Buddhism in the West: Phases, Orders and the Creation of an Integrative Buddhism

  • Martin Baumann (Autor/in)

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Following Heinz Bechert's proposal to distinguish Buddhist history by periods into a canonical, traditional and modem Buddhism, the paper focuses on the form and characteristics Buddhism has started to take in the incipient period of 'post-modernity'. As one prominent feature of 'postmodern' or 'global Buddhism', approaches to an integrative, ecumenical Buddhism are presented. Such approaches are found particularly in the modem contexts of Western, industrialized societies. Part I of the paper sketches the chronological and geographical dissemination of Buddhism in the West. A model of five phases outlines the patterns and forms of transferring Buddhist teachings and practices to Europe, North America and Australia. Part II focuses on two new Buddhist orders, the Arya Maitreya Mandala and the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, both favouring a non-sectarian, integrative Buddhism. It is argued that the significant increase of inter-traditional relations and cooperation as well as specific proposals to set up an integrative, interdenominational Buddhism point to a new development on a global scale in the history of Buddhism.