The Growth of Buddhism in America

November 4, 2000

Source: The Atlanta Journal and Constitution

On November 4, 2000, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution reported that of approximately 350 million Buddhists in the world, about 3 million are in America. In Atlanta, GA, there are more than 15 sanghas, or worship communities. One such community is based at Atlanta's Loseling Institute. In addition to private prayer and meditation, the Loseling Institute in Atlanta offers weekly lectures and group meditation. The institute also hosts important Buddhist holidays. Members of this and other sanghas range from college students to professionals.

Some say that there is a distinction between American Buddhists and Buddhists in America. Some Asian Buddhists are concerned that American converts and practitioners are not authentic. Jack Kornfield, founder of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center and author of two books, says that "American Jews and Christians have adopted Buddhist practices to various degrees because they found their synagogues and churches spiritually unfulfilling." He added that some have brought Buddhist practices into their own traditions. Kornfield pointed to three ways in which America has had an impact on Buddhism here: democratization, integration and feminization. The lack of division between religious practice and daily living appeals to Western converts. A more modern and secularized Buddhism in America is often used as the basis for social and political action as well.