Many Petals of the Lotus

Many Petals of the Lotus: Five Asian Buddhist Communities in Toronto

JANET MCLELLAN
Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 352
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442676992
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  • Book Info
    Many Petals of the Lotus
    Book Description:

    This is a rigorous, richly detailed, comparative examination of several groups within Toronto's Asian Buddhist communities: Japanese-Canadian, Tibetian, Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Chinese.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7699-2
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-10)

    The essential nature of Buddhism is impermanence. Everything comes into being, remains a while, then passes away in a continual process of transformation and dissolution. Yet, nothing exists independently in and by itself. Everything is involved with, and connected to, everything else. The transformative and interdependent process of Buddhism is evident in the spread of Buddhist philosophy and ethics throughout Asia. In each country, Buddhism changed to accommodate the language, culture, customs, attitudes, and organizational structures of the people. Numerous schools, traditions, and lineages flourished. When Buddhism was brought to North America in the late 1800s by Chinese and Japanese...

  5. 1 Overview of Buddhist Groups in Toronto
    (pp. 11-34)

    From the late nineteenth century to the early 1960s, Canadians associated Buddhism with Japanese Canadians and ‘exotic cultures’ in Asia. As a religious practice or philosophy, it did not receive popular support or recognition. After the 1967 change in Canadian immigration law, Buddhists from Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Tibet, Nepal, India, mainland China, and Thailand began to settle in Toronto. Previously, these people either had little interest in emigration to Canada or were denied admission. From 1979 the influx of large numbers of Indochinese refugees from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia contributed significantly to the growth in Buddhism...

  6. 2 Japanese Canadians and Toronto Buddhist Church
    (pp. 35-73)

    The history and experience of Japanese-Canadian Buddhists is unique. Excepting First Nations people, no other religious and ethnic minority in Canada has suffered as much legal discrimination and racism. The relocation and internment of more than twenty-three thousand Japanese Canadians in British Columbia, and their forced resettlement in eastern Canada following the Second World War, destroyed long-established community bonds and networks. Jodo Shinshu Buddhist organization was severely disrupted and altered, losing its position as a community institution. Throughout this process, Japanese-Canadian Buddhists rapidly reinterpreted and redefined their identities as Japanese Canadians and as Buddhists.

    Japanese immigrants to Canada formed settlements...

  7. 3 Tibetan Buddhists in Toronto
    (pp. 74-100)

    The Tibetan population in Toronto consists of some 133 individuals in thirty family units, both single and extended (Canadian Tibetan Association of Ontario 1997). Although Tibetans represent one of the smallest Asian Buddhist communities, they retain a very strong sense of ethnic and religious identity that extends to the second and third generations born in Canada. Many Tibetans moved to Toronto for employment or educational opportunities, but they maintain close kinship and social ties to the larger Tibetan communities in the nearby cities of Lindsay and Belleville. Tibetans in Toronto are only a small part of the entire ethnic group...

  8. 4 Vietnamese Buddhists in Toronto
    (pp. 101-132)

    The Vietnamese Buddhist presence in Toronto is part of the large Indochinese refugee movement. Since the late 1970s, several distinct Vietnamese Buddhist groups have developed, each differing in its adaptation to Canadian life. Vietnamese Buddhism in Toronto has been modified by Canadian multiculturalism and the global dispersement of Vietnamese refugees. Traditional temples and innovative lay organizations both incorporate new ceremonies for contemporary needs and articulate new facets of belief and experience.

    Buddhism was introduced into Vietnam from China and India approximately eighteen centuries ago. It developed into several traditions and distinct Buddhist schools (Thien-An 1975).¹ Interstitial periods of Chinese colonial...

  9. 5 Cambodian Buddhists in Toronto
    (pp. 133-158)

    The Cambodian adaptation and integration into Canadian society is tied to Cambodians’ recent experiences of war, the search for asylum, refugee camp life, and the sponsorship process (McLellan 1995). These experiences influence the means and extent to which Cambodians have recreated Buddhist traditions. Although the term ‘Cambodian’ refers to any person born in the country known as Cambodia or Kampuchea, more than 90 per cent of Cambodians are ethnically and linguistically identified as Khmer (Ebihara 1985). The Cambodian community in Toronto is primarily Khmer (98 per cent), and both terms, ‘Khmer’ and ‘Cambodian,’ are used interchangeably (McLellan 1995).

    Khmer are...

  10. 6 Chinese Buddhists in Toronto
    (pp. 159-189)

    During the past twenty years more than 360,000 Chinese immigrants have settled in the Greater Toronto Area. The majority are from Hong Kong, although a significant number have come from mainland China, Southeast Asia (primarily as refugees), and Taiwan. They have established more than twenty-three Chinese Buddhist temples and associations, several of which have undergone expansion or developed sister branches within the city.

    Chinese Buddhist temples and associations in Toronto can be analysed as one distinct religious system, but they are, in fact, socially and religiously plural. Several schools of Chinese Buddhism are present, such as Ch’an, Pure Land, Tien...

  11. 7 Conclusion
    (pp. 190-220)

    As the many petals of the lotus unfold, new patterns and divergent colours emerge in response to a changing environment. Japanese-Canadian, Tibetan, Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Chinese Buddhist communities in Toronto are emerging in the light of contemporary developments in Canada and the world.

    Toronto Buddhist Church is the oldest Buddhist institution in Toronto. It is comprised of four generations of Japanese Canadians, illustrating the perpetuation of an ethnoreligious community over decades. During and following the Second World War, Jodo Shinshu religious identities and practices were irrevocably altered. The extensive racism and discrimination towards Japanese, and their Canadian-born children, culminated in...

  12. APPENDIX: Some Buddhist Groups in Toronto, 1998
    (pp. 221-224)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 225-236)
  14. References
    (pp. 237-250)
  15. Index
    (pp. 251-264)