Interest in Buddhism is growing steadily worldwide, especially from people seeking answers in this current global age of clashing ideologies, fanatical strife and senseless violence. The number of its adherents is growing at a phenomenal rate in many parts of the world particularly Australia, the US and many countries in Europe. In many countries in Asia where it was once forcibly displaced by Communism, it is making a remarkable comeback.
Why is this interest growing so quickly? Perhaps it is because more and more people are now recognizing these facts about Buddhism. It is:
A religion of true peace that has never advocated any violence in its name.
Buddhism is one of the oldest religions of the world. Yet, it has the distinguished honour as the only religion that has never had a holy war. No body has gone to war to vanquish unbelievers or to convert others to Buddhism. No one has been put to the sword, or hanged or otherwise punished for not believing in Buddhism. Even among different Buddhist sects, there is remarkable friendliness and cooperation.
A religion that emphasizes compassion, acceptance and kindness.
Instead, Buddhism has been a great civilizing force. It tamed the nomadic and violent hordes of Asia and brought art, culture and civilization. Buddhists are known for their kind, accepting and non-judgmental ways. Today, as Buddhism spreads to new lands, it is not brought by aggressive missionaries intent on converting others but is typically established by the initiative of local people who invite teachers to share the teachings.
A religion that provides a clear path for spiritual and personal development.
Buddhism is not a collection of myths and stories that test our rationality. It does not present itself as a mystery that can only be understood by priests or certain preferred people. Instead, Buddhism presents itself as a clear and credible path that anyone can undertake according to his own understanding and ability. It is a method that can be applied giving results that can be experienced immediately.
A religion that teaches us to take full responsibility for our actions.
Buddhism does not attempt to explain the problems in the world as part of a mysterious plan of a deity. It does not blame fate or any divine being for whatever good or bad we experience in life. Instead, it teaches that we are accountable for the results of our past actions and that we are the masters of our own destiny. Buddhism insists that mankind takes responsibility for its own actions.
A religion that has no room for blind faith or unthinking worship.
Many religions present a set of dogma and then insist that people believe them, even when such dogmas appear strange or have been explained by science to be false or without basis. Buddhism has no place for such doctrines. It does not require blind faith but actually suggests its adherents to think, to question and to develop acceptance based on understanding.
A religion that welcomes questions and investigations into its own teachings.
Being totally self-confident, Buddhism opens itself to query and scrutiny. There is no concept of blasphemy in Buddhism. You can expect your questions on Buddhism to be answered with rationality, respect and honesty.
A religion that says sincere followers of other beliefs are also rewarded in the afterlife.
Buddhism is not like a football team or a political party. You don’t join it for the purpose of condemning others. Buddhism teaches that what we do now determines what happens to us in the future. This is a natural law in accordance with scientific principles and applies to everyone regardless of their religious label.
A religion that is very much in harmony with modern science.
As scientific knowledge progresses it continues to undermine the foundation of many religions, despite the attempts of religious leaders to hinder and deny scientific knowledge and misinform their adherents. On the other hand, there is no scientific fact that contradicts Buddhism. Buddhism is the only religion that does not attempt to bend the facts to suit its faith. Indeed, much of modern science, particularly in the fields of psychology and physics supports the tenets of Buddhism.
Albert Einstein says: The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description. If there is any religion that could cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism.