Unlimited demand for Buddha statues - translated by Pieter from The Volkskrant, May 25, 2009
AMSTERDAM - The Netherlands counts an estimated 250 thousand Buddhists or people who feel a strong affinity with this religion. The growth is so strong that besides from Islamizing we can now also talk of Buddhizing of the Netherlands, according to researchers Marcel Poorthuis and Theo Salemink of the Tilburg University.
''But strange enough nobody is worried about this. Buddhism has apparently a better image than Islam", according to Poorthuis, lecturer of interreligious dialogue.
Buddhism is the third largest religion of the Netherlands, after Christianity and Islam. While Islamizing by politicians like Geert Wilders is often seen as a threat and is associated with violence and collectivity, Buddhism is experienced as a solo religion that stands for non violence and pacifism. Symbol of this is the Dalai Lama who will visit the Netherlands on 4 and 5 June.
Poorthuis and Salemink claim in their newly published book Lotus in the low lands that Buddhism has other sides too. 'Kamikaze pilots in the second world war had Buddhist teachers. Ans also the Dalai Lama cannot avoid conflicts because of the difficult political situation of Tibet, even though the Netherlands wants to see in him a heavenly pacifist', according to Poorthuis.
In 1988 there were four thousand native Dutchmen who felt affinity with Buddhism, next to 12 thousand Buddhist immigrants from Asia. In 1999 that number was already increased to 169 thousand and six years later already to 250 thousand.
There is an enormous demand for Buddha statues and meditation courses. Famous Dutchmen like Herman Wijffels and Erica Terpstra are affiliated with Buddhism. Many Dutchmen call themselves Buddhist without knowing exactly what the religion is about.
Buddhism is often abused commercially. There are for example many corporate training offerings inspired by Buddhism. 'But instead to answer the question whether the credit crisis is caused by desire, is Buddhism used to optimize the production process'.