My interest in Buddhism is because of its rational nature: the insistence on enquiry unfettered by dogma and belief. To be sure, if we look at “Buddhism” as a worldwide cultural phenomenon, there are dogmas and beliefs aplenty. But these to my mind miss the mark of the Buddha’s message, that it is absolutely necessary, by means of rigorous investigation, to end personal and global suffering.
Schools in Buddhism are conventionally divided into the Hinayana (or Theravada) and the Mahayana. Philosophically, the former schools are described as closer to what the Buddha “actually” taught. The latter schools are perceived as being richer and more diverse, as well as stressing more explicitly the emptiness of self and the capacity of the human mind to realize this emptiness. As you can imagine, the field is incredibly complex, and this brief description cannot really do it justice.
I am particularly attracted to Zen. Zen’s power lies in the fact that is a discipline that directs you immediately beyond concepts to your “true” nature. It has also spawned a huge cultural matrix, in the form of poetry, art and music.
There is plenty of material online regarding Buddhism. Visit http://www.palicanon.org/ to read perhaps the oldest Buddhist texts in the world, transmitted orally. Also do read an essay on Zen by D T Suzuki, which can be found at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/questionofgod/voices/suzuki.html