Buddhism Religion Roots Deeply in America

While the Dalai Lama was insulted by President Barack Obama, who declined to meet with him last week, there was an open door policy all over else in our nation’s capital – from congressional receptions to synagogues and schools.

The most famous monk of the 20th Century on the stage, lecturing on knowledge in the modern world as hundreds of enchanted monks and laymen look on below. The scene harks back to the golden period of Tibet, with the halls decorated with hundreds of strings of colorful Tibetan prayer flags, except the event took place at American University.

In the previous half of the 20th Century, America cleverly exported itself overseas, marketing its images, ideologies, products and religions with originality and zeal, but what it has not been able to fully charge or prepare for the effects in reverse. For if Americanization is a huge part of globalization, the Easternization of the West, also, is the other side of the phenomenon.

As some cosmic law of exchange that if Disneyland explodes up in Hong Kong and Tokyo, Buddhist temples can grow up in Los Angeles, home of the magic kingdom. Certainly, it comes as no surprise to many Californians that scholars have decided that the most complex Buddhist city in the world is nowhere in Asia but Los Angeles itself, where there are more than 300 Buddhist temples and centers, representing almost all of Buddhist practices around the world.

Over the past 25 years, Buddhism has turn into the third most popular religion in America behind Christianity and Judaism, according to a 2008 report from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Confirmation of Buddhism spreading deep roots in America is abundant.

Thomas Dyer, a past Marine and one-time Southern Baptist pastor, will be leader to Afghanistan as the first Buddhist chaplain in the history of the U.S. Army. The Supreme Court is currently making a decision on Salazar vs. Buono. The issue is whether a cross that stood in the Mojave National Preserve is a religious symbol or not. The National Park Service had twisted down a request to have a Buddhist stupa erected a few years back. The question to ask : Why should the Christian cross be accepted in a national park as an image that exceeds religion but not a Buddhist symbol? And, what would the high court say about religious plurality if it decides that one religion is to take preference over another on public lands?

Yet, in spite of Buddhism’s message of inner peace and compassion, in its own way, is a very fundamental spiritual practice for its negation of the existence of a creator. In essence, the serious practitioner aims to put out the self by defeating his own ego and, thereby, seeing beyond the illusion rotate by the ignorant mind. The ultimate Buddhist experience involves neither god nor self, neither “out there” nor “in here,” for that casing that separates the practitioner’s being and that of the world, upon awakening, has been lifted. All that remains is - ohm – absolute terror and bliss. Imagine, if you will, Moses not turning his face away from the burning bush that is god but impending it then fully merging with that terrifying fire.

Once an issue from a Time magazine on Buddhism in America. In it, a group of American Buddhists sits peacefully in lotus position on a wooden veranda in Malibu ignoring a calm Pacific Ocean. The other is of Vietnamese-American astronaut named Eugene Trinh’s space shuttle flight. The pictures tell me that East and West have not only assembled, but also commingled and merged. When a Vietnamese man who left his impoverished homeland can come very close to reaching the moon, while Americans are turning secret, trying to reach nirvana with each mindful breath, that East-West dialogue has come a long way.

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