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Buddhism in the Netherlands

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Buddhism is a small minority religion in The Netherlands, but it has shown rapid growth in recent years. In 1998 there were only 16,000 Buddhists in the Netherlands. In a 2004 estimate, 169,000 Dutch people identified their religion as Buddhist. In 2009 the number of Buddhists had risen all the way to 250,000. That is an almost 1,500% increase in just over ten years.

This calculates to about 1.5% to 2.0% being Buddhist in the Netherlands.

The first awareness of Buddhism in the Netherlands can be traced back to early books, with references to Buddhism reappearing in 1651, 1843 and 1878, with the first book on Buddhism being written in the Dutch language in 1879. The turn of the century saw more popular books on Buddhism published in Dutch.

In 1971 the Dutch merchant Monshouwer gathered some people in order to discuss the possibility of founding a Theravada temple with the support of Thai ambassador Sompong Sucharitkul. In 1973 the temple was officially founded in Waalwijk. Originally the temple was named Wat Dhammasucaritanucharee, but two years later renamed as Buddharama Temple with its own supporting foundation called ‘Young Buddhists Netherlands’. This foundation had its own journal.[18] Later the founding abbot Ven. Mettavihari moved to Amsterdam and started a separate community of vipassana practitioners there. The foundation supporting the Thai temple in Waalwijk was renamed the ‘Nederlandse Buddha Dhamma Stichting’ (Dutch Buddha Dhamma Foundation).

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Dharma Wheel
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