The article attempts to classify different categories of Buddhist communities in Western countries. All these categories reveal certain aspects of Buddhism in the West. Classifications are based on different criteria, so they are difficult to compare, and they do not always take into account the changes that occur in communities as time goes and all kinds of confusion of traditions that do not fit into the same category or can not be included into any of them. Analyzing various typologies presented by Western researchers, the author comes to the conclusion that they use different criteria to categorize Buddhist organizations, such as: style of practice, degree of institutional stability, mode of transmission to the West, ethnicity, etc. However, each of them reveals only certain features of Western Buddhism and obscures others, so any attempt to describe or classify the diversity and heterogeneity of Western forms of Buddhism needs using not static typology, but multi-layered approach, which will give more specific picture. According to the author, the classification should: 1) determine belonging of a particular organization or a group to a Buddhist tradition (Theravada, Mahayana, or Vajrayana) or consider it as an independent and eclectic tradition; 2) identify the line of continuity and its branch; 3) describe the stages of development of the organization; 4) examine religious personalities of participants, the degree of their commitment, and also identify nationality, gender, class, and generation change; and 5) determine the styles of practices and social needs of its participants.
Key words: Buddhist organization, Western Buddhists, Theravada, Mahayana
About the author
Dulma V. Ayusheyeva – PhD (Philosophy), Associate Professor, Senior Research Fellow at
the Department of Philosophy Culture and Religion Studies;