Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world, encompassing many different traditions and practices. It originated in India between the sixth and fourth centuries BCE with the dissemination of the teachings of Siddhārtha Gautama, the Buddha. There is no central religious text for Buddhists, but there are many sutras (teachings ascribed to the Buddha himself) collected throughout history. The central tenets of Buddhism are reflected in the Four Noble Truths (which describe what cause and relieve suffering) and the Eightfold Path (which describes practices that can lead to release from the painful cycle of rebirth). Spiritual practices that permeate most expressions of Buddhism include meditation, compassion toward living beings, and the pursuit of insight.
This wide and varied collection of essays, reviews, and short stories offers incisive views on politics, race, and Buddhism. Johnson notes that in his life the two activities that have anchored him and reinforce each other are creative production and spiritual practice.