Why so few Western Buddhists?

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chownah
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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by chownah »

Westerners see buddhists as being idol worshipers.....and many buddists actually are idol worshipers. I know that many here will be up in arms at reading this. I live in thailand and I have seen idol worship first hand.....so don't get your knickers in a twist....instead just try to see the world as it really is.
Since christianity is the main religion for most westerners this perceived idolitry is especially heinous because jesus (the one those christians worship, not the migrant fruit picker from mexico) specifically demonized idolatry.
chownah

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unveiledartist
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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by unveiledartist »

No_Mind wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:12 am
Percent of population who are Buddhist (along with percent who are irreligious in parenthesis) -

USA - 1.2% (35% irreligious), UK - 0.4% (66% irreligious), France - 0.3% (53% irreligious), Germany - 0.4% (59% irreligious), Sweden - 0.4% (76% irreligious) (taken from Wikipedia)

I assume the spike in case of USA is due to larger number of immigrants from Buddhist countries. Converted Buddhists are therefore between 0.2% and 0.4% (rough estimate)

In a country with population of 10 million that is a mere 40,000.

Why are the number of Buddhist converts so low? With its lack of God(s), dictats, popes, church and open attitude, one would have thought that Buddhism in some form would be a natural religion for liberal Westerners to turn to.

:namaste:

No_Mind
1. Cultural influence and peer preasure
2. Lack of support and community unit both culture, language, and instruction
3. Less assessable temples and those that are are secular such as SGI and some tibetan traditions that have bad repts that influence whether one is a real buddhist because of tradition bias
4. No unified support (no central organized set of tenents; aka, more work-its not a do it yourself religion
5. Political issues that turn new buddhist off because of lack of support
6. Over 6,000 suttas and suttras rather than a hand geld book
7. Little discipline or motivation
8. No insight meditation and defining one's own goals
9. Mixing religions and/or traditions without learning to understand whats uncomfortable.

I know there are more. This isnt specific to westerners. Im a westerner, took precepts, practice at a temple, and have practiced for a couple of years. What I dont have is the culture and I dont speak a word of thai nor vietnamese so I go to an tibetan american oriented temple for now. The other is therevada but like other monastaries they are in the mountains.

Christian influence is a huge factor. Seeing The Dharma as divine/from god is a other barrier: this is a thread of its own.

Christian influence. Politics. Lack of support. Unfamilar with culture. Discipline. Meditation.

Are the biggest ones. Youd think you can get support in your own religion. Like christianity thats not true.

Turns people off rather than to The Dharma
(Buddha said), "Monks, do not wage wordy warfare, saying: 'You don't understand this Dhamma and discipline, I understand this Dhamma and discipline'; 'How could you understand it? You have fallen into wrong practices: I have the right practice."~AN 4.183. Dont speak ill of other people and traditions with whom teach The Dharma. Right speech is respect in agreements and disagreements alike.

:anjali:

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pilgrim
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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by pilgrim »

chownah wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 3:00 am
Westerners see buddhists as being idol worshipers.....and many buddists actually are idol worshipers. I know that many here will be up in arms at reading this. I live in thailand and I have seen idol worship first hand.....so don't get your knickers in a twist....instead just try to see the world as it really is.
Since christianity is the main religion for most westerners this perceived idolitry is especially heinous because jesus (the one those christians worship, not the migrant fruit picker from mexico) specifically demonized idolatry.
chownah
Idol worshipping has got an undeserved bad rep. Idols, unlike gods, have not harmed anyone. I'd rather bow before an inert idol then a god that sends a single being to hell.
:focus:

chownah
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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by chownah »

pilgrim wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 8:09 am
chownah wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 3:00 am
Westerners see buddhists as being idol worshipers.....and many buddists actually are idol worshipers. I know that many here will be up in arms at reading this. I live in thailand and I have seen idol worship first hand.....so don't get your knickers in a twist....instead just try to see the world as it really is.
Since christianity is the main religion for most westerners this perceived idolitry is especially heinous because jesus (the one those christians worship, not the migrant fruit picker from mexico) specifically demonized idolatry.
chownah
Idol worshipping has got an undeserved bad rep. Idols, unlike gods, have not harmed anyone. I'd rather bow before an inert idol then a god that sends a single being to hell.
:focus:
:goodpost: .......but that is not how the christians see it.....
chownah

binocular
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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by binocular »

unveiledartist wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 6:35 am
Christian influence.
Also in the form of Christians pushing out other religions. For example, rumor has it that recently, a local Shambhala center here (in a traditionally Catholic country, Slovenia, Europe) closed because of the pressure from local Catholics. Of course, neither side wants to go on record, it appears for political reasons.
I don't have much contact with the "alternative spiritual scene" now, but about ten years ago, I knew people who were members of what are here called "alternative religions" who openly said that they do not make evident what their religious choice is, for fear of losing their jobs. Personally, I also would not dare say, not even to my family, that I have some interest in Buddhism, for fear of consequences.

And bringing up this topic with a Buddhist teacher ... that's just tricky. It's quite likely that he or she will judge me severely, accuse me of lack of faith, inventing excuses etc. How am I supposed to live up to the model of the Asian cradle Buddhist, when I live in a country that doesn't have the material and social infrastructure for that? Well, who cares, right.

Frankly, having an interest in Buddhism in a society in which it is alien and that is hostile to it is like having an illicit romantic affair -- with all the lying, keeping secrets, hiding, pretending. It's exhausting, and after the first infatuation has worn off, I wonder whether it's worth it.

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unveiledartist
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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by unveiledartist »

binocular wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 2:53 pm
Yeah. The problem here is purely political. I live in the center of a Catholic owned by our diocese apartment complex, christian neighbors, christian city, and christian state. People lost their businesses here because they went against christian beliefs so Catholics picketed these business until they had to either hide their merchandise in one or change locations in the other. The Church was walking distances to both but not near their church property.

I was only catholic four years of my adult life. If I would have waited, Id never been christian. Buddhism is exotic here. One JW couple wanted to know more about it. What I did find out unfortunately is buddhism has its own loop holes. Ive practiced with Nichiren Shoshu and it was a negative experience more of forcing ones religion. I went to SGI and although nice people very evangelical. I go to a tibetan temple and it I cant even commune on these two buddhist sites and this is from my own peers!

To much politics and less religion and support. We have smaller temples but the monastarians only speak their native language. The therevada temple speaks english and has two year retreats. If I went by cab, thats a $200 dollar trip not counting extra expenses just in case we get lost trying to find the temple in the mountains.

I mea I was surprised there were Buddhist here at all. Nonchristians dont really talk about their faith. Its totally isolated. I think it takes patience to get over that and also to keep going dispite teachings that may make one uncomfortable.

Cant get away from politics in any religion it seems. No one can take the politics out and talk as a group of people with like minds. Turns people away from The Dharma. Counterproductive.
(Buddha said), "Monks, do not wage wordy warfare, saying: 'You don't understand this Dhamma and discipline, I understand this Dhamma and discipline'; 'How could you understand it? You have fallen into wrong practices: I have the right practice."~AN 4.183. Dont speak ill of other people and traditions with whom teach The Dharma. Right speech is respect in agreements and disagreements alike.

:anjali:

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No_Mind
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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by No_Mind »

binocular wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 2:53 pm
Frankly, having an interest in Buddhism in a society in which it is alien and that is hostile to it is like having an illicit romantic affair -- with all the lying, keeping secrets, hiding, pretending. It's exhausting, and after the first infatuation has worn off, I wonder whether it's worth it.
I cannot understand it. Are some of you saying there is social pressure of some sort? I find it strange from what little I know of the West (through internet, tv, movies, books)

Why hide or pretend? Hindus and Muslims are sworn enemies of each other (ever since they invaded us back in 1,000 CE) but I know at least three celebrities (musicians all) who converted to Islam and that did not diminish their popularity one bit among Hindus.

Me becoming a Buddhist has not raised any eye brows. Me becoming a Muslim (hypothetically) will I guess be a story for a week among my friends but then die down.

I am quite unable to believe you .. that being a Buddhist in West requires evasion and lying.

:namaste:

No_MInd
"The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”― Albert Camus

Justsit
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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by Justsit »

No_Mind wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 3:26 pm
I cannot understand it. Are some of you saying there is social pressure of some sort? I find it strange from what little I know of the West (through internet, tv, movies, books)

I am quite unable to believe you .. that being a Buddhist in West requires evasion and lying.
Media often do not produce a clear picture of a culture. The US is not like the movies, for the most part. "The West" is not some monolithic, monocultural entity, homogenous throughout. Similarly, neither is "The East" - life and cultural norms vary widely between, say, China, Thailand, and India.

So in the US, there are so few Buddhists that in some places it's a novelty and people want to know about it, other places people think it's idol-worship and condemn it, although usually not to someone's face. Fundamentalist Christians, though, will sometimes get a bit vocal. Other places it's a total non-starter, no one cares. New York City is nothing like Peoria!

I can't speak for Europe or other Western areas, but from what has been posted here it seems that acceptance and tolerance of Buddhism vary widely among different countries. In some places, no doubt, there is some type of condemnation or social disapproval.

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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by binocular »

No_Mind wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 3:26 pm
I cannot understand it. Are some of you saying there is social pressure of some sort?
Of course. Where I live, there are two dogmas: one is the traditional Catholic one, and the other is a secular liberal one. That the Catholics would be opposed to Buddhism isn't surprising. The liberals tend to have a poor knowledge of Buddhism (as most people seem to anyway) and seem to think of it as New Age nonsense; so some of them seem to conclude that someone who is a Westerner with an interest in Buddhism is a flaky person of poor character. But this is just my assessment, based on the people I know (of) and what tv I watch and newspapers that I read.
I find it strange from what little I know of the West (through internet, tv, movies, books)
Well, then you don't know much about the West ...
I am quite unable to believe you .. that being a Buddhist in West requires evasion and lying.
It doesn't require evasion and lying per se, but if one were to be open about it, it could get one into trouble; hence evasion and lying to avoid the trouble.

I'm not sure inasmuch generalizations about this topic are possible anyway. I suppose it also depends on the individual person and the specific social circle they live in. Some people are more welcoming, some less. I just know that if one of my friends, relatives, or acquaintances here would come to my room and see a Buddhist book or other Buddhist item and ask me how come I have them or what they mean, I would feel very uncomfortable and at a loss what to say. In conversations, I sometimes say things that are specifically Buddhist, such as insights from suttas, but I omit all the identifying characteristics, such as names or specific concepts. It's very straining.

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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by DNS »

No_Mind wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 3:26 pm
Me becoming a Buddhist has not raised any eye brows.
But to your credit or luck or kamma, that is going from one Dharma religion to another. It's a little different going from an Abrahamic religion to a Dharma one.

Some people in some professions, middle-management, upper-management feel the need to hide it as it could hinder their advancements. Some companies and agencies have social times together, office parties, office cliques and often those in the good graces of those on top receive the most promotions. And living in a Christian nation, if the big boss is a fundamentalist Christian, openly talking about being Buddhist could hinder advancements. Fortunately, for me, I didn't care and still let everyone know I was Buddhist if the subject came up. I didn't advertise it, but I didn't hide it. Later I went into my own business, so hard to know if that would have prevented me from going higher up in the federal government agency I was working for.

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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by SarathW »

And living in a Christian nation, if the big boss is a fundamentalist Christian, openly talking about being Buddhist could hinder advancements.
When Sri Lanka was under British, many of the government higher positions were given only to Christians. They started Christian schools especially to train their own workforce. What they taught in the school was the London bridge, not on the local river.
I think this is quite natural. There was a complaint from minority Tamils against majority Sinhalese for not giving them a fair go. Majority Sinhalese are Buddhist but still, they have not eradicated Mana.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

Meezer77
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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by Meezer77 »

I'm thinking perhaps because the philosophy is quite complex, and it's a whole new culture with rituals, customs and etiquette. It can make us westerners feel a bit paranoid and clumsy. Buddhism is quite a reverent faith and western culture can be very irreverent.

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No_Mind
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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by No_Mind »

Justsit wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 4:15 pm
So in the US, there are so few Buddhists that in some places it's a novelty and people want to know about it, other places people think it's idol-worship and condemn it, although usually not to someone's face. Fundamentalist Christians, though, will sometimes get a bit vocal. Other places it's a total non-starter, no one cares. New York City is nothing like Peoria!
binocular wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 4:31 pm
No_Mind wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 3:26 pm
I cannot understand it. Are some of you saying there is social pressure of some sort?
Of course. Where I live, there are two dogmas: one is the traditional Catholic one, and the other is a secular liberal one. That the Catholics would be opposed to Buddhism isn't surprising. The liberals tend to have a poor knowledge of Buddhism (as most people seem to anyway) and seem to think of it as New Age nonsense; so some of them seem to conclude that someone who is a Westerner with an interest in Buddhism is a flaky person of poor character. But this is just my assessment, based on the people I know (of) and what tv I watch and newspapers that I read.
............
I just know that if one of my friends, relatives, or acquaintances here would come to my room and see a Buddhist book or other Buddhist item and ask me how come I have them or what they mean, I would feel very uncomfortable and at a loss what to say. In conversations, I sometimes say things that are specifically Buddhist, such as insights from suttas, but I omit all the identifying characteristics, such as names or specific concepts. It's very straining.
DNS wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 8:23 pm

Some people in some professions, middle-management, upper-management feel the need to hide it as it could hinder their advancements. Some companies and agencies have social times together, office parties, office cliques and often those in the good graces of those on top receive the most promotions. And living in a Christian nation, if the big boss is a fundamentalist Christian, openly talking about being Buddhist could hinder advancements. Fortunately, for me, I didn't care and still let everyone know I was Buddhist if the subject came up. I didn't advertise it, but I didn't hide it. Later I went into my own business, so hard to know if that would have prevented me from going higher up in the federal government agency I was working for.
Hold on! I have always known that in the West [by which I mean Canada and USA (barring Mississippi, Utah, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and Oklahoma) and all of Europe (barring Balkans, Greece, some parts of Italy, Romania, Hungary) and Australia, New Zealand, England (but not Ireland)] religion is dead, the Catholic Church is dead.

But I am hearing in this thread that religion (Christianity) is alive and well. I cannot believe that since every study over past 20 years shows the opposite.

True one cannot learn everything about a culture from books and movies but does it mean YT videos like this are false?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hd4BmDeiqP4

and articles like these are false People of no religion outnumber Christians in England and Wales – study

:namaste:

No_Mind
"The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”― Albert Camus

Meezer77
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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by Meezer77 »

DNS wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 8:23 pm
No_Mind wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 3:26 pm
Me becoming a Buddhist has not raised any eye brows.
But to your credit or luck or kamma, that is going from one Dharma religion to another. It's a little different going from an Abrahamic religion to a Dharma one.

Some people in some professions, middle-management, upper-management feel the need to hide it as it could hinder their advancements. Some companies and agencies have social times together, office parties, office cliques and often those in the good graces of those on top receive the most promotions. And living in a Christian nation, if the big boss is a fundamentalist Christian, openly talking about being Buddhist could hinder advancements. Fortunately, for me, I didn't care and still let everyone know I was Buddhist if the subject came up. I didn't advertise it, but I didn't hide it. Later I went into my own business, so hard to know if that would have prevented me from going higher up in the federal government agency I was working for.
There's a saying that people shouldn't talk about religion or politics into the workplace. I agree with it, and I think your experience is a good example

Justsit
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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by Justsit »

No_Mind wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 3:46 am
Hold on! I have always known that in the West [by which I mean Canada and USA (barring Mississippi, Utah, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and Oklahoma) and all of Europe (barring Balkans, Greece, some parts of Italy, Romania, Hungary) and Australia, New Zealand, England (but not Ireland)] religion is dead, the Catholic Church is dead.

But I am hearing in this thread that religion (Christianity) is alive and well. I cannot believe that since every study over past 20 years shows the opposite.

True one cannot learn everything about a culture from books and movies but does it mean YT videos like this are false?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hd4BmDeiqP4

and articles like these are false People of no religion outnumber Christians in England and Wales – study
Well, you just dumped a whole lotta the US out of the West! So what are the states you mentioned???

Christianity IS alive and maybe not as well as it used to be, but surely not ready to be discounted in the US, for sure.
That describes mainline churches; fundamentalist Christian churches continue to grow, and now count many powerful government officials among their members.

Statistics don't always portray entire truth, and studies can be totally manipulated. You always have to carefully consider their source.

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