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Extreme Diaspora: Global Buddhism

Session Chair: N.N. | Friday, August 28, 3:30-5:30 p.m. | Venue

Marika Laudere

Buddhism in the religious landscape of the Baltic States

Buddhism is one of the fastest growing religions in the West. Even so, relatively little information is available about the history of Buddhism, Buddhist organizations or individuals in the Baltic religion. In general Buddhism the Baltic States (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia) reflects many of the trends that have been identified in Buddhism’s growth in other Western countries; however, some regional differences also exist. Thus the goal of this paper is to provide the main information about transplantation and development of Buddhism in the Baltic States since the beginning of the 20th century. The current status of Buddhism will be also examined, particularly by identifying the main present Buddhist organizations and the main trends in their activity; as well the place of Buddhism in the religious landscape of the Baltic States will be discussed.

Veronika Mathe

Finding their own unique voices – Three ’Homegrown’ Buddhist communities in Hungary

Most of the 25 Buddhist groups in Hungary (with their approx. 12 000 members) are branches of bigger international communities such as Diamond Way or Kwan Um. My paper however focuses on three, fairly large Buddhist groups that were founded by Hungarians, taking very different approaches to introducing Buddhism within Hungary. Influenced by their temporal, geographical and social circumstances, (the leaders of) these communities have made choices in not only what they (re)present as Buddhism (e.g. teachings of a certain school vs. Buddhist ecumenism) but also how they integrate Buddhism into discourses and practices that are already well established in Hungary (e.g. psychology, Christianity, Neo-Paganism, Roma folktales). We will see how these choices have led to the existence of three popular Buddhist communities in Hungary, with very different aims and voices.

Eva Seegers

Innovation versus Tradition: The Buddhist Ritual of Stūpa Worship Performed at the Costa del Sol, Spain

Stūpas are among the most characteristic and widespread visual representations of Buddhism symbolising the mind of the Buddha (Skt. dharmakāya). They have been built in Asia for more than 2500 years and over the past decades also in many other countries around the world. One of the largest stūpas in the Western world was erected at the Costa del Sol in Spain, highlighting the integration of Buddhism into Western society. The aim of my paper is to shine light on the basic questions which arise when such an exotic monument is transferred to a new cultural and religious context: when a stūpa is transplanted to Europe, is it likely that local new-interpretations influence the traditional meaning of this unique religious structure? How is the stūpa worshipped, and what are the diverse ways in which it is regarded by Western convert Buddhists and the local community? In this paper new data collected by field-work and critically analysed textual sources will blend together. This will allow new insights into how cultural and religious transmissions take place.


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