Why Buddhism is not growing?


Everyone’s doing with their time what they want. But if the question is the future of Buddhism, in the west at least, it’s not visiting people in Asian robes who recite Pali texts. At least I can’t see it.


Visit them to learn about what is in those texts. To learn what they dedicate their lives to? Yeah what a silly idea…You do realize the translations on this very site are available to you thanks to some one in “Asian robes”?


You believe in it, but in the supermarket of ideas it has just the same conviction level as seeing a guru babbling in Sanskrit, a Chinese man in his robe reciting the Daodeking, or whichever exotic figure reciting something. The uninitiated doesn’t see your Buddha or what you see in the texts. They see some theatrical Asian practice going on. I hope the best argument of Buddhism is not “Just dedicate some years of your life to decipher what these concepts mean, and you’ll eventually see, it’s amazing”.

Think from the perspective of someone who has no idea about it. What is so tremendously convincing about Buddhism? At the time of the Buddha he was himself the best argument. A generation later his arahants who had something undeniable. And today what? No concept of the EBT is undisputed. We even struggle to understand precisely what dukkha means. That’s hardly appealing to newcomers - on a large scale. Throw in some rituals and you’ll get certain folks, throw in some mindfulness-relaxation you get some others. Strip if off the gods, and again a few more. But then what?


Most people in this self-selected circle are perfectly satisfied with people in Asian robes and Pali texts. That’s how we learned, and that’s what we like. Furthermore, it makes us feel special that we’re in this circle :sweat_smile:. I don’t think Gabriel is trying to take that away from us!

But it seems extremely unlikely that this approach would spread to the majority. Would you rather they got some small taste of Dhamma or no Dhamma at all?



Nah. The Buddha had enemies. There were rival philosophies, and rival teachers. No teaching is inherently appealing to any mind. It needs a fertile mind to grow in, just like a seed.

Also, it probably helped that Buddhism was backed by an emperor, more than a century after the Buddhas passing, and he may done so for quite mundane reasons having to do with controlling the population.

Ultimately, all anyone subscribing to ANY philosophy or religion can do, is to invite people to put on their glasses and see if is helpful to view everything through those lenses. Even holy mother science is a human construct, and would have been ditched a long time ago unless people found its fruits useful.


On a slightly different tack, I’ve had some interesting times reflecting on the contrast between our local Fo Guang Shan (Humanistic Buddhism from Taiwan) group vs. Thai and Sri Lankan monasteries. FGS is very organised, very slick, and for their Buddha’s Birthday celebration in April they generally have the Mayor, councillors, members of parliament, the Police Chief, Christian, Muslim, Hindu leaders, etc. I’m one of the few “VIP” people that they invite who is actually Buddhist… And they have no aspiration to convert anyone. But the skill of the New Zealand Abbess, the excellent organisation and networking, and the fact that they truly engage with the community (for example providing food and shelter after our Earthquakes) means that Buddhism is firmly on the map here in a positive light with the people who shape the city.

I can see that some Western Theravada monks have good in some places (such as Australia), but our local Thai and Sri Lankan monasteries are not equipped for outreach at that level. On the other hand, we do have good crowds at Songkran enjoying Thai food, music, and culture.

To wrap this up, the point is that it is possible for a Buddhist organisation to have quite a high profile, but not without some vision and organisation.



What do you see as the difference.

Yes do you see this as without any value.

You have an all encompassing philosophy based scientific practice that can transform people.

I doubt this is a popular… For those who find this appealing what do you think are the main questions they actually grapple with?

Look at Greg Goode

His precondition that everything has to be non-dual, is also a memory no.


Yes maybe a problem is an anti-institution, anti-community out reach stance. I mean at a grass roots lay practice level; not at the practice level of a monastic where they should find seclusion.


A faithful laywoman with a dear and beloved only son would rightly appeal to him: ‘My darling, please be like the householder Citta and Hatthaka of Aḷavī.’ These are a standard and a measure for my male lay disciples, that is, the householder Citta and Hatthaka of Aḷavī. ‘But my darling, if you go forth from the lay life to homelessness, please be like Sāriputta and Moggallāna.’ These are a standard and a measure for my monk disciples, that is, Sāriputta and Moggallāna. ‘And my darling, may you not come into possessions, honor, and popularity while you’re still a trainee and haven’t achieved your heart’s desire.’ If a trainee who hasn’t achieved their heart’s desire comes into possessions, honor, and popularity it’s an obstacle for them. So brutal are possessions, honor, and popularity. SuttaCentral


I wasn’t criticizing visiting people in robes. Quite the opposite. I actually have respect for tradition and spiritual teachers.

When one learns a language, you can read books and watch videos and try to learn on your own, but at the end of the day you will be much better off learning with a trained language teacher. Would you rather learn from some part time “dharma teacher” or meditation instructor? Or from some one that dedicates their entire lives to the Dhamma?

It would be nice if people get as much Dhamma as possible.


What percentage of monastics are trained teachers? Or even capable teachers? I know some are, but how many?


No idea but the point is you want to learn from some one that knows Dhamma, some one who is trained in it. Who better than some one that dedicates their lives to it.


A lot of monks - the most articulate ones - seem to keep themselves very busy with worldly affairs. In my experience, the ones who are most dedicated to the dhamma don’t talk and teach much.


How do you know what Monks are more dedicated to the Dhamma than others?


I judge by which ones appear to be most peaceful, unworldly and secluded, both mentally and physically. In my experience, those monks don’t talk much. They just smile and go about their daily routine.


I’ve not been personally inspired by anything other than the suttas and I do rely on them. For me they read much like a programming API. Do this. That happens. Etc. The concepts are no stranger than what one might find reading a software manual (e.g., “single-threaded apartments” in Microsoft Windows).

But I would agree that the suttas are a bit of a cliff to climb without a proper introduction. And that proper introduction would somehow have to introduce the problem of Identity View (easy) as well as its relinquishment (hard). What makes that relinquishing so hard is deep, ingrained emotional attachment. Any science of mind-development would have to deal with that deep, ingrained emotional attachment reinforced daily by the seemingly innocuous “How do you feel?”. And given the subjectivity of emotion, the notion of making this a science becomes…challenging.

Notably, Ajahn Brahm’s direct and humorous approach targets those very subjective feelings, tickles them, pries them up to awareness and questioning.


Thanks for this quote. I have added brutal to the Voice examples.


Neither was I. I visit them often. But this thread is: “Why Buddhism is not growing?” and so we have been discussing what might or might not be attracting other people to the Dhamma.



I don’t think talking down on Monks is helpful. I wasn’t the one doing that. Why not respond to them instead? Is there really Buddhism without Monks?


So, Buddha and those early Arahants were not dedicated?