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Adapting Chinese Buddhism to Religious Life in Contemporary Germany: Challenges and Opportunities in the Twenty-first Century
Numata Center for Buddhist Studies, University of Hamburg
Keywords: Transmission, contemporary, Chinese Buddhism, Germany, image, expectations, adaptation
Abstract: While Buddhist traditions from China have attracted European scholars since the early nineteenth century, Chinese Buddhist practices have not influenced religious life in Europe outside of academic studies. This paper explores why Chinese Buddhism has not resonated in Europe to the same extent as Japanese, Tibetan and Southeast Asian Buddhism. This analysis looks to Germany as one of the biggest European countries with a long history of Buddhism. First, it considers existing institutional structures of Buddhism in Germany. Secondly, it examines the images of Chinese Buddhism within the context of soteriological expectations in German society. Thirdly, it reflects on the context of institutional Buddhism in China and its influence on the transmission of Chinese Buddhism to Germany. Based on these analyses, this paper shows that Chinese Buddhism faced various challenges during its transmission into European society. Despite these challenges, the widely admired traditions, contemporary pluralistic dynamics, and openness to international adaptability also creates growing potential for Chinese Buddhism’s acceptance in Europe.