The teaching of the Buddha is to help people in this very life as well as preparing his followers for the next life and beyond—to Nirvana or the ultimate peace and true happiness beyond description. However many schools of Buddhism tend to prepare the faithful only for the next world, rather then encouraging them to confront social injustice and environmental degradation. Hence great monasteries in China were mostly situated in remote mountain areas—ideal for mindfulness practices with no social concern—at least after the Tang dynasty.

Korea seemed to have followed this tradition until World War II. Despite the fact that Japan had conquered that country, the Korean patriarchs still asked theirBuddhist compatriots to pray for the Emperor of Japan. This alienated a great number of young patriots who became Christians. They partly relied on Western missionaries to protect them in the fight against
Japanese imperialism. So now South Korea has more Christians than Buddhists numerically as well asqualitatively involved in worldly affairs.

Traditionally, Japanese priests too engaged themselves more with funeral services than with social welfare or social change in their country.