Scouting in the Buddhist Community

Printer-Friendly Version


  • In 2008, Buddhism was the third-largest religion in the United States behind Christianity and Judaism.
    (Source: 2007 U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, Pew Forum)
  • Approximately 2.1 million people practice Buddhism in the United States. Of those, 75-80% are of
    Asian descent and inherited Buddhism as a family tradition, 20-25% are non-Asians.
  • 2010 Boy Scout of America Buddhist membership included:
    • 767 Cub Scouts from 27 packs
    • 803 Boy Scouts from 28 troops
    • 46 Venturers from eight crews

Religious Principles and Key Terms

  • Goal: Enlightenment through understanding of the reasons and causes of suffering.
  • Essential elements: Awareness of impermanence and of oneself and compassion toward others.
  • Fundamental doctrine of Buddhism is the Four Noble Truths, which are:
    • Noble Truth of Suffering
    • Noble Truth of the Cause of Suffering
    • Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering
    • Noble Truth of the Path that leads to the Cessation of Suffering
  • The last of the Four Noble Truths is also referred to as the Noble Eightfold Path, and includes the
    practice of:
    • Right Views
    • Right Thoughts
    • Right Speech
    • Right Conduct
    • Right Livelihood
    • Right Effort
    • Right Mindfulness
    • Right Meditation

Role of Scouting in Buddhism

  • Founded in 1899, Buddhist Churches of America is an incorporated religious organization.
    • It administers the religious emblems program for all Buddhist denominations in America.
    • It is affiliated with Jodo Shinshu Hogwanjiha in Kyoto, Japan.
  • Buddhist Churches of America is governed by Americans of the Shin Buddhist faith through a Board of Directors comprised of the:
    • Bishop
    • Board President
    • Ministerial Association Chairperson
    • District-level board members
    • Board members-at-large
    • Representatives from the recognized Buddhist Churches of America affiliated organization
  • Buddhist Churches of America National Committee on Scouting works with the community Buddhist religious leaders to develop the Buddhist religious program.

Scouting Youth and Adult Recognitions

  • According to P.R.A.Y., in 2007, the Buddhist youth and adult recognitions were used by:
    • 50 Cub Scouts
    • 7 Boy Scouts
  • Any registered Scout or Scout leader who has fulfilled all of the requirements can receive the following recognitions.

Youth Emblems

Metta Emblem


  • Nurtures boys to relate to all things with loving kindness and goodwill


  • Buddhist Cub Scouts or non-Buddhist Cub Scouts with parental permission who have been involved in Cub Scouts at least three months


  • Completion of 12 hours of instruction, normally meeting once a week for an hour over three months

Sangha Emblem


  • Stresses the importance of both harmonious relationships and the universal brotherhood of all living beings


  • Buddhist Boy Scouts or Venturers who are either at least a First Class Scout or have been involved in Venturing at least one year


  • Completion of 72 hours of instruction, normally meeting once a week for an hour over two years

Adult Emblem

Bodhi Emblem


  • Recognizes adults who have demonstrated the highest level of dedication, commitment, and self-sacrifice of the spiritual development of Buddhist members of the Boy Scouts of America


  • Adult ministers, Buddhist/non-Buddhist laypersons, and adult leaders in Scouting who have:
    • At least five or more years of outstanding service
    • Rendered noteworthy service to youth
    • Promoted the Religious Awards programs for Buddhist boys and girls, and encouraged non- Buddhists to participate in the Religious Award programs of their own faith
    • Given notable service in promoting Buddhist activities and service projects for the Temple/church and
      shown willingness to serve on affiliated committees
    • Participated in activities which contribute to the spiritual development of Buddhist members
    • Fostered a good relationship with the Boy Scouts and proven capable of interpreting Buddhist programs to council members
    • Given notable service in initiating Boy Scout programs under Buddhist sponsorship
    • Through Buddhist and other communication media, helped ministers and lay persons have a better understanding of the goals and ideals of the Boy Scout program


    • Nomination application and letter supporting the nominee from the Temple/church Board of Directors President must be submitted to the Buddhist Churches of America National Scouting Committee

    Organizational Information

    • For more information, contact your local Buddhist temple or:
      • National Buddhist Committee on Scouting
        Buddhist Churches of America
        1710 Octavia Street
        San Francisco, CA 94109



      RSS Feed Podcast Facebook Twitter YouTube


    Scouts in the News