Buddhism in the West: fashion or tradition?

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It is a question that probably all Westerners have ever raised: what is between the border that separates the spiritual life of East and West. In today’s society, the prevailing stress and hurry, the individual seeks an attractive, comfortable and subtle to escape in search of peace, relaxation and tranquility. A personality, the Dalai Lama (their twitter @ dalailama is one of the most followed in the blogosphere, with more than two million supporters and 56,000 lists), and a region, Tibet (now mostly moved to Dharamsala in northern India to China’s occupation), embody the essence of Buddhism today worldwide.

The Dalai Lama

Photography by Wonderlane

A spiritual master: the Dalai Lama

The data are clear: curiously, Tenzin Gyatso, the current Dalai Lama, only represents 1% of the world’s Buddhist population. This raises an apparent contradiction, by exposing a region (Tibet), which has always claimed, despite the difficulties it has encountered along the way, maintaining their identity and their culture to resist the invasion of the modern world. And yet, from the fourteenth reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan person was opened to the outside world and the Dalai became recognized as a spiritual teacher and temporal Buddhist doctrine. Currently there are about 30,000 Tibetans have followed him into exile in India since 1959, considered a symbol of latent culture and guarantor of the unity of its people.

«My target was to get my people back to their land,» said the Dalai Lama in a statement to the Spanish press. «Moreover, Buddhism is not a lifestyle choice, not a political belief, but a spiritual system, a way to educate the soul to reincarnation must inevitably come with time. To understand this, man must know that Buddhism enlightened humanity for over 2,500 years through Hinduism».

Buddhism in the West

Photography by Wonderlane

Buddhism in the Old Continent:

It was the late nineteenth century when the West became interested in Buddhism as a mystical discipline. However, since the previous century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer had shown interest in the teaching of religion, introduced in Europe its main ideas of art. The invasion of Asia by European missionaries and traders favored further penetration of this doctrine, initially met with reluctance by the West. Gradually, Buddhist philosophy revealed his faith and his message to the scholars who started it. Britain was the first country to translate the texts of the Pali and Sanskrit into English. The Theosophical Society, founded in 1875, promoted and accelerated the flow of information relating to Buddhism to the Old Continent.

A fad?

In the early twentieth century, Western Buddhists were most active and most famous, and in 1903 created the first German Buddhist Association. In 1929 he founded in Paris the Society of Friends of the Buddhists, under the initiative of Miss Constant Lounsberry. Indeed, great French intellectuals such as Ernest Renan, Levi or Toissaint have contributed to the dissemination of Buddhism in the West, where Buddhism remains an enigma. It is a religion, even if it is in all its rules, and a philosophy that is characterized by full respect for life, patience, meditation and nonviolence. What is not in doubt is the enormous influence being exerted in recent years on Western culture. The next step is to determine if this influence can become solid roots or is simply a fad.

Land of Buddhism

Photography by Tony the Misfit


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