Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Buddhists in the US

An interesting religious denomination within the United States is Buddhism. It is a religion which much like Christianity has different sub sections of religions which has split over the years into their own denominations of Buddhism, the most popular being Zen, Lotus, Mahayan, Theravada and Ico-Buddhism but the most popular within the states are usually Zen and Lotus Buddhism as they are very easy to follow and can feel a lot less stressful than the monotony, constant prayer, early Sunday mornings and chunk out of the pay check that Christianity can incur. It is a religion which can be fit around other important parts of your life and can be a very easy way to worship and feel connected to a religion without putting as much time into it as the denominations of Christianity. Therefore it is unsurprising that Buddhism is becoming more common in the US, especially in the seemingly more liberal areas of the West coast, East coast, Hawaii and Florida.
The website I have chosen is a Nichiren sect of Buddhism following the same sort of principles as Lotus Buddhism. They are concerned with inner peace and the idea that if something as beautiful as a Lotus flower can grow and thrive in a swamp then so can a person within the earth. The website I have chosen is based on the teachings of a Japanese monk. http://www.sgi-usa.org/buddhism/.
What struck my eye after the bright Lotus flowers on the website was the subsection, 'what is Buddhism?' Throughout the site there is a sense of explanation, a sense of allowing people the knowledge of what their religion is, what it means and even has a section where you can start it out try it out yourself. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hW-liLGL8i0&feature=c4-overview-vl&list=PLY61xqKoCKarJRkV19AGVvziNYNs3mHZ. This videos gives a sense of self, it tells you to 'be yourself' and repeats 'you,' it shows that the religion specifies on self responsibility, you can't by yourself and read yourself, you take control of your own faith and rely on yourself. This main seem alien to most Americans as Christianity is about the community, family and unity where you are helped to worship, things are explained to you and although you have responsibility on your faith the faith itself is about others, God and not self. Therefore this sect of Buddhism goes against the American identity, there would be no grace around the table or going to see all of your friends at church however this sense of freedom would allow those who are Buddhist to have time to be with family, see friends. It could be argued that this faith could be equally as fulfilling as Christianity as it may allow people some 'me' time and allows those who are chanted to have a few minutes to themselves and relying on the strength of self rather than relying on others and potentially blaming their issues on others as they are not taught to rely on self. This religion if it spread could allow Americans to rely on their selves sometimes and take responsibility for their own faith rather than always receiving help.

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