Buddhism is still a prominent religion worldwide, with followers in many countries such as China, Japan, Tibet, Korea, Burma, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Mongolia, Nepal, Bhutan, Laos and more.
However, the question arises, is Buddhism dying out? While there are some parts of the religion that are dying out, Buddhism itself does not appear to be dying.
Is Buddhism Dying Out?
It is undeniable that we are living in
an era of science. The importance of institutionalized religion is declining as the use of scientific approaches among the population increases.
But as relevant as ever, religion still has a role to play in human growth and development.
For example, Buddha discovered a way to keep our minds focused by practicing meditation. Meditation can reveal many mysteries about our biological existence.
The teachings of the Tathagata Buddha are relevant today for a number of other human characteristics, including compassion, awareness, love, honesty, kindness, happiness, etc.
In modern times, some of the teachings of Buddhism have been spread even further.
The Buddha has left a tremendous contribution to the world. He taught that we are responsible for our own happiness. We must not blame others. We must not compare ourselves to others.
He taught that there is no greater gift than kindness. In an increasingly complicated world, the Buddha’s teachings are more relevant than ever.
So, it is likely that the Buddha’s teachings will survive for a long time if the present world properly evaluates the scientific and philosophical aspects of them.
Meditation, for example, is an important religious ritual for Buddhists.
It’s now becoming increasingly popular among people of all religions around the world. The practical aspect of meditation is what most attracts people here, not the religious aspect. But at the end of the day, the teachings of the Buddha are gaining ground among modern man.
The 2,500/5000 Years Old Question
A prophecy attributed to the Buddha is especially noteworthy in this instance. Buddha himself told his disciples that Buddhism in the world would disappear within 2500 years (5000 years according to different opinions).
This may be due to a number of reasons. The Buddha did not state a reason specifically.
The prophetic word of the Buddha seems much more realistic when we examine Buddhist history in the twenty-first century.
Buddhism originated in ancient India, as most of us know. From that perspective, Buddhism was supposed to be the most widely spread religion in India.
The reality, however, was quite different. Buddhism in India began to decline only a century after its development.
In India, Buddhists are now a minority community as a result of the decline. In many other Asian countries, the situation is similar.
Now, it may be better not to take literally the Buddha’s prophecy about the extinction of Buddhism. It may have been Buddha’s intent to represent a very long period symbolically, regardless of whether the period was 2500 or 5000 years.
Buddhism is known for its idea of Anattā or “substanceless”. This theory holds that everything in the universe is transient.
The existence of Buddhism as a religion is not an argument against impermanence.
Buddhism will eventually go extinct in the natural order. As a way of explaining this impermanence of religion generally, the Buddha described the extinction of Buddhism and the “Sangha” in a span of approximately 2500/5000 years.
Every aspect of the universe is impermanent, according to Buddhism. By natural law, the teachings of Gautama Buddha will disappear one day among the human race.
However, religion will never completely disappear from the world because religion is “sanatana”. Religion is the moral basis of human behavior.
So as long as people exist, religion will exist. As time goes on, certain religious teachings might become less prevalent. They might even disappear for a while.
Nevertheless, religion itself will remain attractive for all eternity. Buddha’s teachings are generally regarded as eternal by Buddhists.
The Buddha’s teachings will be lost for a while following the formula of impermanence, but they will be rediscovered in a new way. Perhaps some future Buddha will do that.
A Buddha is an enlightened individual. In Buddhism, each Kalpa produces a certain number of Buddhas.
The Buddhas come into this world to alleviate mankind’s suffering. The suffering brought about by birth will continue, as will the arrival of Buddhas. The cycle of birth, death, and rebirth is endless.
Buddhism is unique among religions in that it doesn’t rely on things that go beyond the natural world. It promotes relief of suffering by basing its teachings on just the real world and not the apparent existence of gods or demons.
Buddhism relieves suffering in a grounded and meaningful way without any need for the
supernatural. So, it really isn’t like the others.
And, this also leads many people to believe that Buddhism will continue to exist for a long time.
Buddhism Remains a Major Tradition in Asia
Buddhism is currently one of the major religions in the world. Founded by Prince Siddhartha Gautama in 6th Century BC, Buddhism has developed into an influential religion, lifestyle and philosophy.
The religion has attracted followers for more than two thousand years, and has influenced the culture of Asian countries significantly.
Many traditional Buddhist rituals are on the decline even in countries where Buddhism is the majority. But even then, people are still turning to religion when they are seeking a break from the ever-busy modern world.
China, Tibet, Thailand, Japan, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia and South Korea are still largely influenced by Buddhism, and to a lesser extent Malaysia, Taiwan, Laos, Singapore and Mongolia as well.
Many Chinese are now turning to the spiritual side of religion again, after the initial spread and subsequent decline of Mao’s philosophy.
Meanwhile, the teachings of Gautama Buddha are still highly revered and respected in India, despite the fact that Buddhists are in the minority.
In Hinduism, the Buddha has even been identified as the incarnation of Vishnu, and places associated with the memory of the Buddha are considered pilgrimage sites by followers of the Hinduism/Sanatana dharma.
A new interest in the teachings of the Buddha has been observed all over India.
Buddhism in the West Is Growing Rapidly
The United States and western world are no exception. US troops, for instance, were introduced to Buddhist philosophy, meditation, and yoga to stay mentally healthy when they returned from the Middle East.
Today, there are many meditation and yoga retreat centers throughout western countries that are inspired largely by Buddhist philosophy and teachings.
Why Buddhism Still Matters Today
Buddhism is the philosophy and practice of liberation from suffering and mastering life. Buddhism can be seen as a psychological discipline which involves the practice of meditation.
The central aspect of Buddhism is the Four Noble Truths which provide a map for bringing suffering to an end and achieving happiness.
Studying Buddhism provides a means of bringing peace and harmony into our lives and internalizing its teachings can bring us a happier and calmer existence.
However, it’s not just all about peace and harmony, but it is also about spiritual enlightenment. It’s about changing your outlook on life.
From working towards materialistic things, you start working towards spiritual enlightenment. Changing your mindset will change your life. And that is why Buddhism still matters today.
There are some people who believe that Buddhism is slowly fading away. But, that isn’t true. It can be argued that parts of Buddhism are dying out but the religion as a whole is not.
Buddhism is still one of the most popular religions around. It just doesn’t look the same as it did years ago.
Buddhism has been around for over 2500 years. It has survived for this long because it adapts to the needs of the day.