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Tuesday, 7 April, 1998, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
Buddhism 'in decline'
Buddhist leaders are worried about the future of the faith
Buddhist leaders are worried about the future of the faith
The Dalai Lama and other Buddhist leaders from across Asia have been meeting in the Japanese city of Kyoto to discuss the declining popularity of the religion.

Buddhism has an estimated 300 million followers, but participants said it was losing out to materialism as well as other religions, such as Christianity and Islam. They said Buddhism had suffered a particular decline in South Korea, Malaysia and Taiwan.

The Dalai Lama agreed to make no political statements at the conference
The Dalai Lama agreed to make no political statements at the conference
The Dalai Lama said many Buddhists in Asia followed the traditions of the religion without knowing their meaning.

"The younger generation, for example in Ladakh, India, are losing interest in the monastic way of life. They simply consider religion as a way of earning money," the Dalai Lama said.

"In the West, they take the essence and I think this is right," the spiritual leader added.

Restoring of eight holy sites

The supreme Buddhist leader in Malaysia, Kirinde Sri Dhammananda Maha Thero, was also worried about the young. He said all the other main religions in Malaysia - Hindu, Christian and Muslim - are very active.

"All we do is burn papers, conduct rituals, organise ceremonies, but with no active knowledge of what Buddhism means," he said.

The Buddhist leaders agreed to restore eight holy sites in India and Nepal, in an effort to give the religion a boost in areas where it once flourished.

"It is crucial for the future of Buddhism to restore these sites," said Mapalagama Wipulasara, president of India's Maha Bodhi Society.

See also:

10 Mar 98 | S/W Asia
Dalai Lama condemns China
25 Feb 98 | S/W Asia
US clerics visit Tibet
03 Apr 98 | S/W Asia
Cinema battle erupts over Tibet
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