Buddhism in the Modern World
The entire concept of Buddhism lies in the teachings of Lord Buddha, that He preached to His disciples after attaining enlightenment in 528 BCE in BbodhGaya. After the mahaparinirvana of Gautam Buddha(483 BCE), the whole phase of the timeline of Buddhist history went through various ups and downs. The division of Buddhism into various sects, arrival of Islam in India and other parts of the world, the revival of Hinduism and the Bhakti movement - whatever it had to be, though slowed down the pace of Buddhism for a time being, but could not put an end over it permanently. The existence of Buddhism in today's stage of life proves that the Buddha's teachings still have relevance in our lives.
The Dhamma and Theistic Religions
The term, 'Theism' essentially means the service of an unseen God. Hinduism, Islam and Christianity - all three major religions of the world affirm the existence of an all-powerful creator God, whereas the Buddha had long ago repudiated the notion of a supreme God.
It has been widely agreed upon the fact that Buddhism emerged as an offshoot of Hinduism. But, still it does not accept the notion of a supreme deity as followed in Hinduism. Similarly, the Buddhist doctrine do not agree with other two religions - Islam and Christianity, which have been fundamentally intolerant religions dedicated to the goal of converting others, and persecuting those of different faiths.
The Buddhist Dhamma could not serve for a longer term in its birthplace, India because the revival of Hinduism in the 8th century CE and the arrival of Islam due to the Arab's invasion of India in the 12th century CE worked against Buddhism. However, it is another point that there a number of Buddhists in India, curtsey to the Buddhist religious leader, the Dalai Lama, who has been in India for more than four decades after his exile from Tibet. Similarly, The Buddhist philosophy of Dhamma could not establish its root in the Islamic and Christian countries, because these two religions and their believers have always been stuck up with their idea of a supreme deity, thereby not accepting the doctrine of Dhamma.
Buddhism and Humanism
The Dhamma or the Buddhist doctrine primarily appeals to the dignity of human beings rather than glorifying the God's notion, His free will and His superiority over the nature - unlike the way the theists define humanism. Thus, Dhamma is a humanistic philosophy, which in today's world is gaining significance because it makes an individual the master of his own destiny.
According to Buddhism, the human form is the only form in the entire universe, which is most conducive to deliverance. The Buddhist concept therefore believes in the fundamental idea of self-reliance and humanism rather than that of an external agency.
The Dhamma and Materialism
Today's world is a materialistic world as people (even those who call themselves 'religious') believe that the physical matter is the only reality and worldly possessions constitute the greatest good and highest value in life. Such materialistic view clearly denies the existence of an absolute and objective moral standard.
But the Dhamma, as per the Buddhist school of thought, do not accept the materialistic view, which is based on the worldly desires and insists on the existence of moral conduct, goodness, truth and justice. However, Buddhism is not against the growth of material possessions unless and until it goes against the principles of right livelihood
According to Buddhism, this material gain and crave for more and more has been the root cause of the seriously heightening conflict or rivalry not only among societies and nations, but even among the members of the same family, which is a major concern today, and that's why, as per the Buddhist ethics, one should follow the pursuit of a middle policy.
The Dhamma and Science
The Dhamma closely relates to what is today understood by Science. The myths of nature and life that had captivated the humans have not only been proved wrong by science but also resembles to what the Buddha's Dhamma mentions.
While other religions and the theists turn their backs to the scientific discoveries, Buddhism on the other hand, always reconcile the scientific discoveries with its basic laws for Dhamma believes that logic should be the centre of a man's knowledge and he should not accept anything blindly. Even the Buddha is believed to have said to His followers that nobody should accept blindly what He says, rather they should rationalise and then decide themselves, what is to be believed or followed and what not!
But, Science also has a self-imposed limitation as it has no procedure to move from positive to normative, but the Dhamma fills this gap as it has the ability to transcend Science. It is also in this sense that the Dhamma can be considered a Philosophy.
The Relevance Of Buddhism In The Modern World
Today everybody seems to be under the influence of external pressure and stressful life. The Dhamma provides ways to free our mind from mental defilement through meditation and concentration, coupled with the true understanding of the world, man's role in it and practice of the Buddha's path.
The Spread Of Buddhism In The Modern World
In the modern world, the total number of the Buddhists vary between 230 millions and 500 millions, and even is increasing as the Buddhist ideology, which is based on logic and science, is appealing modern man with modern thoughts.
Buddhism in Asia
The concept of Buddhism is familiar to the parts of Asia, as it was in an Asian country, India where Buddhism had evolved and from this place had spread to other parts of the world. Almost all the major sects of Buddhism are prevalent in different parts of the Asian continent. While Tantrayana or Vajrayana is predominant in Tibet, Mongolia and parts of India , Theravada Buddhism is being followed in most of the southeast Asian countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand and Sri Lanka. Similarly, Mahayana Buddhism remains the most common form in the northern Asian countries like China, Vietnam, Singapore, China(Chan) and Japan(as Zen Buddhism). The Buddhist flag that was designed to celebrate the revival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, later was accepted as the International Buddhist flag, indicating peace, harmony and love for all beings.
Buddhism In Other Parts of The World
In the later half of the 19th century, Buddhism as a religion was accepted by a number of European and American people, who were inspired by the teachings of Lord Buddha. The translation of the Asian texts (most of the Pali canons) into English and other western languages further facilitated the spread of Buddhist ideologies into the western nations.
The presence of the Buddhist temples, monasteries and stupas in countries like Cambodia, Bangkok, United States of America and states of United Kingdom proves that Buddhism is being accepted as one of the major religions throughout the world, thus returning its glorious rhythm.