Letter: Buddhism's appeal to the West

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The Independent Online
From Mrs A. Montgomery

Sir: I was most impressed by your leading article "Suburbia turns to Buddha" (4 March). In an increasingly cynical world, it is refreshing to read a piece that attempts to understand the burgeoning appeal of Buddhism rather than marginalise or trivialise it.

I agree that that Buddhism "addresses a continuing Western thirst for spirituality and mysticism". However, I would say that Buddhism's key appeal to young Westerners is that it doesn't offend their reason - not only does it accord with evolution but it does not require blind faith. The Buddha urged his followers not just to take his word for it, but to test everything for themselves; to see if, say, meditation worked in their own experience.

The reason why Buddhism is "highly adaptable to different cultural circumstances" is that it is a universal religion, concerned with the structure needed to hold society together. It teaches that anyone can develop spirituality and become more positive, regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation. As such, Buddhism may indeed be well suited to these diverse modern times.

Yours sincerely,


London, SW8

6 March