Author Topic: Christianity Steadily Declining in Australia, Buddhism, Hinduism Growing  (Read 5991 times)

Namdrol

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http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=49,10957,0,0,1,0

by Stoyan Zaimov, Christian Post, Jun. 22, 2012

Sydney, Australia -- A national census has revealed that while most Australians profess Christianity as a belief, the religion as a whole in the country has been on a steady decline, while the number adherents of Eastern faiths like Buddhism and Hinduism has grown.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics recently revealed its first set of findings for 2011, which showed that Christianity remains the dominant religion among Australia's 21,507,717 population, and was claimed as the faith of practice by 61.1 per cent of respondents – although that figure was down by almost 3 per cent from 63.9 per cent in 2006.

Of those Christians, 25.3 per cent identified themselves as Catholic, 17.1 per cent as Anglicans, 5 per cent as Uniting Church (a union of the Congregational Union of Australia, the Methodist Church of Australasia and the Presbyterian Church of Australia) and 2.8 per cent as Presbyterian and Reformed – meaning that every major Christian denomination in Australia has suffered a decline in membership from 2006.

What is more, between 1986 and 2006, the number of Hindus in Australia increased sevenfold, while the number of Buddhists has fivefold. The number of Australians with no religious affiliation rose to 22.3 per cent in 2011 from holding 18.7 per cent of the population in 2006. In the 2006 census, 55,000 people even selected "Jedi" as their religious affiliation, a belief system stemming from George Lucas' representation of "the Force" in his "Star Wars" series.

The recent trend in Christian decline in Australia may very well be attributed to a notable cultural shift. India, a largely Hindu country, was the leading birthplace of immigrants coming into Australia, at 13.1 per cent – although that was followed closely by U.K. immigrants at 12.1 per cent.

Asian immigrants also accounted for a large number of people moving to Australia, with China and the Philippines among the leading countries of origin.

"This is fundamentally shifting the cultural mix of Australia," the 2011 census executive director Andrew Henderson said. In total, about one in four Australians were born overseas, and as many as 43.1 per cent of people had at least one overseas-born parent.

While Australia allows same-sex partnerships, described as de facto relationships that hold the same rights as heterosexual ones, there were 1,338 same-sex couples in Australia who identified themselves as married. The vast majority, or 96 per cent of respondents, however, answered that they were in de facto same-sex relationships.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will publish the second half of its findings in October. Information about the number of respondents to the 2011 census was not readily available.

Big Uncle

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Haha! I didn't know that Jedi is considered a religion now. It sounds like a religion of nerds and Star Wars movie buffs. But I am not surprised that Buddhism and Hinduism is increasing because of immigration and shifting interest towards Eastern religion.

I think people in materially advance society like Australia's are seeking deeper and more meaningful approach towards achieving fulfillment and happiness. As a result, Buddhism is increasing because it has many practical methods towards achieving this result. I am not sure about Hinduism but I am sure it must have some good methods as well.

I think that as time goes by, Buddhism will become more and more important as societies in many countries and not just Australia become richer and more materialistic. There's a lot that Buddhism has to offer and the beauty of these teachings is that once can apply them without converting to Buddhism and see its results. Even Dorje Shugden practice itself is a powerful method and practice to help those who are wrapped up in desire. This is especially so because the results would be very quick. There's an emanation of Dorje Shugden that specifically emanates to bring increase of wealth and desirable conditions for our practice. There's nothing more suitable for people today.

vajrastorm

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,These statistics that show a decline, in Christianity in recent times,on the one hand, and a rise in Buddhism, on the other, is understandable, coming from a  materialistically developed country like Australia. People there have not found true happiness and peace in material wealth,nor have they found an answer to their problems(or reason behind their problems, misery and suffering)in their traditional religion. So they are looking towards something deeper, like spirituality that makes sense and the type of spirituality which is not just outer 'form',not just 'rituals' and prayers to a god or deity, who does not always answer their prayers.

Buddhism will answer their need,because when they're faced with problems in life, Buddhism has the most logically acceptable way for them to look at their problems and address them correctly.There is no way, in the end, but for people to come to grips with the reality of impermanence and the law of karma, among all the aspects of the truth of existence, as Lord Buddha discovered/realized over 2500 years ago. There is no other peace and happiness as the peace and happiness that comes from realizing the Four Noble Truths, and from realizing that self-cherishing is at the heart of our suffering, and that  'other-cherishing' holds the key to happiness.

Vajraprotector

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I have read an article before by Darren Nelson, who wrote "Why is Buddhism the Fastest Growing Religion in Australia?" , he asked the question, " How is it possible that a 2500 year old philosophy, which began five hundred years before Christianity and one thousand years before the Muslim faith is relevant to modern life in Australia?"  I

In answering his question he suggests the following: "It does not preach a dogma of a strange cult, nor seek converts with evangelistic fervor. Those Australians who actively convert to Buddhism do so voluntarily, and are usually well-educated middle-age professional who are attracted to a sense of inner peace".


Positive Change

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In this day and age, to have a religion that is based largely on dogma is fast loosing ground. People are "smarter" in the sense, the fear of GOD no longer holds water for most. Blind faith is almost non existent these days. Look at our churches in England, even parts of Europe where the base of Christianity was so prevalent and strong before... these structures are mere empty and void of life. Yes the Sunday masses still continue but to a cathedral filled with all of 10 people? Yes it is an exaggeration but it is to illustrate a point here.

Christmas is no longer a religious celebration... it has become a secular money making phenomenon. Where did the exchanging of presents come from? The 3 kings came bearing gifts when Jesus was born but that is such a stretch really! I am not saying its bad to exchange gifts... its great but why limit it to one miserable day!!!!

Anyway, it is good to hear that Buddhism and Hinduism is growing in English speaking regions like Australia... I rejoice!

What Big Uncle says is also true... we are, especially in the materially advanced society, more aware of where happiness DOES NOT come from and hence we are searching inwards... towards a betterment of self to make ourselves happy and not rely on outside "influences".

vajratruth

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There could be so many reasons why Australia, like other western cultures are embracing Buddhism and Hinduism more and more. The western culture is one that is accustomed to constantly challenge norms and assumptions and also one that regularly seeks logical answers. As the world becomes more complex, so does society's problems and a significant portion of these problems are problems of the mind, i.e. mental illness.

I think it would be fair to say that most people in the West "inherited" Christianity but along the way could not find answers for their unhappiness.  The basis of Christianity is a complete dependency on a creator-god and in an age where people are already feeling like they are losing control, there has to be a more practical answer.

Unlike Christianity, both Buddhism and Hinduism believe in reincarnation, the cyclic existence in samsara and the laws of karma. Buddhism and Hinduism place the responsibility of one's welfare back into one's own hand and in that way, return control back to the person, us.

Buddhism recognizes the suffering of all lives, including all mankind. And Buddhism is essentially the practice that seeks to remove that suffering. Therefore in an age where one becomes more acutely aware of one's suffering, the teachings of the Buddha is even more appealing.

Sometime in the last twenty years the West became disenchanted with their own society and started looking toward the East for answers. In came yoga and meditation and such like. At the same time, in the last few decades Buddhism started being exported around the world.  It was only a matter of time before the disease meets its own antidote. 

bambi

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Yay!! Rejoice! Buddhism is growing all around the world! Such good news!  ;D

When I 1st stumbled upon Buddhism, I was drawn to the facts and logic in every saying and teachings. Not just something someone follow blindly. And the most interesting part is KARMA! How appropriate to come across teachings about karma and realize, holy cow! Thats why my life is so full of problems and difficulties! And after that to learn that it does not last forever, for eg. one doesn't have bad luck/obstacles forever and there are many beautiful mantras and pujas that we can do to help us along the way to help us overcome it. Once one open up to the teachings and listen, there are more to learn and be better in so many ways. May many more come across the beautiful teachings of Buddha...


By the way, I did some searching after reading this post and found many interesting topics about it. Some of it :

http://nobloodforhubris.blogspot.com/2006/05/australias-fastest-growing-religion.html

"Buddhism is now the fastest growing religion in Australia, growing 80 per cent between the 1996 and 2001 census. Interestingly, this surge is not only due to migration, but also to large numbers of Australian's converting to Buddhism.

"People from Western cultures are drawn to Buddhism because it is . . . not tied to a particular church or central leader, and is associated with peace, love, happiness, justice and enlightenment. Westerners find it gives them tools to cope with the day-to-day, and helps them detach from the rampant consumerism and stresses of their busy lives."

"Western culture's exposure to Buddhism is so much greater now. Books by the Dalai Lama are bestsellers, and people flock to see and hear him speak as he travels the world. In recent years there have been many movies like 'The Little Buddha', 'Kundun', and 'Seven Years in Tibet', and non-Hollywood films like 'The Cup' and 'Samsara'," says Dr Rocha.

"Celebrities like Richard Gere and the Beastie Boys have used their status to bring attention to the plight of Tibet and its struggle against China; and actress Uma Thurman's father, Robert, who is now a professor at Columbia University, was the first Western Tibetan Buddhist monk and an interpreter for the Dalai Lama. . . .
Western followers regard meditation as the main practice of Buddhism," she says.

http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=49,4360,0,0,1,0

"In Buddhism you are allowed to ask questions and actually you're actively encouraged to doubt and to discuss and so on," Ogilvie said. "The Buddha said don't just believe because I'm very famous, don't just believe because many people believe what I teach. Be like the goldsmith, you know, apply the acid to the gold to test it and the acid being your mind, your intelligence. So in that sense it's a manifesto of intellectual freedom which is very, very appealing."

Jessie Fong

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It comes as no surprise that the number of Buddhists are increasing in Australia and other nations.  With the migration of people of different religious backgrounds, it is expected that their influence will be felt wherever they go.

Many Tibetan Lamas have made their presence felt in the Western world and with the advent of technology, more information can easily be extracted online, which makes it a more convenient and suitable vessel of learning.

More people nowadays are "attracted" to Buddhism as a new age belief, even though it's been more than 2,500 years old.

Read also ... http://www.dorjeshugden.com/forum/index.php?topic=2105.0  ... Buddhist Calm becomes big business

biggyboy

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In fact, if we look around now Buddhism has gain grounds much further now compared to years ago.  It is more prevalent in the Western regions.  Look at how it has grown in UK, USA and Australia.  Practically, you see or hear this Lama or that Lama goes to these countries to give teachings or talks.  Many would pay the price to go where ever the teachings were.  Let alone now, information can be easily accessible through modern technology and live streaming of teachings/talks too.  One can even listen or view from the comfort of their homes where ever they are.

Having said that, Buddhism is not about religion but it is the philosophy of life where everyone has now perceived it.  It is logical and practical in every sense and level of our daily life.

A note to share extracted from http://buddhistfaith.tripod.com/beliefs/id33.html ....

What makes Buddhism unique? Below is a compilation of 27 main Buddhist concepts and teachings that differentiates the Buddha Dharma with other religious systems.

1. There is no almighty God in Buddhism. There is no one to hand out rewards or punishments on a supposedly Judgement Day.

2. Buddhism is strictly not a religion in the context of being a faith and worship owing allegiance to a supernatural being.

3. No savior concept in Buddhism. A Buddha is not a savior who saves others by his personal salvation. Although a Buddhist seeks refuge in the Buddha as his incomparable guide who indicates the path of purity, he makes no servile surrender. A Buddhist does not think that he can gain purity merely by seeking refuge in the Buddha or by mere faith in Him. It is not within the power of a Buddha to wash away the impurities of others

4. A Buddha is not an incarnation of a god/God (as claimed by some Hindu followers). The relationship between a Buddha and his disciples and followers is that of a teacher and student.

5. The liberation of self is the responsibility of one's own self. Buddhism does not call for an unquestionable blind faith by all Buddhist followers. It places heavy emphasis on self-reliance, self discipline and individual striving.

6. Taking refuge in The Triple Gems i.e. the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha; does not mean self-surrender or total reliance on an external force or third party for help or salvation.

7. Dharma (the teachings in Buddhism) exists regardless whether there is a Buddha. Sakyamuni Buddha (as the historical Buddha) discovered and shared the teachings/ universal truths with all sentient beings. He is neither the creator of such teachings nor the prophet of an almighty God to transmit such teachings to others.

8. Especially emphasized in Mahayana Buddhism, all sentient beings have Buddha Nature/ Essence. One can become a Buddha (a supreme enlightened being) in due course if one practises diligently and attains purity of mind (ie absolutely no delusions or afflictions).

9. In Buddhism, the ultimate objective of followers/practitioners is enlightenment and/or liberation from Samsara; rather than to go to a Heaven (or a deva realm in the context of Buddhist cosmology).

10. Karma and Karma Force are cornerstones in Buddhist doctrines. They are expounded very thoroughly in Buddhism. Karma refers to an important metaphysical concept concerned with action and its consequences. This law of karma explains the problem of sufferings, the mystery of the so-called fate and predestination of some religions, and above all the apparent inequality of mankind.

11. Rebirth is another key doctrine in Buddhism and it goes hand in hand with karma. There is a subtle difference between rebirth and reincarnation as expounded in Hinduism. Buddhism rejects the theory of a transmigrating permanent soul, whether created by a god or emanating from a divine essence.

12. Maitri or Metta in Pali (Loving Kindness) and Karuna (Compassion) to all living beings including animals. Buddhism strictly forbids animal sacrifice for whatever reason. Vegetarianism is recommended but not compulsory.

13. The importance of non-attachment. Buddhism goes beyond doing good and being good. One must not be attached to good deeds or the idea of doing good; otherwise it is just another form of craving.

14. In Buddhism, there is consideration for all sentient beings (versus human beings, as in other religions). Buddhists acknowledge/accept the existence of animals and beings in other realms in Samsara.

15. No holy war concept in Buddhism. Killing is breaking a key moral precept in Buddhism. One is strictly forbidden to kill another person in the name of religion, a religious leader or whatsoever religious pretext or worldly excuse.

16. Suffering is another cornerstone in Buddhism. It is the first of the Four Noble Truths. Sufferings are very well analyzed and explained in Buddhism.

17. The idea of sin or original sin has no place in Buddhism. Also, sin should not be equated to suffering.

18. Buddhist teachings expound no beginning and no end to one's existence or life. There is virtually no recognition of a first cause — e.g. how does human existence first come about?

19. The Dharma provides a very detailed explanation of the doctrine of anatman {anatta in Pali} or soullessness , i.e. there is no soul entity (whether in one life of many lives).

20. The Buddha is omniscient but he is not omnipotent. He is capable of innumerable feats but there are three things he cannot do. Also, a Buddha does not claim to be a creator of lives or the Universe.

21. Prajna [Panna in Pali] or Transcendent Wisdom occupies a paramount position in Buddhist teachings. Shakyamuni Buddha expounded Prajna concepts for some 20 years of his ministry. One is taught to balance compassion with prajna i.e.emotion (faith) with rationale (right understanding /truth /logic).

22. The tradition and practice of meditation in Buddhism are relatively important and strong. While all religions teach some forms or variations of stabilizing/single-pointedness meditation, only Buddhism emphasizes Vipassana (Insight) meditation as a powerful tool to assist one in seeking liberation/enlightenment.

23. The doctrine of Sunyata or Emptiness is unique to Buddhism and its many aspects are well expounded in advanced Buddhist teachings. Briefly, this doctrine asserts the transcendental nature of Ultimate Reality. It declares the phenomenal world to be void of all limitations of particularization and that all concepts of dualism are abolished.

24. Conditioned Arising [Paticcasamuppada in Pali] or Dependent Origination is another key doctrine in Buddhism. This doctrine explains that all psychological and physical phenomena constituting individual existence are interdependent and mutually condition each other; this at the same time describes what entangles sentient beings in samsara.

25. The concept of Hell(s) in Buddhism is very different from that of other religions. It is not a place for eternal damnation as viewed by 'almighty creator' religions. In Buddhism, it is just one of the six realms in Samsara [i.e. the worst of three undesirable realms]. Also, there are virtually unlimited number of hells in the Buddhist cosmology as there are infinite number of Buddha worlds.

26. The Buddhist cosmology (or universe) is distinctly different from that of other religions which usually recognize only this solar system (Earth) as the centre of the Universe and the only planet with living beings. The Buddhist viewpoint of a Buddha world (also known as Three Thousand-Fold World System) is that of one billion solar systems.

27. Samsara is a fundamental concept in Buddhism and it is simply the 'perpetual cycles of existence' or endless rounds of rebirth among the six realms of existence. This cyclical rebirth pattern will only end when a sentient being attains Nirvana, i.e. virtual exhaustion of karma, habitual traces, defilements and delusions. All other religions preach one heaven, one earth and one hell, but this perspective is very limited compared with Buddhist samsara where heaven is just one of the six realms of existence and it has 28 levels/planes.

Vajraprotector

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As we all know, Buddhism has been and is still growing in the United States. Below is what I read from The New York Times recently.

Dr. Paul D. Numrich, a professor of world religions and interreligious relations, conjectured that there may be as many Buddhists as Muslims in the United States by now.

Professor Numrich’s claim is startling, but statistics support it: Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the United States. More Americans convert to Buddhism than to Mormonism.

Many converts are what Thomas A. Tweed, in “The American Encounter With Buddhism,” refers to as “nightstand Buddhists” — mostly Catholics, Jews and refugees from other religions who keep a stack of Pema Chödrön books beside their beds.

So who are these — dare I coin the term? — Newddhists? Burned-out BlackBerry addicts attracted to its emphasis on quieting the “monkey mind”? Casual acolytes rattled by the fiscal and identity crises of a nation that even Jeb Bush suggests is “in decline”? Placard-carrying doomsayers out of a New Yorker cartoon? Uncertain times make us susceptible to collective catastrophic thinking — the conditions in which religious movements flourish.

Or perhaps Buddhism speaks to our current mind-body obsession. Dr. Andrew Weil, in his new book, “Spontaneous Happiness,” establishes a relationship between Buddhist practice and “the developing integrative model of mental health.”

This connection is well documented: at the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin, researchers found that Buddhist meditation practice can change the structure of our brains — which, we now know from numerous clinical studies, can change our physiology. The Mindful Awareness Research Center at U.C.L.A. is collecting data in the new field of “mindfulness-based cognitive therapy” that shows a positive correlation between the therapy and what a center co-director, Dr. Daniel Siegel, calls mindsight. He writes of developing an ability to focus on our internal world that “we can use to re-sculpt our neural pathways, stimulating the growth of areas that are crucial to mental health.”


From: Buddhists’ Delight By JAMES ATLAS
Opinion, The New York Times
Published: June 16, 2012

pgdharma

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This is rejoicing news but it comes as no surprise.  According to A Voice of America report, the number of Buddhist  in the country have gone up almost 80 percent and that Buddhism was now moving  beyond the Asian immigrant communities. The report also mentioned that the experts who study religious trends in Australia say many converts to Buddhism found the teachings of some Christian churches too rigid and intolerant of questions about the faith as compared to Buddhism which gives them freedom they have never had before. Buddhism really suits people who have independent thinking and are maybe discouraged or had enough of religions where they're told what to believe rather than being given an opportunity to see how something fits for them.  It does not preach the dogma of a strange cult, nor seek converts with evangelistic fervour.

Another reason could be that His Holiness Dalai Lama visits to Australia also spark interest.  The three visits of His Holiness Dalai Lama to Australia in 1982, 1992 and 1996 were happy occasions for the Buddhist in Australia and there were huge crowds and followers.  On the third visit and despite Chinese protests, His Holiness met and was photographed with the Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard.  The enthusiasm surrounding  the Dalai Lama’s visit shows how faith has developed in Australia.


Dondrup Shugden

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This is for sure.  I often visit Perth to see my Mother who lives there and it is amazing how many Dharma talks that you can attend.

There are many Buddhist centres of various doctrines from Theravaden to Mahayan and also Vajrayana.

There is a very beautiful meditation centre in Serpentine and it is very luxurious.