Monday, January 31, 2011

BATW: Buddhism in Denmark


Our fifth installment of "Buddhism Around The World" comes from Senshin of Senshin's Lotus. For me, I learned quite a bit from this entry and it has peaked my interest to learn more about the tradition Senshin follows and practices within, Tendai. We hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

Now is an exciting time to be a Buddhist in Denmark.  There is steady growth in the number of Buddhists; one estimate states that there are more than 20,000. Most of these are immigrants and refugees from nations such as Thailand, Vietnam and Sri Lanka. The rest are ethnic Danes who have converted. The three major schools of Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana are represented.

I practice in the Tendai tradition, a Mahayana school founded in Japan. This tradition teaches that all forms of Buddhist practice lead to enlightenment and thus unites all these practices. Because of this we call ourselves Ekayana or the One Vessel. Danish Tendai groups are well organized and are associated with the Karuna Tendai Dharma Center in the US (www.tendai.org) which was designated as the location for training of those outside Japan who seek ordination.  Our primary presence in Denmark is located near Copenhagen. Now there are two branch sanghas in other cities, one served by a doshu priest and one by myself, since I began my training for ordination.  Additionally there are two groups who are headed by lay leaders who have received thorough training in leading meditation groups.

In general I have found many Danes are cautious about religious matters. However many have the desire to learn about meditation and through this they come into contact with Buddhism.  Of course, there is a wide range of committment that flows out of this contact, from those who go to temples for practice to those who view Buddhism as a path to self-development. Some seek an understanding of life's meaning while others are attracted to the opportunity to meet like minded individuals in a cultural and social community. Some people call themselves Buddhist but have a modest practice. Others perform the practices intensely but never refer to themselves as Buddhists.

I came to Buddhism less than three years ago. Last year I began the training for ordination, and if I do well enough I may be ordained a Doshu, i.e. temple assistant, next year.  If I am, the training will not finish then; training never ends for Tendai priests.  There is always much more to learn and understand.

Most Tendai priests have a normal family life and support themselves with income from jobs of all kinds. I have dedicated my life fully to the Buddha Dharma and do not have what would be considered a normal job.  The sangha I serve meets in a private home, but I am working with the goal of have a temple established in this part of the country one day.

I started my blog, Senshin's Lotus, in December, 2008 shortly after I took refuge.  Since then it has evolved into a website (www.senshin.dk) with information about Tendai in Denmark as well as our sangha.  I don't write as often as I would like to, but when I do I try to share my life as a Buddhist and as a priest in training.  The blog has a relatively large number of visitors.  For those who do not read Danish, I have Google Translator incorporated.  I enjoy the extended sangha of the internet where I have had the great joy of meeting lots of wonderful people via Twitter, Facebook, blogs and various forums.

Together may we progress along the Buddha path of liberation.

Gassho,
Senshin Karina Blomkvist.

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