Contemporary Buddhist Shrine

Contemporary Buddhism

Westerners began learning about and practising Buddhism about 100 years ago, and developments in transport and telecommunication through the last century have played a key role in it becoming better known outside Asia. Contemporary Buddhism can be divided into three broad categories:

  • Cultural Buddhism
    The Buddhism of Asian countries, which is sometimes more of a cultural context for weddings, funerals, etc. than a living tradition of spiritual practice. In the west, this kind of Buddhism is found in communities of people who have immigrated from eastern countries, and few other people are involved other than as spectators.
  • Transplanted Buddhism
    Buddhist schools that have moved from their native countries with little or no change. This includes Theravadin groups, as well as many Tibetan and Zen groups. Teachers in these traditions are usually ordained monks and nuns, with senior teachers often travelling around the world to teach groups in different countries. One of the most popular Buddhist movements worldwide is Sōka Gakkai, a lay form of Nichiren Buddhism followed by many celebrity Buddhists.
  • Integrative Buddhism
    There are now a number of traditions exploring ways to integrate the various Buddhist traditions, and adapt them to contemporary circumstances and western culture and psychology. This includes the Triratna Community (in which I am Ordained) founded by Sangharakshita, the Shambala tradition founded by Chögyam Trungpa, and Ole Nydahl's Diamond Way.

  • There are also many interdenominational publications and organisations, such as Tricycle magazine, and the Buddhist Geeks web-based community.
  • Obviously, this just a brief overview of a topic that could fill many whole websites in its own right. Nevertheless, I hope it give you an overview and you can begin to learn more about Buddhism from here.

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    Types of Buddhism