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Eastern Religion: Historical Analysis

How is the practice of Buddhism expressed in the United States?

Buddhism has impacted America and has made many positive changes in the life of American people. There are plenty of reasons to support this point. The main reason is that many of the Americans have become fed up with life and with the way they were living. They began looking for a change and Buddhism, being a new concept as compared with American religious perceptions, gained popularity.

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Bhikkhu Bodhi of the Bodhi Monastery in USA some years ago stated that “Theistic religions have lost their hold on the minds of many educated Americans and this has opened up a deep spiritual vacuum that needs to be filled. For many, materialistic values are profoundly unsatisfying, and Buddhism offers a spiritual teaching that fits the bill. It is rational, experiential, practical, and personally verifiable. It brings concrete benefits that can be realized in one’s own life; it propounds lofty ethics and an intellectually cogent philosophy.” (Abeysekera, 2004, the appeal of Buddhism, para.2).

In America, many live in nuclear families and this generates a feeling of loneliness. They also usually do not find anything extra to enrich their mind. “The kind of Buddhism that becomes more sangha oriented and where people try to get together more and to connect in relation to the emotional level of their lives will create the appeal that will help make Buddhism really popular in the West.” (Bauerle, 2007, para.10).

To avoid the feeling of isolation people take part in these kinds of activities. This makes them feel good both in their body as well as mind. Not only this, the Americans have changed their self-oriented attitude to getting together. This nourished the feeling for a community or some sort of inter connection with others. As a result they want to do service and help other people. They realized that doing help or service to others is the most important thing than giving them money.

Another aspect where the impact of Buddhism can be traced in American life is the practice of meditation to achieve spirituality. This had the most significant influence among the university students and upper middle class educated Americans. But there are some controversy also prevailing among people or leaders of America about Buddhism. Some feel that Buddhism in America exists just for a commercial purpose.

These Buddhist monks or organizers of these activities are making money from this. Their big temples and halls are the examples of these. They give the Americans a false feeling that they are attaining some level of spirituality by practicing the chanting and doing meditation. Even though controversies remain, there is no doubt that Buddhism had made the change in the Americans and definitely it had influence the American way of thinking and living.

What is the state and practice of ancient Chinese religious traditions in Communist China?

“The three main traditional Chinese religions are Daoism, Confucianism and Buddhism. Islam and Christianity have also been present in smaller numbers in China for centuries.” (Religion, 2005, para.3). Even though there are many religions in China, the religious beliefs differ from person to person. No one in China will force any one to practice a particular religious activity. However, there are many places of worship for every religion in china.

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Chinese people like to decide which worship places they must go. Their main goal is to be part of every religion and live happily in the cosmic world hoping they all will have good fortune. The real thing is even though the name of every religion is different the practices followed by every religion is almost same. The structure of the places of worship and the way people are devoting in each, the idols of god etc are almost similar. Every religion in China work together for the welfare of the people and also to provide them the feeling that religion is a part of their life. These religious activities and practices had gone smoothly till the evolution of communism in china.

The communist party stopped the practice of religious activities up to an extent among people and turned many of the worship places to hospitals, schools etc. In their early period in China the communist party arrested many monks and priests. The religious activities in China thus decreased to a great extend and remained limited to the backyards of houses. But as years passed the attitudes of communists also have changed. The constitution of China gives religious freedom but religious practice is not allowed and also with one condition that religious leaders will not be having any power or control over the communist party.

Recently the situation in China again went through a great change. In December 2004 the Chinese government ordered new rules that they will guarantee religious beliefs as human rights. In April 2006 the president of Christian Council in China said that people have the freedom to worship within their limits with one condition that no one can do any kind of religious activities in public places. Recently Hu Jintao, the Chinese President expressed in his speech that “religion is something that can be harnessed for economic and social progress but are not necessarily things that should be pursed in themselves.” (Religion in China, 2008, religion and the Chinese Government in recent years, para.6).

Reference

Abeysekera, R. (2004). The appeal of Buddhism in the west: The appeal of Buddhism. BuddhaSasana. Web.

Bauerle, B. (2007). Reshaping of Buddhism in the United States…and transforming American society. Heartland Sangha American Buddhism. Web.

Religion. (2005). China-Britain Business Council. Web.

Religion in China: religion and the Chinese Government in recent years. (2008). Facts and Details. Web.

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