Buddhism is both a world religion and a philosophy with between 230 and 500 million adherents worldwide. It is based on the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni, sometimes known just as "the Buddha", (Siddhārtha Gautama) who lived c. 5th century BCE in ancient India, in parts of what is now Nepal and the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Buddhism has spread through two main traditions; Theravada which extended south and east and now has widespread following in Southeast Asia, and Mahayana, which diffused first west, then north and later east throughout East Asia. Both traditions have since spread throughout the world. There are considerable differences between the various existing traditions regarding their canon of authentic scriptures, their emphasis on specific parts of what they respectively consider the Buddha´s teachings and their subsequent interpretations as well as in the practices they consider most beneficial. ---------------------------- All traditions recognize the Buddha as an enlightened teacher who shared his insights in order to help sentient beings end their suffering (see The Four Noble Truths) in accordance with the laws of Karma by realizing the true nature of phenomena and thereby escaping the cycle of involuntary rebirths known to Buddhists as Samsara. Among the methods Buddhist sects apply towards that goal are ethical conduct, altruistic behaviour, renunciation of wordly matters, the training of one´s mind through learning and meditation, devotional practices and the invocation of holy beings to seek their help in achieving Enlightenment. Followers of the Buddhist path take refuge in The Three Jewels: Buddha (The Enlightened or Awakened One), Dharma (The Teaching), and Sangha (The Community).