The Aloha Buddhism from the Material by Dr. Kenneth Tanaka Compiled by Rev. Yamamura

Buddhism in America has a history of 150 years. Today, Buddhism is a modern religion. The present state of the religion is that American Buddhism is growing. In America, Buddhism is growing artificially and also in terms of its influence on society.

In 2011, the number of Buddhists was three million. (One percent of the American population.) Of that number one million five hundred thousand Buddhists are immigrant Buddhists (from Japan, China, Vietnam, Southeast Asia, Taiwan, Korea, etc.). The other one million five hundred thousand are converts who were raised as Jewish or Christians. (Converts to Japanese Zen, through the influence of Dr. Daisetsu Suzuki. Also Tibetan Buddhism through the Dalai Lama.)

There is also the existence of Buddhist sympathizers. They are called Nightstand Buddhists. These people read books on Buddhism at night. They study on their own about how to meditate, and after acquiring some understanding, they put the book on their nightstand and go to bed. After waking up the next morning, these people try to practice the meditation that they had studied from their books. While they privately study Buddhism and also practice meditation, they do not declare that they are Buddhist. These people are called Nightstand Buddhist. In addition to the above-mentioned Buddhists, there are between two to three million such people.

During the past thirty to forty years the numbers of Buddhists in America have rapidly grown. During that period the numbers of Christians has declined from ninety percent to seventy-eight percent.

In the early 1970’s the number of those who claimed to have no religion or did not participate in religion was one percent. Today, that number is sixteen percent. Thirty percent of America’s young people have no religion.

There is a polarization between those who go to church and who do not go to church. Fifty-eight percent of the population attends church or a religious facility once a month. Thirty-six percent does the same once weekly. One of every three people goes to church once a week. The number of those who do not go to church is increasing. (Especially among the youth.)

The Reason for the Growth of Buddhism in America

This is not because of the doctrines of Buddhism but because what is particularly important in Buddhism is religious training and practice. The major part of practice is meditation and chanting the Odaimoku(Namu Myoho Renge Kyo).

Many people believe that spiritual benefits can be grasped through practiced. Buddhism is seen as being essential for human spiritual advancement. While there are fine doctrines in Christianity, there are no methods to realize these or the methods are weak. Buddhist meditation is even being used in hospitals to reduce stress and pain. There is also the influence of The His Holiness Dalai Lama and the voice of Richard Gere, a convert to Buddhism. At present, two American senators are Buddhist, Hank Johnson and Mazie Hirono.

The Aloha Buddhism (Social Buddhism) in Hawaii

Despite the Fact that Buddhism in Growing Throughout America, It Is Declining in Hawaii. What Is the Reason for This?

Including the Myohoji, the temples in Hawaii were built by Japanese Americans. From before the Second World War, the temples that were built by Japanese Americans were used as centers of communication for members of the same race. By going there one could acquire a sense of security in the cultural environment that one was born and raised in. Nevertheless, the existing members of these churches are aging and passing away. And their children have discarded their racial consciousness and are assimilating with other nationalities. Furthermore, on Sundays there are other activities that provide them with a social life even without going to the temple. They can meet with friends and enjoy their Sundays.

Temples that have been built by the immigrant community are difficult for other ethnic groups to attend, and members of those groups are not welcome.

Today’s people are too busy and there is an increase in those who dislike becoming members of a religious group. There is a growing tendency to take part in what interest people without becoming a member. More people are doing what interest them but they avoid becoming involved with other activities and so forth of the organization.

What Should We Do From Now?

1. It is difficult for other ethnic groups to enter a temple that had been created by an immigrant community. Since these other groups are not welcome, from now one we should open the temple to many ethnic groups.

2. The temple must not be allowed to become a place for enjoyment and social life, but a place to study about human life

3. The temple should be teach methods for mental and bodily health, learn from American Buddhism and make meditation the temple’s central activity.

4. Engaged Buddhism. Thinking about how the Myohoji can serve Hawaiian society.

アロハ仏教 Dr. Kenneth Tanakaの資料から山村師がまとめる。







その他に、仏教同調者の存在。彼らは、Night Stand Buddhistと呼ばれる。


プライベートで仏教を学んで、瞑想もするが、自分は仏教徒であると断言しない人々をNight Stand Buddhistと言う。