Buddhism In America
The Buddhist religion was founded several centuries ago in India. It all started with a prince who realized that his life of luxury had not given him answers to some of life’s most important questions. These included why people get sick, age or die and what the purpose of life is in general. These questions were a source of some significant discomfort that eventually resulted in him leaving the palace, his wife and son to live as a wandering monk with no real possessions. He studied under some of the great masters of the time and while meditating he achieved enlightenment. He went on to live a very long life and his message spread throughout the region taking root especially in China. Centuries later it would begin to gain prominence in the United States of America for reasons that will be addressed in this essay.
The search for spirituality
American society is very materialistic. There is a very clear push for every man woman and child to acquire material things in high enough quantities to become the envy of their peer group. This gives a very small sense of satisfaction that lasts only a very short time. When it wears off, feelings of emptiness tend to set in immediately. Having a means of explaining spiritual phenomena can be useful in such cases.
The declining homogeneity of religious expression
While America was once an almost completely homogeneous place in terms of religions, it is not illegal to discriminate against people based on their religions. While this may be so, it is clear that such discrimination persists, particularly towards people who are Muslim. Buddhism has fared much better. Its focus on peace is more obvious and it has a more all encompassing set of rules. More people are interested in exploring religions different to the ones they have been raised within than ever before.
The innate appeal of the message
For people who believe the doctrine it is something that people are motivated by. It adds value to their days and makes life have meaning. This is something that many Americans not only want but need on a deep level.
There are nearly as many religions as there are people who might by interested in believing in God. While Buddhism does not have a clear concept of a supreme deity, this belief system has seriously impacted the entire world including the USA.