Buddhist London

Buddhist London

Buddhism is a religion and philosophy. It seeks to help humans to overcome the suffering inherent in life by prescribing a particular way of living.

Buddhism is based on the 2,500-year-old teachings of Siddartha Gautama, or Shakyamuni Buddha, in India. It evolved in various forms in South East Asia, Tibet, China and Japan before reaching the West in the 19th century.

Englishman Charles Henry Allan Bennet was ordained as a Buddhist monk in Burma in 1902. Six years later, he established the first Buddhist mission in the United Kingdom.

In 1926, the Sri Lankan Buddhist Anagarika Dharmapala (formerly Don David) founded the London Buddhist Vihara in West London. Now based in Chiswick, the Vihara is a leading centre for Theravada Buddhism. It was the first Buddhist monastery to be established outside Asia.

By the end of the 20th century, London supported a thriving Buddhist community. Although its societies differ in tradition, they all share the goal of making an inner change in order to create a happier, healthier world.

There are over 53,000 Buddhists in London, who represent over a third of Britain's Buddhist population. Buddhists are concentrated in Westminster and Camden, reflecting the fact that many are Western converts. By 2006, 38% of British Buddhists were White while 25% were Chinese.

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