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The Ascension Of Buddhism In America

721 words - 3 pages

The ascension of Buddhism in American culture is a simple twist of popularity and understanding stemming off of its initial breakthrough in 1893 during the World’s Parliament of Religions, conducted in Chicago (Smith 1). America has traditionally been considered a Monotheistic nation, but has been mostly acceptant of all views. As America is built off of religious freedoms, Buddhism was able to nestle a home among communities in the United States.

The founder of Buddhism was a man named Siddharta Gautama. He was born as a prince of a small kingdom located near today’s Nepal, around 500 B.C.E. (Gurinder 1). According to the legends, Siddharta was raised in the ...view middle of the document...

It wasn’t until the 1840’s that white Americans began to take note of this foreign religion when there was an influx of Buddhist immigrants that started arriving to the shores of America (4). Some Americans held a sense of fascination with the new ideals, while others became hostile. Most Americans, at the time, found the beliefs strange in comparison with the traditions of the day (4).

Another reason for the religion not gaining substantial traction before 19th century is due to the language barrier in Buddhist texts that was unlike most European doctrines of the day. In 1844, a popular magazine in America, Dial, published an English interpretation of Buddhism’s most sacred writtings. This magazine was favored by intellectual Americans interested in Eastern religions (4). After this point, there were several novels based on Buddhism that began selling well among the American readers. These novels include Edwin Arnold’s The Light of Asia in 1879 and Olcott’s Buddhist Catechism in 1881 (4).

All of this lead up to the eventual grand debut in 1893, at the World’s Parliament of Religions. This was one of the first public displays of Buddhism in...

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