Buddhism rise in western countries
Buddhism has made huge penetration and has made significant mark on the western culture. In recent times, both rich and poor are embracing Buddhism as part of their lives. This religion is characterized by golden temples, secular settings and smiling Buddha. The religion is ancient with fascinating history however from 1960s to present, the cultural climate for Buddhism in UK and other western countries have has favored its growth. The aim of this paper is to explore factors that favored increasing popularity of Buddhism compared to traditional religions or unreligious state.
Rising popularity of Buddhism in west
The blossom of Buddhism is attributed to creativity and explosion of musical and artistic features. The collapse of western projects, increase in use of recreational drugs and intense controversies of American civil rights as well as war perpetrated by America in many eastern countries like Vietnam has led to many people questioning values hold by American religion. The artists are increasingly influencing way of life in society by revealing evils in the society. The music and other artistic work celebrities have endorsed Buddhism thus influencing westerners to embrace it like involvement of Mick Jagger and the Beatles (Skilton 1). Thus the flourishing radicalization of artistic, spiritual and political insights among the youths saw Buddhism as the main vehicle for driving adventurous exploration.
The westerners have turned to Buddhism to seek happier existence and find solution to their problems. This is because Buddhism community emphasizes on living a noble life (Sponsel & Natadecha-Sponsel 356). The Buddha teachings are based on the scientific knowledge whereby individuals are not encouraged to follow blindly but to experiment. People should not just believe theories, traditions handed from generations and anything written in religious books but one should observe and analysis in order to do things that benefit individual and all people. The Buddhism therefore encourages people to follow teachings that meet their personal experience.
Furthermore, Buddhism is more compatible to modern world and living compared to other forms of religion. The teachings of Buddha fosters unity through Loving Kindness (Metta) and Compassion (Karuna) and discourages violence and aggressiveness (Hofmann, Grossman & Hinton 1129). The love according to Buddhism teaching is selfless and unconditional and thus everyone must be loved irrespective of their social, economic, gender or sexual orientation. This seems fit to western culture that is rapidly changing to encompass sex of same gender that has experienced huge resistance from traditional religious organizations. The young westerners are therefore appealed to this religion characterized by meditation and experimentation. The Buddhism is widely adaptable to different cultural backgrounds. Their main focus is having universal religion that hold society together. Everyone can join Buddhism irrespective of their gender, race or sexual orientation it is well suited to diverse backgrounds in the west.
Buddhist teaching buffered western culture
Buddhism has been gaining popularity in the western countries as indicated by rising number of followers in the past decades. The common problems experienced in the modern day life like corruption, lust for money and bad political power has attracted may westerners to Buddhism since it focuses on what is really important in life rather than material things (Lomas et al., 2014). It is important to note that the West had put much focus and hope in money and power however after they get all these things, people still find emptiness instead of happiness. The material live of western culture has also brought great stress at work and many other personal relationships. The Buddhism concept of vipassana or mindfulness seem to offer solution as it concerns finding inward strength and self-transformation thus helping people relieve stress (Walach et al. 1544). Through meditation, the Buddhist people find peace.
The traditional form of religion is based on believing in God who is unseen. People are increasingly questioning faith-based religion and still find it difficult to comprehend benefits of this kind of religion. As a result, many turn o Buddhism that encourages followers to believe in what they see and does not ask to believe in supernatural God. The central thesis for Buddhism is believing in what can be seen or experienced through the five senses (Hamilton-Blyth 12). This is based on scientific principle that focuses on proof in the modern society. Many phenomenon and thought-provoking questions has been major concern for westerners. As a result, Buddhism has responded by adhering to the demand and needs of modern society thus attracting many people especially the westerners.
The western culture has largely been influenced by the United states. Furthermore, people from all over the world were much interested in American culture like movies, clothes and fast-foods. However, in the recent past, the economy of the west particularly the US has been crumbling away thus people are gaining more interest in Chinese and Asian culture. Due to economic instability, people find Buddhism favorable as a way of rejecting the materialistic lifestyle.
In conclusion, the Buddhism is appealing to the Westerners as it is non-compulsive, emphasizes on meditation, based on simplicity of life, free from idol worshiping, more practical and science based. The Buddhism seeks to answer truth of life in more holistic way rather than focusing on religious war, forced conversation, animal sacrifice and mandatory beliefs. The Buddhism therefore provide equal opportunity for all and everything is open to question and nobody is forbidden due to sex or gender and does not say negative things about LGBTs.
Hamilton-Blyth, Sue. Early Buddhism: A new approach: The I of the beholder. Routledge, 2013.
Hofmann, Stefan G., Paul Grossman, and Devon E. Hinton. “Loving-kindness and compassion meditation: Potential for psychological interventions.” Clinical psychology review 31.7 (2011): 1126-1132.
Lomas, Tim, et al. “A religion of wellbeing? The appeal of Buddhism to men in London, United Kingdom.” Psychology of Religion and Spirituality 6.3 (2014): 198.
Skilton, A. (2014). Why is Buddhism so hip? Retrieved on June 1, 2018 from http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/0/27039902.
Sponsel, Leslie E., and Poranee Natadecha-Sponsel. “Buddhist views of nature and the environment.” Nature Across Cultures. Springer, Dordrecht, 2003. 351-371.
Walach, Harald, et al. “Measuring mindfulness—the Freiburg mindfulness inventory (FMI).” Personality and individual differences 40.8 (2006): 1543-1555.