Since the middle of the 20th century, Buddhism has been growing rapidly worldwide, with some even arguing that it is the fastest growing religion in the West (Perera, 2008). Here in
Before analysing the media’s role in presenting Buddhism, it is important to distinguish the specific characteristics of Buddhism that make it appealing to a convert. It has been mentioned that one reason is the adaptability of Buddhism in foreign cultures (Gross, 1993). Elaborating on this, it can be seen that Buddhism has been adapting naturally and simply for centuries. For example, when Buddhism started to become popular amongst the Japanese in the early 13th century, it underwent enormous transformations in regards to the way it was approached (Luca & Burrell, 1999). Potentially due to the Japanese background in Shintoism, Buddhism was not accepted until the focus turned to magical aspects such as chanting mantras, reciting sutras and idolising the Buddha like a Kami (deity). Luca and Burrell (1999) argue that this transformation was in fact a reversal rather than a step forward; however the eventual outcome was a success and Buddhism continues to demonstrate its overwhelming popularity in
The adaptability of Buddhism may be one reason for its success; however this is just a reason why it can be so easily integrated into foreign cultures. The main focus of this argument is not the flexible evolution of Buddhism, rather the methods in which it is being delivered and marketed to Western society. It can be seen that science has promoted the benefits of Buddhism; however the media has played a major role in painting an aesthetically pleasing depiction of Buddhism with films, documentaries, articles and stories. Not only do the media present an attractive image of the religion and its practices, but also the culture associated with it (Mercille, 2005). An example of this is the portrayal of
The essay thus far has established that Buddhism is an extremely adaptable religion that integrates itself very effectively into Western society. Furthermore, the way Buddhism and its associated cultures are presented by the media to a Western audience makes the integration process even easier. It can be seen how the media plays a role in promoting Buddhism on a large scale; however the way it is promoted on a more local level is also important. There are over 500 Buddhist schools and centres in
It is to be expected that in a Buddhist newsletter, the information will be positive and biased, aimed at promoting the religion and attracting new devotees. In secular media, Buddhism is also portrayed very positively (
The process of Buddhism’s integration into the West can be summarised in a few key points. The media has played an integral role in presenting Buddhism to the West in a positive way. It can be seen that in both large and small scale media, and secular and spiritual media, the portrayal of Buddhism is very similar. It is overwhelmingly positive. As well as this, Buddhism in the entertainment media is also portrayed positively. On closer inspection, films such as Seven Years in
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