Presented to His Holiness The Dalai Lama
For as long as space endures
and as long as sentient beings remain
May I too abide
to dispel the miseries of the world.
This census is happily offered in response to a request from the office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in preparation for his visit to the Kurukulla Center in October of 2012.
The findings of this census of Buddhists in the Greater Boston area are in line with the national estimate that 0.7% percent of the US population is Buddhist. Middlesex County, one of 3 counties above the national rate, has the highest percentage at 1.35%, almost twice the national mark.
33,095 Buddhists were counted as being active or associated with the Buddhist Sanghas queried in this survey. About 18% of those counted in the survey are actively involved in Sangha activities on a weekly basis.
Of the 74 Sanghas identified, 16 did not respond or declined to participate in the census. More than half of the communities are English speaking, but there are significant Khmer, Chinese and Vietnamese speaking communities in Massachusetts.
Vipassana/Theravada traditions appear in the greatest number, followed by the Tibetan and Vietnamese traditions.
Research was conducted by a team of nine volunteers in several stages using the following methodology:
- Scope of Data Collection – A committee was formed and the scope and definition of data was determined. Data was collected by Sangha. The following data elements were determined in scope
- Type of Center
- Primary Language
- Active Community
- Total Community
- Identification of Sanghas in the greater Boston Area – primarily drawing on sources found on the world wide web, Sanghas were identified and contact information was collected for Sanghas that met in the following Counties
- New Hampshire
- Contact with Sanghas – Volunteers were then engaged at the County and Sangha level to establish contact with Sangha leaders and to collect data
- Summary – Once data was collected this report was created to categorize and summarize the data in the context of a number of other regional variables
Sanghas in Greater Boston
We discovered and contacted 74 Sanghas in the Greater Boston Area. The image below depicts the towns in which Sanghas exist. There are several towns, for example Boston and Cambridge, which have multiple groups.
|Allston||Soka Gakkai International (SGI)|
|Arlington||Arlington Meditation Group|
|Arlington||Arlington Street Zen Center and Buddha’s Belly Book group|
|Arlington||Drikung Meditation Center|
|Arlington||Tara Sadhana Group|
|Arlington||The Arlington Center/Insight Meditation Group|
|Belmont||Mountain Bell Sangha|
|Beverly||Vajra Vidya – Thrangu Rinpoche|
|Boston||Old Path Sangha|
|Boston||Universal Buddhist Congregation|
|Braintree||Bo De Buddhist Meditation Center|
|Braintree||Samantabhadra/Pho Hien Buddhist Center|
|Brighton||American Buddhist Shim Gum Do Association|
|Brockton||Bodhicitta Center for the Encouragement of Compassion in the World|
|Brookline||The Shambhala Meditation Center of Boston|
|Brookline||Diamond Way Buddhist Center: Boston|
|Cambridge||Bodhimarga Cambridge Sangha|
|Cambridge||Boston Buddhist Culture Center|
|Cambridge||Buddhist Community at MIT|
|Cambridge||Cambridge Insight Meditation Center|
|Cambridge||Cambridge UU Sitting Group|
|Cambridge||Cambridge Zen Center|
|Cambridge||Foundation for Active Compassion|
|Cambridge||Harvard Buddhist Community|
|Cambridge||Open Awareness Sangha|
|Cambridge||Sakya Institute for Buddhist Studies|
|Cambridge||Tergar Meditation Group|
|Concord||Jhamtse Buddhist Center – Thursday PM|
|Concord||Jhamtse Buddhist Center – Wednesday AM|
|Framingham||New England Buddhist Vihara and Meditation Center|
|Haverhill||BuddhaheartUSA @ UUC of Haverhill|
|Hingham||Buddhist and Hindu Meeting Group at Old Ship Church Parish House|
|Hingham||Buddhist Sangha Meditation and Discussion at Old Ship Church Parish House|
|Hingham||South of Boston – Mindful Living Network|
|Hingham||Zen Buddhist meditation group at Old Ship Church Parish House|
|Jamaica Plain||Foundation for Active Compassion|
|Jamaica Plain||Serlingpa Buddhist Meditation Center|
|Lexington||Massachusetts Buddhist Association|
|Lowell||Glory Buddhist Temple/Banlieu Buddha Cakra|
|Marshfield||Porcello Gallery Meditation Circle|
|Maynard||Clock Tower Sangha|
|Medford||Kurukulla Buddhist Center|
|Medford||Spring Hill Zen/Unitarian Universalist Church of Medford|
|Newbury||Newbury Insight Meditation Center|
|Newburyport||Meditation Group @ First Religious Society UU|
|Newton||Henry Thoreau Zen Sangha First Unitarian Society|
|North Andover||Great Pond Sangha @ UUNPoNA|
|Quincy||Mass Budhi Siksa Society Thousand Buddhists Temple|
|Quincy||Perfect Enlightenment Buddhist Association of Massachusetts, Kuan Yin Temple|
|Reading||Buddhist Meditation Group @ UUCR|
|Rockport||Vajramudra Center, ACI – Cape Ann|
|Roslindale||Vietnamese Buddhist Association/Temple Vietnam|
|Sherborn||Jhamtse Buddhist Center|
|Somerville||Triratna Buddhist Community|
|Somerville||Won Buddhism of Boston|
|Sudbury||Ligmincha Bon Sangha|
|Wakefield||Mun Su Sa Buddhist Temple|
|Wakefield||Wakefield UU Meditation Practice Group|
|Watertown||Hôun-an, Dharma Cloud Hermitage* Opted Out|
|Wellesley||Wellesley College Buddhist Community|
|Woburn||Soka Gakkai International (SGI)|
New Hampshire Sanghas
|Barrington||Barrington Zen Center|
|Lee||Seacoast N.H. Meditation Group|
|Newmarket||Triratna Buddhist Community|
|Windham||Southern New Hampshire Sangha|
Data by County
As pointed out in the abstract, Middlesex County had twice the percentage of Buddhist than the national average.
The bar graph below gives a sense of how the counted populations compared across counties. If one were to presume that the counties scoring below the national 0.7% mark were not counted because a Sangha was not convenient to them, then these counties could be defined as underserved and under counted.
Census by Town
The following map displays the concentration of active Buddhists throughout the greater Boston Area. The larger the red dot, the higher the number of Buddhists in that area.
Concentration by County
This map provides a slightly different view of the concentration of active Buddhists in the Greater Boston Area. Middlesex County has the highest concentration with Norfolk and Suffolk right behind.
It’s interesting to note that the concentration of Buddhists does not coincide with the more populated areas. While the City of Boston probably has the largest population, its county, Suffolk County, does not have the highest concentration of Buddhists.
Percentage of Buddhists in Greater Boston Compared to the Nation
According to Wikipedia (Wikipedia, 2012) the percent of the US population who are Buddhists is 0.7%. Middlesex, Norfolk, and Rockingham Counties show numbers ahead of the national average
The following graph shows how each county (in blue) compares to the national 0.7% percentage (in orange)
A significant majority of Buddhist Sanghas and their members’ primary language is English, but there are significant numbers of Khmer, Vietnamese, and other Asian language communities.
This first graph shows how the major traditions in the region compare to each other
This graph shows more granular tradition data as reported by the Sanghas. For example this graph separates out various Tibetan traditions.
Here is a more granular view of the traditions as they are dispersed throughout the counties of Greater Boston.
The Kurukulla Canter is grateful to the following volunteers who made this census possible
- Barbara Arsnow
- Caren Cowie
- Ken Flanders
- Andrew Furst
- Mimi Izzo
- Alison Landoni
- Matthew McCall
- Joan Schwartz
- Bill Seaver