The East Today
Millennia ago Buddhism spread quickly over Asia and was soon well on its way to becoming a major world religion. Theravada Buddhism flourished in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, and Bangladesh. Mahayana Buddhism had deep roots in Tibet, Japan, China, Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Nepal. The twentieth century saw Buddhism emerge in the West, and now vital centers of Theravada, Zen, and Tibetan Buddhism are here in the United States.
Today, the top ten countries with the highest number of Buddhist practitioners are:
Although the countries with the greatest number of Buddhists are all in the Eastern hemisphere, Buddhism has made great inroads in the West. In the past fifty years, Americans and other Westerners have been increasingly interested in changing their lives through the practice of the dharma. Writers, philosophers, artists, and teachers have spread the word of Buddhism all over North America and Europe.
Refugees from Tibet have brought Buddhism into the public eye, and the Dalai Lama tirelessly works with the hope of returning to his native Tibet. Emigrants from Asia have brought their practices westward and introduced new ideas and a new way of life into the hearts and minds of Americans and Europeans. Buddhism might be new to the West, but the seeds of dharma have been firmly planted in Western soil.