What are the main challenges facing Buddhism in the modern world and how might Buddhism respond to these challenges? What role does meditation play in modern Buddhist life?Buddhism is an ancient tradition dating back to a time of the Buddha in India, when the teachings were reintroduced to the world. Since this time, it has spread across many different countries and adapted within many different environments. Buddhism is a very influential tradition within Asia and is becoming a very popular religion worldwide. An example of this influence has been put forward by Cousins (1998, p. 369) who suggests that ÃÂÃÂover 50 per cent of the population of the world lives in areas where Buddhism has at some time been the dominant religious forceÃÂÃÂ. Buddhism draws on the teachings of Siddhartha Gotama, known as the Buddha, who advocated freedom from suffering through the cultivation of awareness, which is achieved through rigorous meditation practices.
Buddhism, within the modern world, is exploring new ground while using moral precepts and traditional techniques, such as the ancient practice of meditation, to address the ills of contemporary society.
This essay will address several important areas concerned with modern Buddhism. Firstly, an examination of the challenges posed by secularisation and materialism that Buddhism must face in the modern world. Challenges such as the need to avoid extremes of total renunciation of the material and total immersion in social action and the changing role of monasticism will be looked at. Also, a discussion of how the tradition can respond to these challenges will be put forward. The role that meditation plays in modern Buddhist life, and the contribution that Buddhism and Buddhist meditation can make within a contemporary western context, will also be explored.
In recent times Buddhism has emerged from the seclusion of far-off monasteries and has...