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Posted on Mon, Jul 5, 2010 : 1 p.m.

Experts discuss: What lies ahead for Hinduism and Buddhism?

By Pam Stout

interfaithcircle.jpg, a religion and spirituality information website, is running a summer series on the Future of Religion. The series invites leading scholars and writers from a variety of religious traditions to talk about the future of religion, including trends, challenges, controversies and reforms.

Last week, 14 contributing scholars and authors discussed the Future of Hinduism.

Loriliai Biernacki of the University of Colorado wrote "A Rich and Strange Metamorphosis: Global Hinduism."  She described how assets of Hinduism, such as the practice of yoga and ideas of karma and rebirth, "are pervading American consciousness."

Pankaj Jain, a religion researcher at the University of North Texas, shared thoughts on "Bollywood and Beyond: Hinduism Changing the World."  He writes, "the ideals of Hinduism, such as pluralism, dharma, ritam, and nonviolence are some important lessons for the future of Hinduism in particular and for humanity in general. If today's Hindus can take inspiration from their own teachings, they can ensure a healthy and prosperous future for themselves, their diverse neighborhoods, and their natural resources."

Patheos' featured topic this week is the Future of Buddhism.

Chade-Meng Tan, head of Google University's School of Personal Growth, suggests a convergence of the three branches (yanas) of Buddhism (Theravada, Tibetan and Zen) into a playful term he coined "Hahayana." This concept is similarly broached by Charles Prebish, a leading scholar of Buddhism in America, who discusses how "three Buddhisms" are evolving into a clearer picture of "American Buddhism."

Philip Ryan, Web editor of Tricycle: A Buddhist Review, offers insights into the opportunities and challenges of creating a virtual community in Online Buddhists.

Next week, will bring in expert scholars to discuss the Future of Judaism.