One Hundred Years of Buddhism in Hamburg
07-24-2018    The Buddhist Channel
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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt" align=center><SPAN lang=EN-US><BR><EM>2006 Celebration of Vesakh in Hamburg<BR></EM></P></SPAN>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>By Michael den Hoet, The Buddhist Channel, June 7, 2006<BR><BR></P></SPAN>

<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:place w:st="on"><st1:City w:st="on"><SPAN lang=EN-US>Hamburg</SPAN></st1:City><SPAN lang=EN-US>, <st1:country-region w:st="on">Germany</st1:country-region></SPAN></st1:place><SPAN lang=EN-US> -- Buddhism in the West&nbsp;-- just a fashionable trend? Not at all! As early as the 19th century people in <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:country-region w:st="on">Germany</st1:country-region></st1:place> began to develop an interest in Buddhism. The most prominent of all was the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788&nbsp;-- 1860) who called himself a "Buddhaist" 150 year ago.</SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>The first Buddhist Group was established in <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:State w:st="on">Hamburg</st1:State></st1:place> one hundred years ago, in 1906. The members of this group were not Asian immigrants nostalgically striving to keep up their native traditions but Germans looking to expand their horizons.</SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>As a city traditionally active in international trade, <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:State w:st="on">Hamburg</st1:State></st1:place> developed an interest in foreign cultures very early. Intellectuals were especially interested in Buddha's teachings. In <st1:chmetcnv w:st="on" UnitName="a" SourceValue="1914" HasSpace="True" Negative="False" NumberType="1" TCSC="0">1914 a</st1:chmetcnv> professorship for Indian studies was established at the "Colonial Institute", later at the university (founded in 1919), and Buddhism was on the curriculum. </SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>Two Buddhist groups were very active in <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:State w:st="on">Hamburg</st1:State></st1:place> during the 1920s, but the intellectual narrowness of the Nazi dictatorship brought them both to a halt. After World War II people interested in Buddhism got together again. 1954 saw the founding of the "Buddhistische Gesellschaft <st1:State w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Hamburg"</st1:place></st1:State> (BGH), which brought together various small groups of differing styles.</SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>Hamburg Buddhists founded the "Haus der Stille" in <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:City w:st="on">Roseburg</st1:City></st1:place> in 1962, which was the first meeting and retreat place in the countryside. By the end of the Sixties the first Zen groups had appeared, and by the middle of the Seventies the first Tibetan Buddhist centres were founded in <st1:State w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Hamburg</st1:place></st1:State>.</SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>Today, about 40 Buddhist centres and groups are active in <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:State w:st="on">Hamburg</st1:State></st1:place>, representing the whole range of Buddhism from the more traditional Asian style to the modern western style&nbsp;-- there are groups practising Theravada, Zen and the various schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Today several thousand citizens of <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:State w:st="on">Hamburg</st1:State></st1:place> practice Buddhism in one of those groups and centres. At the university courses are offered in Buddhism as well as Tibetan philology. </SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>Although Buddhism is generally regarded with sympathy in the West, it is not generally seen in public. Buddhism has however been present in <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:State w:st="on">Hamburg</st1:State></st1:place> for more than a hundred years. Today there is a lively Buddhist scene in and around <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:State w:st="on">Hamburg</st1:State></st1:place>. You can get in touch with these groups on Sunday, 11th June 2006. In a beautiful, family friendly, open-air setting these Buddhist groups will celebrate Vesakh, one of the most important Buddhist holidays of the Buddhist cultures of <st1:place w:st="on">Asia</st1:place>. This year's festivities also serve to celebrate 100 years of Hamburg Buddhism, the first Buddhist group having been established in 1906.</SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>The Vesakh celebration is organised by a team of 17 different Buddhist centres and groups in <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:State w:st="on">Hamburg</st1:State></st1:place>.</SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>In Germany Buddhists of different traditions also celebrate Vesakh together. In major German cities such as <st1:City w:st="on">Munich</st1:City> and <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:State w:st="on">Berlin</st1:State></st1:place>, public celebrations of Vesakh are a regular part of the cultural calendar.</SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>In recent years Buddhists began to celebrate Vesakh in <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:State w:st="on">Hamburg</st1:State></st1:place>. The most successful celebration to date was in 2005, when more than 5000 visitors enjoyed <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:State w:st="on">Hamburg'</st1:State></st1:place>s first open-air Vesakh celebration and beautiful weather. </SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"></SPAN><SPAN lang=EN-US>Website in German: <A href="http://www.vesakh-hamburg.de">www.vesakh-hamburg.de</A></SPAN></P>
Editor: Wang Xinyu
   
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