No wonder Buddhism appeals to Americans: Ours is a society founded on the clichéd, but still relevant, promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But who knew these Jeffersonian principles had such an ancient source? It turns out that respect for life, personal freedom and the transformation of suffering into happiness was at the heart of the Buddha’s teachings some 2,000 years before Columbus even turned his ships west.
More of a life-force-strengthening practice than an institutional religious creed (think of it as weightlifting for the soul), Buddhism presents an intuitive approach to life that fits hand-in-glove with America's deeply rational culture. Maybe it’s because it doesn’t conflict with science, or maybe it’s because it just plain works, but Buddhism offers sound approaches to the most intractable challenges facing American society today. Here are five of the most critical.
Jeff Ourvan is a practicing Buddhist and the author of "The Star Spangled Buddhist: Zen, Tibetan and Soka Gakkai Buddhism and the Quest for Enlightenment in America."
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