Ukraine has known superficially about Buddhism for a long time, for the Cossacks had regular contacts with the Kalmyk people, who profess Buddhism. But interest in its philosphical and scientific aspects started among the country’s intelligentsia not earlier than in the 19th century. Then during the Soviet period, any interest in religious teachings different from Soviet ideology was persecuted. Consequently, the first open systematic lectures on Buddhism date back to 1989.
Among the various Buddhist schools now in Ukraine:
- Disciples of the Theravada School conduct lectures inVipassana meditation
- Zen and the Japanese Nichiren Shu School are represented
- Karma Kagyu has two schools, that of Lama Ole Nydahl and that of Chogyama Trunhpy, with Dzogchen and Nyingma-pa communities
In 1996, the Ukrainian Association of Karma Kagyu Buddhists was founded to help spread this trend of the teaching. Today in Ukraine, this is the largest Buddhist network, with 16 centers. The headquarters of the association is located in the far western Ukrainian city of Uzhhorod. Its highest authority is the Conference of Representatives of the Centers.
Between meetings of the conference, the Council of Representatives, led by its president, is in charge of the association. Its spiritual leader is Lama Ole Nydahl (pictured), founder of over 300 Karma Kagyu centers.