Greater Boston Buddhist Community Census

Greater Boston Buddhist Community Census

Presented to His Holiness The Dalai Lama

May 2012

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
    • Tradition
    • 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
    • Massachusetts

      • Essex
      • Middlesex
      • Norfolk
      • Plymouth
      • Suffolk
  • New Hampshire
    • Rockingham
    • Stratford


  • 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.

Massachusetts Sanghas

Town Sangha Name
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 Jokhang Institute
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
Chelmsford Cambodian Buddhists
Concord Jhamtse Buddhist Center – Thursday PM
Concord Jhamtse Buddhist Center – Wednesday AM
Dedham Dharmata Foundation
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
Marblehead Marblehead Zen
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
Plympton Shanti Shala
Quincy Mass Budhi Siksa Society Thousand Buddhists Temple
Quincy Perfect Enlightenment Buddhist Association of Massachusetts, Kuan Yin Temple
Reading Buddhist Meditation Group @ UUCR
Revere Wat Ratanarangsi
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
Stowe Meditation Group
Sudbury Ligmincha Bon Sangha
Wakefield Mun Su Sa Buddhist Temple
Wakefield Wakefield UU Meditation Practice Group
Waltham Rigpa Boston
Watertown Hôun-an, Dharma Cloud Hermitage* Opted Out
Wellesley Wellesley College Buddhist Community
Woburn Soka Gakkai International (SGI)
Woburn Woburn Aikikai

New Hampshire Sanghas

Town Sangha Name
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

3 thoughts on “Greater Boston Buddhist Community Census

  1. Pingback: Thangka Gift from the Dalai Lama « Buddhist Meditation Group @ UUCR
  2. “…as Shambhalians if we have something to offer we have to demonstrate that within our own community…”

    The Sakyong, Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche, Jampal Trinley Dradul, Osel Rangdrol Mukpo
    2010 Shambhala Day address
    14 February 2010
    Boulder, Colorado

    Upaya Council


  3. Pingback: URL

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