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What is Western Buddhism?

What is Western Buddhism?

In these interviews, recorded by a team from, Venerable Thubten Chodron answers questions about her life and what it means to be a Buddhist in the 21st century.

Do I think there’s such a thing as Western Buddhism, and if so, how does it differ from traditional Tibetan Buddhism?

No, I don’t think there’s a thing such as Western Buddhism. And I hear, sometimes, people speak, “Oh, we’re gonna have American Buddhism.”

It’s like, “What? You think that one form of Buddhism is going to satisfy the needs of everybody in this country or in the Western world? Uh-uh!”

You know, one form didn’t satisfy everybody at the time of the Buddha. That’s why we have the development of different traditions, and different people emphasizing different scriptures, and different people emphasizing different practices, okay?

So, I don’t think that we’re ever gonna have an American Buddhism or an Italian Buddhism, or a Norwegian Buddhism or a Russian Buddhism. I don’t think it’s possible and I don’t think it would be beneficial, either. I think that the variety that we have really enables everybody to find something that suits them.

Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.

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