Le bouddhisme en Lettonie
Buddhism is a rather new phenomenon in the religious landscape of Latvia. Despite the fact that there has been interest in Oriental ideas and Buddhism from the early 20th century, (e.g. Karlis Tennisons, 1983–1962, was the first Buddhist monk in the Baltic States, and there was a small number of practising Buddhists in the 1980s) the settling in of Buddhist traditions and the active engagement of Latvians with Buddhism only began in the 1990s.
Currently, more than ten Buddhist groups, which represent a variety of Buddhist teachings, are active in Latvian urban areas. The majority of these groups belong to Tibetan Buddhism, such ideas having already reached the Baltic region in the Soviet period and attracting the imagination of religious seekers. In Latvia, Tibetan Buddhism is represented by three of its four schools : 1) the Nyingma school, namely, Dzogchen teaching groups : Padmaling and the Centre of Patrul Rinpoche ; 2) the Kagyu school, which is represented by two Karma Kagyu groups : Diamond Way Buddhist Centre in Riga and Daugavpils ; and three Drikung Kagyu groups : Drikung Jamze Ling Dharmachakra Centre, Riga Drikung Ngaden Choling and the Tibetan Meditation and Healing Centre Sorig ; 3) the Gelug school : Ganden Buddhist Meditation Centre and Den Nyi Ling Retreat Centre.
The second Buddhist tradition that has set down its roots on Baltic soil is Zen, represented by two different Zen schools in Latvia : Korean Kwan Um Zen practiced at Riga Zen Centre and Rinzai Zen represented by One Drop Zendo Latvia.
The third, Theravada, has been represented by the Association of Theravada Buddhism for a long time now, but followers of the teaching of Goenka Vipassana appeared more recently, and the Meditation Centre Vihara has now been established.
Since the establishment of the first Buddhist groups in Latvia in the early 1990s, Buddhism has gone through a process, evolving from a simple philosophy found only in books to a legally acting religion. This is confirmed by the fact that four Buddhist communities operate as religious organizations. According to the most recent report from the Ministry of Justice in Latvia on the activity of religious organizations (dated 2014), 158 members in total are listed. Other existing groups are organized as societies or cultural organizations, therefore, the number of practitioners isgreater. Nevertheless, despite the general community’s low involvement in Buddhism, there is no doubt that it has found itself a stable place in the religious life of Latvia. In the more than twenty years of Buddhism’s existence, practitioners have organized groups with activities not only limited to religious practice, but also including public and political events, healing and education, as well as charity.