American Buddhism’s numbers are booming. Published just over three years ago, an American Religious Identification Survey survey showed that from the years 1990 to 2000, Buddhism grew 170 percent in North America. By all indications that remarkable rate of growth continues unabated.
Why is a faith founded under a Bodhi tree in India 2,500 years ago enjoying a newfound popularity in America today?
As bizarre as it sounds, there really are some folks building a Buddhist-themed amusement park in Thailand. And, even more bizarre, when you read about what’s being done it makes perfect sense. I put it on my list of things I’ll regret not having done when I’m facing the bardo.
But I can do the next best thing, and so can you. A couple of young filmmakers are attempting to raise enough money to fly to Thailand and make a documentary about the park. (No, I don’t know if they have deer in the park, so don’t ask.) Folks have underwritten their travel and living expenses, and they’re trying to raise $4K by August 26th for equipment and other expenses.
Subscribing with a reasonable donation (minimum is $1.00) will get you various bennies like a DVD of the finished film, etc. This is a great chance to be a part of a worthwhile effort to spread Dharma awareness. Give the website a look, and if you think it’s worth a few bucks, cough some up. It may be the closest you’ll ever get to a trip to Thailand.
GARRISON, N.Y. — Crosses still adorn one wall of this former Roman Catholic monastery, but a 6-foot golden Buddha now anchors the main room. The meditation hall, also used as a meeting space, is where the luminaries of Buddhism in the West recently gathered to debate.
The issue they were facing had been percolating for years on blogs, in Buddhist magazines and on the sidelines of spiritual retreats. It often played out as a clash of elders versus young people, the preservers of spiritual depth versus the alleged purveyors of “Buddhism-lite.” Organizers of the gathering wanted the finger-pointing to end. The future of American Buddhism was at stake, they said….
The controversy over a Thai Buddhist nun successfully petitioning an Indian court to gain control of a temple has raised broader questions surrounding the administration of temples overseas. It has also highlighted the ambiguous role nuns, or mae chi, face within the structure of Buddhism in Thailand.