Which countries are the most devoutly Buddhist now?

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Which countries are the most devoutly Buddhist now?

Postby Luke » Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:33 pm

Many countries have a rich history of Buddhism, but often the majority of the population doesn't take Buddhism too seriously (it's my understanding that China, South Korea, and Japan are this way--please correct me if I'm wrong). Other Buddhist countries like Tibet have been invaded and repressed.

After spending my life in Christian countries, I would enjoy visiting a devoutly Buddhist country where the spirit of Buddhism is ever-present.

Which countries do think still have a devoutly Buddhist majority? Burma? Bhutan? Nepal? Mongolia?

I want to know what modern Buddhist countries are really like and not fall back on fantasies and stereotypes.
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Re: Which countries are the most devoutly Buddhist now?

Postby KeithBC » Tue Apr 06, 2010 1:24 am

Bhutan might be your best bet. Maybe Thailand.

But, if you are looking for "modern" Buddhist countries, I think you are going to be out of luck. One definition of "modern" (admittedly a cynical one) is a culture where the dominant religion is either secularism or economics. That pretty much makes modern and Buddhist mutually exclusive.

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Re: Which countries are the most devoutly Buddhist now?

Postby Indrajala » Tue Apr 06, 2010 3:57 am

KeithBC wrote:Bhutan might be your best bet. Maybe Thailand.

But, if you are looking for "modern" Buddhist countries, I think you are going to be out of luck. One definition of "modern" (admittedly a cynical one) is a culture where the dominant religion is either secularism or economics. That pretty much makes modern and Buddhist mutually exclusive.

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I would venture to say Canada is actually full of devout Buddhists.

There are not enough Buddhists to qualify it as a "Buddhist country". Not by any means.

However, in every major city thanks to immigration from Asia in recent decades you'll find dozens of various Buddhist temples. You have the luxury of choosing whether you want to visit a Sri Lankan Theravada temple or a Thai Theravada temple. On one street corner there sits a Tibetan Dharma centre and across the street a big Sino-Vietnamese monastery. Down the street a few blocks is a little Chinese temple where they converted an old Church into a Buddhist temple. :smile:
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Re: Which countries are the most devoutly Buddhist now?

Postby Indrajala » Tue Apr 06, 2010 3:59 am

Luke wrote:After spending my life in Christian countries, I would enjoy visiting a devoutly Buddhist country where the spirit of Buddhism is ever-present.



I'd say Taiwan is a good place to visit.
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Re: Which countries are the most devoutly Buddhist now?

Postby Huifeng » Tue Apr 06, 2010 4:02 am

Luke wrote:Many countries have a rich history of Buddhism, but often the majority of the population doesn't take Buddhism too seriously (it's my understanding that China, South Korea, and Japan are this way--please correct me if I'm wrong). Other Buddhist countries like Tibet have been invaded and repressed.



Re: Buddhism in China

During the late Qing dynasty, Buddhism was in a rather sorry state. By the revolution in 1911, the country was being slowly eaten away at from all sides by Russia, England, France, Germany, the USA and Japan, and internally was being destroyed by opium addiction and corrupt Imperial rule. That's why the revolution.

The Republicans were not very pro-Buddhist either, and had Christian backing in many areas. (May want to research the "Taiping rebellion" in the 19th cty, too.) Then the communist movement starting picking up. It was then soon invaded by the Japanese. In this situation, both the communists and republicans wanted monastics to fight the enemy, and turned monasteries into schools, barracks, storehouses, and the like. After removing the Japanese, a civil war began, and there was little time for Buddhism.

The communists won the civil war, and the republicans retreated to Taiwan. With the republicans, quite a few capitalists and other religious groups also went to Taiwan, because the communists were destroying monasteries in their wake. At first, in Taiwan, it was the old Buddhist Association of China. Things were still under martial rule for some time. After about 20-30 years, though, several younger groups starting showing up. These groups, mainly led by younger monastics who came from the mainland, such as Ven Hsing Yun, Ven Sheng Yen, and Ven Yin Shun, formed a very strong force of "humanistic buddhism". It followed the economic rise of Taiwan. This has become a great example of Buddhist modernism, whereby although these groups have definitely modernized, they have still maintained the essentials, such as the monastic community. This has meant that Buddhism is a very strong force in Taiwan nowadays. Several of these groups have also reached out to Taiwanese and other Chinese nationals living abroad, and less so to non-Chinese people interested in Buddhism.

In Hong Kong, although many capitalists and religious people also fled there to escape the communists, because it was under British rule, Christianity still was supreme. However, over 10 yrs ago, when Hong Kong was returned to China, Buddhism is becoming more popular again. For instance, Vesak day is now a Hong Kong holiday.

Similarly, many Chinese people fleeing around this time into Singapore, Malaysia, Phillipines, etc. also brought strong Buddhist traditions with them. Many still consider Taiwan to be the real heart of activity at the present, though.

After the cultural revolution, which did huge damage to Buddhism in China, there was a gradual letting off of pressure. Unfortunately, practically a whole generation of Buddhists (particularly monastics) was wiped out, forced to laity, etc. and many monasteries destroyed. From the 80s and moreso in the 90s, there has been more effort on the part of the CCP to promote Buddhism. Unfortunately, much of this is still governed by the communist party, ultimately. But, the numbers of Chinese people professing Buddhism is definitely on the rise. Exact figures are hard to say for a couple of reasons, but somewhere around 10%-30% would not be out of the question. That's about 130 million to 400 million people! At present, China is thus now strengthening it's Buddhist infrastructure - build the hardware of monasteries, etc. and also training of personnel. It's not full on "religious freedom", but it is much much better than during the cultural revolution!

There are a lot of differences between different locations. Some areas have local communist leaders who are very sympathetic to Buddhism (just can't publically profess to being buddhist!), whereas other places are still trying to use it for nationalist and economic purposes. A lot of people are looking towards Taiwan in particular, for inspiration. This is because Taiwanese Buddhism has already undergone the modernization process, and definitely retained it's chinese cultural character. These are requirements for the CCP to accept it. In the last few years, with the relationship between Taiwan and the mainland better than ever, this exchange of Buddhism, a "re-seeding" back to the mainland, has been going on very well for both sides.
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Re: Which countries are the most devoutly Buddhist now?

Postby mudra » Sat Apr 10, 2010 7:50 am

Depends on what you mean by devout. Really following dharma? or just 'traditional'.

Thailand seems full of inexplicable contradictions which I don't think I should go into. Sri Lanka's civil war gives lie to real Buddhist attitude. Tibet proper is a mess now with Chinese occupation. Korea and Japan leave me puzzled at how so-called monks interpret vinaya. Mongolian Buddhism still has a severe case of pins and needles. As to the Chinese traditions Venerable Huifeng is far more informed than any of us.

I think in the end you will find devout Buddhism more in smaller communities than in "countries".
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Re: Which countries are the most devoutly Buddhist now?

Postby Indrajala » Sat Apr 10, 2010 9:46 am

mudra wrote:Depends on what you mean by devout. Really following dharma? or just 'traditional'.

Thailand seems full of inexplicable contradictions which I don't think I should go into. Sri Lanka's civil war gives lie to real Buddhist attitude. Tibet proper is a mess now with Chinese occupation. Korea and Japan leave me puzzled at how so-called monks interpret vinaya. Mongolian Buddhism still has a severe case of pins and needles. As to the Chinese traditions Venerable Huifeng is far more informed than any of us.

I think in the end you will find devout Buddhism more in smaller communities than in "countries".



That's actually a very good summary more or less, isn't it? I like your conclusion too. :thumbsup:

Although as it was pointed out above, Buddhism in Taiwan is quite healthy in a country that for the most part is quite stable and well. The PRC might rattle their sabre at Taiwan, but domestically Taiwan is pretty swell compared to much of their nearby neighbours. There are no ongoing civil wars in Taiwan. It is a democratic society and that recognizes individual freedoms. The Sangha upholds the Vinaya, self-identifying Buddhist adherents are on the rise and Buddhism is significant and positive social force in that society and it projects outwards as well into foreign countries.
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Re: Which countries are the most devoutly Buddhist now?

Postby mudra » Sun Apr 11, 2010 2:38 am

I know so little about Taiwan that I can only say that if this is truly so I rejoice!
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Re: Which countries are the most devoutly Buddhist now?

Postby Indrajala » Sun Apr 11, 2010 5:47 am

mudra wrote:I know so little about Taiwan that I can only say that if this is truly so I rejoice!


Look at the following sites if you have a moment:

http://www.tzuchi.org/

http://www.fgs.org.tw/english/index/index.htm

http://www.dharmadrum.org/

With Taiwan's rapid accumulation of wealth a lot of generous people have diverted capital into charitable activities and Buddhist organizations. Foguangshan and Dharma Drum started from scratch. The founders escaped to Taiwan when the communists took over mainland China. It is amazing to see what they've done in fifty years or so. There is an outward projection of these activities too. Taiwan doesn't need to accept charity anymore and they are able to give it.

Unfortunately Chinese Buddhism isn't very popular outside of Chinese communities. This also has to do with the fact that not many Dharma teachers from Chinese Buddhist sanghas are in a position or have the experience to really teach Dharma to non-Chinese in western countries and elsewhere. They're also Chinese Buddhist organizations for Chinese people conducted in Chinese, so that excludes people. However, that's changing. Venerable Huifeng is the guy to talk to if you want to know about this in detail.
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Re: Which countries are the most devoutly Buddhist now?

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Apr 12, 2010 2:30 am

I'd agree with Keith. Bhutan is probably the most devoutly Buddhist on most measures. It is about 99% Buddhist (mostly Vajrayana) and mostly practicing and they actively promote GDH instead of GDP.

(Gross Domestic Happiness)
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Re: Which countries are the most devoutly Buddhist now?

Postby Aemilius » Thu Apr 15, 2010 3:13 pm

I was reading George Weston Briggs's Gorakhnath and the Kanphata Yogis,there he says on page 6 : "In 1911 there were enumerated in India 979,293 faqirs, 814,365 Jogis and 698,036 mendicants; there being 15,000 Kanphatas in the Central Provinces." etc... continuing with these very interesting statistics from India in the beginning of 1900's. I wonder if you know any similar enumerations of buddhist Jogis and mendicants existing today in buddhist (and other) countries ??
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Re: Which countries are the most devoutly Buddhist now?

Postby tobes » Wed Oct 05, 2011 12:24 pm

Burma.

:anjali:
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Re: Which countries are the most devoutly Buddhist now?

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Wed Oct 05, 2011 3:01 pm

tobes wrote:Burma.

:anjali:


Well yeah but I wouldn't go there. This year's elections were a sham and most appointees are still former junta military officers.
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Re: Which countries are the most devoutly Buddhist now?

Postby Sönam » Wed Oct 05, 2011 4:05 pm

Republic of Kalmykia
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By understanding that any and all mental activity is meditation, you are freed from arbitrary divisions between formal sessions and postmeditation activity.
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