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Buddhist Societies or NGOs? : Focusing on ‘Engaged and NGO-type Movements’ of Modern East-Asian Buddhist Societies

Kim Sung Soon 1

1금강대학교

ABSTRACT

There are three East Asian Buddhist organizations, which have expanded their spheres of activity worldwide: Tzu Chi of Taiwan, the Join Together Society (JTS) of Korea, and Catuddisa Sangha of Japan. In this research, their characteristics of engaged Buddhism and the appearance of NGO-ized movements are closely examined. Currently, these three Buddhist movements have been active since the beginning of the twenty first century. They share some similarities such as they have expanded their branches worldwide allowing them to achieve an international arena; they reconciled the Buddhist doctrines and the value of the general public claiming that voluntary work is directly related to missionary work. Therefore externally, they advocate NGO by giving international aids and conducting voluntary work, yet internally, they emphasize their identities as a Buddhist organization. Tzu Chi has been recognized as a United Nation Department of Public Information NGO (UN DPI NGO), also it is the Special Consultative Status NGO of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC). In 2007, JTS, which has achieved a special position in UN ECOSOC, identify themselves as an “NGO which fights hunger, disease, and illiteracy.” Japan’s Catuddisa Sangha (CS) has a strong religious ideology, yet in practice, their characteristics tend to be more similar to a progressive political group or reformative NGO. CS tries to achieve publicity through signing a partnership agreement with a nation or religious group which is within their activity arena. Also, they secure their activity fund not only by conducting fundraising, but also by earning income from other sources. In this aspect, CS’s way of securing their activity fund differs from that of Korea’s JTS, which solely runs by the donation made by enterprises.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.