Thinking Globally about Buddhism

Gananath Obeyesekere

in The Oxford Handbook of Global Religions

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780195137989
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Thinking Globally about Buddhism

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  • Religion
  • Interfaith Relations
  • Buddhism



Buddhism, like other religions of salvation, has had two forms of global outreach. First, through its long history in South, Southeast, East, and Central Asia, Buddhism has incorporated village and perhaps even local tribal communities into its fold. This process was aided when kings became Buddhists, following the example of the model king Asoka who, at least in the self-conceptions of Buddhists, initiated a Buddhist state in India. Wherever Buddhism was established, either with royal patronage or without it, Buddhism was visibly present through its monks, monasteries, temples, and symbols of the Buddha's presence, such as the bodhi tree, stupas where relics were enshrined, and pilgrimage centers where Buddhists from different parts of the larger state or nation could congregate and give expression to a larger translocal sense of communal consciousness. This article examines the globalization of Buddhism, Buddhism during the European Enlightenment, theosophy and Mahayana, diasporas and the institution of meditative disciplines, and Buddhist meditation and rationality in a global economy.

Keywords: Buddhism; globalization; India; Enlightenment; theosophy; Mahayana; diasporas; meditation; rationality

Article.  6245 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Interfaith Relations ; Buddhism

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