Buddhism: The culture and the individual (Option #3).
With the rise of the Asian population in the U., Buddhism has made a tremendous impact in the United States. Cultural changes in America inclined many to seek alternatives to Western traditions, and some of the disillusioned found their way to Asian religious communities (Tweed, 2). According to Peter Jennings, there are presently between four and six million individuals in the U.S. who identify with the Buddhist religion, and many prominent Americans, such as Jerry Brown, Richard Gere, and Oliver Stone, have accepted this religion. American Buddhism is a religious movement significantly larger than many Protestant denominations (Prebish, 1). Certain aspects of Buddhism have immersed themselves into the popular culture of American society through books, magazines, television, and movies. For example, there are numerous "Zen of this and that" books, several yoga videos, and quite a few movies that have come out in the past few years, all relating to the popular Buddhism craze. Contrastingly, other aspects of the religion are often overlooked. This selectiveness regarding the culture and traditions of Buddhism, with an emphasis on the individual, has created an entirely unique form of the religion in American society, it is: American Buddhism. .
The major stress on the individual is one of the biggest attractions to Buddhism for the American population. In a capitalist society continuously focused on competition, many people seek an outlet to help them cope and deal with stress. For this reason, Americans are drawn to Buddhism since there is less of a focus on the institution of the religion than more mainstream religions like Christianity and Judaism. Buddhism promotes finding one's inner spirituality through practices such as chanting and meditation rather than "traditional" religious practices. What the Buddha taught is that there is suffering, and that meditation is a way out of suffering.