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The history of Buddhism begins in 6th century BCE India, when the Prince Siddhartha Gautama left his palace to become an ascetic, and then rejected asceticism for the Middle Way, ultimately finding Enlightenment under the Bodhi tree and, taking on the name of the Buddha, or the Awakened One, teaching for several decades before the tradition says he entered Nirvana. The Buddha (also known as Sakyamuni Buddha) taught that this awakening was not only his, and could be achieved by anyone willing to commit. The body of his teaching, the Dharma began with the Four Noble Truths: that endless cycle of rebirth involves suffering, that suffering is caused by desire, that there is a way out of suffering, and that the way is the Holy Eightfold Path. This path outlines correct behavior in terms of understanding, intention, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration. All Buddhists look t the Three Refuges: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, or the community of the Buddha’s followers. But Buddhism is remarkably varied, characterized by two main branches: Theravada Buddhism remains rooted in South Asian cultures and emphasizes a distinction between the monastic Sangha and lay people. Mahayana Buddhist traditions are largely integrated with East Asian cultures. Buddhism in the World and in the U.S. The Buddhist tradition has spread across the globe to become a universal religion, with at least 7% of the world’s population identifying as Buddhist. Although elites in the Transcendentalist movement read Buddhist texts with interest, Buddhism proper came to the western U.S. with Chinese immigrants in the mid-19th century. These immigrants began to build temples and put down roots in their new country, and so began the American Buddhist tradition. In the 1880s, they were joined by Japanese immigrants who also brought Buddhism to the U.S. , and many Anti-Asian ordinances were passed, which spread hate and prejudice towards Asian culture and religion, or “alien practices.” Meanwhile, on the East Coast (specifically Boston), many intellectuals were beginning to take interest in the Buddhist traditions, and people became enthralled with the “aesthetic” of Buddhist art and cultural practices. In the 1960s and 70s, different Buddhist movements grew in the U.S., including Zen Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, and Vipassana, or “insight meditation.” These traditions also grew with the increase in Asian immigrants after the 1965 Immigration Act, and Buddhist temples began to pop up all over the country.

Watt Munisotaram


Watt Munisotaram is a Cambodian Buddhist temple in Hampton, Minnesota, about thirty minutes south of the Twin Cities and just...

Chùa Phât-Ân Temple

buddhism birds.jpg

Phat-An Temple rises from the suburban landscape of Roseville, Minnesota as an expanse of red and yellow, a complex of...

Unpublished Exhibits

The Theravada Dhamma Society of America

A Theravada Buddhist Center in Chisago City, supported by the Theravada Dhamma Society of America founded by Ashin Dr. Nyanissara. 

Minnesota Zen Meditation Center