why do you think that buddhism has taken different forms around the world?
Answer by skepsis
Probably because they don't have a "pope". (Not that that's a bad thing.)
It is a system of practical philosophy with no complex theological doctrines so it tends to absorb practices from existing belief systems which is why for example you have deities in Tibetan Buddhism. It's exactly what the Buddha intended- his philosphy is only a means to an end and as long as people adhere to the fundamental moral precepts they can believe in anything else that they want.
Why do you imply that is unique to Buddhism?
All religions have different forms/sects when they reach high enough number of followers.
The same way that the "ONE" God got different names and different representations...
Adapting to the culture...
and for a teacher or church to be successful, they have to give a message that people are willing to accept.
It happens to all religions... they all start with something rather simple, but end up with all kinds of modifications. Click on my avatar if you want an example.
The dudes who were nominated to go out and spread the philosophy translated them slightly differently where ever they went.So the exact mode of Buddhism was determined by that particular dude's temperament.
The nearest to the original is sri lanka and south india.
It was explained recently by that English priest who did around the world in 80 faiths on BBC2
Because Buddhism is not a dogmatic set of beliefs. It's said that there are over 84,000 dharma doors, or ways of approaching the core ideas that Siddhartha Gautama discovered/expressed. So Buddhism adapts to cultural contexts, social contexts, political contexts, etc. Buddhism is the science of awakening and relieving suffering, it is open-ended and not closed. You can even be a Christian Buddhist, or a Muslim Buddhist, or a Jewish Buddhist. Many people are. It is not exclusive and is open to anyone who is interested in alleviating their own suffering. For this reason it has become richly diverse. When those ideas made it to Japan there emerged numerous forms of Buddhism influenced by Japanese culture and spiritual ideas. The same is true in China, in Western Europe, and now, in America, there are new cultural forms of Buddhism developing. The simplest answer to your question is that Buddhism is not a set dogma that remains static over the centuries, it is a "try and see" religion encouraging adherents to experiment and come to their own conclusions based around some fundamental truths: the Four Noble Truths and the Eight-Fold Path. But if you read about these truths you will see that they don't exclude any other religion and are open to cultural interpretation. Om Mani Padme Hum.
There are that many religions you could just call him joe and pretend he lives upstairs, be nice or you will be locked in the cellar, with the light off for eternity.
This is one of the unique things about Buddhism, It evolves to suit the needs of different people, For example In Tibet, Buddhism Mixed with the prevalent Hinduism/Tribal Beliefs of that people. The fundamental truths are still the same the way that it is gone about is different. The Dharma changes FOR the people, .i.e:doesnt try to destroy that people's culture.
Mostly it's the people's doing; but a few was arranged in Heaven. Reform in Buddhism is similar to that of the reform in the Christian faith. In Christian lineage has developed into many religions: from Judiasm, Catholics, Baptist, Islam, Mormon, ...etc. Buddha's descend 2,500 years ago was soon followed by Jesus' descend, to offer salvation to different part of the world in ancient time. Since the initial Buddha teaching, reform has continued to modify and to re-interpret the belief. The reform was best described in the a few places: 2nd section of the First Talk and 2nd section of the Third Talk in the Zhaun Falun Lecture on the web.
An important development in the Buddhist belief occurred in modern time. A Buddhist prophecy about the blossoming of udumbara flowers signifies an event :
About 100 million people practice in over 80 countries worldwide, enjoying a bill of good health through meditation and spiritual practice. Falun Gong is a unique Buddhist School, found in 1992 by Master Li Hongzhi in China. Falun Gong is an ancient practice for the body, mind, and spirit based upon the universal principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance. Falun Gong consists of five sets of powerful exercises.
Falun Gong, Tibetans, other Buddhists, and Christians have been persecuted in China. The most offensive human right violation is the organ harvesting from the Falun Gong practitioners in China.