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Many Germans turn to Buddhism

June 10, 2004 at 5:59 PM

BERLIN, June 10 (UPI) -- Buddhism is booming in Germany, with over 100,000 German converts and a 40-fold increase in Buddhist groups since 1970s.

"Buddhism is becoming increasingly attractive as an alternative to materialism," German researcher Hans Gruber told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle. "It's the subtle unease about a culture, about a progressive economic and lifestyle system that has conclusive answers to everything, but can't do anything about inner turmoil."

German intellectuals -- including Nobel Prize-winning author Hermann Hesse, who wrote a history of the life of the Buddha -- have turned to Buddhism for decades, but the religion has recently begun to reach the German mainstream.

Celebrities including popular singer Nina Hagen, actor Ralf Bauer and soccer player Mehmet School have raised the profile of Buddhism in Germany.

In addition to German converts, 120,000 immigrants, mostly from Thailand and Vietnam, currently practice Buddhism in Germany, Buddhist group statistics indicate.

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