Buddhism in Taiwan

Overview role of Buddhism in Taiwan / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Buddhism is one of the major religions of Taiwan. Taiwanese people predominantly practice Mahayana Buddhism, Confucian principles, Taoist tradition and local practices.[1] Roles for religious specialists from both Buddhist and Taoist traditions exist on special occasions such as for childbirth and funerals. Of these, a smaller number identify more specifically with Chinese Buddhist teachings and institutions, without necessarily eschewing practices from other Asian traditions. Around 35% of the population believes in Buddhism.[2]

Taiwanese Buddhist monk with traditional robes and a bamboo hat

Taiwanese government statistics distinguish Buddhism from Taoism, giving almost equal numbers for both. In 2005, the census recorded 8 million Buddhists and 7.6 million Taoists, out of a total population of 23 million.[3] Many of Taiwan's self-declared "Taoists" actually observe the more syncretistic practices associated with Chinese traditional religion which is based on Buddhism. Self-avowed Buddhists may also be adherents of more localized faiths such as Yiguandao, which also emphasize Buddhist figures like Guanyin or Maitreya and espouse vegetarianism.

Distinguishing features of Taiwanese Buddhism is the emphasis on the practice of vegetarianism, the influence of Humanistic Buddhism, and the prominence of large centralized Buddhist organizations. Four Buddhist teachers who founded institutions that are particularly influential are popularly referred to as the "Four Heavenly Kings of Taiwanese Buddhism",[4] one for each cardinal direction, with their corresponding institutions referred to as the "Four Great Mountains". They are:

Following the Chinese Civil War, Buddhism experienced a rapid increase in popularity in Taiwan, attributed to Taiwan's economic miracle following the war and several major Buddhist organizations promoting modern values such as equality, freedom and reason, which was attractive to the country's growing middle class.[5][6] Taiwanese Buddhist institutions are known for their involvement in secular society, including the providing of a number of public goods and services such as colleges, hospitals and disaster relief.[5]

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