The Buddhism trend in decline.

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The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jul 24, 2012 2:50 pm

I looked up "Buddhism" on Google Trends and it interestingly shows a marked ongoing decline in terms of the Search Volume Index:

http://www.google.com/trends/?q=buddhism

If you look up Zen it also shows a decline from a peak a few years ago:

http://www.google.com/trends/?q=zen

Also with the Ngrams tool while "Buddha" has occurred more than "Christ" or "Jesus" in the last few decades in terms of frequency, it is also in decline.

http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?co ... moothing=7

This might suggest a declining interest in Buddhism after a heyday in the English speaking world.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Simon E. » Tue Jul 24, 2012 3:48 pm

Possibly..but i think another phenomenon is that of people with an interest in Buddhism following the Dalai Lamas advice ( whether knowingly or not ) and investigating the religion that they were brought up in.
Certainly in the UK quite a number of those who were exploring Buddhism a few years ago are exploring the Christian contemplative tradition of Thomas Merton, Dom John Main, and Bede Griffiths et al.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Blue Garuda » Tue Jul 24, 2012 4:07 pm

The searches on 'Dalai Lama' seem pretty constant, though.

I guess most people think of him as the world leader of all Buddhism and he is certainly in the news more than anyone else in Buddhism.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jul 24, 2012 4:35 pm

I compiled a few graphs into an entry on my blog:

http://huayanzang.blogspot.com/2012/07/ ... dhism.html
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Astus » Tue Jul 24, 2012 4:37 pm

I doubt Google trends is representative of real life situation.

Just look at the word "mahamudra": http://www.google.com/trends/?q=mahamudra

It is up and down.

Perhaps checking existing community centres, monasteries, publications would be a better indication.
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Does marvelous nature and spirit
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This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jul 24, 2012 4:38 pm

Astus wrote:I doubt Google trends is representative of real life situation.

Just look at the word "mahamudra": http://www.google.com/trends/?q=mahamudra

It is up and down.

Perhaps checking existing community centres, monasteries, publications would be a better indication.


There probably isn't enough searches for "mahamudra" to quantify it properly.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby kirtu » Tue Jul 24, 2012 4:58 pm

The y axis is not labeled with units so that's a problem. Graphs across a period are normalized so that the spikes can be displayed without the spikes exceeding the predetermined height of the graph. So comparing graphs can be visually misleading.

The lower half of the data where top cities, regions, etc. are displayed are pure examples of Ziph's Law.

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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jul 24, 2012 5:04 pm

kirtu wrote:The y axis is not labeled with units so that's a problem. Graphs across a period are normalized so that the spikes can be displayed without the spikes exceeding the predetermined height of the graph. So comparing graphs can be visually misleading.

The lower half of the data where top cities, regions, etc. are displayed are pure examples of Ziph's Law.

Kirt


I find the Ngrams program to be pretty reflective of reality. Like look at the word "smut" and you see the actual decline it has taken over the past number of decades. New works like Facebook and so on are also appropriately reflected.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby conebeckham » Tue Jul 24, 2012 5:29 pm

All this shows is that dorks like us, who spend more time on the internet than we do on the cushion, are searching "Buddhism" less often. :shrug:

It's interesting, don't get me wrong...but I think (and hope) that the number of dedicated, committed practitioners is rising. As for the number of "lay devotees" I can't say......I'd venture a guess that the vast majority of lay Buddhists don't google anything.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby kirtu » Tue Jul 24, 2012 5:30 pm

Huseng wrote:
kirtu wrote:The y axis is not labeled with units so that's a problem. Graphs across a period are normalized so that the spikes can be displayed without the spikes exceeding the predetermined height of the graph. So comparing graphs can be visually misleading.

The lower half of the data where top cities, regions, etc. are displayed are pure examples of Ziph's Law.

Kirt


I find the Ngrams program to be pretty reflective of reality. Like look at the word "smut" and you see the actual decline it has taken over the past number of decades. New works like Facebook and so on are also appropriately reflected.


Ngrans are useful but the problem is that the graphs are not labeled for volume. So one graph cannot be compared to another graph. They imply that this problem is fixed when you download the CSV data because they discuss scaling.

The data that I've seen doesn't go back more than a few years and it is unlikely that Google would compile much data before 1995. - I see you were talking about the ngram viewer over the Google Books data. That is very useful.

Kirt
Last edited by kirtu on Tue Jul 24, 2012 5:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby kirtu » Tue Jul 24, 2012 5:36 pm

kirtu wrote:The y axis is not labeled with units so that's a problem.


AH! After you sign in you get the y axis labeled but just with decimal units without a multiplicative factor (so is 4.0 in thousands, millions, billions)? So it's nearly as worthless as before you sign in and comply with the fascist Google "jump through my hoops to get data we claim is open to the public" barriers.

Really, really useless - the y axis is scaled in terms of x times the average search traffic. So it's literally just trend data.

The term Dharma Wheel is spikey but centers just over 20+ on the search volume index scale:

Dharma Wheel

40 < Padmasambhava < 60 from July 2011

Some of this data just reflects Google catching terms more recently.

Buddhism returns no data for Japan or South Korea but the index is around 5 for Singapore Jan 2011. So the data is probably only extracted from Latin character data and they pretty much seem to have restructured their search results from 2011 (I think they say this in their documentation).

Kirt
Last edited by kirtu on Tue Jul 24, 2012 6:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Astus » Tue Jul 24, 2012 5:50 pm

conebeckham wrote:I'd venture a guess that the vast majority of lay Buddhists don't google anything.


That sounds very true.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: religions trend in decline.

Postby Will » Tue Jul 24, 2012 5:53 pm

Checked Christianity, Hinduism, Religion also - every one shows a slight decline over the last 8 years.

So maybe it is just the increase in secularism or indifference to religions.

Edit - for a look at Islam & Muslim - they are steady, no decline.
Last edited by Will on Tue Jul 24, 2012 6:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Jul 24, 2012 6:03 pm

Interesting; it could be that Buddhists have "finished" searching and are practicing and reading / studying the materials they have and the amount of time searching declines. But it could also be an indicator of how many new people are searching, in which case it could give some indication of a decline.

I checked all the major religions and they are all declining too (in google trends, that is).

With the greater diversity and multi-culturalism (and pc) in many societies, it appears that many religions are borrowing elements from other faiths, for example Joel Olsteen, the Christian minister who incorporates some New Age ideas into his teachings and Oprah Winfrey's spiritual guides such as Tolle and others. A net result of this syncretisism could be the decline / loss of older traditional religions such as Buddhism but with Buddhist elements and principles found in the new movements. Such is the cycle of birth and death, even of the Dharma and it will rise again with Maitreya, but no need to give up just yet; we can hold off the decline or disappearance for a little while longer. :tongue:
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Simon E. » Tue Jul 24, 2012 6:55 pm

conebeckham wrote:All this shows is that dorks like us, who spend more time on the internet than we do on the cushion, are searching "Buddhism" less often. :shrug:

It's interesting, don't get me wrong...but I think (and hope) that the number of dedicated, committed practitioners is rising. As for the number of "lay devotees" I can't say......I'd venture a guess that the vast majority of lay Buddhists don't google anything.

There is probably truth in that... if my wife is typical for example.
She is a commited and traditional Sakyapa Buddhist who thinks that Buddhist Internet forums are " frivolous ".
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Blue Garuda » Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:07 pm

Simon E. wrote:
conebeckham wrote:All this shows is that dorks like us, who spend more time on the internet than we do on the cushion, are searching "Buddhism" less often. :shrug:

It's interesting, don't get me wrong...but I think (and hope) that the number of dedicated, committed practitioners is rising. As for the number of "lay devotees" I can't say......I'd venture a guess that the vast majority of lay Buddhists don't google anything.

There is probably truth in that... if my wife is typical for example.
She is a commited and traditional Sakyapa Buddhist who thinks that Buddhist Internet forums are " frivolous ".


There is growth in all the organisations I have been involved with - even after I left; maybe because of it! LOL :)
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby kirtu » Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:14 pm

Huseng wrote:I looked up "Buddhism" on Google Trends and it interestingly shows a marked ongoing decline in terms of the Search Volume Index:

http://www.google.com/trends/?q=buddhism


So the search term would need to be narrowed mostly to English speaking countries.

If you look for the trend on boeddhistische (Dutch for Buddhist) you get regular news activity and search spikes in mid 2009 and mid 2011 of about 220 and 110 respectively.

SImilarly "Buddhismus" (Buddhism) in German begins to spike in Austria during 2011 and throughout 2012 varies between 6 and 12 on the search volume index and in Germany reflects your original observation and in Switzerland is quite spiky from an appearance in 2011. So previous search data is only valid for some countries to begin with. The region filter doesn't seem to reflect regional language pockets (German in Alsace for example or in the Liege province in Belgium).

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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jul 25, 2012 1:03 am

I think it is possible we've reached "Peak Interest" in the western world. As communities mature as well perhaps there will be less people searching for "Buddhism". However, the Ngrams gauges the term in books, and provided the data is sufficient, there has been a decline. We'll see in five years what it looks like. It could be a plateau.

As for Asia, the statistical decline is clear. In the larger picture it is even more evident over the last two centuries. The communists across Asia just decimated Buddhist communities (in many cases systematic murder of monastics and destruction of texts).

There is a Buddhist revival of sorts in the Chinese speaking world, but it remains to be seen what it will look like in a generation or two. The majority of active Buddhists in Japan are middle-aged and older women. When they pass away who knows if the younger generations will replace them in the same numbers.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby gyougan » Wed Jul 25, 2012 1:49 am

Around 2005 there was a lot of optimism about Buddhism in the West. There was a feeling that Buddhism will grow and grow in the West.

But there's no such a feeling anymore.

And I think it's partly because so few Buddhists have proper realization anymore. Buddhism has become simply smoke & mirrors and many Westerners can see through that. They were naive ten years ago but are no longer.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby dharmagoat » Wed Jul 25, 2012 3:57 am

gyougan wrote:Buddhism has become simply smoke & mirrors and many Westerners can see through that.

Time to dispense with the smoke & mirrors. Anyone?
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