US Buddhists Join In Christmas Celebration

December 24, 2009

Author: Suli Yi

Source: VOA News


It has long been true that Christmas is not just for Christians any more.  Many people, of many different religious persuasions or of no persuasion at all, celebrate the day and the season.  Followers of Buddhism in the Washington area are among the groups celebrating the tradition.

Like many people in the United States this time of year, Wilson Hurley has put up a Christmas tree in his house. But his Christmas tree sits in front of an image of Buddha. The front of his house has an ordinary Christmas wreath as well, but the Buddhist prayer flags in his back yard are a more unusual sight. "The tradition is that the flags are hung outside with the prayer and any beneficial aspiration, and then get blown in the wind and to all beings," he said.

Hurley grew up in a traditional Christian family, but as an adult chose Tibetan Buddhism as his religion. "Yes, you will not see this in most American households," he said.

Hurley has been a Buddhist for more than 30 years. Recently he has helped spread Buddhist ideas and practice by holding meditation classes. He believes Buddhists can celebrate Christmas just like anyone else. "In my mind, the true celebration of Christmas is to go deeper into one's heart to try to root out pettiness and selfishness and anger and hatred and intolerance and try to make a more loving heart, a more compassionate heart," he said.