Buddhism in America and its Influence

Abstract

For this project, I would be creating a short magazine in a format such as National Geographic. The topic I’ll be focusing on will be about the religions in China and more importantly how it was spread to the U.S and altered by the new environment. Even today, we notice how great of an impact a religion have on people. It is also noticeable that people have their own interpretation of beliefs, and this could be the reason why there might have been a change in Americanized Chinese religion. This is basically the key point that I’ll be focusing on. I would like to dig deeper into how the U.S. has influenced the Chinese religion, and why the changes were necessary. This topic is for those who appreciates Chinese religions such as Buddhism, Taoism,  Confucianism, and more; as well as those who are interested in devoting to a new religion. For example from my research, it is stated that Chinese religion was brought to the U.S. during the Gold Rush in 1830s. Many Chinese immigrants had come to San Francisco as early as 1838. It is also noted that the Chinese were criticized for following a different religion in the beginning and their religion was ridiculed more than respected. Many Americans have believed that Chinese people were “polluting” their current views and recognized them as “less fortunate”. Later, of course, this view is transformed into a religion that is respected by many Americans.

 

I do believe it’s important to understand why the original Chinese religion wasn’t fully welcomed in the U.S. Although Chinese religions have peaked the interest of many Americans, many have only taken consider the portion of the qualities to practice and devote to. I am certainly intrigued in why this is so, and due to the alteration of the belief, I would like to know how it have altered and if it could impact the origin traditional Chinese religion.

 

I chose the National Geographic magazine format because I was able to provide images along with the writing. National Geographic provides a visual aid(pictures) to make audience appear like they are in the story. Such images could put the audiences in a perspective where they are truly experiencing the surrounding. Visual aids could sometimes provide an information that words might not be able to, so it’s a crucial element to have to deliver my message. I would also be writing in a first person point of view like I have really experienced the Buddhist rituals that are performed in America. This is how it’s done in the most magazine on National Geographics.

This topic has interested me since I have read an article online that while the overall Buddhist population is decreasing, Buddhism in America is rising drastically. This was due to the idea of capable of being a Buddhist without having to practice or attend to any service offerings. Religion themselves has put it, that they don’t force anyone to practice the religion and the if do, the environment will have little effect as long as one has a focused mind and spiritual person. I believe that the religion became famous because there was less pressure, unlike other religions. Christianity, Islam or many other religions have a certain obligation to attend and perform different rituals to be closer to God. However, Buddhism eliminates all the obligations and pressures and believe one could be closer to God by solitude despite one’s surroundings.

By reading this, I would want the audience to understand the differences in the traditional religion and the Americanized Chinese religion. I would like them to take away why Chinese religion is famous now, and why younger generation respects it more and why the religion is gaining popularity.

6 thoughts on “Buddhism in America and its Influence

  1. Kaylee Mumford

    Your project was similar to mine. I compared feng shui in China to feng shui in the United States. I agree that Chinese religions and traditions are altered to fit a different society and what makes sense to them. It’s important to understand the different understandings between cultures. It’s also important to recognize how these understandings are shaped as a product of pre-existing ideologies.

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  2. Sarah Franco

    It is also noticeable that people have their own interpretation of beliefs, and this could be the reason why there might have been a change in Americanized Chinese religion. I share the same beliefs as you in the fact that you said Buddhism tends to have less pressure, unlike other religions and that could potentially play a part in why younger generations respect the Buddhist religion more and why it is gaining popularity. Just like you explained that you would like to dig deeper into how the US has influenced Chinese religion, I have always been interested in researching the same thing. Especially in relation to how the US and tourism has influenced Buddhism and Buddhist temples in China. I enjoy how you stated that Americans have believed that Chinese people were ‘polluting’ their current views because it has been such a drastic change and we can see that through my research and how major tourism in China has been among Americans. I find it interesting that you chose to do a national geographic article for your research. Since I am only taking on a research paper, our information could play off of each other to back each other up, which I think it very awesome! Mine could potentially be the more broad of the two and yours focus’ in directly. Something that caught my eye was how you would like to know how Chinese religion has been altered or impacted due to the American people because my research is what could provide answers to some of your research.

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  3. Julia Woodward

    As with many phenomena that originated in another country before spreading to the United States, Buddhism underwent significant changes in order to feel more relatable to the American people. These phenomena include skin stencilling, yoga, and even various religions. Throughout my own semester, my class has discussed the Islamic religion, and it too has undergone serious changes when it came to the United States. Over half of the individuals who practice Islam in the United States do not participate in the required daily prayers or go to the mosque as frequently as they should. At the same time, over half of the individuals who practice Christianity also do not attend church weekly. Therefore, it is interesting that the culture of the United States seems to encourage decreased participation in these organized religions while also having an increased participation in a more disorderly one such as Buddhism – as your research stated. I believe that it partly due to the heavy capitalistic culture that is found in the United States. This dedication to business and capitalism leaves less time to devote to religion, which explains an increase in a more relaxed religion and decreases in these other formal religions. I think it would be interesting to connect our separate research to gain an entire view into how these religions change when they spread to the United States and are influenced by its own culture.

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  4. Jason Hartman

    You and I both had very similar topics. I focused on the ethnic enclave of New York City’s Chinatown, and how it came to be so isolated from the rest of New York. It was interesting how you highlighted that Buddhist practices had an outward impact on American Culture, whereas I focused on how the harsh environment that Chinese immigrants faced caused them to draw inward and become separated from society. Both of our projects show how religious practices have the power to Isolate those who partake in them from the rest of society, and conversely make a spread and influence those who are unfamiliar with it.

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  5. Kaylee Mumford

    Your project was similar to mine. I compared feng shui in China to feng shui in the United States. I agree that Chinese religions and traditions are altered to fit a different society and what makes sense to them. It’s important to understand the different understandings between cultures. It’s also important to recognize how these understandings are shaped as a product of pre-existing ideologies.

    Reply
  6. Jason Hartman

    I think it was important how you discussed how Buddhism went on to influence American culture even after its initial poor reception. My final project for Gods, Ghosts and Ancestors revolved around how Chinatown, NYC came into being as a result of the discrimination that you had mentioned that Chinese-American immigrants faced. While you focused on how Buddhism had an influence outwardly on Americans in the long run, I conversely focused on how religious institutions made the Chinese draw further inward towards their storied past and away from the rest of society. Both of our projects highlight how religion has the power to both spread and remain isolated.

    Reply

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