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Buddhism In America Essay

2405 words - 10 pages

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the impact contemporary Buddhism has had on Americans both spiritually and politically. The real question should be how Americans have impacted Buddhism. Also within this paper there will be discussions of which roles Buddhist religious traditions have played in modern medicine; how people in Eastern Asia express their faith and practice their religion; how Americans that practice Buddhism express their beliefs; social and political views that may have been influenced by Buddhism and finally a comparison between the practices and beliefs of Buddhist to those of Christians.
Contemporary Buddhism has greatly impacted the American culture. The Zen of Buddhism is the most popular sect of the Eastern philosophy- based religion. “The essence of Zen is attempting to understand the meaning of life directly, without being misled by logical thought, or language (“Zen Buddhism,” 2002).” This is comparable to Christians trying their faith. One of the practices of Zen is meditation. The goal of meditation is nirvana. Nirvana is described as the perfect or beatific state, characterized by the extinction of desires and passions, and the transcending of the separate existence of the self (The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, 2005). We see this practice more and more in America today. Some college campuses have adopted meditation halls. Well known entertainment figures have been said to practice meditation, to name one would be Tina Turner. Most of us would not have known this had it not been for the movie “What’s Love Got to Do With It.” In the movie, when Tina leaves Ike, her friend introduces her to meditation and chant, which allowed Tina to leave the stresses of being married to Ike in the past. This portrayed the correlation between modern day stresses and concerns and the benefit of practicing meditation.
Politics is based on power. Religion is based on faith and morals. Zen Buddhism and politics is not an easy relationship to understand because the objectives and demands of politics misconstrue the ideals of Buddhism. Many times religion is blamed for the dishonorable acts of politics, such as persecution. The Holocaust is a good example of this. “The thrust of the Buddha Dharma is not directed to the creation of new political institutions and establishing political arrangements. Basically, it seeks to approach the problems of society by reforming the individuals constituting that society and by suggesting some general principles through which the society can be guided towards greater humanism, improved welfare of its members, and more equitable sharing of resources (Thera, 2001).”Faith- healing is a concept that crosses many religions. Faith-healers rely on their patient’s ability to put mind over matter. “There are many discourses in the Teaching of the Buddha where it was indicated that various forms of sicknesses were eradicated through the conditioning of the mind. Thus it is worthwhile to practice meditation...

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