Monday, November 21, 2011

Buddhist organizations thrive during the debt crisis

Here we are stuck in an economic downturn, with the threat of a financial tsunami gathering momentum in the eurozone and with pundits telling us it can only get worse. You might expect people to be careful about their budget priorities – and that nonessential expenditure like spiritual teachings would be put on hold.

Evidence suggests, however, that the opposite is true – especially if you happen to be Buddhist. It seems that in this period of acute financial stress, Buddhists are still willing to part with their pounds, dollars, roubles and rupees in order to sustain their meditation practice. Because meditation calms the mind and generates insight, this is a predictable response – but what does come as a surprise is the amounts of money involved.

Take the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, for example. A young, high-profile Tibetan Buddhist lama with a romantic history of escape from Tibet after dodging Chinese security. Confined for several years under conditions resembling house arrest in India, he eventually managed to visit the United States for the first time in 2008. About 2,000 people gathered at a monastery in Woodstock to catch a glimpse of him. They paid $200 each. Roughly $400,000 (£250,000) hit the coffers and after expenses, the monastery had enough left over to embark on an extensive building project....

Read more at The Guardian.

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