Monday January 20, 2020
Home World The “Lama” ef...

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

0
//

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.

Next Story

This Decade to be Good for the Financial Health of Millennials

2020s Could Be Decade Millennials Finally Get Ahead

0
Millennials
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via Email Print this page The 2020s might be the decade faltering millennials finally roar to financial health. Pixabay

By Dora Mekouar

The 2020s might be the decade faltering millennials finally roar to financial health and lifestyle after a tough start brought on by the Great Recession, which lasted from 2007 until 2009.

Coming of age during the worst economic downturn in the United States since the 1930s meant that many of these young people, who are now in their mid-20s to late-30s, experienced a delayed entrance into the job market or accepted lower-paying jobs for which they were overqualified.

Many millennials were hard hit due to a variety of factors, including high unemployment, student loan debt, and an increased cost of living, particularly if they graduated from high school or college during the downturn.

Millennials
Millennials Andy and Stacie Proctor stand in their new home in Vineyard, Utah. VOA

“Since then, we’ve really had a lot of wage stagnation, particularly given that so many millennials started behind where they thought they would be,” says Jason Dorsey, president and lead millennial researcher at the Center for Generational Kinetics. “And it’s taken them longer to recover — if they have recovered.”

Experts also say U.S. millennials are the first generation to feel the full impact of decades of rising inequality in America.

A recent study found millennials are significantly financially worse off than previous generations were at the same age. Since 1996, the net worth of people under 35 has dropped by more than one-third, or 34 percent.

But things could be looking up for these younger Americans now that the average U.S. millennial is over the age of 30 and poised to enter the wealth-accumulation stage of their life.

“They’ve had a lot of time to learn about what it takes to succeed? What are the kinds of decisions that lead to the outcome that you want?” Dorsey says. “And for many millennials, boomers [people aged 55 to 75] are finally going to transition increasingly out of the workforce, which is going to create opportunity for them to actually move up into more management-style roles.”

Millennials
Juan Hernandez, 25, is among millennials nationwide with student debt who are worried about being able to qualify for a loan and come up with a down payment for a home. VOA

Millennials are at the age when Americans traditionally buy homes, start saving for the future, and invest for their retirement. It also will help that many have paid down their student debt now that they’ve been out of college for a number of years.

“And at the same time, many of them will become potentially two-income households and that’s also really helpful for many of them,” Dorsey says. “It’s sort of a perfect storm. It just happens to align with the 2020s. It’s not that the 2020s are this famous decade, but more so that millennials are hitting the times when they should start really saving and investing, and earning higher incomes relative to their spending.”

Also Read- Lower Physical Activity in Adulthood Leads to Obesity: Study

And if millennials blame previous generations for their current financial straits, it might cheer them up to know this is also the time many of them can expect to start inheriting wealth from their more well-off baby boomer parents or other relatives. (VOA)