Geopolitics of Buddhism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 25, 2018

Geopolitics of Buddhism

André Laliberté
University of Ottawa

This article argues that Buddhists still lack an international organization that could help them present a unified voice the way that the World Council of Churches does for non-Catholic Christians, or the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, for all Muslims, whether they are Sunni or Shia. There exist international organizations that claim to speak on behalf of Buddhists the world over, but they compete against each other. The basis of this competition has little to do with the differences between the Mahāyāna, Theravāda, and Vajrayāna schools, but owes a lot more to competition between Asian great powers, in particular China and India. The article will demonstrate this by first presenting an historical account of the different attempts to create a unified Buddhist international organization, along with different transnational Buddhist institutions. Then it will review the divisions that have prevented, so far, the creation of such an organization.

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