Saturday, January 23, 2021
Home World The “Lama” effect in the United States: How Buddhism has become the...

The “Lama” effect in the United States: How Buddhism has become the fourth largest religion in America

Dar Cho

By Prachi Mishra

The followers of Buddhism in the United States have gone up by a whopping 170 per cent, according to an American Religious Identity Survey conducted between 1999 and 2000.

Teaching centers and various communities or Sanghs are springing up at such a tremendous rate that Buddhism has now become the fourth largest religion in America.

Officially, Buddhism arrived in the West in the year 1893, during the World Parliament of Religions, along with the early Asian immigrants. There were a total of 12 speakers representing Buddhism at the Parliament, out of which Sri Lankan Buddhist teacher, Anagarika Dharmapala, and Japanese Buddhist leader, Soyen Shaku, were the two speakers who encouraged people to take-up the art of Buddhism.

Many of Shaku’s students have done their bit to spread Buddhism in the US by publishing a great deal of Buddhist literature and establishing various Buddhist societies and meditation centers.

The progression of the Buddhists continued in the States with the migration of Asians, who arrived in search of work and a better life. The American troops who returned from Japan after the Second World War also brought a speck of Buddhism to America. Then, the return of the soldiers after the Korean War in the 1950s and the Vietnam War in the 1960s, resulted in an increased awareness of Buddhism in the US. These soldiers were deeply fascinated by the skills of their opponents, especially their training in martial arts.

Soka Gakkai, which came to the United States in the 1960s, is a Japanese missionary movement that expanded the Buddhist religion in the American society. It emphasized on the inner transformation and development of the character of an individual. It focused primarily on chanting and did not teach any other meditative rituals, unlike other sects of Buddhism.

Buddhism did not enjoy the privileged status initially during its inception in the US. When the missionaries and the travelers returned to their country and related their accounts of the encounter with Buddhism in the East to the natives, the religion did not receive a hearty acceptance. It was seen as a negative religion since it rejected the idea of God and emphasized on the total annihilation of the self. It arrived in America at a time when the country was itself going through a religious crisis, which was caused by increasing scientific skepticism. The crisis was also a result of the growing materialism caused by the industrial revolution.

At that time, Buddhism was seen in a new light, as it was considered to bridge the chasm between the scientific and rational thinking, and religion. Today, Buddhism is perceived as “a way of life, a philosophy rather than a religion.” It offers an essence of spirituality, peace and harmony in today’s chaotic world. It is not bound by any culture, or ethnicity, but is universal, overarching all religious, cultural or ethnic divides. It prioritizes the development of mind, rather than focusing on  external way of living. Most importantly unlike what Christianity did to the Orient, Buddhism does not aim at converting the religion of the masses. It, in fact, adds to the existing belief systems and practices of people and does not force anyone to give up their religion.

Other than all of these aforementioned factors, Americans are also fascinated towards Buddhism due to its practice of meditation.

STAY CONNECTED

19,120FansLike
362FollowersFollow
1,773FollowersFollow

Most Popular

Mountain Kilimanjaro Is Scaled By A Telangana IPS Officer

The Indian Police Service IPS official reached the top of Mountain Kilimanjaro, 5,895 meters above sea level, on January 21 at 08.15 a.m. (local...

Amit Shah Claims North East Has The Potential To Become A Tourist Hub

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday said that the central government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is leaving no stone unturned in...

Swara Bhasker Says That The Idea Is To Try Things One Hasn’t Done Before

Actress Swara Bhasker has donned multiple looks in her new web series, Aapkey Kamrey Mein Koi Rehta Hai, and she says trying different things...

How Financial Institutions Assess Your Financial Health And What You Can Do To Improve It

Everyone works hard to make the right financial decisions in their lives. Doing so involves adopting practices like saving money and making secure investments....

7 Great Teachings Of Guru Acharya Chanakya

BY SHWETA PORWAL Chanakya, traditionally identified as Kautilya or Vishnugupta was born in the 3rd century BC (350-275 BC) in Patliputra. Chanakya was born to...

CT Helps Catch Liver Disease

Researchers have identified that multiple CT findings can identify patients with high-risk non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) -- advanced fibrosis or cirrhosis, that is...

Kirti Kulhari: Harsh reality is Gender-based violence!

Actress Kirti Kulhari feels gender-based violence is a harsh reality, one that has gone up amid the pandemic. "Together, we are facing the largest social,...

Placental Function in Pregnant Women Can Give Rise To Future Diseases: Study

Researchers have discovered a direct association between placental function in pregnant women and future metabolic disorders in children and adults. The study, published in the...

Recent Comments