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Despite the basic beliefs of those who are not Buddhist, Buddhism does not revolve solely around meditation. As a matter of fact, only bhikkus and bhikkunis actually meditate. The laity donate things such as food and money to the sangha, or monastic community to support the nuns and monks, and through this they attain merit, which adds to good karma (Seager, 18). When the religion spread to the United States though, Americans liked the idea of meditation, so this is the part of the religion that many took and altered so that it was almost a religion of its own. Zen Buddhism, a Japanese branch of the Mahayana , has become the popular form of Buddhism among convert Buddhists because of its use of meditation (Seager 0,1). Insight Therevada Buddhism is becoming popular for these same reasons. It is lay-oriented with teachers being laypersons themselves. Ruth Denison, one of the originators of Insight meditation, also added music and movement to a practice that traditionally involved seated meditation (Seager, 147).
Like ethnic and convert Buddhisms, Native American religions were also shaped by American culture. Unlike Buddhism; however, is the fact that the American culture was brought to Native Americans and forced upon them. The belief that Christians were to spread the word of Christ to every human being and convert each one, changed Native Americans tremendously. From voluntary boarding schools such as the one Catherine Brown attended in the east (Martin, 6) to Janitins forced coercion by Spanish Missionaries in the southwest (Martin, 6).
American culture has changed everything that originated in this country as well as everything that has been brought into this country in some way. In order for these things such as Buddhism to have survived this long in America, certain alterations were needed. They survived because in the American context things can change and will change to fit the needs of certain groups. Everything from the government to Christianity has shaped these other religions into what they are today.
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