a major world religion, founded in northeastern India and based on the
teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, who is known as the Buddha, or
Enlightened One. See Buddha.
as a monastic movement within the dominant Brahman tradition of the day,
Buddhism quickly developed in a distinctive direction. The Buddha not only
rejected significant aspects of Hindu philosophy, but also challenged the
authority of the priesthood, denied the validity of the Vedic scriptures,
and rejected the sacrificial cult based on them. Moreover, he opened his
movement to members of all castes, denying that a person's spiritual worth
is a matter of birth. See Hinduism.
today is divided into two major branches known to their respective
followers as Theravada,
the Way of the Elders, and Mahayana,
the Great Vehicle. Followers of Mahayana refer to Theravada using the
derogatory term Hinayana, the Lesser Vehicle.
has been significant not only in India but also in Sri Lanka, Thailand,
Cambodia, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), and Laos, where Theravada has
been dominant; Mahayana has had its greatest impact in China, Japan,
Taiwan, Tibet, Nepal, Mongolia, Korea, and Vietnam, as well as in India.
The number of Buddhists worldwide has been estimated at between 150 and
300 million. The reasons for such a range are twofold: Throughout much of
Asia religious affiliation has tended to be nonexclusive; and it is
especially difficult to estimate the continuing influence of Buddhism in
Communist countries such as China.
did most major faiths, Buddhism developed over many years.
complete biography of the Buddha was compiled until centuries after his
death; only fragmentary accounts of his life are found in the earliest
sources. Western scholars, however, generally agree on 563 BC
as the year of his birth.
Gautama, the Buddha, was born in Lumbini near the present Indian-Nepal
border, the son of the ruler of a petty kingdom. According to legend, at
his birth sages recognized in him the marks of a great man with the
potential to become either a sage or the ruler of an empire. The young
prince was raised in sheltered luxury, until at the age of 29 he realized
how empty his life to this point had been. Renouncing earthly attachments,
he embarked on a quest for peace and enlightenment, seeking release from
the cycle of rebirths. For the next few years he practiced Yoga
and adopted a life of radical asceticism.
he gave up this approach as fruitless and instead adopted a middle path
between the life of indulgence and that of self-denial. Sitting under a bo
tree, he meditated, rising through a series of higher states of
consciousness until he attained the enlightenment for which he had been
searching. Once having known this ultimate religious truth, the Buddha
underwent a period of intense inner struggle. He began to preach,
wandering from place to place, gathering a body of disciples, and
organizing them into a monastic community known as the sangha. In
this way he spent the rest of his life.
Buddha was an oral teacher; he left no written body of thought. His
beliefs were codified by later followers.
Four Noble Truths
the core of the Buddha's enlightenment was the realization of the Four
Noble Truths: (1) Life is suffering. This is more than a mere recognition
of the presence of suffering in existence. It is a statement that, in its
very nature, human existence is essentially painful from the moment of
birth to the moment of death. Even death brings no relief, for the Buddha
accepted the Hindu idea of life as cyclical, with death leading to further
rebirth. (2) All suffering is caused by ignorance of the nature of reality
and the craving, attachment, and grasping that result from such ignorance.
(3) Suffering can be ended by overcoming ignorance and attachment. (4) The
path to the suppression of suffering is the Noble Eightfold Path, which
consists of right views, right intention, right speech, right action,
right livelihood, right effort, right-mindedness, and right contemplation.
These eight are usually divided into three categories that form the
cornerstone of Buddhist faith: morality, wisdom, and samadhi, or
analyzes human existence as made up of five aggregates or
"bundles" (skandhas): the material body, feelings,
perceptions, predispositions or karmic tendencies, and consciousness. A
person is only a temporary combination of these aggregates, which are
subject to continual change. No one remains the same for any two
consecutive moments. Buddhists deny that the aggregates individually or in
combination may be considered a permanent, independently existing self or
Indeed, they regard it as a mistake to conceive of any lasting unity
behind the elements that constitute an individual. The Buddha held that
belief in such a self results in egoism, craving, and hence in suffering.
Thus he taught the doctrine of anatman, or the denial of a
permanent soul. He felt that all existence is characterized by the three
marks of anatman (no soul), anitya (impermanence), and dukkha
(suffering). The doctrine of anatman made it necessary for the
Buddha to reinterpret the Indian idea of repeated rebirth in the cycle of
phenomenal existence known as samsara. To this end he taught the
doctrine of pratityasamutpada, or dependent origination. This
12-linked chain of causation shows how ignorance in a previous life
creates the tendency for a combination of aggregates to develop. These in
turn cause the mind and senses to operate. Sensations result, which lead
to craving and a clinging to existence. This condition triggers the
process of becoming once again, producing a renewed cycle of birth, old
age, and death. Through this causal chain a connection is made between one
life and the next. What is posited is a stream of renewed existences,
rather than a permanent being that moves from life to life—in effect a
belief in rebirth without transmigration.
related to this belief is the doctrine of karma. Karma consists of a
person's acts and their ethical consequences. Human actions lead to
rebirth, wherein good deeds are inevitably rewarded and evil deeds
punished. Thus, neither undeserved pleasure nor unwarranted suffering
exists in the world, but rather a universal justice. The karmic process
operates through a kind of natural moral law rather than through a system
of divine judgment. One's karma determines such matters as one's species,
beauty, intelligence, longevity, wealth, and social status. According to
the Buddha, karma of varying types can lead to rebirth as a human, an
animal, a hungry ghost, a denizen of hell, or even one of the Hindu gods.
never actually denying the existence of the gods, Buddhism denies them any
special role. Their lives in heaven are long and pleasurable, but they are
in the same predicament as other creatures, being subject eventually to
death and further rebirth in lower states of existence. They are not
creators of the universe or in control of human destiny, and Buddhism
denies the value of prayer and sacrifice to them. Of the possible modes of
rebirth, human existence is preferable, because the deities are so
engrossed in their own pleasures that they lose sight of the need for
salvation. Enlightenment is possible only for humans.
ultimate goal of the Buddhist path is release from the round of phenomenal
existence with its inherent suffering. To achieve this goal is to attain nirvana,
an enlightened state in which the fires of greed, hatred, and ignorance
have been quenched. Not to be confused with total annihilation, nirvana is
a state of consciousness beyond definition. After attaining nirvana, the
enlightened individual may continue to live, burning off any remaining
karma until a state of final nirvana (parinirvana) is attained at
the moment of death.
theory, the goal of nirvana is attainable by anyone, although it is a
realistic goal only for members of the monastic community. In Theravada
Buddhism an individual who has achieved enlightenment by following the
Eightfold Path is known as an arhat, or worthy one, a type of
those unable to pursue the ultimate goal, the proximate goal of better
rebirth through improved karma is an option. This lesser goal is generally
pursued by lay Buddhists in the hope that it will eventually lead to a
life in which they are capable of pursuing final enlightenment as members
of the sangha.
ethic that leads to nirvana is detached and inner-oriented. It involves
cultivating four virtuous attitudes, known as the Palaces of Brahma:
loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. The ethic
that leads to better rebirth, however, is centered on fulfilling one's
duties to society. It involves acts of charity, especially support of the sangha,
as well as observance of the five precepts that constitute the basic moral
code of Buddhism. The precepts prohibit killing, stealing, harmful
language, sexual misbehavior, and the use of intoxicants. By observing
these precepts, the three roots of evil—lust, hatred, and delusion—may
before his death, the Buddha refused his disciples' request to appoint a
successor, telling his followers to work out their own salvation with
diligence. At that time Buddhist teachings existed only in oral
traditions, and it soon became apparent that a new basis for maintaining
the community's unity and purity was needed. Thus, the monastic order met
periodically to reach agreement on matters of doctrine and practice. Four
such meetings have been focused on in the traditions as major councils.
first council was held at Rajagrha (present-day Rajgir) immediately after
the Buddha's death. Presided over by a monk named Mahakasyapa, its purpose
was to recite and agree on the Buddha's actual teachings and on proper
a century later, a second great council is said to have met at Vaishali.
Its purpose was to deal with ten questionable monastic practices—the use
of money, the drinking of palm wine, and other irregularities—of monks
from the Vajjian Confederacy; the council declared these practices
unlawful. Some scholars trace the origins of the first major split in
Buddhism to this event, holding that the accounts of the council refer to
the schism between the Mahasanghikas, or Great Assembly, and the stricter
Sthaviras, or Elders. More likely, however, the split between these two
groups became formalized at another meeting held some 37 years later as a
result of the continued growth of tensions within the sangha over
disciplinary issues, the role of the laity, and the nature of the arhat.
time, further subdivisions within these groups resulted in 18 schools that
differed on philosophical matters, religious questions, and points of
discipline. Of these 18 traditional sects, only Theravada survives.
third council at Pataliputra (present-day Patna) was called by King Ashoka
in the 3rd century BC. Convened by the monk Moggaliputta
Tissa, it was held in order to purify the sangha of the large
number of false monks and heretics who had joined the order because of its
royal patronage. This council refuted the offending viewpoints and
expelled those who held them. In the process, the compilation of the
Buddhist scriptures (Tipitaka) was supposedly completed, with the addition
of a body of subtle philosophy (abhidharma) to the doctrine
(dharma) and monastic discipline (vinaya) that had been recited at the
first council. Another result of the third council was the dispatch of
missionaries to various countries.
fourth council, under the patronage of King Kanishka, was held about AD
100 at Jalandhar or in Kashmir. Both branches of Buddhism may have
participated in this council, which aimed at creating peace among the
various sects, but Theravada Buddhists refuse to recognize its
Formation of Buddhist Literature
several centuries after the death of the Buddha, the scriptural traditions
recited at the councils were transmitted orally. These were finally
committed to writing about the 1st century BC. Some early
schools used Sanskrit for their scriptural language. Although individual
texts are extant, no complete canon has survived in Sanskrit. In contrast,
the full canon of the Theravadins survives in Pali, which was apparently a
popular dialect derived from Sanskrit.
Buddhist canon is known in Pali as the Tipitaka
(Tripitaka in Sanskrit), meaning "Three Baskets," because it
consists of three collections of writings: the Sutta Pitaka (Sutra Pitaka
in Sanskrit), a collection of discourses; the Vinaya Pitaka, the code of
monastic discipline; and the Abhidharma Pitaka, which contains
philosophical, psychological, and doctrinal discussions and
Sutta Pitaka is primarily composed of dialogues between the Buddha and
other people. It consists of five groups of texts: Digha Nikaya
(Collection of Long Discourses), Majjhima Nikaya (Collection of
Medium-Length Discourses), Samyutta Nikaya (Collection of Grouped
Discourses), Anguttara Nikaya (Collection of Discourses on Numbered
Topics), and Khuddaka Nikaya (Collection of Miscellaneous Texts). In the
fifth group, the Jatakas, comprising stories of former lives of the
Buddha, and the Dhammapada (Religious Sentences), a summary of the
Buddha's teachings on mental discipline and morality, are especially
Vinaya Pitaka consists of more than 225 rules governing the conduct of
Buddhist monks and nuns. Each is accompanied by a story explaining the
original reason for the rule. The rules are arranged according to the
seriousness of the offense resulting from their violation.
Abhidharma Pitaka consists of seven separate works. They include detailed
classifications of psychological phenomena, metaphysical analysis, and a
thesaurus of technical vocabulary. Although technically authoritative, the
texts in this collection have little influence on the lay Buddhist. The
complete canon, much expanded, also exists in Tibetan and Chinese
noncanonical texts that have great authority within Theravada Buddhism are
the Milindapanha (Questions of King Milinda) and the Visuddhimagga (Path
of Purification). The Milindapanha dates from about the 2nd century AD.
It is in the form of a dialogue dealing with a series of fundamental
problems in Buddhist thought. The Visuddhimagga is the masterpiece of the
most famous of Buddhist commentators, Buddhaghosa (flourished early 5th
century AD). It is a large compendium summarizing Buddhist
thought and meditative practice.
Buddhists have traditionally considered the Tipitaka to be the remembered
words of Siddhartha Gautama. Mahayana Buddhists have not limited their
scriptures to the teachings of this historical figure, however, nor has
Mahayana ever bound itself to a closed canon of sacred writings. Various
scriptures have thus been authoritative for different branches of Mahayana
at various periods of history. Among the more important Mahayana
scriptures are the following: the Saddharmapundarika Sutra (Lotus of the
Good Law Sutra, popularly known as the Lotus Sutra), the Vimalakirti
Sutra, the Avatamsaka Sutra (Garland Sutra), and the Lankavatara Sutra
(The Buddha's Descent to Sri Lanka Sutra), as well as a group of writings
known as the Prajnaparamita (Perfection of Wisdom).
Conflict and New Groupings
Buddhism developed in its early years, conflicting interpretations of the
master's teachings appeared, resulting in the traditional 18 schools of
Buddhist thought. As a group, these schools eventually came to be
considered too conservative and literal minded in their attachment to the
master's message. Among them, Theravada was charged with being too
individualistic and insufficiently concerned with the needs of the laity.
Such dissatisfaction led a liberal wing of the sangha to begin to
break away from the rest of the monks at the second council in 383 BC.
the more conservative monks continued to honor the Buddha as a perfectly
enlightened human teacher, the liberal Mahasanghikas developed a new
concept. They considered the Buddha an eternal, omnipresent,
transcendental being. They speculated that the human Buddha was but an
apparition of the transcendental Buddha that was created for the benefit
of humankind. In this understanding of the Buddha nature, Mahasanghika
thought is something of a prototype of Mahayana.
origins of Mahayana are particularly obscure. Even the names of its
founders are unknown, and scholars disagree about whether it originated in
southern or in northwestern India. Its formative years were between the
2nd century BC and the 1st century AD.
about the eternal Buddha continued well after the beginning of the
Christian era and culminated in the Mahayana doctrine of his threefold
nature, or triple "body" (trikaya). These aspects are the
body of essence, the body of communal bliss, and the body of
transformation. The body of essence represents the ultimate nature of the
Buddha. Beyond form, it is the unchanging absolute and is spoken of as
consciousness or the void. This essential Buddha nature manifests itself,
taking on heavenly form as the body of communal bliss. In this form the
Buddha sits in godlike splendor, preaching in the heavens. Lastly, the
Buddha nature appears on earth in human form to convert humankind. Such an
appearance is known as a body of transformation. The Buddha has taken on
such an appearance countless times. Mahayana considers the historical
Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, only one example of the body of
new Mahayana concept of the Buddha made possible concepts of divine grace
and ongoing revelation that are lacking in Theravada. Belief in the
Buddha's heavenly manifestations led to the development of a significant
devotional strand in Mahayana. Some scholars have therefore described the
early development of Mahayana in terms of the "Hinduization" of
important new concept in Mahayana is that of the bodhisattva
or enlightenment being, as the ideal toward which the good Buddhist should
aspire. A bodhisattva is an individual who has attained perfect
enlightenment but delays entry into final nirvana in order to make
possible the salvation of all other sentient beings. The bodhisattva
transfers merit built up over many lifetimes to less fortunate creatures.
The key attributes of this social saint are compassion and
loving-kindness. For this reason Mahayana considers the bodhisattva
superior to the arhats who represent the ideal of Theravada.
Certain bodhisattvas, such as Maitreya, who represents the Buddha's
loving-kindness, and Avalokitesvara or Guanyin, who represents his
compassion, have become the focus of popular devotional worship in
the 7th century AD a new form of Buddhism known as Tantrism
had developed through the blend of Mahayana with popular folk belief and
magic in northern India. Similar to Hindu Tantrism, which arose about the
same time, Buddhist Tantrism differs from Mahayana in its strong emphasis
on sacramental action. Also known as Vajrayana, the Diamond Vehicle,
Tantrism is an esoteric tradition. Its initiation ceremonies involve entry
into a mandala, a mystic circle or symbolic map of the spiritual
universe. Also important in Tantrism is the use of mudras, or
ritual gestures, and mantras, or sacred syllables, which are repeatedly
chanted and used as a focus for meditation. Vajrayana became the dominant
form of Buddhism in Tibet and was also transmitted through China to Japan,
where it continues to be practiced by the Shingon sect.
spread rapidly throughout the land of its birth. Missionaries dispatched
by King Ashoka introduced the religion to southern India and to the
northwest part of the subcontinent. According to inscriptions from the
Ashokan period, missionaries were sent to countries along the
Mediterranean, although without success.
Ashoka's son Mahinda and daughter Sanghamitta are credited with the
conversion of Sri Lanka. From the beginning of its history there,
Theravada was the state religion of Sri Lanka.
to tradition, Theravada was carried to Myanmar from Sri Lanka during the
reign of Ashoka, but no firm evidence of its presence there appears until
the 5th century AD. From Myanmar, Theravada spread to the
area of modern Thailand in the 6th century. It was adopted by the Thai
people when they finally entered the region from southwestern China
between the 12th and 14th centuries. With the rise of the Thai Kingdom, it
was adopted as the state religion. Theravada was adopted by the royal
house in Laos during the 14th century.
Mahayana and Hinduism had begun to influence Cambodia by the end of the
2nd century AD. After the 14th century, however, under Thai
influence, Theravada gradually replaced the older establishment as the
primary religion in Cambodia.
the beginning of the Christian era, Buddhism was carried to Central Asia.
From there it entered China along the trade routes by the early 1st
century AD. Although opposed by the Confucian orthodoxy and
subject to periods of persecution in 446, 574-77, and 845, Buddhism was
able to take root, influencing Chinese culture and, in turn, adapting
itself to Chinese ways. The major influence of Chinese Buddhism ended with
the great persecution of 845, although the meditative Zen, or Ch'an (from
Sanskrit dhyana,"meditation"), sect and the devotional
Pure Land sect continued to be important.
China, Buddhism continued its spread. Confucian authorities discouraged
its expansion into Vietnam, but Mahayana's influence there was beginning
to be felt as early as AD 189. According to traditional
sources, Buddhism first arrived in Korea from China in AD
372. From this date Korea was gradually converted through Chinese
influence over a period of centuries.
was carried into Japan from Korea. It was known to the Japanese earlier,
but the official date for its introduction is usually given as AD
552. It was proclaimed the state religion of Japan in 594 by Prince
was first introduced into Tibet through the influence of foreign wives of
the king, beginning in the 7th century AD. By the middle of
the next century, it had become a significant force in Tibetan culture. A
key figure in the development of Tibetan Buddhism was the Indian monk
Padmasambhava, who arrived in Tibet in 747. His main interest was the
spread of Tantric Buddhism, which became the primary form of Buddhism in
Tibet. Indian and Chinese Buddhists vied for influence, and the Chinese
were finally defeated and expelled from Tibet near the end of the 8th
seven centuries later Tibetan Buddhists had adopted the idea that the
abbots of its great monasteries were reincarnations of famous bodhisattvas.
Thereafter, the chief of these abbots became known as the Dalai Lama. The
Dalai Lamas ruled Tibet as a theocracy from the middle of the 17th century
until the seizure of Tibet by China in 1950. See Tibetan
important new sects of Buddhism developed in China and flourished there
and in Japan, as well as elsewhere in East Asia. Among these, Ch'an, or
Zen, and Pure Land, or Amidism, were most important.
advocated the practice of meditation as the way to a sudden, intuitive
realization of one's inner Buddha nature. Founded by the Indian monk
Bodhidharma, who arrived in China in 520, Zen emphasizes practice and
personal enlightenment rather than doctrine or the study of scripture.See Zen.
of meditation, Pure Land stresses faith and devotion to the Buddha
Amitabha, or Buddha of Infinite Light, as a means to rebirth in an eternal
paradise known as the Pure Land. Rebirth in this Western Paradise is
thought to depend on the power and grace of Amitabha, rather than to be a
reward for human piety. Devotees show their devotion to Amitabha with
countless repetitions of the phrase "Homage to the Buddha Amitabha."
Nonetheless, a single sincere recitation of these words may be sufficient
to guarantee entry into the Pure Land.
distinctively Japanese sect of Mahayana is Nichiren Buddhism, which is
named after its 13th-century founder. Nichiren believed that the Lotus
Sutra contains the essence of Buddhist teaching. Its contents can be
epitomized by the formula "Homage to the Lotus Sutra," and
simply by repeating this formula the devotee may gain enlightenment.
Institutions and Practices
occur in the religious obligations and observances both within and between
the sangha and the laity.
the first, the most devoted followers of the Buddha were organized into
the monastic sangha. Its members were identified by their shaved
heads and robes made of unsewn orange cloth. The early Buddhist monks, or bhikkus,
wandered from place to place, settling down in communities only during the
rainy season when travel was difficult. Each of the settled communities
that developed later was independent and democratically organized.
Monastic life was governed by the rules of the Vinaya Sutra, one of the
three canonical collections of scripture. Fortnightly, a formal assembly
of monks, the uposatha, was held in each community. Central to this
observance was the formal recitation of the Vinaya rules and the public
confession of all violations. The sangha included an order for nuns
as well as for monks, a unique feature among Indian monastic orders.
Theravadan monks and nuns were celibate and obtained their food in the
form of alms on a daily round of the homes of lay devotees. The Zen school
came to disregard the rule that members of the sangha should live
on alms. Part of the discipline of this sect required its members to work
in the fields to earn their own food. In Japan the popular Shin school, a
branch of Pure Land, allows its priests to marry and raise families. Among
the traditional functions of the Buddhist monks are the performance of
funerals and memorial services in honor of the dead. Major elements of
such services include the chanting of scripture and transfer of merit for
the benefit of the deceased.
worship in Buddhism is primarily individual rather than congregational.
Since earliest times a common expression of faith for laity and members of
the sangha alike has been taking the Three Refuges, that is,
reciting the formula "I take refuge in the Buddha. I take refuge in
the dharma. I take refuge in the sangha." Although technically
the Buddha is not worshiped in Theravada, veneration is shown through the
stupa cult. A stupa is a domelike sacred structure containing a relic.
Devotees walk around the dome in a clockwise direction, carrying flowers
and incense as a sign of reverence. The relic of the Buddha's tooth in
Kandy, Sri Lanka, is the focus of an especially popular festival on the
Buddha's birthday. The Buddha's birthday is celebrated in every Buddhist
country. In Theravada this celebration is known as Vaisakha, after the
month in which the Buddha was born. Popular in Theravada lands is a
ceremony known as pirit, or protection, in which readings from a
collection of protective charms from the Pali canon are conducted to
exorcise evil spirits, cure illness, bless new buildings, and achieve
Mahayana countries ritual is more important than in Theravada. Images of
the buddhas and bodhisattvas on temple altars and in the homes of
devotees serve as a focus for worship. Prayer and chanting are common acts
of devotion, as are offerings of fruit, flowers, and incense. One of the
most popular festivals in China and Japan is the Ullambana Festival, in
which offerings are made to the spirits of the dead and to hungry ghosts.
It is held that during this celebration the gates to the other world are
open so that departed spirits can return to earth for a brief time.
of the lasting strengths of Buddhism has been its ability to adapt to
changing conditions and to a variety of cultures. It is philosophically
opposed to materialism, whether of the Western or the Marxist-Communist
variety. Buddhism does not recognize a conflict between itself and modern
science. On the contrary, it holds that the Buddha applied the
experimental approach to questions of ultimate truth.
Thailand and Myanmar, Buddhism remains strong. Reacting to charges of
being socially unconcerned, its monks have become involved in various
social welfare projects. Although Buddhism in India largely died out
between the 8th and 12th centuries AD, resurgence on a
small scale was sparked by the conversion of 3.5 million former members of
the untouchable caste, under the leadership of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar,
beginning in 1956. A similar renewal of Buddhism in Sri Lanka dates from
the 19th century.
the Communist republics in Asia, Buddhism has faced a more difficult time.
In China, for example, it continues to exist, although under strict
government regulation and supervision. Many monasteries and temples have
been converted to schools, dispensaries, and other public use. Monks and
nuns have been required to undertake employment in addition to their
religious functions. In Tibet, the Chinese, after their takeover and the
escape of the Dalai Lama and other Buddhist officials into India in 1959,
attempted to undercut Buddhist influence.
in Japan since World War II have truly new Buddhist movements arisen.
Notable among these is Soka Gakkai, the Value Creation Society, a lay
movement associated with Nichiren Buddhism. It is noted for its effective
organization, aggressive conversion techniques, and use of mass media, as
well as for its nationalism. It promises material benefit and worldly
happiness to its believers. Since 1956 it has been involved in Japanese
politics, running candidates for office under the banner of its Komeito,
or Clean Government Party.
interest in Asian culture and spiritual values in the West has led to the
development of a number of societies devoted to the study and practice of
Buddhism. Zen has grown in the United States to encompass more than a
dozen meditation centers and a number of actual monasteries. Interest in
Vajrayana has also increased.
its influence in the West slowly grows, Buddhism is once again beginning
to undergo a process of acculturation to its new environment. Although its
influence in the U.S. is still small, apart from immigrant Japanese and
Chinese communities, it seems that new, distinctively American forms of
Buddhism may eventually develop.