Buddhism ponders the question: “Why do I suffer”, and “is this all there is?”
Buddhism is not a savior religion, in which accepting the divinity of ‘some being’ or person will deliver you from suffering. Buddhism teaches a path in which ones mind is ‘illuminated’ (Seen for themselves) to the nature of suffering and how to end that suffering – Ehipassiko
Those that call themselves ‘Buddhist’ study the writings of The Buddha in what we typically consider the Buddhist Canon.
Due to geography, the Buddhist canon has evolved in to three distinct collections:
The pali Canon (Thervadan)
The Mahayana Canon (Chinese Ch’an and Japanese Zen)
the Vajrayana Canon (Tibetan Bon and Padmasambhava)
The religious nature of Buddhism is in the realization that there are higher beings or essences in the cosmos that have achieved great states of realization of the fundamental nature of this existence, and that calling upon the Great Begins (Mahasattvas and Bodhisattvas) can aid us with: insightful wisdom, supernatural powers, phenomenal occurrences and healing of injuries and illnesses.
The ultimate goal of the Buddhist disciple (those who study the teaching in the canonical writings) is to develop the mind and awaken to higher levels of understanding and transcendence. The ultimate goal of the Buddhist disciple is to depart from the realm of suffering in which we are born into these bodies and condition in which only suffering exist (hell).
Buddhas teachings are for all people, unlike other religions in which only ‘Chosen people‘ will be eternal and all others annihilated.
Buddhist studies for Westerners is not about adopting any Asian culturalisms, or becoming a ‘freak show’ by wearing of robes, shaving one’s head, and chanting in long-dead languages that nobody speaks in. There are ample number of good translations of the Buddha’s teachings in which you can learn and not need to change your appearance, your cultural customs, or where you reside. Buddhism is not asking you to travel to ‘dusty countries’ as in making pilgrimages or to sit at the feet of holy men and women.
The study of Buddhism offers you a ‘way out’ of the existence of suffering through ‘mind-awakening’ in where your first awakening, you will be shocked to know the truth of where you are at now, and that truth will absolutely compel you to find the way out.