Share It was somewhere between and BCE that the person who would be known as Buddha was born. He was originally known as Siddhattha Gautama, and was born in a part of northern India bordering on what is now modern day Nepal. Until the age of 29, he seems to have lived a life typical of idle aristocracy for that time.
Yet the influence of his life and his teachings continues today in multitudes of ways. There are an estimated 1. Over the past two decades, interest in Buddhism and meditation has grown tremendously in the United States—inTime magazine estimated that 10 million people meditate regularly.
This increased interest in Buddhism in the West is happening at a time when many people are experiencing the strain of living with the fear and anxiety generated by an unstable economy, terrorist threats, social unrest, and environmental peril.
Buddhists who practice to transform suffering have made an impact on the arts, on the way we view death and dying, and even on the way we engage in politics. Buddhism first came to North America through Chinese immigrants who settled in the western parts of the United States beginning in the s, as well as by North Americans and Europeans who visited Asia and brought back with them Buddhist texts.
In the latter part of the s, the influence of Buddhist thought began showing up in the literary works of Walt Whitman, Henry Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Japanese Zen master Shaku Soen was one of the participants; he returned to the U. Three of his students went on to help establish Buddhism in the U. The BCA continues today as one of the largest and most stable Buddhist communities in the country. By the s and s, a number of Buddhist teachers emigrated to the U.
During these decades, a wave of young people traveled to Asia in search of teachers and gurus, and to learn meditation. Some of them included Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, and Sharon Salzberg, who started the Insight Meditation Society ; Mirabai Bush, who helped found the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society ; and Jon Kabat-Zinn, who went on to pioneer innovative applications for meditation such as its use in health care and stress reduction.
Ironically, for a religion that values the cultivation of inner and outer peace, war and military conflict have played a role in bringing a number of streams of Buddhism to the West. Robert Aitken Roshi, founder of the Diamond Sanghawas a prisoner of war on Guam when he first learned Buddhist teachings.
The government of Vietnam refused to allow Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh to return to that country after he spoke out against the Vietnam War in He later established Plum Villagea monastic training and retreat center, in the south of France.
He continues to live there in exile, though he travels frequently to the U. Western Buddhism is notable for questioning the traditional role of women often subservient in many Asian Buddhist monastic communities and increasing the number of women Dharma teachers.
Buddhism gained a higher profile in the West in the last part of the 20th century as celebrities and artists like Leonard Cohen, Richard Gere, Herbie Hancock, Phil Jackson, Tina Turner, and Alice Walker openly shared the influence that Buddhism has had on their lives and work. This is a very brief summary of the history of Buddhism in the West.
If you want to learn more, here are some good sources:Knowledge of Buddhism has come through three main channels: Western scholars; the work of philosophers, writers and artists; and the arrival of Asian immigrants who have brought various forms of Buddhism with them to Europe, North America and Australia.
It was somewhere between and BCE that the person who would be known as Buddha was born.
He was originally known as Siddhattha Gautama, and was born in a part of northern India bordering on what is now modern day Nepal. Until the age of 29, he seems to have lived a life typical of idle. Like many of his generation, especially on the American West Coast, he appreciates the emphasis on mental development and self-help in the spiritual practice he has chosen.
Buddhism in America. Buddhism in the West broadly encompasses the knowledge and practice of Buddhism outside Asia in Europe, the Americas, Australia and New Zealand.
Occasional intersections between Western civilization and the Buddhist world have been occurring for thousands of years.
With the rise of European colonization of Buddhist countries in .
Buddhism in America- Not Just the Rich and Famous. The branch of Buddhism that has captured the most attention in the past year is Tibetan Buddhism.
Besides the countless articles that have appeared in magazines and newspapers about the Dalai Lama and the plight of Buddhists in Tibet, several major motion pictures have focused on this. American Buddhism on the Rise June 22, At the opening night (June 14) of the third annual BuddhaFest film festival in Arlington, Virginia, we asked attendees to talk about their attraction to.