This week we have looked at and considered Buddhism from a few angles – some new, some old, some taking the middle ground. Its important to remember that growth in any area of life, religion or mindset will as all things do, change. Within that spirit it is up to us the practitioners to steer its course in our own lives and that is the modern twist.
In the Western world, particularly in the United States and Canada, the growth of new Buddhist communities—which include Buddhist immigrants from different parts of Asia, the North American-born children of immigrants, and indigenous converts—has been very rapid. In these areas older Buddhist traditions have mixed and interacted in ways that have generated rapid changes in ways of thinking and in modes of practice.
Many indigenous converts place greater emphasis upon the practice of meditation than upon monastic life, and since the mid-20th century a steady stream of books and other media have reflected this trend. Many other North American-born Buddhists of non-Asian descent have studied in traditional Buddhist countries, become ordained, and returned to the United States to lead and even found monasteries and Buddhist community centres. Some practicing Buddhists and scholars of Buddhism believe that the process of accomodation and acculturation in the West, and particularly in North America, is leading to a “fourth turning of the Wheel of the Dharma,” a new form of Buddhism that will turn out to be “different” from the traditional forms of Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana while incorporating aspects of each.
For more than two millennia, Buddhism has been a powerful religious, political, and social force, first in India, its original homeland, and then in many other lands. It remains a powerful religious, and cultural force in many parts of the world today. We have every reason to expect that the appeal of Buddhism will continue far on into the future.
Let us each carry the light forward in our own unique yet true way.
Peace and Love, Jim