Buddhism in the World
News Resource /Buddhayana Centre Netherlands
According to the Christian Centre for
Buddhist Studies on the internet there is a growing interest amongst Christians
in a centre for studying Buddhism as this would help them to gain greater
motivation and more skillfulness in converting Buddhists.
The centre is under the leadership of
Robin and Elaine Evans, who were educated at the All Nations Christian College
(a leading missionary training college) in Ware, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom,
and the only ones to have "experience" gained in Nepal and China.
The Centre adds that Buddhism is not a
sleeping dragon, but an awakening dragon. A dragon which is constantly winning
converts in the West, where it has found fertile ground amongst those
disillusioned with western materialism. There are at least 14 Buddhist Centres
in the United Kingdom and many Buddhist Temples.
The Centre also says that, until
recently, there was not a centre in Great Britain to help to equip Christians
to understand the Buddhist faith, that it didn't seem as if there was a single
group in Great Britain making Buddhism the focus of evangelical care and
In Asia there are estimated to be 609
million Buddhists, and estimates suggest that Buddhism is growing at the rate
of 21% a year. There are also clear revivals in China, Mongolia, Cambodia and
Vietnam. Buddhism is the state religion in 5 countries, the majority religion
in 5 more and a important majority in 4.
Buddhism was "discovered" by
Europeans in the 19th century and it introduced a romantic idea of the religion
which has gradually influenced the west. Now, immigrants from Asia have brought
the spiritual influence of Buddhism into our community. As materialism did not
meet their spiritual needs many have embarked upon a new spiritual quest. The
centre says that the Christian Church needs to direct itself to this subject
now, using proven, relevant and dynamic spiritual means.
It wants to help the Christian Church
in Europe by:
researching current trends in the
development and spread of Buddhism;
raising awareness with the local
church of the needs of Buddhists;
providing and coordinating resources
to enable the Christian Church to Minister to Buddhist people in Europe and
train Christians of all levels to
evangelize and disciple Buddhists in Europe and Asia;
support Christians directly involved
in ministering to Buddhists in Europe; and
enouraging prayer for Buddhist people
throughout the world.
A UN Resolution, co-sponsored by
thirty four member states seeking 'the international recognition of the day of
Vesak', was adopted by consensus, at the 54th UN General Assembly in New York
on 13th December 1999. The
resolution was co-sponsored by many Asian Buddhist countries as well as other
countries, including Russia and USA. Many of the countries who supported the
resolution had a population where the majority are from other faiths. The idea
of internationally recognising Vesak, was first mooted at the International
Buddhist Conference, held in Colombo in November 1998.
The draft resolution recognises that
"the day of Vesak, the day of full moon in May each year is the day most
sacred to Buddhists, who commemorate on that day the birth of the Buddha, his
attainment of enlightenment and his passing away". Further, the resolution
states that "international recognition at United Nations Headquarters and
other UN offices would constitute acknowledgement of the contribution Buddhism
has made, for over two and a half millennia, and continues to make to the
spirituality of humanity".
In his statement made to the UNGA, Sri
Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador John de Saram
introducing the resolution noted that "the General Assembly has, in the
past, recognised many of the diverse concerns of our complex world. The General
Assembly, in so doing has acted in the knowledge that peoples in all regions of
the world look, fervently, to the United Nations and in particular to the
General Assembly for at least an acknowledgement of their concerns, of their
hopes, of their beliefs."
He continued by noting that "the
teaching of the Buddha brought then, and continue to bring now, understanding
and happiness and solace to the lives of millions. Originally in the countries
of South Asia, South-East Asia and East Asia, but now, also, to additional
millions in other countries in other regions of the world".
The Nepalese and Sri Lankan Sangha is
very concerned about recent developments in Lumbini, the birthplace of the
Buddha. They are concerned that non-Buddhists have too much influence. There is
talk of desecration and there are calls for Buddhists across the world to try
to help save Lumbini. According to the Venerable N. Vimalananda the greatest
problem is the work of Non- Governmental Organisations in Lumbini. He suggested
that there was a hidden agenda behind their helping the poor. He was also
concerned about the excavations being carried out by a team of Japanese
archaeologists, who leave nothing unturned in their search for the birth place
of the Buddha. The excavations are 3.5 metres deep. According to Japanese theory the Buddha was not born at the
place where Kaiser Asoka erected a monolithic granite pillar 2,300 years ago.
The Ven. N. Vimalananda also added
that the Japanese had dismantled the 150 year old Maya Devi Temple, Lumbini's
landmark next to the Asoka Pillar, as well as employing non-Buddhist personnel
to guard the area, and that other Buddhists were not consulted or kept informed
by the Japanese.
Another Sri Lankan monk said that few
of the archaeologists, weather from India and Nepal or in UNESCO-employ, are
Buddhists. "Their only interest is archaeology. They are not interest in
the religious aspect ". Japanese archaeologists have chopped down a Bodhi
Tree and taken it to Japan. Reports say that selling pieces of the Bodhi Tree
as medals from the Tree of Wisdom is a lucrative business there.