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Can Anyone Be a Buddhist?

A reader writes:

Is it possible for literally anyone to be a Buddhist?  Anyone from an Inuit to a Rain Forest Tribesman?

My response:


There are some belief systems out there, such as Judaism, that have a heavily ethnic membership (Jews as an “ethnicity” as opposed to Jewish belief), so I do understand the question. Although many people stereotypically think of Buddhists as Asians, there is no particular racial aspect to Buddhism. I’m a Caucasian American, and I know Buddhists of most other races and ethnic groups. Where you came from doesn’t mean anywhere near as much as where you’re going, or where you want to be. You can take that statement either literally or spiritually.

I don’t know any Inuit Buddhists or Buddhists from the Rain Forest, but I’ll bet they are out there. The greatest population of Buddhists is obviously in the Eastern Asia regions, but that’s simply because it’s where Buddhism started out, and where it’s had the most time to spread. Nowadays, it’s pretty much everywhere. It’s a good deal more slow-growing than some of the other “religions” out there, simply because most Buddhists don’t place a heavy emphasis on evangelizing.



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