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I was listening to a podcast a while ago and it stated that Buddhism worldwide is in decline. I found that surprising. Is that true? Does anyone have any references or better still statistics to prove or disprove that.

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From my reading on Buddhist history-- Buddhist in places where it was numerically most successful it was as state religion. Tibet, Mongolia, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma, Japan, Korea-- all of these places, no more state support, sometimes quite the opposite! The institutions are slowing responding. –  MatthewMartin Jul 1 at 22:11
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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I found several interesting Wiki pages:

This one gives a basic idea about the growth as a comparison between 1910 and 2010.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Growth_of_religion

This is the List of religious population.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_religious_populations

This one gives the population groth rates
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_growth_rate

By briefly analysing all of the above, I feel like Buddhism is decline according to the statistics.

Further found this article which gives a projections for the Next 200 Years :
http://www.wnrf.org/cms/print_next200.shtml

According to it from 1900 to 2025 Buddhist world wide % changed ( and will be change) from 7.8% to 5.7%.

Although it sound like depressing, please think as a Buddhists this is quite expected and all align with Buddhist teaching. Going forward, It is quite clear that world is not going be a better place than today. As people moving more towards to materialism, consumerism they tends to distract from the reality. So be mindful and practice the Dhamma.

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According to the commentaries, Buddha Sasana will last 5000 years. That means about another 2400+ years. In the 1st millennium, there were Arahaths with special Jhanic powers. In the 2nd millennium, there were Arahaths with no specials powers. In the 3rd millennium, i.e. at present, it's said that there are only Anagami Sangha at most. In the 4th millennium, there will be Sakadagami Sangha at most. In the 5th, there will be Sothapanna Sangha at most. At the end, monks won't even be wearing robes. They will wear ordinary clothes and will just use a yellow string to indicate that they are monks.

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You know that wasn't the sort of answer that I was expecting but absolutely - the decline is spoken about within the texts themselves +1 –  Crab Bucket Jul 1 at 20:14
    
Yes, declining! But enough Dhamma is preserved for you to attain enlightenment. You just need to work harder since the Buddha is no more. Most of the beings who could easily attain enlightenment had already attained it during Buddha's time. –  Sankha Kulathantille Jul 1 at 20:21
    
Where Is this all found in the pali cannon? –  Jayantha Jul 1 at 21:54
    
It's in the commentaries as far as I know. Don't have a link to provide at this time. –  Sankha Kulathantille Jul 1 at 22:00
    
There is similar kind of comments in the White Lotus Sutra about the decline of Buddhism. Not sure where this exact quote is from –  Crab Bucket Jul 2 at 15:59
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In addition to the other answers, I believe there is a global decline in many major religions as you can see in this Google trends graph.

Google trends graph showing global decline in major religions

I would argue that especially in the western countries choice and interest of religion is subject to change, e.g., due to trends and/or major events.

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