“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.” – Kofi Annan
State of Buddhism in Singapore
Buddhist practices and lifestyles change as society evolves. Buddhists’ frequency of visiting Temples and Buddhist Centres has decreased over the years, with more choosing to “attend” Dharma talks virtually, via internet “live” feeds. A rapidly aging population arises new needs such as end-of-life spiritual concerns. Singapore’s fast-paced changes in population, politics, economics, etc have effected new needs and challenges. If our Buddhist community is unable to identify and meet these needs, Buddhists will increasingly face more obstacles to practice and maintain our Buddhist lifestyle. So what is the state of Buddhism in Singapore? Over the years, a small group of Buddhists have come together to study changes and deliberate responses. Two conferences were organised and the conversation has gathered momentum.
Call for Action
Join the conversation. If you are concerned about the development of Buddhism in Singapore and keen to support Buddhists in meeting arising needs, let’s work together. Email [email protected].
Forum on State of Buddhism in Singapore 2013
The 2013 Forum on State of Buddhism in Singapore identified challenges including a significant decline in Singapore youths’ understanding of Buddhism and a lack of structural support and strategic responses to changing national patterns. It also witnessed the launch of the BuddhistYouth Network, which was was developed from Camp LIONS, an annual leadership training camp started in 2009. Comprising alumni of various youth groups, BYN would serve as an enabling platform to continue strengthening Buddhist youth groups and support collaborations. The Forum was organized collaboratively by BuddhistYouth Network, Dharma In Action, Singapore Buddhist Mission (Youth), Jack Meng-Tat Chia, and Tok Meng Haw. It was supported by the National University of Singapore Buddhist Society and venue sponsored by Vimalakirti Buddhist Centre.
Post-forum Update 2014
A Post-forum Update reported the formation of a leadership training unit at BuddhistYouth Network and a team to study the needs of the Buddhist community. Buddhist leaders also reflected on their experience and the significance of the Forum.
Dr Chong Kwek Yan urged, “If we want to catch the best wind in our sails to fulfill the Buddha’s mission to us to practice and spread the Dharma, there is a need for information-sharing and collective strategizing between the diverse Buddhist organizations in Singapore. The forum and its report are our contribution towards that.”
Bro Tan Gim Sun, a senior leader encouraged that, “We can overcome the challenges identified during the 2013 Forum if all the youths work together in synergy. I am very impressed with the Forum and the youth speakers. We should continue to hold such forums to give Buddhists an overview of the situation in Singapore.”
State of Buddhism Conference Singapore 2015
The State of Buddhism Conference Singapore 2015 was organised by READ, an informal group seeking to advance Buddhism in Singapore through research and collaboration. Its members are Kan Rong Hui, Chua Mey-Ing and Teh Peh Jing. Some suggestions on strengthening Buddhism included fostering an online presence and gather more demographic data. For reaching out to more youths, participants generated ideas such as a “Gratitude Week” to “solve our collective identity crisis” and setting up a “Buddhist Lifestyle 1-Stop-Shop”.