The Buddhism trend in decline.

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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby dharmagoat » Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:12 am

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

I tried the same thing with "surfing", "knitting" and "mud wrestling", and they all show the same decline.

One could conclude that the world is losing interest in everything.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:25 am

dharmagoat wrote:I tried the same thing with "surfing", "knitting" and "mud wrestling", and they all show the same decline.
One could conclude that the world is losing interest in everything.


:D

Except sex: http://www.google.com/trends/?q=sex&cta ... all&sort=0 (still on the rise)

Even atheism is stabilizing or heading downward: http://www.google.com/trends/?q=atheism ... all&sort=0
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Postby Will » Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:37 am

Downward for 'online discussion' too: http://www.google.com/trends/?q=online+ ... all&sort=0

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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jul 25, 2012 5:41 am

Google Trends might be less reliable than Ngrams, if only because the former just reflects web searches on Google.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Dave The Seeker » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:59 am

Huseng wrote:Google Trends might be less reliable than Ngrams, if only because the former just reflects web searches on Google.


How true, there are many more search engines out there now.

Also, as there has been said, the decline of searches about any religion seems to be happening.
In my opinion people in the world are not wanting the "group mentality" any more. The world has become more focused on the "I want, what's in it for me" type of attitude, instead of the "what can we do to help others".


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They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
Yet with tremendous potential for joy and fulfillment.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Andrew108 » Wed Jul 25, 2012 12:34 pm

Four possibilities:
1. There are no inspirational western practitioners. The experienced western practitioners that there are, get caught up in appearances and are conditioned by circumstances.
2. There are inspirational western practitioners but they are hidden. Why are they hidden? Nobody really trusts them?
3. The western practitioners who are valued the most are scholars and their knowledge whilst being valuable doesn't carry with it the inspiration of the various lineages.
4. Buddhism has been misunderstood and it's seen as a contrivance. In a time of religious extremism people are suspicious of religious achievements.
My predictions:
1. Dzogchen will become more and more popular.
2. Western scholars will become more influential and we won't have lineages based on practice anymore.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby kirtu » Wed Jul 25, 2012 1:14 pm

All these search results are time dependent. If you look at the results for kalachakra and Tour de France you see spikes at the times of these events, esp. regionally.

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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Seishin » Wed Jul 25, 2012 1:43 pm

The decline also could be related to the economy: less people have access to internet :shrug:

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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Simon E. » Wed Jul 25, 2012 1:57 pm

If there is a decline then they may well be economic connection.
As Buddhism in the west is almost entirely a white middle class phenomenon, and as online Buddhism in the west is even more the case...white middle class people with lots of spare time..
and that is precisely who is feeling the pinch...
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jul 25, 2012 2:15 pm

Simon E. wrote:If there is a decline then they may well be economic connection.
As Buddhism in the west is almost entirely a white middle class phenomenon, and as online Buddhism in the west is even more the case...white middle class people with lots of spare time..
and that is precisely who is feeling the pinch...


Look at how "Hare Krishna" appears on the graph:

http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?co ... moothing=4

It the eighties it peaked and then went into decline.

The same might eventually be the case with Buddhism in the English speaking world.

I don't think it'll disappear anytime soon in the west (especially with settled communities and ongoing immigration), though the popular trend that has produced stereotypes like this could pass sooner rather than later (for the record I love this video):



A lot of the interest in Buddhism in the last decade has probably been generated by HHDL becoming particularly prominent on the international stage.

Spirituality trends come and go. Hare Krishna is one prominent example of it.

Curiously "Atheism" has a notable ongoing increase in usage:

http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?co ... moothing=4
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Simon E. » Wed Jul 25, 2012 2:27 pm

if Buddhists WANTED to add to its decline in the west ( if its a fact ) they could do no better than to encourage links with New Worldism, 2012 Mayan Calender speculation and so on.
That will have people turning away in droves.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jul 25, 2012 2:28 pm

Simon E. wrote:if Buddhists WANTED to add to its decline in the west ( if its a fact ) they could do no better than to encourage links with New Worldism, 2012 Mayan Calender speculation and so on.
That will have people turning away in droves.


Fortunately few of us want that.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby kirtu » Wed Jul 25, 2012 3:00 pm

Ngram viewer results for "Buddhismus" from German from 1800. There is a major spike at 1928 with a leveling off afterwards punctuated with some lesser peaks, 1948/50, 1963, 2001.

WOW! Taking the German graph back to 1600 there is a spike around 1780! :applause: People in the West could have known something about Buddhism even in the late 18th century!

So really Westerns have been calling the lamas from afar for 232 years or so.

The results for Buddhism for American English show constant growth from 1820 with a decline initially around 1800.


The results for Buddhism for British English show constant growth from 1820.

The results for Dalai Lama in American English from 1700 to present show some activity just before 1800, activity through the 19th century with a at peak around 1903 (so around the time the 13th Dalai Lama fled Tibet) and a graph with a step incline from 1980.

The results for Dalai Lama in British English from 1700 show more blocky waves but also show activity from 1750 or so with a more recent decline.

The results for Kalachakra in American, British ENglish, German and French are amazing. All show a significant spike from around 1980 but American English and German shows some activity around 1900 and 1890 respectively.

Kalachakra Ngram results from 1700

Medicine Buddha also shows measurable activity from the 1960's in American and British English although with British English the result is a spike in the 70's a drop to nothing and then slight growth. In American English it is a curve with a steep slope from 1960 (probably because the Brits have health care and thus don't need Medicine Buddha and in the US we have no health care :jumping: ).

Medicine Buddha results.

From a perspective outside Mahayana Buddhism, many people would say that Medicine Buddha is pretty obscure. Nonetheless the bigram actually measurably appears in English.

Also the Ngram viewer is case sensitive and shows slightly different graphs for lower case buddhism.

The result for Tibet in British English is fascinating with measurable references beginning just after 1650, then a drop to nothing, then from around 1740 a constant, albeit spiky, growth with a recent drop.

In German sources the graph is more spiky but there is constant reference from 1765 or so!

tantra shows up in the mid-late 19th century in German and American English but in British English there is a huge spike around 1670 with references from around the 1750 (this makes me think that there might be a dialectical usage of an obscure British homograph - however sutra has the same 1670 spike so probably not).

Similarly budismo, sutra, and tantra all appear beginning in the early 1800's in Spanish with massive growth in the 20th century ending with a graph with a steep slope in the 2000's.

The graph for Buddha ( 佛 ) in Simplified Chinese shows blocky waves but a massive spike around 1835, two peaks in the 20th Century around 1915 and 1938 with a decline after 1950.

Overall I'm not seeing the decline that you posit.

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Last edited by kirtu on Wed Jul 25, 2012 3:57 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby deepbluehum » Wed Jul 25, 2012 3:40 pm

Andrew108 wrote:Four possibilities:
1. There are no inspirational western practitioners. The experienced western practitioners that there are, get caught up in appearances and are conditioned by circumstances.
2. There are inspirational western practitioners but they are hidden. Why are they hidden? Nobody really trusts them?


People often act like they only think Tibetans or Indians are the genuine article. But then so many Westerners follow all sorts of Western gurus.

3. The western practitioners who are valued the most are scholars and their knowledge whilst being valuable doesn't carry with it the inspiration of the various lineages.


There are many serious Western practitioners. It will simply take time before they are accepted culturally as the genuine article.

1. Dzogchen will become more and more popular.
2. Western scholars will become more influential and we won't have lineages based on practice anymore.

[/quote]

Not just Dzogchen. Dzogchen is really small in the broad scheme of things. Sutra teachings will always have a broader appeal. There has always been a bit of a rivalry between scholars and yogis. Scholars have always had broader appeal because for the same reason sutra teachings are more popular, people understand what they are saying, and they fit the worldly model of accomplishment and status, etc. A yogi's accomplishment is alien. People will revere saints post-mortem and ask for blessings and babies, but during their life, saints are hardly understood and often mistrusted.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby kirtu » Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:08 pm

The result for Buddha in Russian ( Будда ) starts in the 19th century, has three spikes (1850, 1890, 1995) and three minor spikes (1835, 1870 and 1915), and has recently declined. We'd have to ask Google if this include Mongolian results.

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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Nemo » Wed Jul 25, 2012 9:21 pm

As Asia regains financial dominance exports of Buddhism should shrink in North America and Europe. Look at the explosion of Dharma in Taiwan, Hong Kong and the rest of Asia. High Lamas love money and it can now be found much closer to home. They won't come here as often. Some will not even bother to learn English. We were important because Tibetan refugees needed money and a safe place to live. It may be me but the new generation is not as great as the last one that is passing away with all it's great Masters.

Immigration will also slow and even start to reverse. Much of the surge was from Buddhist immigrants. That is probably over for good. I even consider going to Asia for better career opportunities.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby AdmiralJim » Wed Jul 25, 2012 9:58 pm

I definitely think you are onto something in terms of native teachers being taken more seriously, I highly doubt that if HHDL was a cockney or Thich Nhat Hanh was American they would be taken as seriously. It is up to western's Buddhists to prove they have got something to bring to the table.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby kirtu » Wed Jul 25, 2012 10:42 pm

AdmiralJim wrote:I definitely think you are onto something in terms of native teachers being taken more seriously, I highly doubt that if HHDL was a cockney or Thich Nhat Hanh was American they would be taken as seriously. It is up to western's Buddhists to prove they have got something to bring to the table.


Except for a handful of people Westerners lack charisma and will not really be able to spread the Dharma in this lifetime. Geshe Kelsang Wangmo and Venerable Nicholas Vreeland appointed the Abbot of Rato Monastery may help change things gradually.


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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jul 26, 2012 1:10 am

Nemo wrote:As Asia regains financial dominance exports of Buddhism should shrink in North America and Europe. Look at the explosion of Dharma in Taiwan, Hong Kong and the rest of Asia. High Lamas love money and it can now be found much closer to home. They won't come here as often. Some will not even bother to learn English. We were important because Tibetan refugees needed money and a safe place to live. It may be me but the new generation is not as great as the last one that is passing away with all it's great Masters.

Immigration will also slow and even start to reverse. Much of the surge was from Buddhist immigrants. That is probably over for good. I even consider going to Asia for better career opportunities.


While it appears there is an "explosion" of Buddhism in some places, it remains to be seen if it is long-term or not. For example, in Taiwan Buddhism is generally thriving, but whether the younger generation takes as serious an interest in it as their parents did remains uncertain. The assumption is that after a bit of life experience they'll feel attracted to the community support and practice that Buddhism offers.

I recommend immigration to Asia. I have a much higher standard of living here than I did back home in Canada. In Canada without a car you are socially and economically handicapped. Here public transport is clean, efficient and full of normal people (not full of crazies). Cost of living is a lot lower. A lot more opportunities for meeting Buddhist teachers. Doesn't get to -40'c during the winter. You can eat mango, watermelon and guava everyday for cheap. :smile:
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby lisehull » Thu Jul 26, 2012 1:39 am

gyougan wrote: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.


From where did you obtain this information?
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