Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Western Buddhism

Western Buddhism Cover Although Buddhism had spread through Asia for the past two and a half millennia, it has only recently become widely known in Western countries. It was first brought to Europe by visitors to the East over a century ago. Also during the late 19th century, Chinese immigrants settled in Hawaii and California where they introduced Mahayana Buddhism. Later Japanese immigrants to these states brought other Mahayana sects. According to Buddhanet, during 1893"

"Dharmapala from Sri Lanka and Soyen Shaku, a Zen master from Japan, attended the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago. Their inspiring speeches on Buddhism impressed their audience and helped to establish a foothold for the Theravada and Zen Buddhist Traditions in America. During this period, the Theosophical Society, which teaches the unity of all religions, also helped to spread some elements of Buddhist teachingsin America." 9

By the early 20th century, most Therevada scriptures and many Mahayana texts had been translated into English, French and German.

Refugees from Tibet brought Vajrayana Buddhism to America. More recently, immigrants from Vietnam, Thailand, etc. also brought their beliefs and practices with them. Today, Theravada, Pure Land, Ch'an (aka Zen), Vajrayana and Nichiren Shoshu traditions of Buddhism are well established in Europe, South America, and English Speaking countries worldwide. Buddhanet continues:

"Today, there exist numerous Buddhist centres spread across Australia, New Zealand, Europe, North and South America. Virtually all the major Buddhist traditions are represented and continue to attract the interest of Westerners in all walks of life."

As noted above, Buddhist in the West are generally accepting of GLBTs. This follows naturally from the influence that culture has on all religions. Western culture has tended to emphasize human rights, social equality, tolerance, compassion, personal freedom, and the recognition that each person has to find their own answers. Buddhists here have been heavily influenced by the gay liberation movement which was triggered by a police riot in New York City during 1969-JUN.

James Shaheen comments:

"Western dharma communities are known for their tolerance, and the Dalai Lama himself has openly gay students. It's rare to hear of anyone being drummed out of a Western Buddhist community for being gay, and in most Buddhist traditions practiced in the West -- including the Tibetan communities -- sexuality is rarely if ever an issue."

Free eBooks (Can Be Downloaded):

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky - Studies In Occultism
Reeves Hall - Asatru In Brief
Trieu Phuoc - The Quintessence Of Secret Esoteric Buddhism
Miac - Asatru And Odinism