There is an article on Yahoo News today that says Buddhists now-number over 1.5 million in the US, compared to about 1 million JWs, and that they grew 170% in the 1990s. Here are a couple of points they make in the article:
"What is drawing people (after that fascination with Zen Buddhism in the '50s and '60s)? The Dalai Lama himself has played a role, some say, and Buddhism's nonmissionizing approach fits well with Americans' search for meaningful spiritual paths.
"People feel that Buddhist figures like the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh of Vietnam are contributing something, not trying to convert people," says Lama Surya Das, a highly trained American lama in the Tibetan tradition. "They are not building big temples, but offering wisdom and ways of reconciliation and peacemaking, which are so much needed.""
Here's the full link: http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20060914/ts_csm/cbuddha
I've read Thich Nhat Hanh since I was a JW elder, and have gone to hear him speak. He was a strong influence on me, even for many years when I was still a JW elder. He has a monastary about half an hour from where I live.
I thought that it was interesting that buddhism is growing about 10 times faster than the JWs, maybe much more now, and yet they take a "nonmissionizing" approach and are "not trying to convert people"! Again, I stress one of my main points about the Witnesses - preaching, and especially house to house preaching, does more harm than good. It is arrogant, impolite and invasive, making 1000 people angry for every one person it actually converts.
A couple of other reasons I think buddhism has such appeal right now: There is no personal god in buddhism. You can be an atheist and a buddhist. Buddhism has no "holy book" agenda that makes it look foolish. Buddhism fully accepts science and evolution, so you don't have to make yourself jump through nonsensical intellectual hoops in order to believe . And finally, its approach to life makes a great deal of sense, and is a very practical and fulfilling way to live. Especially for ex-JWs, its approach to things like guilt and beating yourself up for all your failures is a very welcome relief.
Any here been drawn to buddhism? I think part of it is that it really started, like taoism, as more philosophy than religion. Sure, they both have their branches of superstitious folk religion, but can be so much more than that.