Buddhism in Costa Rica
Posted on August 20th, 2012

by Terrence Johnson, The Costa Rican News, August 5, 2012

Costa Rica — Over the past few decades Catholic Churches in Central America has seen an exodus of their congregants leaving to explore and join other Christian denominations and other religions. Experts point to growing competition from other denominations, primarily evangelical Christianity and a general dissatisfaction with the Catholic churches intolerance and rigid stance. There is an emerging segment of the population in Central America that is converting to religions such as Islam and Buddhism.

<< With approximately 100,000 practitioners, Costa Rica has more Buddhists than any other country in Central America

JosƒÆ’†’ƒ”š‚© Espinoza and his wife Katrina is one couple that converted to Buddhism 3 years ago, and say they have never been happier.

When asked why they converted from Catholic religion to Buddhism, JosƒÆ’†’ƒ”š‚© explained, ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-My wife and I have different reasons, but for me, I had approached the Father of the Catholic church we had been attending, to ask some questions on some marital issues my wife and I were experiencing, and the FathersƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ advise was to quote a few lines from the Bible and say a prayer. That was when I thought ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”how can this person give family or marital advice when he never has had a wife or children of his ownƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢. That was the first time I think that I started to question my religion and began to look at other religionsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

Continuing JosƒÆ’†’ƒ”š‚© explained why they ultimately chose Buddhism. ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-We looked at other Christian religions and we also looked at Islam and finally Buddhism. For us Buddhism touched something very deep in both of us. The non-judgmental, accepting attitudes of the members of the organization were very appealing to us. And I think the practice of meditation has added so much to our lives.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

When asked about the types of meditation practices JosƒÆ’†’ƒ”š‚© continued, ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-They taught us very simple methods like counting your breathing, to help keep the mind focused on the here and now, and later there are different ways to breath, Buddhist breathing, Taoist breathing methods, but essentially these different methods help you calm what they call ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”monkey mindƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢, which is when your mind or thoughts jump around from thought to thoughtƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚¦ with a little practice the mind calms and you enter a kind of ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”nowƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ state. When you practice meditation, you just feel good, calm centered, and not just when you are meditating, but with practice you attain what the Japanese Buddhist call zan-shin, which translates to residual mind, or that which carries over into the rest of your day or life, so you find you are better able to cope with the stresses of life, work, and family from a much calmer and center perspective.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

With approximately 100,000 practitioners, Costa Rica has more Buddhists than any other country in Central America. Buddhism was brought to Costa Rica by Chinese immigrants during the earlier part of the 19th century. Today are several recognized and establish groups in San Jose Costa Rica.

Terrence Kosho Johnson (Kosho ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” given Buddhist name) is a guest writer for The Costa Rica News. He has been practicing Buddhism for the better part of 30 years, studying at different temples, and ultimately became a teacher in a form of Zen Buddhism called Rinzai, one of the tree primary sects of Zen in Japan. Kosho now lives in Costa Rica.

Courtesy: Buddhist Channel

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