Buddhism was created by Buddha #1.
Buddha #1 was Siddhartha Gautama in India about 2,500 years ago.
Shakyamuni Buddha = Siddhartha Gautama = “First Enlightened Person of Shakya Clan.”
Buddha had a kid. He didn’t make him his successor. He chose another monk to lead his clan in India.
Some people decided to break off and create a more traditional religion with his son as pope.
Some monks went to Tibet and added mantras and chanting to create Tibetan Buddhism.
Some monks went to China to create Mahayana Buddhism.
An Indian monk named Bodhidharma or Da Mo invented Zen Buddhism about 600 A.D. at the Shaolin Buddhist Temple in northern China. He also taught Kalaripayattu martial arts which became Shaolin Kung Fu. So the original Zen Buddhists were Shaolin Kung Fu masters.
Some monks from Japan visited the Shaolin Temple and learned Zen Buddhism and Shaolin Kung Fu. The Japanese government prohibited anyone teaching martial arts who wasn’t a Samurai. So the Japanese Buddhists replaced Shaolin Kung Fu with “doing nothing” to keep from being killed by the government.
Japanese Buddhists competed with Christianity so they added prayers and chanting. They also added Heaven and Gods and… so people wouldn’t feel like Christianity had more to offer.
Then some Americans went to Japan after WWII and thought this Japanese Government approved Buddhism was weird… but cool… and relaxing… So they brought this “Shinto Buddhism-Pure Land Buddhism-Zen Buddhism” to America without any awareness of its origins and compromises.
Then Americans simplified this Japanese Government Buddhism into what the call, “Zen Buddhism.”
So are all these people Buddhists?
How can you identify a Buddhist from an ignorant pretender?
The 4 Noble Truths. Without the 4 Noble Truths it is impossible to be a Buddhist. The Original Buddha Shakyamuni Buddha Siddhartha Gautama found his enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree when he created the “4 Noble Truths” as the FOUNDATION of all Buddhism.
So whatever flavor of Buddha you are: you aren’t a Buddhist if you don’t practice the “4 Noble Truths” every day.
What’s a Buddhist? Someone who lives by the “4 Noble Truths.”