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date: 18 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Buddhism is one of the fastest growing religions in the world. The increasing number of new Buddhists is often found in modern communities of the West and Asia. Existing scholarly literature on modern Buddhist changes rarely utilizes conversion theories to interpret the ongoing growth of Buddhism. On the ethnographic level, this chapter attempts to illustrate that modern Buddhist conversion especially outside Asia is the result of local cultural elites’ efforts to disseminate Buddhist teachings. On the theoretical level, it argues that modern Buddhist conversion, in a concurrent rather than linear, fashion, involves deconversion from one’s existing belief system(s), syncretization of Buddhist teachings and social conditions of the given society, and possibly transference of the individually manifested but collectively patterned psychological issues.

Keywords: modern Buddhism, conversion, deversion, syncretization, transference

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