Impact of Chinese Buddhism Immigration in Philadelphia

Different areas in the United States have experienced various waves of demographic immigrations. An example of such emigrational waves is Philadelphia. The city constitutes of a variety of immigrants, coming from Asia, Europe, and Africa. The current essay aims at expounding on the Chinese Buddhists immigration into the city. The essay aims at answering the question on the trends and impacts of Chinese Buddhists immigration in the city. The essay will concentrate on the immigrants’ influence on culture, population dynamics, and the overall religious constitution of the city. Diverse literary studies and organizational reports will be used to answer the question and form an opinion regarding the issue. An analysis will show that the Chinese Buddhists immigrants in Philadelphia have changed the city’s dynamics regarding culture, population, and religious practices with the city gradually accepting that Buddhism is an important religious practice in the area.

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Philadelphia’s Chinese Population Influence

The latest census statistics in the United States indicates that Asian immigrants constitute the largest share of the lot in Philadelphia. Specifically, the statistics indicate that the section of the immigrants accounts for 39% of the city’s immigrants (Ling and Austin 85). A big portion of Asian immigrants are from China, and they often migrate with their Buddhists religion value. Influences of the Chinese migration to the city can be seen in different ways. For instance, the immigration has enhanced the creation of Chinatown and business districts that carry on the Chinese heritage. The immigration has also led to the establishment of Buddhism temples with the aim of spreading the religion. Most of the Buddhist temples are located in Chinatown, which is located in the east part of the city center. South Philadelphia also houses numerous Chinese immigrants. One of the reasons for the increased Chinese migration was affordable housing. According to a recent report, housing in Philadelphia’s Chinatown is the cheapest, when compared to most Chinatowns in the United States, thus, making it a desirable destination for the immigrants (Gonzales Group). As of the 2010 report, Philadelphia had 30,069 Chinese Americans. The figure stood at around 2% of the city’s total population (Ling and Austin 101). The percentage is the largest of the minority immigrants in the city. Another piece of evidence, indicating the increase in new immigrants due to the influence of religion is the trend in the population in the decade of 2000 to 2010. Before the period, the number of immigrants has remained stagnant for over 60 years. During the same period, Chinese population has increased by 65% (Ling and Austin 134). The area that has significantly experienced the increase in the population is the southern part of Philadelphia.

The Rise of Buddhist Temples and Their Influence

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In the last two decades, the number of Chinese Buddhist temples have significantly increased in Philadelphia, especially in Chinatown. Most of the Chinese immigrants in the city had other practices before Buddhism. The examples include being merchants and Freemasons. However, the turn of the millennium saw a new development. Coming immigrants came with new religious practices, with Buddhism being a major religion. Out of the many temples found in the city, one of the earliest temples to open up includes Pu Men Temple. The temple is located at Race Street. The other one was Chua Quan Am, which was located in the Ridge Avenue. One temple that stands from the rest is the Fo Shou Temple. The temple is usually open to the public every day (Leung and Wu 115). The masters often lead the Buddhist temples. The temple also stands out because it practices a popular type of Chinese Buddhism, the Amidism. The type is a branch of Mahayana that specializes in devotion. Most of the temple attendants are of Chinese origin.

One aspect of the temples is that they have influenced the operations of Chinatown and new immigrants heading to Philadelphia. For instance, the Fo Shou Temple integrates the United States practices to the Chinese cultural values to ensure that the new immigrants are comfortable in their religious practices (Leung and Wu 124). Chinatown in Philadelphia houses most of the temples because the area practices Chinese culture, unlike other areas that are aligned with the American way of life. As a result of the temples’ establishments, many Chinese residents that live in the town have turned into Chinese Buddhist. Moreover, Chinese immigrants have maintained their Buddhist beliefs because of interacting within the religion after moving to the United States.

Influence on Religious Unity and Related Organizations

The increasing Chinese Buddhists migration has also led to the development of unifying association, related to the Buddhism religion. Examples of such organizations include Philadelphia Buddhist Society and The Philadelphia Buddhist Association (PBA). The aims of the organizations are to offer Buddha teachings to all the willing students. The organization performs roles, such as group sittings, retreats, and workshops to spread the Buddhist messages (PBA). The PBA was among the first organizations to be formed in 1986. The major influence on the formation of the organizations was the influx of Chinese Buddhists that started during the same period (PBA). The core aim of the organizations was to spread the Buddhist message with the aim of accommodating the willing parties.

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Preservation of the Chinese Buddhism Preservation Efforts

Due to the influence of Chinese Buddhists immigrants, Philadelphia has accommodated the Buddhist heritage to signify the recognition of the religion, as an important part of the city. For instance, the Pennsylvania Museum has conserved some of the Buddhists valuables. There are also the Chinese Rotunda residences that portray the traditional Chinese art (Pennsylvania Museum). The houses signified the evolution of Chinese Buddhist cultural practices. The museum also holds other gallery highlights that include the Tang Horse Reliefs and the Buddhist Murals. One significant trait of the art collections is that they reached the museum either through purchases or donations (Pennsylvania Museum). For this reason, it would be assertive to state that the immigrants wanted to move with the Chinese Buddhist culture and values, as they migrated to Philadelphia.

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