Here's an interesting item on transcultural interaction from Frontpage Magazine:
Questioned by the agency Tilder and the Institut Montaigne, in the context of the program “Place aux idées” broadcast on Tuesday evening on LCP, 87% of French people have a positive image of Buddhism, 76% of Protestantism, 69% of Catholicism and 64% of Judaism. So more French people have a positive view of Buddhism than they do of their own religion.
It's interesting to speculate why Buddhism should be so popular in France. One of the reasons may be may be that philosophy enjoys a much higher status in French education, and French culture in general, than it does in much of the rest of Europe and in the Anglophone countries.
Unlike other Europeans, the French are required to be prepared to "philosophise" before moving on to university. For four gruelling hours, every student in their last year of “lycée” is asked to respond in writing to one philosophical question. Examples from previous years include, “Can a scientific truth be dangerous?” and “Is it one’s own responsibility to find happiness?”
The study of philosophy in France has a core role in secondary education. In “terminale” – the last year of high school – it is a compulsory subject for all students. Those studying humanities do eight hours of philosophy a week, while pupils studying science and technology do just two hours.
Since Buddhism is a rational and philosophical religion, this may be part of its transcultural appeal to the philosophically-literate French.
The interaction between Buddhism and Philosophy in French intellectual life is exemplified by the popularity of The Monk and the Philosopher, a dialog between Buddhist Monk Matthieu Ricard and his philosopher father.
TIP - If some aspects of Buddhist beliefs seem unfamiliar, obscure, or confusing, then bear in mind that Buddhism is a process philosophy. Difficult aspects of Buddhism often become much clearer when viewed from a process perspective.
Is Buddhist Philosophy Neglected in the West?
Mind and Meaning in English and French
Shared Heritage - Hellenism, Humanism and Rationalism