Friday, July 31, 2009

Buddhism In The Netherlands

Buddhism has expanded in the Netherlands into the third religion after Christianity and Islam. The growth is so strong that as well as Islamisation, it is possible to speak of Buddhisation of the Netherlands, argue researchers Marcel Poorthuis and Theo Salemink in De Volkskrant. The Netherlands now has an estimated 250,000 Buddhists or people who feel strongly attracted by this religion, largely white Dutch. In 1998, there were only 16,000 including just 4,000 Dutch natives and 12,000 Buddhist immigrants from Asia. While Islamisation is often seen as a threat by politicians like Geert Wilders, and associated with violence and collectivism, Buddhism in the Netherlands is seen as an individualist faith that stands for non-violence and pacifism. But this idea is doubtful, concludes De Volkskrant. Poorthuis, a lecturer in inter-religious dialogue, considers it “odd” that “nobody is concerned” about the strong growth of Buddhism. “Buddhism apparently has a much better image than Islam.” Poorthuis and Salemink, both University of Tilburg scholars, argue in a just published book, Lotus in the Low Countries, that Buddhism also has other sides. “For example, the Kamikaze pilots in the Second World War had Buddhist teachers. And the Dalai Lama can also not avoid conflict due to Tibet’s difficult political situation, even though the Netherlands wants to make him into an unworldly pacifist,” says Poorthuis. Many Dutch people call themselves Buddhist without knowing exactly what the religion consists of, according to Poorthuis. The teaching is also sometimes commercially misused, as in management courses. “Instead of raising the question of whether the credit crisis was caused by greed, Buddhism has been used to optimise production processes.”
From the Internet.


Unknown said...

Dear Bhante,

I agree with the comentator in the article. Buddhism is in a sad state in America. There are some devout and wonderful Buddhists of all traditions, but there are also new agers who haven't read anything of true buddhism but just like that H.H. the Dalai Lama seems to smile quite a bit.

There are varying degrees of devout, though. I know those who would stick to the Pali Canon Buddhaghosa style, and then there are the ones like me who think that the texts have been codified and written in a process that needs some slimming down.

How does one learn what may be addition and what may not be without going with taste. I've had this battle with the Buddha's declaration that Bhikkhunis have to stand behind a novice of 1 day, and all those rules.

Could you look into the various debates of this sort as far as the authenticity of certain teachings go. You've covered the myth of the beginings of the Abhidhamma tachings, so that one should be good. Thank you!

With Metta,


Arun said...

There is a very minor typo in the piece above. I went to the original piece in de Volkskrant, and the year 1998 appears as though it should be 1988 -- just a year later in 1999 there were 169,000 Buddhists in the Netherlands!

yuri said...

"Warnings" seem to be groundless and biased. And it is quite a pointless exercise to discuss who are "true buddhists", same as who are "true christians". The welcome thing is the growing interest in Buddhism, which the figures clearly demonstrate.

Shravasti Dhammika said...

Dear Sheridan,
Thanks for this and your earlier comments. As it so happens I have a post coming up dealing with the very issue you mention. I will probably call it No Sweat? so look out for it.

Jeanette Yuinen Shin said...

I would also be interested to learn how Buddhism is developing in Europe, and how much of it is being brought over by recent immigrants, and how they are assimilating into host communities, how native Europeans are practicing and understanding the Dharma.

I would partly agree with Sheridan's comment that Buddhism is in a sad state in the U.S. There seems to be way too much moaning and groaning about who is a "true Buddhist" and who is doing what the right way or wrong way, who is appropriating what, and Buddhism as philosophy vs. Buddhism as religion ad nauseum. But that may be just what's seen on the Internet - which we all know is always accurate ;) I think there are many diverse American communities that practice all traditions of Buddhism without very much hand-wringing whether they are doing it [politically] "correct" or not. And of course there are also many "new agey" groups, however you may want to define those, who borrow bits and pieces of Dharma.

Do similar issues exist over in Europe?

aah-haa said...

I think the only true Buddhist or Christian has to be the Buddha or Christ. Everybody else may profess to be so but they have their own ideas, interpretations, inclinations, conjectures, custom, agendas, misconceptions, flavours, pains, disorientations, delusions, corruptions, and etc. That's why there are so many denominations, traditions, cells, sects, schools, cults, occults, shenanigans, prophets, men of god, etc. A seeker of truth is not the same as a’ true’ Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, etc. Whether devout or new agers, they are just superficial if they don’t really search the truth, which most probably are beyond them because the truth-seeking process is a long, laborious, vigorous, and objective one. So, nothing is further from the truth that a lot of ‘true’ Buddhists, Christians and etc. are just mere rhetoric.

Shravasti Dhammika said...

Dear Jeanette,
Politically Correct Buddhism and New agey Buddhism? PLEASE! I’ve just had lunch! They are nearly as bad as Flat Earth Buddhism.

Walter said...

Somewhere in the chopsuey one should be able to find enlightenment...