Definitions of Terms Used in Statistics of Australian Buddhist Organisations

Buddhist organisations can take many forms, but they fall into two main categories:

1. Informal Groups: where individuals gather to practise meditation, usually under a name for their group, and can operate independently, or as part of a formal organisation.

2. Formal Organisations: these include monasteries, charities, libraries, meditation retreat centres, Buddhist and student societies, information and state representing bodies.

Definitions of Terms:

Western Buddhist: Westerners in Australia practice Buddhism by either forming lay organisations and groups, with a resident or spiritual teacher as their patron; or ordain as monks and nuns in monasteries and organisations, set up and run by westerners, but usually following a tradition from one of the Buddhist countries in Asia.

State Mediatory: These are Buddhist organisations designed to liaise between the Buddhist community and the wider community. For example: the Buddhist Council of NSW is a central information centre that handles inquiries from the Government authorities and the general public. They also organise events within the Buddhist community, and also liaise with the media.

Buddhist Social Work: This is the application of Buddhist practice within the wider community. This may take the forms of: volunteering in charities, hospices; Social Action, where for example a Buddhist group took part in the Corroboree 2000 Walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge; Counselling services are available in some Buddhist temples, either by phone or special classes, for people suffering from drugs, addiction, or gambling.

Non Sectarian: Non sectarian Buddhist organisations and groups are those that do not adhere to a particular tradition, such as Theravada, Mahayana, or Vajrayana (Tibetan) and take a variety of forms such as: Charities, Hospices, Libraries, Meditation and Study groups, University Student Societies, and Social Work Groups. There main focus is to make available, the Buddha’s teachings, from all traditions in a practical and open approach, which is demonstrated by the provision of services and activities in the following main areas: Active Community Health and Social Support Services; Educational Services / Information; University Student Societies; Meditation Centres.

Compiled by Dean Jones: