of the Four Noble Truths is that we always desire more and that this causes dissatisfaction. By learning to be happy with what we have, we end our “suffering” and become truly happy.

The Eightfold Path or Middle Way ⛰️

The Eightfold Path, also known as the Middle Way, is a concept that should fix our ever-desiring brain and lead us to happiness. It’s less a path but a wheel with each point supporting to spin the wheel faster.

  1. Right View: Accept the concept of the 4 Noble Truths.
  2. Right Thoughts: Don’t allow negative thoughts such as greed, hate, or fear to cloud your mind.
  3. Right Speech: Use speech that is positive, truthful, and kind. Avoid lying, harsh words, and gossip, as they don’t have any advantage for anyone.
  4. Right Action: Engage in actions that are morally right. Refrain from actions that cause harm to others.
  5. Right Livelihood: Choose a livelihood that is honorable and does not cause harm to others or involve engaging in unethical activities.
  6. Right Effort: Put effort into creating right and positive thoughts.
  7. Right Mindfulness: Be present. Pay full intention to every moment.
  8. Right Concentration: Meditate. Learn to focus your mind on one thing. This will give you insights into your thoughts.

The Eightfold Path is not meant to be followed sequentially but rather as an approach to living. Each aspect supports the other, leading to the development of wisdom and happiness. Through these practices, one can gradually free themselves from the cycle of the previously mentioned suffering.

Other Lessons 📖

There are many other beliefs and lessons in Buddhism. Some core are:


Karma is about that actions have consequences. This doesn’t need to be seen in a spiritual way. If you do bad, bad things come back to you. If you do good, good things come back. You reap what you sow.


Buddhism believes in an endless cycle of being reborn after death. It’s possible to stop this cycle when you end your “suffering”.

Branches of Buddhism ⏳

There are numerous branches of Buddhism. The two biggest one are:


This is the oldest form of Buddhism. It’s mainly followed in Central Asia, so from Sri Lanka to Laos. It’s focusing a lot on reading the original teachings from Buddha. The texts they read can be dated back almost to the time of Buddha himself. They also focus less on religious rituals than other branches of Buddhism.


This is a younger form of Buddhism that is mainly covered in East Asia, so Vietnam, China, and Taiwan. It has way more texts and teachings, as it doesn’t just stick to the original texts like Theravada. It includes more praying, similar to religions like Christianity or the Islam. It is the most followed branch and has lots of different sub-schools.

What I Like About Buddhism ⭐️

You Should Follow The Practices That Work For You

Buddhism is not about set rules and not following them will send you to hell. Buddhism wants you to study its lessons and pick what works for you in your unique circumstances. Even the Dalai Lama said:

“If you find that the teachings suit you, apply them to your life as you can. If they don’t suit you, just leave them be”.

I, for example, am a really scientific person. Therefore, I have struggles to fully belief in gods or being reborn. However, I agree with the rational principles of Karma and that humans need to stop always wanting more. I can pick what works for me and leave out what is hard for me to truly believe.

There Are No Strict Rules and Penalties

The Buddhist teachings, including the ones I mentioned, aren’t strict rules, and not following them won’t result in any punishment. That also means that if I struggle with believing in rebirth, for example, that’s totally fine. I can be open about it, and it will be accepted, even by the monks.

I Agree With Many of Its Lessons

There are numerous lessons and teachings that you can use in everyday life. Learning about the teachings of Buddhism and practicing them, from my point of view, will help you to become a better and happier person. I see it as a great way of self development.

The Fascinating Religious Practices of Taiwan 🇹🇼

I want to add a note on religion in Taiwan because I find it really fascinating. In Taiwan, the main religions are Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism (which are basically the lessons of Confucius). The interesting thing is that most people don’t follow one of these 3, but all of them.

They study the different religions and their teachings, and then pick the teachings and practices that work for them. In this way, everyone practices religion a bit differently. You could even say, everyone creates their own religion based on the teachings of those 3 religions.

I was born as a Christian, but growing up for me, it became difficult to truly believe that with so many religions that exist (and existed in the past), this religion and this god is “the one”. How can you be sure about it?

Instead, in Taiwan, people believe less in god(s) in a typical way. Buddhism, Taoism, and especially Confucianism, are less about praying to a god, but learning about teachings from wise philosophers, and implementing their teachings into your life, to become a better and happier you.

I like the way that people in Taiwan learn teachings and lessons from these three religions and take away what works for them to evolve as a person and become fulfilled. From my view, this is a great way of self-development. Just as many people read books or blog articles and then take away what works for them and implement that into their lifes, you can do the same with Buddhism and the other religions followed in Taiwan.

Conclusion 👨‍💻

Buddhism, as well as Taoism and Confucianism, can be interesting and valuable for everyone, even for people who believe in other religions.

Especially the way they handle it in Taiwan fascinated me. Not only studying Buddhism, but also Taoism and Confucianism, with all of their wisdom. Focusing not only on one but all of them, and choosing what works best, has an immense potential for every individual to learn and grow, even if the spiritual and religious beliefs are not appealing to them.

This can surely be applied to other religions as well. Every religion has lots of teachings to offer. I myself am mostly fascinated by the religions in East Asia.

These are mainly my notes from learning about Buddhism and religion in Taiwan. I worked a lot with this amazing source by Cogito: Feel free to check it out.

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