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Westward Dharma

Westward Dharma: Buddhism beyond Asia

Copyright Date: 2002
Edition: 1
Pages: 436
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    Westward Dharma
    Book Description:

    The first authoritative volume on the totality of Buddhism in the West,Westward Dharmaestablishes a comparative and theoretical perspective for considering the amazing variety of Buddhist traditions, schools, centers, and teachers that have developed outside of Asia. Leading scholars from North America, Europe, South Africa, and Australia explore the plurality and heterogeneity of traditions and practices that are characteristic of Buddhism in the West. This recent, dramatic growth in Western Buddhism is accompanied by an expansion of topics and issues of Buddhist concern. The contributors to this volume treat such topics as the broadening spirit of egalitarianism; the increasing emphasis on the psychological, as opposed to the purely religious, nature of practice; scandals within Buddhist movements; the erosion of the distinction between professional and lay Buddhists; Buddhist settlement in Israel; the history of Buddhism in internment camps; repackaging Zen for the West; and women's dharma in the West. The interconnections of historical and theoretical approaches in the volume make it a rich, multi-layered resource.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93658-4
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Introduction: Paying Homage to the Buddha in the West
    (pp. 1-14)
    Martin Baumann and Charles S. Prebish

    At the turn of the new millennium, Buddhism undoubtedly has become heard, visible, and experienced in numerous countries outside of Asia. The last decade of the twentieth century saw an unparalleled interest, and at times enthusiasm, for things Buddhist. The media discovered Buddhism as trendy, cool, and exotic, and seemed to have a predilection for related stories about actors and actresses, artists, and high-profile figures, as well as prominent Buddhist leaders, such as the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Sulak Sivaraksa. Buddhist groups, centers, and institutions mushroomed across the globe in an unprecedented way. In addition, the decade of...


    • 1 Who Is a Buddhist? Night-Stand Buddhists and Other Creatures
      (pp. 17-33)
      Thomas A. Tweed

      An American Catholic bishop once confided to me with dismay that the Vietnamese who attend mass in his archdiocese are “not really Catholic.” Initially I was perplexed by this claim. Did he mean that they had not been baptized in their homeland? Something else? “They’re still too Buddhist,” he explained. He meant that the Buddhist influence was great among Vietnamese Catholics and that they carried that hybrid tradition with them to the United States when they fled after the fall of Saigon in 1975. I thought of that conversation as I read a newspaper article that called attention to hundreds...

    • 2 The Spectrum of Buddhist Practice in the West
      (pp. 34-50)
      B. Alan Wallace

      As Buddhism was propagated for its first twenty-five hundred years in diverse societies throughout Asia, a wide range of practices came to be followed both by “professional” Buddhists—namely, priests, monks, nuns, contemplatives, and scholars—and the laity. Differences in practices were especially salient in the training of professionals, ranging from the austere monastic training of forest monks in northern Thailand to the pastoral training of Jōdo Shinshū priests in Japan and the highly philosophical and scholastic training oflamasin the monastic universities of Tibet. In the twentieth century, Buddhist practitioners, both professional and lay, emigrated throughout the world...

    • 3 Protective Amulets and Awareness Techniques, or How to Make Sense of Buddhism in the West
      (pp. 51-65)
      Martin Baumann

      The past decades have seen a double growth regarding things Buddhist. In institutional terms, Buddhism has become firmly established in Western countries, with a bewildering multitude of schools, lineages, and traditions. Local groups and centers, as well as national and international organizations, continue to be founded. In many countries, the peak of proliferation has not been reached yet. Historian of American religion Richard Seager is convinced “that for many years to come, Buddhists in a number of schools and traditions will look back on the years between 1960 and 2000 as an era in which the foundations were laid for...

    • 4 Studying the Spread and Histories of Buddhism in the West: The Emergence of Western Buddhism as a New Subdiscipline within Buddhist Studies
      (pp. 66-82)
      Charles S. Prebish

      In 1975, when I taught my first academic course devoted solely to Buddhism in the United States, it was an incredibly challenging and frustrating enterprise. Even a casual perusal of the most popular books used as texts in introductory courses on Buddhism at that time reveals that Western Buddhism was not included in the discipline calledBuddhist Studies.As Jan Nattier aptly points out in “Who Is a Buddhist? Charting the Landscape of Buddhist America,” neither the first edition of Richard Robinson’sThe Buddhist Religionnor Edward Conze’sEssence and Development of Buddhismhas much to say about Western Buddhism...


    • 5 Buddhism in Europe: Past, Present, Prospects
      (pp. 85-105)
      Martin Baumann

      Interest in Buddhism has grown exponentially in Europe since the early 1990s. In television newscasts, talk shows, and newspaper reports, Buddhism has been featured widely. Around the turn of the twenty-first century, Buddhism is “in” in many European countries. A magazine even declared Buddhism as the “trend religion 2000.” Suddenly, film stars and starlets, soccer players, and many other public people profess to be followers of Buddhism, a religion held to be fashionable, modern, and deep in content. This euphoric interest in Buddhism and its positive recognition throughout the media contrasts a conversation I had in 1990, during which I...

    • 6 American Buddhism in the Making
      (pp. 106-119)
      Richard Hughes Seager

      In the late 1980s and early 1990s, as a first generation of native-born Buddhist teachers came of age in the United States, the idea that a typically American Buddhism had been born entered into wide currency. The idea was part of a broader debate that touched on a number of issues. Who counts as being a Buddhist? What is American Buddhism and what ought it to be? Who speaks for the American Buddhist community? The course of the debate and some of its major texts have been reviewed elsewhere and need not be repeated here.¹ One outcome is that there...

    • 7 Buddhism in Canada
      (pp. 120-138)
      Bruce Matthews

      Buddhism in Canada has had an interesting and distinguished history since the late nineteenth century, though it has only emerged as a major religious force in the mid-1960s. Itsvihāras,pagodas, and organizations have become a visible part of Canada’s urban landscape. Canada’s burgeoning multicultural world reveals many hundreds of thousands of people of Asian extraction. Many are linked in some way to Buddhism. A recent survey of country-wide Buddhist institutions discovered nearly seven hundred Buddhist temples, centers, libraries, and meditation groups in Canada’s ten provinces and two territories.¹ It is possible to assume that there are at least about...

    • 8 The Development of Buddhism in Australia and New Zealand
      (pp. 139-151)
      Michelle Spuler

      Buddhism has recently undergone substantial growth in both Australia and New Zealand, as it has in many Western countries. The geographical and cultural proximity of these two countries often causes similarities between them to be assumed; however, this paper examines the development of Buddhism in each separately, as a means of demonstrating how differences between these two cultures are reflected in slightly differing histories and Buddhist demographics. The socio-cultural factors that have enabled this expansion are focused on, as a means of illustrating how the developing forms of Buddhism reflect the cultures in which they are now situated. In its...

    • 9 Buddhism in South Africa
      (pp. 152-162)
      Michel Clasquin

      Buddhism in South Africa is largely a late twentieth-century phenomenon. Nevertheless, it has not only a history but also a prehistory of sorts. Whether it will have a future will depend largely on its ability to relate to indigenous African thought.¹ The story of South African Buddhism goes back to 1686. In that year, the Portuguese shipNossa Senhora dos Milagroswas shipwrecked off the west coast of South Africa. The area at that time had been settled by Dutch expeditions and was known as the Cape Colony, named for the Cape of Good Hope. Among the newly stranded passengers...

    • 10 Buddhism in Brazil and Its Impact on the Larger Brazilian Society
      (pp. 163-176)
      Frank Usarski

      On 18 February 2001, theFolha da São Paulo,one of Brazil’s most widely read newspapers, reported that 1,000,000 Brazilians were Buddhists.¹ In March 1999, the weekly magazineIsto éhad referred to the same number.² In June 1988, however, the magazineElleclaimed that only about 500,000 Brazilians could be considered Buddhists.³ Moreover, compared with the latest reliable data reported by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), even the lower figure appears unlikely, since in 1991 only 236,408 Buddhists were officially counted.⁴ It does not seem plausible that in only ten years the number of Brazilian Buddhists...

    • 11 Buddha in the Promised Land: Outlines of the Buddhist Settlement in Israel
      (pp. 177-188)
      Lionel Obadia

      In recent studies of Buddhist traditions outside Asia, scholars have focused primarily upon Europe, North America, and Australia, areas which Stephen Batchelor includes in his definition ofWestern culture.¹ Consequently, Buddhist expansion is seen as concerning mainly Western and secularized Christian societies. Nevertheless, Buddhism has recently reached new soil outside this “Western” area, and has recently appeared in Israel, the only Middle Eastern nation, and the only country under political-religious rule,to welcome Buddhism.

      The rooting of Asian traditions in Israel raises the issue of the relationships between Judaism and Buddhism, in diaspora as well as in the Jewish nation itself....


    • 12 Camp Dharma: Japanese-American Buddhist Identity and the Internment Experience of World War II
      (pp. 191-200)
      Duncan Ryūken Williams

      Buddhist priests, classified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as the most potentially dangerous of Japanese aliens, were among the first people arrested by government officials beginning in December 1941, following the bombing of Pearl Harbor.² Shinobu Matsuura’s husband, Reverend Issei Matsuura, was one of the first Buddhist priests taken by the FBI, in the early hours of the morning, not knowing whether he would ever see his family again. Sent to the U.S. Justice Department’s “alien enemy” camps, such as those in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Crystal City, Texas, Japanese-American Buddhist priests of all denominations, along with...

    • 13 The Translating Temple: Diasporic Buddhism in Florida
      (pp. 201-217)
      Douglas M. Padgett

      Wat Mongkolratanaram, a Buddhist temple in Florida, stands a few miles to the east of Tampa’s most famous immigrant quarter, Ybor City, on the south bank of the Palm River, an estuary of Tampa Bay. The Palm River neighborhood, an old area formerly populated by farmers and fishers, is in transition, exhibiting evident contradictions as it changes. Capacious pieces of real estate encircle small cinder-block and wood-frame houses, while new gated communities, apartment complexes, and strip malls bloom nearby. The temple itself sits back from the road, across the street from the steepled sanctuary of a Baptist church. On the...

    • 14 Repackaging Zen for the West
      (pp. 218-229)
      David L. McMahan

      The embracing of Zen in certain sectors of North American and European societies occurs through an unlikely confluence of histories, ideas, and practices from two starkly different cultural complexes. Observing the routine of a traditional Japanese Zen monastery, especially a Rinzai one, with its strict uniformity, inflexible routine, almost military sense of order and discipline, and the willingness of the monks to subject themselves to blows from a stick, one would think it unlikely that such a form of religious practice would achieve any foothold in Western countries characterized by democratic ideals, reverence for individual freedom, and suspicion of authority...

    • 15 Scandals in Emerging Western Buddhism
      (pp. 230-242)
      Sandra Bell

      In the spring of 1993, a group of twenty-two Western Dharma teachers from ten different countries in Europe and North America gathered at Dharamsala in north India for a conference with the Dalai Lama. The purpose of the meeting was, in the words of convener Lama Surya Das, to “honestly discuss—in a frank and open forum—the issues and problems involved with transmitting the Buddhadharma from the East to Western lands today.”¹ One of the main themes to emerge was “the undeniable importance of the spiritual teacher as a role model—an exemplary one, hopefully—and the ethical responsibilities...


    • 16 The Challenge of Community
      (pp. 245-254)
      Ajahn Tiradhammo

      Disciples of the Thai Forest Tradition master Venerable Ajahn Chah have been resident in the West for nearly twenty-five years.¹ During this time, they have faced a variety of challenges. In the early years, most of these were cultural, that is, learning to adjust to the environment and culture of the West. However, over the last ten years most of the disciples’ challenges have related to community and personal dynamics. This essay is a personal perspective on some of these challenges and how they have been dealt with. While this is my own account, it presents a collage of many...

    • 17 Buddhist Nuns: Changes and Challenges
      (pp. 255-274)
      Karma Lekshe Tsomo

      Many Buddhist temples and Dharma centers in the West are maintained primarily through the efforts of nuns. These nuns serve their temples and centers in a variety of capacities—as organizers, administrators, teachers, translators, accountants, counselors, secretaries, and housekeepers. Although their dedication and hard work are sometimes taken for granted, nuns are having a positive, lasting effect on the future of Buddhist institutions, in both Asia and the West.

      The backgrounds and lifestyles of Buddhist nuns in the West vary enormously. Some have no formal schooling, while quite a few hold M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. Some wear monastic robes at...

    • 18 Neither Monk nor Nun: Western Buddhists as Full-Time Practitioners
      (pp. 275-284)
      Sylvia Wetzel

      Buddhism has now come to Western lands, to Europe and North America, where it is undergoing changes and appears differently than in Asia. One striking difference, compared with the East, is the presence of Western laywomen as teachers in non-Buddhist venues. In Sri Lanka, for example, a monk in saffron robes would teach white-clad laypeople in a temple. In India, Tibetan monks in exile, wearing maroon robes, teach Western students in lavishly furnished Tibetan temples. Although robe colors, ritual styles, meditation techniques, and the languages used in recitations may differ from one Asian country to another, many features of Asian...

    • 19 Virtues without Rules: Ethics in the Insight Meditation Movement
      (pp. 285-306)
      Gil Fronsdal

      Observers have commented that for Buddhism to take firm hold in the West it needs to develop a well-articulated ethic. This chapter is a study of how Buddhist ethics is taught within one rapidly growing movement of Western Buddhism: what I will be calling the Insight Meditation movement. While the movement has so far published no overview of its ethics, enough material is now available for us to discern some general points.

      Among Buddhist movements in the West, the Insight Meditation movement is unique in that it is not simply a transplant of an Asian Buddhist tradition. Rather, it can...


    • 20 The Roar of the Lioness: Women’s Dharma in the West
      (pp. 309-323)
      Judith Simmer-Brown

      There is perhaps no account which is more appropriately narrative than that of women, and the story of women in Western Buddhism is no exception. And a single article which advances an overview of women in Western Buddhism must be a narrative of limited scope. After all, women have been active players in overwhelming numbers in the globalization of Buddhism, and no single account can appropriately document their importance and contributions. But, given the androcentric record of Buddhism’s historical development and the impending patriarchal patterns of Buddhism’s institutions in the West, a narrative such as this might suggest the special...

    • 21 Engaged Buddhism: Agnosticism, Interdependence, Globalization
      (pp. 324-347)
      Christopher S. Queen

      Over the past half-century, political activism and social service have emerged as salient features of the globalization of the Buddhist tradition. Along with thedemocratizationimplicit in the new roles that laymen and laywomen are playing in Buddhist institutions, and thepragmatismof a tradition that increasingly stresses actions—meditation, chanting, morality, and “the art of happiness”—more than words, doctrines, and philosophies, thesocial engagementof Buddhism may be said to parallel the activism, if not the militancy, of other world religions, notably Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism.¹

      In prisons, hospices, refugee camps, and a wide range of social...

    • 22 The Encounter of Buddhism and Psychology
      (pp. 348-364)
      Franz Aubrey Metcalf

      The field of Buddhism and psychology, by its very name, is irredeemably divided. For its first generation, it was a field of battle if it was a field at all. It has since become a field of study, a dialogue evolving in words and, importantly, in practices. As with any sincere dialogue between historically disparate traditions, the discussion involving Buddhism and psychology contains deep divisions, yet the mainstream of this dialogue has been founded on powerful shared assumptions. Both traditions assume that they respond to similar human needs. They assume that they uncover and reshape dynamics inherent in the human...

    • 23 A “Commodius Vicus of Recirculation”: Buddhism, Art, and Modernity
      (pp. 365-382)
      Ian Harris

      It is notoriously difficult to trace influences in art without falling into the trap of simplistic and mechanistic theorizing. In art, as in all forms of creative activity, influences interact and unfold in an unpredictable and complex manner, often over considerable periods of time. In addition, how do we know when an artist is merely frolicking on the surface of the subject matter, and how can we distinguish work of this kind from that produced by someone deeply concerned with giving creative form to cherished ideals, symbols, or motifs? When we turn specifically to the work of modern Western artists...

  10. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 383-400)
  11. List of Contributors
    (pp. 401-406)
  12. Index
    (pp. 407-425)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 426-426)