Our cultural landscape is changing, and it seems the rate of change is more rapid than ever. There is now a much wider representation in America of traditional Buddhism, and increasingly secular groups. Buddhism has grown through the pioneering efforts of those from particular traditional backgrounds, and their sanghas reflected that. Charles Prebish is among the most prominent scholars in studying the forms that Buddhist tradition has taken in the United States. In , he co-founded the online Journal of Buddhist Ethics, which was the first online peer-reviewed journal in the field of Buddhist Studies.
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I am an almost-life-long Montanan; a baptized Catholic; an ardent agnostic; practicing Buddhist things; a lover of Wisdom. I find solitude to be as essential as air, though I am at times gregarious, and very often joyful, alone and with others.
I laugh at my own jokes almost as much as my father, love learning, and love those who truly love… anything. I have certainty in little, and little time for those who are certain of much, though admire those whose certainty leads to service of humankind. I have a B. I have an M. Lastly, I have a Ph. Over the course of my Ph. My main academic foci are early Buddhist ethics and Kant an odd combination, I know. I also study Western ethics and philosophy more broadly, Tibetan Buddhism, Theravada, Buddhism as a whole, Western Buddhism, Comparative philosophy and religion, and Environmental ethics.
My earliest meditation experiences were as a young child, when my mother taught me visualizations to help me fall asleep. In my later teens I left Christianity and identified variously as an atheist, humanist, agnostic, etc. None is a magic bullet and none is intrinsically superior to any of the others.
But none will work if isolated from developing a good moral life, good friends to help along the way, and an abiding curiosity about and understanding of the world as a whole. My artistic outlet is photography. I love to run, drink red wine, and eat peanut butter often in that order. This blog began, as so many did in the early s, as a rather personal online host to my thoughts on life, politics, education, religion, and more.
After a while, a few people began commenting, then following, then sharing the blog with others. And over time, a community of bloggers developed. Recently I have sought explicitly to broaden the perspective s represented here and in I aim to include a great number of academic writers who would like to reach a broader audience. See the Guest Authors page for more information on submitting an article to the blog. Toggle navigation. Trending Now. Angry Staff Officer.
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Also, send me the Buddhist Newsletter. About me, Dr. Academics: I have a B. Practice meditation and otherwise : My earliest meditation experiences were as a young child, when my mother taught me visualizations to help me fall asleep.
About the Blog, American Buddhist Perspectives: This blog began, as so many did in the early s, as a rather personal online host to my thoughts on life, politics, education, religion, and more. Related posts from American Buddhist Perspectives. In Hong Kong, the Bodhisattvas wear Crosses. American Buddhist Perspectives. Hong Kong: Democracy, Protest, and Violence. A Primer Sogyal Lakar, well-known Tibetan Buddhist teacher and alleged Secular vs Religious, Buddhism vs Mindfulness, and a
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About - American Buddhist Perspectives
Our cultural landscape is changing, and it seems the rate of change is more rapid than ever. There is now a much wider representation in America of traditional Buddhism, and increasingly secular groups. Buddhism has grown through the pioneering efforts of those from particular traditional backgrounds, and their sanghas reflected that.
Charles Prebish is among the most prominent scholars in studying the forms that Buddhist tradition has taken in the United States. In , he co-founded the online Journal of Buddhist Ethics, which was the first online peer-reviewed journal in the field of Buddhist Studies.
He is also co-editor of the Routeldge Encyclopedia of Buddhism project. Her primary area of research is Tibetan Buddhism, specifically Tibetan Buddhist ritual and its manifestations in North America. She has also conducted research on Jodo Shinshu communities in North America and their relationship to Mormon communities in Utah and Alberta. There he is working on a thesis comparing early Buddhist ethics and the work of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant.
Entertainment Television, and others. He was ordained as a lay Buddhist minister by the Buddhist Sangha Council of Southern California in and is certified as a mindfulness meditation instructor by Naropa University in association with Shambhala International.
He also serves on the advisory council for the Upaya Buddhist Chaplaincy Program, and in became the first-ever Buddhist member of the National Association of College and University Chaplains.
Podcast: Play in new window Download. The music heard in the middle of the podcast is from Rodrigo Rodriguez. The issue of the asian buddhist communities and the western buddhist communities is definitely worth more attention from the point of view of keeping all expressions of racism and segregation and discrimination to a minimum. So they seem to make the crossover by running their centres along pretty similar lines to the way they are run in Thailand at least ostensibly.
At least that is what it seems like to me from afar. Fascinating episode! I just wanted to thank Chuck Prebish for suggesting on both this podcast and the last one on which he appeared the work of the late John Daido Loori Roshi.
After listening to Dr. This was a very interesting episode, that raised a lot of questions for me. This episode allowed me to realize that they exist at all. Same goes for the presence of an Asian Americn Buddhist. But again perhaps Ted tried without sucess?
I think most contemporary Buddhists are aware of the issues surrounding language, and the choice of words. The term Hinayana was considered demeaning for the followers of the Theravada tradition, so people generally stopped using it. I am a bit cheeky, but there is a kernel of truth in it.
People born in a religion live it more as a cultural structure, whereas converts and born-again believers examine and identify a lot more the belief system of a religion. I speak of a born-again Buddhist thinking of a person born in a traditionnally Buddhist family, which would develop a real interest for the relgion in itself, and who makes the effort to read, learn and practice the core aspects of it.
I think I can understand both points of view in conflict here. How can one feel confortable when others want to eliminate what you perceive as part of your culture? On the other hand, the formulation can be very arrogant because of two things: 1 rejecting asian culture 2 speaking of an non cultural and by implication more authentic Buddhism.
They are just removing historical Asian trappings so that they can put their own cultural trappings which they can perceive as more modern, enlightened, or just plain confortable. As for Asian American Buddhists, they should see this process as analogous to any process of cultural assimilation.
The peoples of West Africa have developped their own form of Islam, increasing the diversity and richness of the Islam universe. The same thing is happening in the western world for Buddhism. Neo-Buddhists are making Buddhism a thing of their own, and that is something positive, as long as this does not foster rejection of the traditionall forms of Buddhism. Thanks to Iskander for a very thoughtful, helpful, and lucid post that raises many interesting issues.
Jan and I wrote what we felt was a very important article in the late s that traced the historical beginnings of the early Indian Buddhist sectarian movement.
We felt that the leading scholars of the time were wrong in many of their assumptions about the initial sectarian split between the Sthaviras and Mahasamghikas. That being said, my early work was very sensitive regarding the issue of how to refer to various Buddhist communities.
I shared my agreement with Emma Layman, who earlier had argued for the need for cooperation and ecumenicity amongst American Buddhist groups. Of course that phrase is indeed problematic too because many of the so-called American converts —like Jewish American Buddhists— were ethnic communities as well. We also find regionalism impacting Buddhist communities of the same culture and sectarian practices differing from each other because of their location.
And I still think that. He argued for 1 Dharma without dogma; 2 a lay-oriented sangha; 3 a meditation-based and experiential sangha; 4 gender equality; 5 a nonsectarian tradition; 6 an essentialized and simplified tradition; 7 an egalitarian, democratic, and nonhierarchical tradition; 8 a pscyhologically astute and rational traditional; 9 an experimental, innovating, inquiry-based tradition; and 10 a socially informed and engaged tradition.
I would like to thank Charles Prebish for the extensively detailed response to my comment, it adressed the questions I was left with after hearing the podcast.
I was also very interested in knowing more about the history of the replacement of the label Hinayana by the term Theravada. Of course, such material should be collected among Asian and non Asian American Buddhists. I do think that this format round table discussion in a podcast is conductive to a productive discussion, which can be extended in the commentaries. It would nice if Ted could also enlist members of the Asian American Buddhist communities into future round tables, I think those discussions would be just as interesting, and probably a good idea to increase exchanges between historic and neo buddhists in America.
Even if Ted does not manage to do it, that fact in itself would be interesting. The idea of calling myself or being called a born-again buddhist is utterly cringeworthy. Well, I guess you would technically be a convert, unless your familial background is already seeped in traditional buddhist traditions.
Although technically correct, I think it would be fine to use terms that are also correct but that do not rub secular buddhists wrong, to indicate both instances. Probably the nature of the internet. Excellent suggestion, Iskander, I will try to continue with more round tables that are more inclusive — there are so many wonderful resources available! This was a great discussion. From a cultural standpoint alone there is definitely a separation. In our practice and studies, we are always separated into two groups.
The Chinese group and American group. Really the only time we spend together is liturgy and lunch. Many of the American Buddhists have never had a conversation with any of the Chinese practitioners. There are also very notable differences in these groups. For starters, the Americans tend to be younger where most of the Chinese group are older and probably native Chinese from Taiwan. They seem to be very isolated, and they also seem to be fine with it.
I did not listen before because I have a brief history with Prof. Prebish and was not impressed. He does not do well with disagreement. He likes being right. So I did not listen, and found when I did, my previous opinion seems to be confirmed. I say this so everyone knows that I may be biased in my comments, despite my best efforts to be objective.
I have no idea where to begin. First, I was in agreement with wishing this had not been a Prebish Fan Club meeting. Even then, it was certainly overly defensive. Second, four scholars sitting around discussing current Buddhism leads nowhere, unfortunately. Scholars study that which exists, not leading where it should go. They might be wrong, heaven forbid, risking credibility.
I am now working with a small meditation group that had disbanded some time before. I think it is very indicative of the problems of Buddhism in the US. Some of the members are quite educated and experienced, and others are new to Buddhism.
It has come back together and gained some energy because they have a monk now. I would like to say not just any monk, but that is clearly the case. Maybe in six months it might be, but not yet.
So having a monk is what is drawing them back together. They have a need for spiritual practice. Now they have a place to go for it. The reason that meditation group fell apart was because nobody was able to keep the focus on the dharma. Who could have led the group through this? Most people desire to follow. They want to learn. I know I do. I doubt that having no leader could do something like this. Nobody wants to disappoint their monk.
For the future of Buddhism to take place, there will have to be some sort of organization. Good luck with that. The Thai Bhikkus of the US is trying to organization our monasteries, with some success. I have to be careful to respect their traditions, while gently—very gently—showing them American ways.
Maybe we will blend.