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Buddhism in Ireland

1. Introduction
For my project I have chosen to study on Buddhism religion as an important
part of the culture in Ireland and decided to explore it, using the iceberg analogy as a
template for my research. Culture has been aptly compared to an iceberg. Just as an
iceberg has a visible section above the waterline and a larger, invisible section below
the water line, so culture has some aspects that are observable and others that can
only be suspected, imagined, or intuited. Also like an iceberg, the part of culture that
is visible (observable behavior) is only a small part of a much bigger whole. Religion
belongs to visible elements of iceberg model of culture.
Ireland is usually not associated with Buddhism even though according to the
2011 census the population of Buddhists in Ireland is 8,703, making it the fourth-largest
religion in the Republic after Christianity, Islam and Hinduism (Cox, 2014). In my
project about Buddhism in Ireland from the cultural perspective I decided to use two
sources of information to explore the object of my study. The first types of sources
are: other researches, statistics, books and articles. The second source of information
I use in this project is the survey. The main purpose of this survey was to explore
deeper the aspects of Buddhism from the cultural perspective in my peer group to see
what they know about Buddhism in Ireland. So I created a questionnaire with 18
questions. The survey was conducted during 4 weeks. During this time paper
questionnaires (11) were handed out to some of my classmates as a pilot survey and
next on line questionnaires (48) were send to my peer group, both Buddhist and non-
Buddhist, using the convenience sampling method. After handing out the
questionnaire to my classmates I got some feedback and then decided to send it to the
rest of the people from my social circle. I created on line survey on the website called
SoGoSurvey (www.sogosurvey.com) and I asked my friends on Facebook and
Twitter to fll in the forms. The result of this questionnaire allowed me to collect
quantitative and qualitative type of data in relation to the topic. In my project I
presented the data from the survey about the knowledge about uddhism my
peer!s group have from cultural perspective. I reported a survey fnding using a
visual aid "pie charts) that can help to show the fndings clearly. I hope to
demonstrate my fndings clearly in this project and give an accurate re#ection of
knowledge about uddhism religion in Ireland from the cultural perspective.
2. Religion and its cultural aspects
Religion is an important part of the culture. There are many examples of
particular elements of culture like clothes, religious symbols or believes. Some
elements of culture are easy to see, but most elements of culture are hidden. That is why
the best way of describing it is the metaphor of culture being like an iceberg. The iceberg
model of culture is consisting of two elements: visible and hidden. The cultural aspects on
the visible part of the iceberg like religious artifacts are influenced by the sub-surface
elements for example like values, beliefs and underlying assumptions.

The deeper aspects of culture take a much longer time to become aware of. If we do not
recognize deeper aspects of another culture, it can lead to ignorance or sometimes to the
There is one of the perspectives looking at religion as socially-learned
behaviour as part of culture, what can be called "organized religion." Here religious
beliefs, rituals, and institutions are learned and passed down from one generation to
the next, and religious institutions are an integral part of the social structure and
fabric of culture (Linda Groff, Paul Smoker). Religion plays an important part in
culture as it influences people's values and behaviours. In some societies, religion is so
central that it can be said to dominate culture. Religion can have a unifying role in
society and encourage a sense of solidarity and community. So there are a few
functions of religion in society: providing a common ground for a wide variety of
people; marking important milestones in life thanks to religious ceremonies; feeling
of belonging; giving comfort at difficult times; giving clear directions on how to live a
good life; giving meaning to life; accepting those who do wrong back into society
(Rioghnat Crotty, 2013)
3. Cultural aspects of Buddhism
Most historians agree that Buddhism originated in northern India in the 5th
century B.C.E. The tradition traces its origin to Siddhartha Gautama (or Gotama), who
is typically referred to as the Buddha (literally the "Awakened" or "Enlightened One").
Siddhartha observed the suffering in the world and set out to find an antidote. Through
meditation and analysis, he attained an enlightened state of being that marked the end
of suffering, and ultimately, upon his death, release from the cycle of rebirth (samsara).
The Buddha's teachings are often summarized in the Four Noble Truths, which form the
basis of the first sermon he delivered after attaining enlightenment, and the Eightfold
Path, which provides a basic guide for how to live in the world. Over the course of its
2500-year history, Buddhism has experienced many schisms and modifications. There
are currently three major branches of the tradition the Theravada ("Doctrine of the
Elders"), the Mahayana ("Great Vehicle), and the Vjrayana ("Diamond Vehicle," often
simply called "Tibetan Buddhism"). There are many other sects and groups within each
of these branches. The Buddhist canon consists of a vast corpus of texts that cover
philosophical, devotional, and monastic matters, and each of the major divisions of
Buddhism has its own distinct version of what it considers to be canonical scriptures.
Buddhism has spread from its roots in India to virtually every corner of the world, and in
each place it has spread it has adopted and adapted local practices and beliefs. Although
Buddhism is a distinct religious tradition, many people in the contemporary West have
adopted philosophical and practical aspects of Buddhism and incorporated them into
their religious and social practices. There are people who identify themselves "Buddhist
Christians," "Buddhist Jews," and "Buddhist Atheists."(Religion Library: Buddhism)
Applying the iceberg analogy to my research I can notice some elements of
Buddhist culture like clothes, religious symbols or believes. The iceberg model of
culture is consisting of two elements: visible and hidden. The cultural aspects on the
visible part of the iceberg are: religious artefacts, clothes (robes) of Buddhist monks and
nuns, Buddhist temples, Buddhists books and books about Buddhism, Buddhists movies
and movies about Buddhism. Also visible parts of this culture are people who represent
Buddhism like Dalai Lama or famous people who called themselves Buddhists.
1. Religious artifacts
- Statue of Buddha and Buddhist deities. There are many styles of statues of the Buddha
(enlightened one) depending upon country of origin. The symbolism & hand positions
(mudras) depict different qualities & are a reminder of what can be achieved by
following Buddha (e.g. traditional figure of the historical Buddha seated in meditation).
- Mala - a set of beads commonly used by Buddhists. Malas are used for keeping count
while reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a mantra or the name or names of a
deity. Malas are typically made with 18, 27, 54 or 108 beads.
- Gau (also spelled Ghau or Gao) is a Tibetan Buddhist amulet container or prayer box,
usually made of metal and worn as jewellery.
- Mandala (means circle) is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Buddhism, representing the
Universe. The basic form of most mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle
with a centre point.
- Prayer wheel or mani wheels, are common in Himalayan Buddhist countries. They
contain scriptural texts and are decorated with mantras such as om ma ni pa dme hum.
When the wheel is turned it is believed that praise and blessing are released into the
universe. Made from brass and wood.
- Prayer flags usually 25 flags in red, yellow, blue, white and green will quickly
brighten your school or bring a Buddhist theme to your classroom. Printed with mantras
of praise and blessing, prayer flags flutter across the landscapes of many Himalayan
Buddhist countries. Cotton flags on nylon cord.
- Stupa (Pagoda, Dagoba, or Chorten) - a reliquary monument embodying the elements
of the path to enlightenment. Stupa symbolism involves the 5 elements & the levels of the
spiritual path. Stupas are circumnambulated & models put on shrines to represent the
enlightened mind.
- Mantra (means mind protection)- recitation protects the mind from negative thoughts,
develops concentration & purifies the mind. The compassion mantra is OM MANI
- Thangka (Tangka, Thanka, or Tanka) is a painting on cotton, or silk appliqu, usually
depicting a Buddhist deity, scene, or mandala of some sort. The thankga is not a flat
creation like an oil painting or acrylic painting but consists of a picture panel which is
painted or embroidered over which a textile is mounted and then over which is laid a
cover, usually silk. Generally, thangkas last a very long time and retain much of their
lustre, but because of their delicate nature, they have to be kept in dry places where
moisture won't affect the quality of the silk. It is sometimes called a scroll-painting.
2. Clothes (robes) of Buddhist monks and nuns
Buddhists monks/nuns wear orange-yellow, brown or red coloured robes known as a
civaras. Wearing a civara is the first of a monk's four traditional requirements. The robes
are made of various thicknesses for both summer and winter.
3. Buddhist temples
They include the structures called stupa, wat and pagoda in different regions and
languages. Temples in Buddhism represent the pure land or pure environment of a
Buddha. Traditional Buddhist temples are designed to inspire inner and outer peace.
4. Buddhists books and books about buddhism.
- Kangyur or "Translated Words" consists of works in about 108 volumes supposed to
have been spoken by the Buddha himself. All texts presumably had a Sanskrit original,
although in many cases the Tibetan text was translated from Chinese or other languages.
Tengyur or "Translated Treatises" is the section to which were assigned commentaries,
treatises and ahidharma works (both Mahayana and non-Mahayana). The Tengyur
contains around 3,626 texts in 224 Volumes.
- Books which explain Buddhism for a modern Western audience. They generally focus on
the practical aspects of Buddhism: how to live your life well and meditation.
5. Buddhists movies and movies about Buddhism
Films and five documentaries that cover Buddhist themes (Kundun, The Little Buddha,
Enlightenment Guaranteed, Spring Summer Fall Winter, Travelers and Magicians ,
Seven Years in Tibet, Tibetan Book of the Dead).
6. People who represent Buddhism like Dalai Lama or famous people who called
themselves Buddhists like Richard Gere or Tina Turner.
Hidden, sub-surface elements of the iceberg model of culture are values, beliefs
and underlying assumptions. The following are the key Buddhist beliefs:
1. All Buddhists believe in reincarnation. This belief shapes their attitude to life
and death, making them more at ease with a premature or unexpected death of a
loved one and more accepting of their own death when it is imminent. Such stoicism
in the face of tragedy comes from their religious beliefs and not from fear or denial.
2. Buddhists believe in the Law of Karma, which explains that ones own happiness or
suffering, success or failure, health or illness and so on, are
caused by ones own bodily, verbal or mental actions (karma means action). Karma is
not fatalism, since Buddhists realise that karma is work-in-progress so
that even now they are generating the causes for future prosperity or failure. Thus, in
times of distress, Buddhists will seek to do good karma to alleviate any
3. Buddhism is not a God-centred faith. Thus Buddhists do not worship, nor surrender
their fate to a divine being. However, the majority of Buddhists will have statues of
the Buddha, White Tara (the Goddess of Wisdom), Maitreya (the future Buddha) and
other icons in their temples and houses, and pray in front of them for favours.
Though these images are meant to be merely images of reflection, to generate
inspiration, they are regularly used as a focus for aspirations, that is, praying.
4. Buddhists accept the truths of science, such as evolution, the Big Bang, genetics
and so forth.
5. Buddhists place strong emphasis on compassion. Since Buddhism holds that one
can be reborn from the animal, ghost, heaven or lower realms, and that one can also
reincarnate back into those realms (as well as back to the human realm), Buddhists
show compassion to animals and insects. In practice, compassion takes the form of
not doing anything that harms another or oneself, but instead strives to bring
happiness to all beings, including oneself. This leads on to the basic moral conduct for
Buddhists, called the Five Precepts. Buddhists try to live by the Five Precepts of
harmlessness. They are still fully accepted within the Buddhist community. The Five
Precepts are strongly encouraged: Refraining from intentionally killing any living
being; Refraining from any form of stealing; Refraining from sexual misconduct, in
particular from committing adultery; Refraining from any form of lying; Refraining
from taking alcohol and non-medicinal drugs.
4. Cultural aspects of Buddhism in Ireland
Buddhism as a religion is an important part of the culture in Ireland. It is a
young religion in Republic of Ireland. As late as 1991, there were only 986 self-
identified Buddhists in the Republic, about 0.025% of the population. By 2002 the
figure was 3,894 (about 0.1 per cent) and by 2006 it was 6,516 so a 67.3% increase
in self-identifying Buddhists occurred, up from the 2002 Census results (Rowen,
2011). According to Elizabeth Rowen Buddhism is developing rapidly in Ireland and
offering new religious, philosophical, and ethical alternatives to the country's
religiously-disenchanted population. Irish nation has been long dominated by the
rigorous institutionalization of the Catholic Church in the Republic of Ireland. Success
of Buddhism's development in Ireland is due to many factors including: the
similarities between Buddhism and Celtic mythology; Ireland's rich literary history of
meditative authors; the political benefits of an Irish appropriation of Asian religious
thought; the strong, often stifling control of the Catholic Church; the recent fall of the
Celtic Tiger and Irelands Economic Structure; and the wider societal perceptions of
Buddhism as a philosophy, not a religion. Buddhism is a slowly emerging minority
religion in Ireland's majorly Christian - especially Catholic society (Rowen, 2011).
Elizabeth Rowen in her study The Buddha and The Cross: The Development
of Buddhism in Ireland is stating that most of the Irish people practicing Buddhism
now are considered night stand Buddhists. They might keep a Thich Naht Hahn
book on their nightstand and dabble in meditative practice without committing to a
particular lineage, centre, or self-definition as a Buddhist. Although this night stand
Buddhist phenomenon makes it difficult to quantify the number of Buddhists in
Ireland, due to the historically entrenched religious/cultural categories of Catholic
and Protestant and the taditional Irish wariness to step outside of these ethnic
categories, it should be considered progressive that these night stand Buddhists are
incorporating Buddhist teachings into their own religious, spiritual, or philosophical
routines (Elizabeth Rowen, 2011).
Irish Buddhists are also are incorporating the elements of Buddhist culture into
their daily life routines. Thanks to it both hidden and visible parts of iceberg model of
buddhist's culture can be explored in my project.
Q1. Have you ever met any buddhist?
As my survey is showing among 48 people I asked the question Have you ever
met any buddhist? 37 respondents answered Yes. It means that the majority of my
peer group (77%) had a contact with somebody who was calling himself a Buddhist.
The majority of my respondents ( 69%) is stating that a Buddhist they met was a lay
person and in only 23% was a monk/nun. It means that mainly lay people in
contemporary Ireland have adopted philosophical, practical and cultural aspects of
Buddhism and incorporated them into their religious and social practices.

Q3. Where did you hear the most about buddhism?
The next question I asked my peer group Where did you hear the most about
buddhism is showing interesting findings. Some elements of Buddhist's culture are
also visible in the media. The majority of respondents are stating that they hear about
Buddhism in TV (23%) and on line (38%). So TV/Internet in this case play a role of a
medium which helps people to develop a cultural awareness in relation to Buddhism.
Thanks to this people with a different cultural background can meet the Buddhist
religion/culture and explore its different aspects.

Q4. Do you consider buddhism to be a religion or a philosophy?
More people (56 %) I asked the question Do you consider buddhism to be a religion or
a philosophy recognize Buddhism to be philosophy rather than religion. It means that
they perceive Buddhism as something what is not limited only to specific group of
people. So to many, Buddhism goes beyond religion and is more of a philosophy or
'way of life'. It is a philosophy because philosophy 'means love of wisdom' and the
Buddhist path can be summed up as: to be mindful and aware of thoughts and action
and to develop wisdom and understanding. Also it can be called "a science of mind."
A lot depends also on how we define "religion." People whose primary experience
with religion tends to define "religion" in a way that requires belief in gods and
supernatural beings. As I understand it when comes to the iceberg concept of culture
in relation to Buddhism, those people must be aware of the hidden aspects of
Buddhism like values, beliefs and norms. Even though Buddhism does not require
belief in God, most schools of Buddhism are highly mystical, which puts it outside the
bounds of simple philosophy.
Also according to Elizabeth Rowen Buddhism in Ireland is often perceived as a
philosophy, not a religion, and making it accessible to practitioners of the countrys
majority religion in a non-aggressive, anti-proselytizing manner. It is also concerned
with actively spreading peace and bettering society for all inhabitants (Rowen, 2011).

Q5. Do buddhists get married?
The majority (67%) of respondents answered Yes to the question Do
buddhists get married. As marriage belongs to the hidden elements of the iceberg
concept of culture, it means that majority of my peer group know also about deeper
aspects like Buddhis's customs.

Q6. Are men and women equal in buddhism?
The next question in the survey is in relation to gender equality: Are men and women
equal in buddhism? Out of 48 people 31 answered Yes and only 2 responded No.
Interesting fact is that 12 answered I do not know. Gender roles and gender equality
belong to hidden elements of the iceberg model of culture. Maybe that is the reason
why many respondents did not know how to answer.
Q7. Have you ever read any buddhist book(s) or book(s)about buddhism? If Yes
what was the title(s)?
In the West, many people begin their journey with Buddhism by reading a
book. Literature belongs to visible part of the iceberg model of culture. This is also a
great source of information for people with a different cultural or religious
background if they want to meet another culture and develop their cultural
awareness. The question I asked was in relation to Buddhist literature or literature
about Buddhism: Have you ever read any buddhist book(s) or book(s)about buddhism?
If Yes what was the title(s)?Only 23 people answered Yes in comparison to 15
respondents who answered No and 8 people who did not answer anything. Even
literature belongs to visible part of the iceberg concept of culture, it might be quite
challenging for people to find some time and read a book. Especially when it is not
very interesting topic for them.
Q8. Have you ever seen any movie(s) about buddhism? If - Yes - what was the
Movies about Buddhism the same like the literature (books) about Buddhism
belong to the visible part of the iceberg model of culture. This element of culture is
very accessible for many people thanks to popularity of TV and Internet where movies
are mainly played. It is a great medium so for spreading information about Buddhism.
As the survey is showing the majority of people 28 out of 48 was watching at least
one movie about Buddhism. The most popular title among them are: Seven years in
Tibet, Little Buddha, Kundun.
Q9. What are your first 3 associations when you hear the word buddhism?
The next question What are your first 3 associations when you hear the word
buddhism? is showing that the respondents of the survey have acknowledged visible
and hidden elements of icberg model of culture in relation to Buddhism. The most
popular associations are: meditation, karma, mindfulness, Tibet, monks.
Q10. Is buddhism popular in Ireland?
Only 8 people out of 48 answered Yes to the question Is buddhism popular in
Ireland?. 11 respondents out of 48 answered that buddhism is not popular in Ireland.
Interesting thing is that the majority of people 25 (54%) answered I do not know. It is
clearly showing that the visible elements of the iceberg model of culture in relation to
Buddhism are not that popular or not very much visible in Ireland.

I asked 58 respondents the question: Do you think there is any discrimination
against Buddhists in Ireland? If Yes/No please add a comment why do you think it is like
that. I reported a survey nding using a visual aid below (a pie chart) that can help to
show the ndings clearly.
Out of 58 people: 8 responded I do not know, 4 responded Yes, 31 responded
No and 15 respondents did not put any respond or comment. The survey shows that an
overwhelming percentage of the respondents 70 % feel that there is no
discrimination against Buddhists in Ireland. From the study, we can see that not many
people - only 9 % - reported a discrimination against Buddhists in Ireland. 18 % of
respondents does not have any opinion.
According to the respondents - only 9 % - so there is a discrimination against
Buddhists in Ireland. One of the respondents add the comment I would imagine some
Christian fundamentalists would not like it because it is not Christian and the fact you
have to bow down to another human being and not Jesus but these kind of people have a
problem with anything that isn't the same as they do . So the person claims that the
problem of discrimination might be the religion of majority people living in Ireland,
which is Christianity. Interesting is the fact that the respondent is mentioning only the
fundamentalist form of Christianity, not Christian faith in general. Another person
added very similar comment: might be difficult sometimes in a dominantly Catholic,
meat-eating society. The last two respondents claim the other problem of possible
discrimination against Buddhists in Ireland: people are not opening minded about it
and I feel people in Ireland not open minded.
The survey shows that an overwhelming amount of the respondents 31 out
of 58 feel that there is no discrimination against Buddhists in Ireland. There are the
comments added to this respond: No, I personally don't discriminate; No, I never
heard of any; They are peaceful people and not many in Ireland; It's not really seen
as a threat to more traditional religion; There is not enough known about it for people
to get up in arms about it in general and apart from that I think most people would find
it non-offensive in nature; In Ireland, buddhism is accepted as a positive way of life
among the majority of people; No one fears buddhism; No. Buddhist aren't really
visible by appearance and don't preach; I certainly hope not; No at least i never
heard of; Ireland is very tolerant in general. Personally I haven't met any singes of
discrimination for any reason here in Ireland. But frankly there's very little social activity
in that area. And that should be changed; I have never came across any bad comments
about buddhism; I have never heard anyone saying anything negative about
buddhists; I do not believe think it is a serious topic or have enough knowledge about
it; No. People do not know what it is nevertheless they know Dalajlama; I don't think
so. There is no reason for that; I think Irish people are very open minded; Don't think
so; No, I think people in Ireland are very open minded towards different religions,
philosophies and views on life.
As the comments show the majority of respondents claims that there is no
signs of discriminations because Buddhism is: peaceful, non-offensive, accepted as
a positive way of life or not a threat to more traditional religion. Only a few
comments mention anything about social/religious attitudes of Irish people towards
Buddhists: Irish people are very open minded, people in Ireland are very open minded
towards different religions, philosophies and views on life and Ireland is very tolerant
in general.
18 % of respondents 8 out of 58- do not have any opinion about
discrimination in Ireland or claim not to know anything about. The reason of it can be
more visible from the comments the respondents put in the survey: I didn't hear
anything; I never heard about it; I am unaware of any discrimination against
buddists; Buddhism as a religion in Ireland is largely unknown; I know that there
have friends on the way, but they are discriminated against, I do not know; Their will
always be ignorant people in the world, but on a whole i dont think so; I think people
are very skeptic about it because they don't understand it; Not sure if there is any. So
the purpose of not knowing anything about it is mostly being not aware or not
hearing anything about it.
There is also a few respondents - 17 out of 57 - not answering the question as I
presume it might be irrelevant question for them or the respondents do not want to
answer because of different reasons.
Q12. How much do you know about buddhism?
The majority of people is stating that they know A little about Buddhism.
There is some similarity between this question and the last one about popularity of
Buddhism in Ireland. So 36 respondents (75%) confirmed to know A little about
Buddhism. It is also showing that Buddhist's elements of culture are not that clearly
visible for Irish and the accesss to the knowledge about Buddhism is not that easy. In
this kind of situation it is quite difficult to raise cultural awareness and understanding
of Buddhist religious and cultural practices.
Q13. Do you think buddhists worship the Buddha?
The question Do you think buddhists worship the Buddha? I asked mainly to
check out if the respondents undrestand the keys principles in realtion to buddhist's
values. The historical Buddha is considered to have been a human being who realized
enlightenment through his own efforts. Buddhism also is non-theistic - the Buddha
did not specifically teach there were no gods, just that believing in gods was not
useful to realizing enlightenment. "Buddha" also represents enlightenment itself and
also Buddha-nature - the essential nature of all beings. The iconic image of the
Buddha and other enlightened beings are objects of devotion and reverence, but not
as gods. So Buddhists do not worship Buddha. This is what majority - 23 of
respondents (48%) - stated ( No ) as the answer to the question in the survey. It
means that the respondents understand the key principles in realtion to buddhist's
values. As values are the hidden elements of the iceberg model of culture so the
respondents must have a very close encounter with Buddhist religion and buddhist's
cultural practices.
Q14. Who is truly buddhist according to you?
The answers in relation to the question Who is truly buddhist according to
you? are showing very interesting findings. The respondents had a few options to
choose from: Vegeterian, Good person, Monk/Nun, Lay person, I do not know. The
majority 27 people (55%) chose answer - Good person. Only 6% of respondents
answered - Monk/Nun. Not many people answered - Vegeterian (4%). Some schools
of Buddhism do insist on vegetarianism. In most schools of Buddhism vegetarianism
is a personal choice, not a commandment. The earliest Buddhists scriptures suggest
the historical Buddha himself was not a vegetarian. The first order of monks begged
for their food, and the rule was that if a monk was given meat, he was required to eat
it unless he knew that the animal was slaughtered specifically to feed monks.
So when the majority of people answered that good person is a truly
buddhist, it means that the respondents acknowledged the deep aspects of Buddhist
religion and Buddhist's cultural practices. The significance and purpose of following
the Buddhist's teachings (values) is becoming a good person. So being a vegetarian or a
nun does not make a person a buddhist.
Q15. What do you think buddhism teaches?
It was a few options to choose from in the question What do you think
buddhism teaches? All the options were common things people believe about
Buddhism that are not true ( That nothing exists, We are all one, Karma is fate,
Karma punishes people who deserve it, Not eating meat, Enlightenment is being
blissed out all the time, That we are supposed to suffer). The reason to put
misunderstanding of Buddhism as answers to the question was to see if the
respondents understand deeper aspects of Buddhist religion and buddhist's cultural
practices. Every single answer to the question have some amount respondents who
chose it as a right one. Only 4 people (8 %) did not chose anything. The meaning of
this situation is that the respondents did not experience the deeper aspcts of
Buddhist religion and Buddhist's cultural practices. They are lacking of some elements
of cultural awareness in relation to Buddhism. In the case of the answer that
Buddhism teaches that nothing exists the true is that Buddhism does not teach that
nothing exists. It challenges the understanding of humans of how things exist. It
teaches that beings and phenomena have no intrinsic existence. But Buddhism does
not teach there is no existence at all.
The majority 32 people (65 %) answered that Buddhism teaches we are all
one. The true is that Buddha taught that it was incorrect to say that the self is finite,
but it is also incorrect to say that the self is infinite. Buddhist teachings are saying not
to hold on to views about whether the self is this or that. We fall into the idea that we
individuals are component parts of a One Thing, or that our individual self is false an
only an infinite self-that-is-everything is true. Understanding the self requires going
beyond concepts and ideas. So again Buddhism is challanging the understanding of
human beings.
Also many respondents - 19 ( 39%) stated that Buddhism teaches that
Enlightenment Is Being Blissed Out All the Time. People imagine that "getting
enlightened" is like switching some kind of happy button, and that one goes from
being miserable to being blissful. The Sanskrit word often translated as
"enlightenment" actually means "awakening." Most people awaken gradually, often
imperceptibly, over a long period of time. Or they awaken through a series of
"opening" experiences, each one revealing just a little more, but not the whole
picture. Even the most awakened teachers are not floating around in a cloud of bliss.
They also experience suffering but they have a differnet attitude to suffering from
ordinary people.
Only 3 reposndents ( 6 % ) answered that Buddhism teaches that we are supposed to
suffer. This idea comes from a misreading of the First Noble Truth, often translated
"Life is suffering." People read that and think, Buddhism teaches that life is always
miserable. The problem is that the Buddha, who didn't speak English, didn't use the
English word "suffering. In the earliest scriptures it is said that he called life is
dukkha. Dukkha is a Pali word that contains many meanings. It can mean ordinary
suffering, but it can also refer to anything that is temporary, incomplete, or
conditioned by other things. So even joy and bliss are dukkha, because they come and
go. Some translators use "stressful" or "unsatisfactory" in place of "suffering" for
Q16. Do buddhists believe in reincarnation?
Also the question Do buddhists believe in reincarnation? is on the base
of common things people think about Buddhism and that are not true. The
reason I put the misunderstanding of Buddhism as a question was to check out
the understanding of deeper aspects of Buddhist religion and buddhist's cultural
practices. The majority 34 people out of 48 - answered Yes as the answer to the
question. It means that the respondents do not understand one of the basic belief in
Buddhism. Beliefs are the deep elements of the iceberg model of culture.
"Reincarnation" normally is understood to be the transmigration of a soul to another
body after death. There is no such teaching in Buddhism. One of the most
fundamental doctrines of Buddhism is anatta, or anatman $$ no soul or no self. There
is no permanent essence of an individual self that survives death.
Q17. Do buddhists respect other religions?
The majority of respondents - 41 out of 48 - agreed that Buddhists respect
other religions. It means that the respondents aknowledged that Buddhism is a
religion which teaches people to "live and let live". In the history of the world, there is
no evidence to show that Buddhists have interfered or done any damage to any other
religion in any part of the world for the purpose of propagating their religion. The
Buddha's message was an invitation to all people to join the fold of universal
brotherhood to work in strength and harm ony for the welfare and happiness of
mankind. Also according to Elizabeth Rowen one of the possible reasons that Buddhism
has met with little resistance in Ireland is that at its core, it is a peaceful, nonthreatening
religion. (Rowen, 2011).
Q18. Who is a buddhist from the people below?
It was a few options to choose from in the question Who is a buddhist from the
people below?. The majority of people - 23 (47 %) out of 48 - chose Richard Gere
known for them to be a buddhist. It is not a surprise because he is the most famous
actor who converted to Buddhism. Also many respondents 27 % - answered that
Tina Turner is a Buddhist. I presume the knowledge about it the respondents have
from the media. The religious practices are the visible elements of the iceberg concept
of Buddhism.
Q19. Do you know any buddhist centre or buddhist group in Ireland? If Yes -
what is the name of that centre/group?
There is no strong majority of answers to the question Do you know any buddhist
centre or buddhist group in Ireland? Almost the same amount of people said Yes
( 19 respondents) and No ( 18 respondents ). Buddhist centres/groups as the
bodies reperesenting Buddhism are the visible elements of the iceberg model of
Republic of Ireland is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multicultural society.
Religious freedom and mutual respect for all religions are integral parts of the shared
culture and are important underlying principles of multiculturalism and democracy.
There are a number of international treaties and national laws that recognise freedom
of religion and belief as fundamental human right in Ireland. It is unlawful to
discriminate against a person because of their religious conviction in certain areas of
public life including for example: employment, education, services and facilities, clubs
and in application forms. Cultural and religious rights are an integral part of human
rights. That is why why it is so important to rise a cultural awarness. Cultural
Awareness is the foundation of communication. This project helped me to look at
Buddhism from a different perspective and rise my cultural awarness. It helepd me to
improve my understanding of differnet elements of culture and it importance for the
Cox, Laurence (2014). The Irish and Asian Buddhism is a story that goes back 14
centuries. Available from: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/religion-
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March 2014]
Rioghnat Crotty (2013). Introduction to Intercultural Studies.
Groff,Linda; Smoker, Paul (2010). Spirituality, religion, culture and peace: exploring
the foundations for inner-outer peace in the twenty-first century. Available from:
[accessed 22
March 2014]
Religion Library: Buddhism. Available from:
http://www.patheos.com/Library/Buddhism.html. [accessed 22
March 2014]
Elizabeth Rowen (2011).The Buddha and The Cross: The Development of Buddhism
in Ireland. Richter Research Abroad Student.