Is Buddhism Consistent with “American Values”?
Buddhism is practiced by about 500 million people worldwide, representing nearly 7 percent of the world’s total population (Keown). Whereas this number suggests that it is not among the most popular religions in the world, most of its teachings and practices are appreciated across diverse societies. In the United States, for instance, it is practiced by only 1.2 percent of the country’s population (Keown). Although Buddhism is practiced by a minority population in the United States, its teachings, principles, and practices are significantly consistent with “American values.”
Buddhism teaches important habits, motivations, and virtues that its adherents are expected to live by. They include proper conduct, honesty, determination, equality, patience, wisdom, compassion, goodwill, and perfection (Reynolds and Jason). A close evaluation of these teachings of Buddhism shows a significant consistency with American values. The three core Buddhist values shared by Americans include justice, equality, and freedom (Berkwitz). These values have been the foundation of the American nation since independence. Buddhism emphasizes these values as a guide to social cohesion and moral uprightness across global societies. For example, the value of justice is a common Buddhism and American value, which requires people to be treated fairly in the distribution of the burdens and benefits of society (Keown). Similarly, Buddhism’s value of equality is consistent with American national values, where all citizens are perceived as being equal before God and before the law. As a just society, America strives to treat all citizens with the same level of dignity (Reynolds and Jason). Besides, there are similarities in the value of freedom that calls for people to be accorded personal, political, and economic freedom. Other areas of similarities include the values on truth, the common good, diversity, and volunteerism (Berkwitz).
The practice of Buddhism is consistent with “American values.” The religion teaches and emphasizes numerous values that are similar to American values, including freedom, justice, equality, common good, diversity, truth, and volunteerism, among others. The exercise of these values ensures a more cohesive and peaceful coexistence of people in Buddhist and American societies.
Berkwitz, Stephen C. Buddhism in World Cultures: Comparative Perspectives. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2006.
Keown, Damien. The Nature of Buddhist Ethics. London: Palgrave Macmillan Limited, 2016.
Reynolds, Frank, and Jason A. Carbine. The Life of Buddhism. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.
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