Best country to live in to practice Mahayana Buddhism?

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KiwiNFLFan
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Best country to live in to practice Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by KiwiNFLFan » Tue May 07, 2019 1:44 pm

What is the best country to live in if you're a practicing Mahayana Buddhist (any school), and want to practice the Dharma? I know that Mahayana is the dominant form of Buddhism in China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea and Vietnam, but most of these countries have their drawbacks.

China: Communist government suppressed Buddhism for a long time and promoted atheism/secularism (still required for Party members)
Japan: Very secular country, Buddhism seen as largely "funeral Buddhism"
Korea: A lot of Christians and significant Christian missionary activity
Vietnam: Communist government was anti-Buddhist, maybe not so much now
Taiwan: Don't know
Singapore: Don't know
Malaysia: Muslim-dominated country

Which of these countries would provide the best experience for practicing and learning Mahayana Buddhism?

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Re: Best country to live in to practice Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by Yavana » Tue May 07, 2019 1:52 pm

KiwiNFLFan wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 1:44 pm
What is the best country to live in if you're a practicing Mahayana Buddhist (any school), and want to practice the Dharma?
If you'd like to join me on a handful of watchlists/blacklists, maybe Texas in about 50 years?

:shrug:

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Re: Best country to live in to practice Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by Queequeg » Tue May 07, 2019 2:56 pm

KiwiNFLFan wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 1:44 pm
What is the best country to live in if you're a practicing Mahayana Buddhist (any school), and want to practice the Dharma? I know that Mahayana is the dominant form of Buddhism in China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea and Vietnam, but most of these countries have their drawbacks.

China: Communist government suppressed Buddhism for a long time and promoted atheism/secularism (still required for Party members)
Japan: Very secular country, Buddhism seen as largely "funeral Buddhism"
Korea: A lot of Christians and significant Christian missionary activity
Vietnam: Communist government was anti-Buddhist, maybe not so much now
Taiwan: Don't know
Singapore: Don't know
Malaysia: Muslim-dominated country

Which of these countries would provide the best experience for practicing and learning Mahayana Buddhism?
Any place where one can find the freedoms and advantages?

https://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?tit ... advantages
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: Best country to live in to practice Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by SunWuKong » Tue May 07, 2019 8:56 pm

Are you planning on "studying" to the extent you need to learn classical languages? If so, that's going to be the biggest factor. Mahayana texts are generally in Sanskrit, Chinese, or Tibetan. If you aren't learning a language what is the purpose of studying abroad? Just curious...
"We are magical animals that roam" ~ Roam

KiwiNFLFan
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Re: Best country to live in to practice Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by KiwiNFLFan » Wed May 08, 2019 12:39 am

SunWuKong wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 8:56 pm
Are you planning on "studying" to the extent you need to learn classical languages? If so, that's going to be the biggest factor. Mahayana texts are generally in Sanskrit, Chinese, or Tibetan. If you aren't learning a language what is the purpose of studying abroad? Just curious...
I'm initially talking more about simply practicing Buddhism each day and taking part in a community/Sangha. Yes I understand moving to a new country involves learning languages, but I'm an amateur linguist and have studied the languages of some of the countries on the list. I'm assuming most of the Buddhists in those countries don't speak Sanskrit or Classical Chinese either (modern vernacular Chinese is significantly different to classical Chinese).

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well wisher
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Re: Best country to live in to practice Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by well wisher » Fri May 17, 2019 3:45 am

As for Taiwan, since I have some family ties back there, I can tell you a few warnings:
There are a few alleged scandals on the news in recent years about Buddhist monks not being ethical enough - such as accusation of rape of nuns in the same temples, bribery corruption, traffic or even government run-ins ... etc.
Also its political and economic climate is slightly less stable in recent years, with the country being caught between 2 global powerhouses in the midst of the trade wars: USA and China.

But I think these scandals are in the very few minority; and I still think overall Taiwan is a great place to learn and practice Buddhism.
A lot of temples still have active practitioners, and the majority of populace still respect the Buddhist Sangha and all those who practice in earnest.

In fact, I think ALL of the countries you have listed above (including China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, USA ...etc.), as long as you keep a low profile and stay humble, do not actively seek for trouble, and be vigilant in your practices.
Pick a temple / dharma centre that you would trust, and choose carefully.

Who would want to seek trouble against harmless Buddhist holy men & women anyways? I think none!

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Re: Best country to live in to practice Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by Zhen Li » Sat May 18, 2019 9:43 pm

As well wisher says, you can definitely find a good saṅgha in any of these countries, and what is best for you probably depends a lot upon what sect you currently belong to and what you are expecting out of a saṅgha. What is considered the Mahāyāna practice and saṅgha in Jōdo Shinshū is different from what you'll get if you end up in a Chan temple in Taiwan.

And, this probably depends more upon how you plan to support yourself in any of these countries—what kind of work will you be doing, which changes what kind of visa you'll be on. Unless you are looking to ordain.

While if you are looking for celibate ordained saṅghas, Taiwan is certainly good, and I would not discount Korea where you may find a lot of serious practice too that tends to go under the radar. If you are open to non-celibate sects, then options open up in Japan too. I don't know about the other places on a first-hand basis.

Your question is rather broad and your overall wishes are left vague, so the answers are going to be rather broad too.

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Re: Best country to live in to practice Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by AkashicBrother » Sat May 18, 2019 10:14 pm

singapore also seems very good. even malaysia if you dont criticize islam (malaysia is not a free country) , is a good place to live in muslim minority areas like kuala lumpur. Vietnam was never anti-buddhist . in laos, thailand and cambodia and even in burma there is a significant mahayana minority. one of the best places you have not mentioned are india and nepal. in hong kong and macao there is no state anti-religious action. in fujian (mainland china) 40% of the population is still buddhist and 33% is taoist, in hong kong and specially macao there are buddhist populations and no state control of religion.

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Re: Best country to live in to practice Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by zerwe » Sun May 19, 2019 1:33 am

Nepal

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AkashicBrother
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Re: Best country to live in to practice Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by AkashicBrother » Sun May 19, 2019 4:08 am

the only theravada country without significant mahayana population is sri lanka.

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Re: Best country to live in to practice Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by Nemo » Sun May 19, 2019 12:20 pm

The big question for me would be budget and lifestyle. Do you plan on being a monastic and living in a monastery, teaching English or living off of your own funds? Visa issues are also important to consider.

China is changing very rapidly into a xenophobic place that hates Westerners. Half the internet is blocked, etc. Some of my friends who lived and married there have left already. Visiting and living are different things. Taiwan and Korea are workaholic places and not particularly fun. HK, Singapore and Japan are super expensive. Vietnam is super open right now. Similar to how China was a decade ago.

Personally I'm exploring Thailand this winter. It has great temples but also a great nightlife and beautiful women. That may be a bad thing.

When living overseas making a sanctuary is important IMO. Everything foreign all the time can get tiring. I like making a cocoon room with cushion seats, Western food items and Netflix. So relaxing to spend a night at "home".

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Re: Best country to live in to practice Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by TharpaChodron » Mon May 20, 2019 3:00 am

What would you consider to be the "best" situation for Mahayana practice? If it's finding some Shangri La where you can practice the Dharma undisturbed by the realities of Samsara, then that's on thing. As a Mahayana practitioner, I would think that you would want to practice the Bodhisattva path and so anywhere is good for that, especially within Samsara, not avoiding it. "Start where you are" is probably the best advice. The obstacles you perceive towards your own advancement in practice are most likely the very things you shouldn't try to escape but rather embrace on your path towards enlightenment.

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Re: Best country to live in to practice Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by PeterC » Mon May 20, 2019 4:28 am

Queequeg wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 2:56 pm


Any place where one can find the freedoms and advantages?

https://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?tit ... advantages
This is the right answer. More specifically - somewhere where you can earn a living and have enough free time to practice, and have sufficient access to qualified teachers. These conditions are much easier to meet in a places like Europe, the US, or Aus/NZ than in the countries listed, particularly if OP is not a native of those countries and has no means of support there.

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Re: Best country to live in to practice Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by jmlee369 » Mon May 20, 2019 7:05 am

KiwiNFLFan wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 1:44 pm
What is the best country to live in if you're a practicing Mahayana Buddhist (any school), and want to practice the Dharma? I know that Mahayana is the dominant form of Buddhism in China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea and Vietnam, but most of these countries have their drawbacks.

China: Communist government suppressed Buddhism for a long time and promoted atheism/secularism (still required for Party members)
Japan: Very secular country, Buddhism seen as largely "funeral Buddhism"
Korea: A lot of Christians and significant Christian missionary activity
Vietnam: Communist government was anti-Buddhist, maybe not so much now
Taiwan: Don't know
Singapore: Don't know
Malaysia: Muslim-dominated country

Which of these countries would provide the best experience for practicing and learning Mahayana Buddhism?
For an English speaker, probably Singapore would be the best, then Malaysia. You may be able to pick up the vernacular easily in whatever country you go to, but you still need to become familiar with Buddhist "sutra speak" in whatever East Asian Mahayana country you go to, and that requires picking up classical Chinese to some degree. Buddhism is difficult for native speakers to approach in those countries too, because of all the Buddhist terminology and mantras they need to learn. If you really can master Mandarin and Buddhist Chinese, Taiwan would be the best place to go in the Sinosphere. It probably has the most vibrant Buddhist scene out of all the countries you listed.

If you really want to go deep into East Asian style Mahayana practice, go to a branch monastery of the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association, with their headquarters The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Ukiah California being the best place to go. There you will find full on Mahayana practices for both laity and monastics being preserved with provisions for English speakers all the way. Being a Kiwi, you may also want to try the Australian branch monastery, Gold Coast Dharma Realm.

Speaking as a fellow Kiwi, I can't emphasise how lucky we are in New Zealand to have a wealth of Mahayana sutra and tantra teachings from the Tibetan tradition so readily accessible to us, all the more so if you are in Auckland (to be fair, it may very well be easier living overseas than moving to Auckland). We have around 7 fully trained resident Geshes around the country, giving regular teachings on the sutra path in Whangarei, Auckland, Nelson, Christchurch, Tauranga, and Dunedin. We have fully qualified vajra masters coming multiple times a year to guide students on the Vajrayana path. The other Mahayana traditions tend to be more centred on ethnic communities. But you can in fact find opportunities to practice the entire path to enlightenment without leaving the country.

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Re: Best country to live in to practice Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by Miroku » Mon May 20, 2019 9:20 am

I'd follow Nemo's advice. If you want to go to a country in asia to practice buddhism, such things as lifestyle and how expensive things are can be really crucial in your endevour. Japan has one good point and that is that in the countryside they are giving away houses if I am correct. But I doubt that you will get one if you are a foreigner, they do not really like that, plus things can be pretty expensive there. China is off at the moment. It is on its way to another humanitarian catastrophy and kills its own citizens. Not really a place you would like to be in.

Mongolia could be fun. If I am correct buddhism makes a huge a comeback there. Especially tibetan gelug school. Let's also not forget about north of India where tibetan refugees are. There are some of the best masters out there and also decent oganisations. Not sure how expensive it is there tho.

And finally last but not least... your own country. To practice dharma you can just stay where you are and try to find a way.
“Observing samaya involves to remain inseparable from the union of wisdom and compassion at all times, to sustain mindfulness, and to put into practice the guru’s instructions”. Garchen Rinpoche

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Re: Best country to live in to practice Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by KiwiNFLFan » Mon May 20, 2019 1:20 pm

jmlee369 wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 7:05 am
KiwiNFLFan wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 1:44 pm
What is the best country to live in if you're a practicing Mahayana Buddhist (any school), and want to practice the Dharma? I know that Mahayana is the dominant form of Buddhism in China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea and Vietnam, but most of these countries have their drawbacks.

China: Communist government suppressed Buddhism for a long time and promoted atheism/secularism (still required for Party members)
Japan: Very secular country, Buddhism seen as largely "funeral Buddhism"
Korea: A lot of Christians and significant Christian missionary activity
Vietnam: Communist government was anti-Buddhist, maybe not so much now
Taiwan: Don't know
Singapore: Don't know
Malaysia: Muslim-dominated country

Which of these countries would provide the best experience for practicing and learning Mahayana Buddhism?
For an English speaker, probably Singapore would be the best, then Malaysia. You may be able to pick up the vernacular easily in whatever country you go to, but you still need to become familiar with Buddhist "sutra speak" in whatever East Asian Mahayana country you go to, and that requires picking up classical Chinese to some degree. Buddhism is difficult for native speakers to approach in those countries too, because of all the Buddhist terminology and mantras they need to learn. If you really can master Mandarin and Buddhist Chinese, Taiwan would be the best place to go in the Sinosphere. It probably has the most vibrant Buddhist scene out of all the countries you listed.

If you really want to go deep into East Asian style Mahayana practice, go to a branch monastery of the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association, with their headquarters The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Ukiah California being the best place to go. There you will find full on Mahayana practices for both laity and monastics being preserved with provisions for English speakers all the way. Being a Kiwi, you may also want to try the Australian branch monastery, Gold Coast Dharma Realm.

Speaking as a fellow Kiwi, I can't emphasise how lucky we are in New Zealand to have a wealth of Mahayana sutra and tantra teachings from the Tibetan tradition so readily accessible to us, all the more so if you are in Auckland (to be fair, it may very well be easier living overseas than moving to Auckland). We have around 7 fully trained resident Geshes around the country, giving regular teachings on the sutra path in Whangarei, Auckland, Nelson, Christchurch, Tauranga, and Dunedin. We have fully qualified vajra masters coming multiple times a year to guide students on the Vajrayana path. The other Mahayana traditions tend to be more centred on ethnic communities. But you can in fact find opportunities to practice the entire path to enlightenment without leaving the country.
Singapore sounds a pretty good place for a Westerner to practice Buddhism. I've been there and most of the people I met spoke at least some English.

In New Zealand, Auckland seems the best place to practice Mahayana Buddhism. To my knowledge there are 2 Chinese temples (Fo Guang Shan and a Pure Land temple), a Korean Jogye temple, at least one Vietnamese temple (possibly 2), at least 2 Tibetan centers/temples and a Won Buddhist center. There is also a Cambodian temple, a Thai Dhammakaya temple, a Burmese temple and a Sri Lankan temple in the Theravada tradition. Christchurch has a Fo Guang Shan temple as well. I'm from Dunedin, which has a Thai Dhammakaya temple and a Tibetan center/temple with resident lamas, but no standard Mahayana temple (though there is an SGI center and a Zen group).

It seems like non-Vajrayana Mahayana temples aren't really found outside the big centres of Auckland and Christchurch, and that it's either Theravada or Tibetan temples that are available. Why do you think there's a lack of mainstream Mahayana temples in much of NZ?

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Re: Best country to live in to practice Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by tonysharp » Mon May 20, 2019 2:52 pm

Can New York be considered a country? :D

There are many Buddhist communities there, and it's the home of some respected teachers.
“I, Shinran, do not have a single disciple of my own. The reason is that if I could induce others to call the nenbutsu through my own influence, then they might well be called my disciples. But it is utterly absurd to call them my disciples when they repeat the nenbutsu through the influence of Amida Buddha.”
Tannisho VI

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Re: Best country to live in to practice Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by Queequeg » Mon May 20, 2019 3:18 pm

The problem with NY is, as I heard someone put it years ago in Japanese Buddhist terms, it's a bull's eye of mappo - age of degeneration.

The three poisons are celebrated and the rent is so damn high one has little or no leisure time to practice.

Not to be too cynical, but, the teachers are here because people with means wanting to buy personal peace and indulgences are here.

Being around all this frenetic energy is also very challenging.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

KiwiNFLFan
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Re: Best country to live in to practice Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by KiwiNFLFan » Mon May 20, 2019 4:13 pm

The reason I asked was because I'm currently in South Korea and was looking for a new job. One of the main reasons I came to Korea was to learn more about Buddhism and practice it better (Buddhist population here is about 20% compared to the 1.5% of NZ). However, I have been unable to find a Buddhist community here. Therefore, I was wondering which Asian countries would be best to practice Buddhism and then look for a job there. However, due to a couple of factors, I decided to stay in Korea and have just accepted a new job in a different city.

I'm looking into Won Buddhism, as they have a regular Sunday service, unlike (it seems) the regular Korean Buddhist temples (Seon and Cheontae).

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Queequeg
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Re: Best country to live in to practice Mahayana Buddhism?

Post by Queequeg » Mon May 20, 2019 8:24 pm

KiwiNFLFan wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 4:13 pm
The reason I asked was because I'm currently in South Korea and was looking for a new job. One of the main reasons I came to Korea was to learn more about Buddhism and practice it better (Buddhist population here is about 20% compared to the 1.5% of NZ). However, I have been unable to find a Buddhist community here. Therefore, I was wondering which Asian countries would be best to practice Buddhism and then look for a job there. However, due to a couple of factors, I decided to stay in Korea and have just accepted a new job in a different city.

I'm looking into Won Buddhism, as they have a regular Sunday service, unlike (it seems) the regular Korean Buddhist temples (Seon and Cheontae).
Part of the difficulty you may encounter is that the Buddhist communities you find there are just not particularly prepared to accommodate foreigners. Also, I think the lay/sangha distinction tends to be more significant in East Asia such that you may be limited in the types of things that are open to you as a lay person (I guess I'm assuming that fact).I think you may find this to be the case no matter where you go in Asia.

I'm sure you can find what you are looking for - just may take some extra digging.

Good luck.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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