One Man's Bid to put Buddhism on Lebanon's Map

October 29, 2007

Author: Christian Porth

Source: The Daily Star

A veritable cornucopia of ecclesiastical beliefs, Lebanon is home to one of the most diverse religious landscapes in the world. The Lebanese Constitution officially recognizes 18 different religious groups, accounting for 98.7 percent of the total Lebanese population.

Among the many unrecognized religious groups in Lebanon, Buddhists represent a unique perspective, a dovetailing of East and West. They are a tiny community, however, comprising an estimated 0.1 percent of the country's population.

Enter Paul Jahshan, Lebanese Christian by birth, professor of American studies at Notre Dame University, world traveler, fluent in Chinese, and author of two books: "Henry Miller and the Surrealist Discourse of Excess," and "Cybermapping and the Writing of Myth."

In 2006, Jahshan established the Buddhist Society of Lebanon, and recently he created what he describes as a new school of Buddhist thought - "Progressive Buddhism" - in an attempt to provide a forum for Lebanese and other Buddhists.