In the 20th & now the 21st century, the world has increasingly embraced the teachings of Buddhism, esp. in the West. It deeply influenced the Beat writers & the counter-culture of the 1960s. But how different is this modern form of Buddhism from the ancient faith that originated over 2 millennia ago? Forging a universal doctrine from the divergent traditions of China, Sri Lanka, Japan, Burma, Thailand & Tibet, the makers of the most modern Buddhism in fact look back to the most ancient. Modern Buddhism is for them a homeward journey to the original vision of Buddha himself. Putting more stress on meditation & spirituality than on ritual & relics, it embraces the ordination of women & values of science, social justice, tolerance & individual freedom.
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Donald Lopez is Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies at the University of Michigan. His BUDDHISM: AN INTRODUCTION AND GUIDE will be published in Allen Lane in April 2001. He has served as editor of the Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, and in 2000 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
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