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Western Buddhism

Subject Religion » Buddhism

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631181392.1995.x


[ xi ] Some interest in Buddhism developed in Europe during the 19th century, derived in part from colonial and missionary efforts, in part from intellectual and academic tendencies. Hindu and Buddhist ideas were also introduced by the Theosophical movement ( see T heosophy ). The early 20th century brought a Buddhist movement on a very small scale in Europe, especially in the UK. This was associated with the T heravada Buddhist modernism developed in Ceylon (S inhalese buddhism ), which emphasized the rational and practical nature of Buddhism. After declining in the interwar period this tendency recovered some ground and continues to exercise influence. An interest in Z en was aroused by the writings of D. T. Suzuki and the work of Japanese missionaries, resulting in the 1950s in a short-lived vogue in the USA connected with the beatnik movement. A small core of committed long-term practitioners remained. Beginning in the 1960s Tibetan refugees succeeded in establishing Buddhist centres in a number of Western countries; these benefited considerably from interest in meditation and mysticism during the 1970s. Theravada missionary activity, begun from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) by the Maha Bodhi Society, was now taken up also from Thailand and a number of small monasteries were established in Europe and the English-speaking countries. The 1970s and 1980s saw a considerable increase in ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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