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Buddhism Buddhist Modernism
by
David L. McMahan

Introduction

Scholars have used a cluster of terms—“Protestant Buddhism,” “modern Buddhism,” and most commonly, “Buddhist modernism”—to refer to forms of Buddhism beginning in the 19th century that combined Buddhist ideas and practices with key discourses of Western modernity. They identify Buddhist modernism as characterized by an emphasis on texts, rationality, meditation, egalitarianism, and increased participation of women and laity, along with a deemphasis on ritual, dogma, clerical hierarchy, “superstition,” traditional cosmology, and icon worship. Buddhist modernism began in the context of European colonization and Christian missionization of peoples in Buddhist countries. It emerged both as a form of resistance to these forces and an appropriation of Western philosophy, religion, social forms, and ways of life, creating a hybrid of Buddhism and modern Western discourses and practices. It was a co-creation of educated, reform-minded Asian Buddhists and Western Orientalists and sympathizers, who presented Buddhism as rational and compatible with modern science, while at the same time drawing from rationalism’s critics, the Romantics and Transcendentalists, with their emphasis on interior exploration, creativity, and an organic, interdependent cosmos. Although novel in many ways, its advocates often claimed it went back to the original, “pure” Buddhism of the Buddha himself, prior to what many considered extraneous cultural accretions that had adhered to it over the centuries. It was more than just a return, however; it was a reformulation of Buddhist concepts in the categories, discourses, and vocabulary of Western modernity. Much of what is considered Buddhism today is inevitably part of, or at least deeply influenced by, these modernist forms that emerged over a century ago. Indeed, many 20th-century scholarly studies of Buddhism followed the modernists, assuming that this was “true Buddhism” and popular Buddhism on the ground was less than relevant. Only in recent decades have scholars begun to fully appreciate the modernity of these articulations of Buddhism against the backdrop of the great diversity of Buddhist traditions across Asia and throughout their long history. Recent iterations of Buddhist modernism include global lay meditation movements such as the Insight Meditation, or vipassanā, movement, modernist forms of Zen, and socially engaged Buddhism, which vigorously addresses political and social realities while liberally borrowing from Western political and social theory and the language of rights. The works below include scholarly analyses of Buddhist modernism and scholarly works that assume certain modernist perspectives (i.e., feminist analyses of Buddhism and socially engaged advocacy scholarship), along with a small sampling of primary sources (i.e., popular or apologetic works) that reveal Buddhist modernism from the inside and in its historical development.

General Overviews

Bechert 1966 is a seminal work on Buddhist modernism, perhaps the first to identify it as a distinct phenomenon. Although it focuses on Theravada Buddhism, it lays the groundwork for thinking about Buddhist modernism more generally. Clarke 1997 and King 1999 both critically and broadly address the history of the interface between Western culture and Asian religion, including Buddhism. Lopez 1995 brings postcolonial studies to bear on the history of Buddhist studies. Lopez 2002 provides a reader containing brief excerpts from the writings of important Buddhist modernists from early figures such as Sōen Shaku to more recent ones such as Chögyam Trungpa. His introductory essay is a valuable historical and thematic survey of Buddhist modernism. McMahan 2008 is a book-length work on Buddhist modernism, which he sees as Buddhism that has been reformulated in interface with the key discourses of Western modernity. Berkwitz 2006 includes discussions of various facets of Buddhism’s interface with modernity in different nations and geographical areas.

  • Bechert, Heinz. Buddhismus, Staat und Geselschaft in den Ländern des Theravāda Buddhismus. Vol. 1. Frankfurt and Berlin: Alfred Metzner, 1966.

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    A seminal work on Buddhist modernism, identifying it as a distinct phenomenon within Buddhism. Focuses on Theravada traditions; volumes 2 and 3 were published in 1967 and 1973, respectively.

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  • Berkwitz, Stephen. Buddhism in World Cultures: Comparative Perspectives. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2006.

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    Contains essays on Buddhism in its modern development in particular geographical contexts. Includes discussions of Buddhism modernism in most places it exists around the world.

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  • Clarke, J. J. Oriental Enlightenment: The Encounter between Asian and Western Thought. London and New York: Routledge, 1997.

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    A broad, sympathetic history of the encounter between Asian and Western philosophy and religion. Provides a general context within which to view Buddhist modernism.

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  • King, Richard. Orientalism and Religion: Postcolonial Theory, India and the “Mystic East.” London and New York: Routledge, 1999.

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    Places modernist interpretations of Buddhism and Hinduism in the theoretical context of postcolonial theory and representations of Asian religions in the West. The discussion is not primarily on Buddhism—although one chapter is devoted to it—but, like Clarke 1997, it is important in elucidating the context of colonialism and postcolonialism in which certain features of Buddhist modernism arose.

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  • Lopez, Donald S., Jr., ed. Curators of the Buddha: The Study of Buddhism under Colonialism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.

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    Collection of essays on how scholars of Buddhism helped construct Buddhist modernism during the colonial and postcolonial periods. Incorporates a postcolonial-studies approach to critically interrogate the social, political, and cultural conditions that have shaped the Western study of Buddhism and thereby the development of Buddhist modernism.

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  • Lopez, Donald S., Jr., ed. A Modern Buddhist Bible: Essential Readings from East and West. Boston: Beacon, 2002.

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    A sourcebook of Buddhist modernism from the late 19th century through the 1980s. Contains an excellent introductory essay on Buddhist modernism (or as Lopez calls it, “modern Buddhism”).

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  • McMahan, David L. The Making of Buddhist Modernism. New York and London: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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    Historical and thematic treatment of Buddhist modernism, showing its development in interaction with key discourses of Western modernity: scientific rationalism, romanticism, Protestantism, and psychology.

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Geographical Contexts

Although relatively few works exist that attempt to treat Buddhist modernism as a whole and across geographical boundaries, quite a few address it in cultural, national, and geographical contexts. Below are examples of primary sources with a modernist bent and secondary sources that critically analyze the phenomenon.

Ceylon/Sri Lanka

No geographical region is more important to the construction of Buddhist modernism than Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon). It is here that reformers in the 19th and 20th centuries put into place many of the fundamental elements of Buddhist modernism. Anagarika Dharmapala was the most important early figure in this movement, and Dharmapala 1965 is a collection of his writings on Buddhism and other matters. The last two chapters of Gombrich 1988 give a good overview of the development of Buddhist modernism in Theravada countries, and Bond 1988 gives a good analysis of its development in Sri Lanka. Gombrich and Obeyesekere 1988 is a compelling and expansive analysis of various facets of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, while Harris 2006 is a thorough exploration of the encounter of the British with Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Blackburn 2002 examines “Protestant Buddhism” during the colonial period through a study of the important monk Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala. Tambiah 1992 and Seneviratne 1999 offer analyses and critiques of more recent Buddhist nationalism, the involvement of monks in politics, and the use of Buddhism for ideological purposes in the context of the civil war in Sri Lanka.

  • Blackburn, Anne M. “Buddhism, Colonialism, and Modernism: A View from Sri Lanka.” Nēthrā Quarterly Journal of the International Centre for Ethnic Studies 5.3 (2002): 7–25.

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    Blackburn looks at Buddhist revivalism and Protestant Buddhism in Sri Lanka during the colonial period. Includes a broad historical overview with a more specific focus on the reformer monk, Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala.

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  • Bond, George Doherty. The Buddhist Revival in Sri Lanka: Religious Tradition, Reinterpretation, and Response. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988.

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    Explores the ways that educated, urban, Western-influenced laity have reinterpreted Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Focuses on Protestant Buddhism, neotraditionalism, the vipassanā movement, and social/ethical interpretations.

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  • Dharmapala, Anagarika. Return to Righteousness: A Collection of Speeches, Essays, and Letters of the Anagarika Dharmapala. Edited by Ananda W. P. Guruge. Colombo, Ceylon: Anagarika Dharmapala Birth Centenary Committee, Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs, 1965.

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    Collected writings of the late-19th-to-early-20th-century Sinhala Buddhist reformer. Dharmapala was one of the key founders of Buddhist modernism and the most important Buddhist reformer in Ceylon/Sri Lanka.

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  • Gombrich, Richard. Theravada Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1988.

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    An overview of Theravada Buddhism that includes a chapter on Protestant Buddhism and another on current trends.

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  • Gombrich, Richard, and Gananath Obeyesekere. Buddhism Transformed: Religious Change in Sri Lanka. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988.

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    An important analysis of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, including modernist movements and Buddhism’s relation to popular spirit cults. Includes discussion of rationalistic elements, the resurgence of nuns, and a number of important modernist leaders.

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  • Harris, Elizabeth J. Theravada Buddhism and the British Encounter: Religious, Missionary, and Colonial Experience in Nineteenth-Century Sri Lanka. New York: Routledge, 2006.

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    Thorough exploration of the British encounter with Theravada Buddhism in colonial Ceylon through representations of British administrators, missionaries, explorers, and religious seekers.

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  • Seneviratne, H. L. The Work of Kings: The New Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

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    Critical analysis of the monastic establishment in Sri Lanka in the modern period. Argues that the development of Buddhist modernism in Sri Lanka was intertwined with the often arrogant ideological and nationalistic involvement of monks in economic and political spheres.

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  • Tambiah, Stanley J. Buddhism Betrayed? Religion, Politics, and Violence in Sri Lanka. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.

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    Traces the development of politicized Buddhism from the early revivalist period to recent violent political movements in Sri Lanka. Created considerable controversy for its incisive critique of some politically active monks.

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Southeast Asia

Southeast Asian countries have been important to the development of Buddhist modernism, especially in its Theravada forms. The Sangha in Southeast Asian nations has had varied relationships to the state—both critical and supportive—that have constituted part of the modernist articulation of Buddhism in local contexts, a matter explored in some of the essays in Harris 2007. With regard to Thailand specifically, see McDaniel 2006, and to Burma, see Schober 2006. Jordt 2007 discusses the important mass lay meditation movement in Burma, and Swearer 2003 discusses the tensions between modernist sentiments and the Thai amulet trade. Swearer 1995 provides an overview of Buddhism in Southeast Asia that includes modernist forms.

  • Harris, Ian Charles. Buddhism, Power, and Political Order. Papers delivered at a symposium held by the Becket Institute, St. Hugh’s College, University of Oxford, 14–16 April 2004. Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism. London and New York: Routledge, 2007.

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    Collection of essays on Buddhism and politics in Southeast Asia, many of which discuss the role of Buddhist modernism and demonstrate the tensions between modernity and tradition in the interface between Buddhism and modern political forces.

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  • Jordt, Ingrid. Burma’s Mass Lay Meditation Movement: Buddhism and the Cultural Construction of Power. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2007.

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    Investigation of an important facet of Buddhist modernism—lay meditation movements—in Burma/Myanmar and their relationship to political power and the military regime that rules the country.

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  • McDaniel, Justin. “Buddhism in Thailand: Negotiating the Modern Age.” In Buddhism in World Cultures: Comparative Perspectives. Edited by Stephen Berkwitz, 101–128. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2006.

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    Analyzes the ways Buddhist movements have played various roles in the political life of Thailand, sometimes supporting (and sometimes restraining) the state.

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  • Schober, Juliane. “Buddhism in Burma: Engagement with Modernity.” In Buddhism in World Cultures: Comparative Perspectives. Edited by Stephen Berkwitz, 73–99. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2006.

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    Schober offers a concise and thoughtful account of ways in which Burmese Buddhists have engaged with modernity and negotiated the political difficulties of modern Myanmar.

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  • Swearer, Donald. The Buddhist World of Southeast Asia. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995.

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    Comprehensive overview of Buddhism in the countries of Southeast Asia, including Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka. Includes discussion of Buddhism “on the ground” as well as modernist iterations and relations with the modern state.

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  • Swearer, Donald. “Aniconism versus Iconism in Thai Buddhism.” In Buddhism in the Modern World: Adaptations of an Ancient Tradition. Edited by Steven Heine and Charles S. Prebish, 9–26. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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    Addresses the tensions between typically modernist aniconic tendencies and the Thai amulet trade, which may seem antimodern but is, in fact, deeply implicated in modern global capitalism.

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India

Buddhism died out in India around the 13th century, and thus the land of the Buddha’s birth has had relatively little direct impact on the developments in Buddhism in the modern world. The major exception is Bhimrao R. Ambedkar. Born a Hindu of an untouchable (Dalit) caste, he publically and dramatically converted to Buddhism, along with thousands of followers, as a protest against the caste system. Many Dalits have followed him since, establishing a “neo-Buddhism” that is decidedly modernist and this-worldly with an emphasis on social justice. His posthumously published manifesto on Buddhism, The Buddha and His Dhamma (Ambedkar 1957), laid out his modernist, demythologized Buddhism concerned mainly with social liberation and overcoming caste hierarchy. Ambedkar 2002 is useful for placing his ideas on Buddhism within the context of his life and thought on a wide variety of other issues. Doyle 2003 shows how Ambedkar’s Dalit Buddhist liberation movement has clashed with Hindus over the sacred site of the Buddha’s awakening. Recently, other movements to revive Buddhism in India have emerged. Kantowsky 1999 reviews the three most important ones. Yet another recently emerging facet of Buddhist modernism in India is the flow of Tibetan immigrants and exiles into the country. Arguably, India has been the birthplace of uniquely Tibetan formations of Buddhist modernism. Huber 2008 presents a nuanced exploration of the meaning of India in the lives of Tibetans in the modern world, including chapters on Tibetans in India and their relationship to Buddhist modernism.

  • Ambedkar, Bhimrao Ramji. The Buddha and His Dhamma. Siddharth College Publication 1. Bombay: People’s Education Society, 1957.

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    Contains Ambedkar’s definitive statement on Buddha’s life and teachings, interpreting them in terms of egalitarianism and social justice. Available online.

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  • Ambedkar, Bhimrao Ramji. The Essential Writings of B. R. Ambedkar. Edited by Valerian Rodrigues. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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    Collection of Ambedkar’s work that includes essays on Buddhism, as well as autobiographical writings and essays on identity, caste, nationalism, economics, and law. Helpful in placing The Buddha and His Dhamma (Ambedkar 1957) in the broader context of his life and thought.

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  • Doyle, Tara N. “‘Liberate the Mahābodhi Temple!’: Socially Engaged Buddhism, Dalit-style.” In Buddhism in the Modern World: Adaptations of an Ancient Tradition. Edited by Steven Heine and Charles S. Prebish, 249–280. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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    Discussion of how the place of the Buddha’s awakening, the Mahābodhi Temple in northern India, has become a site of religious contestation between Dalit Buddhists and Hindus.

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  • Fitzgerald, Timothy. “Politics and Ambedkar Buddhism in Maharashtra.” In Buddhism and Politics in Twentieth-Century Asia. Edited by Ian Harris, 79–104. London and New York: Continuum, 1999.

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    Good overview of the Buddhist followers of Ambedkar, most of whom are members of the Mahars, the same Dalit caste as Ambedkar.

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  • Huber, Toni. The Holy Land Reborn: Pilgrimage and the Tibetan Reinvention of Buddhist India. Buddhism and Modernity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

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    Detailed and nuanced investigation of the significance of India to Tibetan Buddhists. Includes discussions of Tibetans’ pilgrimages to India, the reinvention of Tibetan tradition in modernist terms by pilgrims and exiles in India, and the emergence of Buddhist modernism in an Indian/Tibetan context.

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  • Kantowsky, Detlef. Buddhisten in Indien Heute: Beschreibungen, Bilder und Dokumente. Forschungsberichte 16. Konstanz, Germany: Universität Konstanz, 1999.

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    Sociological study of three Buddhist revival movements that have been most important in India recently: the Maha Bodhi Society, founded in 1891 by Anagarika Dharmapala; the movement inspired by Ambedkar’s conversion to Buddhism, when hundreds of thousands of Dalits converted to Buddhism; and the meditation movement Vipassanā International Academy of Igatpuri, founded by S. N. Goenka.

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Japan

The study of Japanese Buddhism in the last few decades has gone through a profound transformation, especially with regard to Zen. Until recently, many scholars, influenced by D. T. Suzuki, saw Zen as a mysticism that eschewed dogma, ritual, and superstition. Suzuki’s work, like Zen and Japanese Culture (Suzuki 1970), formed the most pervasive modernist articulation of Zen in the mid-20th century. More recent historical work (e.g., Faure 1993) has critiqued such interpretations as modernist constructions bearing little resemblance to Zen in its social and institutional contexts. Other recent works, such as Snodgrass 2003 and Victoria 2006, have drawn attention to the involvement of many modernist Japanese Zen teachers and scholars in militant Japanese nationalism. Sharf 1995 argues for the idiosyncratically modernist nature of one branch of Zen influential in the West, one that Sharf argues is more like a Japanese “New Religion” than typical forms of Zen in Japan. Although debates about Zen have dominated scholarly discussion of Japanese Buddhist modernism in recent years, other kinds of modernist reform movements have also gotten some attention. Hubbard and Swanson 1997, a volume of essays on “critical” Buddhism, discusses this movement that attempts to return to the Buddha’s teachings and is skeptical of Mahayana Buddhism. Although it is modern in a rather different way than Zen modernism, Soka Gakkai must certainly be considered a modernist movement as well. Machacek and Wilson 2000 is a collection of essays on various facets of Soka Gakkai in relation to modern political and social realities.

  • Faure, Bernard. Chan Insights and Oversights: An Epistemological Critique of the Chan Tradition. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993.

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    Critical study of Chan/Zen rhetoric, ritual, and practice. Faure is especially critical of Suzuki’s interpretation of Zen and is intent on distinguishing Buddhist modernism from more traditional forms.

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  • Hubbard, Jamie, and Paul L. Swanson. Pruning the Bodhi Tree: The Storm over Critical Buddhism. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1997.

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    Essays discussing “critical” Buddhism, a Japanese movement that dismisses Mahayana as inauthentic and takes the social and critical teachings of the Pali canon as authentic.

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  • Machacek, David, and Bryan Wilson, eds. Global Citizens: The Soka Gakkai Buddhist Movement in the World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

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    A collection of articles on many facets of Soka Gakkai and their modernization and globalization of Nichiren Buddhism. Includes discussions of the movement’s role in politics in Japan, as well as its innovations regarding women, the media, and social issues.

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  • Sharf, Robert. “Sanbōkyōdan Zen and the Way of the New Religions.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 22.3–4 (1995): 417–458.

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    Argues that the Sanbōkyōdan lineage of Zen popularized in North America by Philip Kapleau is a marginal, modernist, and controversial sect in Japan, disproportionately influential in the West.

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  • Snodgrass, Judith. Presenting Japanese Buddhism to the West: Orientalism, Occidentalism, and the Columbian Exposition. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.

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    Exhaustive study of the formation of modernist versions of Japanese Buddhism and representations of Japan in the context of Japanese nationalism and political efforts in the late 19th century.

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  • Suzuki, Daisetz Teitarō. Zen and Japanese Culture. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1970.

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    Posits a crucial formative relationship between Zen and many aspects of Japanese culture. Critiqued for its nationalism, for giving Zen such a central role in everything distinctively Japanese, and for representing Zen largely as an internal experience at the expense of its social and institutional realities. Originally published in 1959.

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  • Victoria, Brian. Zen at War. 2d ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2006.

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    Exposes the intimate relationship between Zen and Japanese nationalism before and during World War II. Highly polemical book implicating many of the progenitors of Zen in the West, as well as reformers in Japan, in aiding the Japanese war effort and creating a militant distortion of Zen.

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China and Taiwan

The social and political upheavals in 20th-century China have not created fertile ground for religious flourishing. Nevertheless, in both Taiwan and mainland China, modernist reform movements have emerged throughout this period and continue to thrive. Chandler 2006 provides a good overview of Buddhism in China and Taiwan in the modern period. Jones 1999 surveys Buddhism in Taiwan from the mid–17th through the late 20th centuries. Taixu (T’ai hsu, b. 1890–d. 1947) was perhaps the most influential Chinese reformer monk of the early 20th century. Pittman 2001 gives thorough study of his life and work, while T’ai hsu 1928 is a translation of his own lectures. There are a number of recent works on recent reformations and new movements in both mainland China and Taiwan. Chandler 2004 is a thorough study of perhaps the most influential, global, and highly visible movement—Foguangshan. Madsen 2007 explores four Buddhist and Daoist revitalization and reform movements in Taiwan. Tarocco 2007 looks at Chinese Buddhist modernity in terms of cultural practices and products. Finally, Borchert 2008 calls into question the received conception of Buddhist modernism in his examination of the Dai, an ethnic minority in mainland China that practices Theravada Buddhism.

  • Borchert, Thomas. “Worry for the Dai Nation: Sipsongpannā, Chinese Modernity, and the Problems of Buddhist Modernism.” Journal of Asian Studies 67.1 (February 2008): 107–142.

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    Discusses the Theravada Buddhism of the Dai community in southwest China. Borchert argues that this is an example of a form of Buddhism that has become modernized, but not in the ways typical of what are often described as Buddhist modernist: that is, rationality, increased lay meditation, participation of women, and so forth. Borchert argues that this exception complicates the current conception of Buddhist modernism and urges closer attention to how Buddhist institutions change within the context of modern forms of state power.

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  • Chandler, Stuart. Establishing a Pure Land on Earth: The Foguang Buddhist Perspective on Modernization and Globalization. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2004.

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    Study of Foguangshan school of Chinese Buddhism and its leader, Master Xingyun. Chandler emphasizes Xingyun’s attempt to adhere to certain “traditional” values while fully engaging in social service projects, politics, and “humanistic education.”

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  • Chandler, Stuart. “Buddhism in China and Taiwan: The Dimensions of Contemporary Chinese Buddhism.” In Buddhism in World Cultures: Comparative Perspectives. Edited by Stephen Berkwitz, 169–194. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2006.

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    Good starting place for consideration of Chinese Buddhism and the question of modernity. Discusses Buddhist revival in mainland China and Taiwan and addresses “modernists” and “traditionalists.”

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  • Jones, Charles Brewer. Buddhism in Taiwan: Religion and the State, 1660–1990. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1999.

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    Wide-ranging study of Buddhism in Taiwan that addresses the changes brought about by modernization, such as the founding of large-scale, international organizations, the increasing status of nuns and laity, and the reforming of lay precepts.

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  • Madsen, Richard. Democracy’s Dharma: Religious Renaissance and Political Development in Taiwan. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007.

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    Madsen explores Buddhist and Daoist revitalization and reform movements in Taiwan. Using case studies of four groups—Tzu Chi (the Buddhist Compassion Relief Association), Buddha’s Light Mountain, Dharma Drum Mountain, and the Enacting Heaven Temple—he argues that the most important movements in Taiwan are intimately tied to the emergence of democracy.

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  • Pittman, Don Alvin. Toward a Modern Chinese Buddhism: Taixu’s Reforms. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2001.

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    Study of the life and works of the Chinese reformer Taixu. Pittman portrays him as a “realist” and “utopian” committed to creating a pure land in this world.

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  • T’ai hsu (Taixu). Lectures in Buddhism. Paris, n.p.: 1928.

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    Lectures by influential and controversial Buddhist reformer, Taixu (b. 1890–d. 1947), a Chinese monk who attempted to revive Buddhism in his homeland and around the world.

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  • Tarocco, Francesca. The Cultural Practices of Modern Chinese Buddhism: Attuning the Dharma. New York and London: Routledge, 2007.

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    Argues, contrary to the received narrative of the decline of religion in China in the early 20th century, that Buddhism was an important force in shaping Chinese modernity. Tarocco questions received models of Buddhist modernism as overly intellectualized and seeks instead to understand Chinese Buddhist modernity in terms of cultural practices and products.

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Tibet

The development of modernist forms of Tibetan Buddhism came through a different route than those of Southeast and East Asian forms. Tibet was never colonized by the West and had limited engagement with it until the Chinese took control in the 1950s. After the flight of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama into exile in 1959, thousands of Tibetans followed, including many of Tibet’s most learned monks. The deterritorialization of Tibetan Buddhism and the Dalai Lama’s interest in science, modern democratic institutions, and non-Buddhist religions prompted rapid and selective modernization of Tibetan Buddhism in the late 20th century. Tibet had been an object of fascination among some in the West long before this, however, partly because of the fantastic claims involving Tibet in the Theosophy movement. Evans-Wentz’s Tibetan Book of the Dead (Evans-Wentz 2000) confirmed Tibetan Buddhism’s reputation as an exotic spirituality, and Carl Jung’s preface gave the pantheon of deities a psychoanalytic interpretation that remains widespread today in popular writings in the West. Lopez 1998 chronicles the West’s fascination with Tibet, critiquing “New Age Orientialist” representations. Lopez’s work is itself sometimes critiqued for representing Tibetans as the passive objects of Western representation, something remedied in part by Dreyfus 2003, a nuanced study of Tibetan monasticism from the inside. Kleiger 2002 discusses various ways that Tibetans have constructed new identities in the modern world, and Cozort 2003 addresses the training of Buddhist teachers in two modern Tibetan traditions. See also Huber 2008 (cited under India) for a discussion of Tibetans in India, where many exiles now live.

  • Cozort, Daniel. “The Making of the Western Lama.” In Buddhism in the Modern World: Adaptations of an Ancient Tradition. Edited by Steven Heine and Charles S. Prebish, 221–248. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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    Discusses the challenges of teacher training in the West in two Tibetan groups: the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition and the New Kadampa Tradition. Good window into the efforts to maintain tradition while being innovative as well.

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  • Dreyfus, Georges B. J. The Sound of Two Hands Clapping: The Education of a Tibetan Buddhist Monk. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.

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    Excellent study of Tibetan monasticism in the Geluk tradition based on scholarly analysis and reflection on the author’s years as a monk. Helpful for guiding the reader in discerning modernist and nonmodernist elements in the practice, thought, and interpretation of Tibetan Buddhism.

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  • Evans-Wentz, W. Y., ed. The Tibetan Book of the Dead, or The After-Death Experiences on the Bardo Plane, according to Lāma Kazi Dawa-Samdup’s English Rendering. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

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    A translation of a Tibetan funerary text and the first Tibetan work to achieve widespread attention in the West. It is important to Buddhist modernism in that Evans-Wentz and Carl Jung, who wrote an introduction and preface respectively, established the interpretation of Tibetan Buddhism in the West along the lines of Theosophy and analytic psychology, interpretations that were essential in the modernist construction of Tibetan Buddhism in the West. Originally published in 1927.

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  • Klieger, P. Christiaan. Tibet, Self, and the Tibetan Diaspora: Voices of Difference. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: E. J. Brill, 2002.

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    Collection of essays on the changing processes of identity formation among modern Tibetans in diaspora and in Tibet itself.

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  • Lopez, Donald, Jr. Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

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    A trenchant critique of Western interpretations, fantasies, and projections of Tibetan Buddhism.

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  • Lopez, Donald, Jr. The Madman’s Middle Way: Reflections on Reality of the Tibetan Monk Gendun Chopel. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.

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    Essay on important and controversial early 20th-century Tibetan intellectual Gendun Chopel, along with a translation of a famous work. Lopez explicitly addresses the question of modernism in this unusual Tibetan figure’s life and work.

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North America

North America has been an especially fertile place for the development of new articulations and embodiments of Buddhism, from the tentative embrace by the Transcendentalists and the pivotal presentations at World’s Parliament of Religions in 1893 to the countercultural take on Buddhism by the Beats and their successors. Asian immigrants have, of course, also been pivotal in creating uniquely modern forms of Buddhism in North America. Two of the early promoters of Buddhism in the United States were Paul Carus and Henry Steel Olcott, whom Prothero 1996 explores in depth. Carus and Olcott did much to construct the demythologized, modernist versions of Buddhism that have continued to be popular among convert Buddhists. Tweed 2000 offers an in-depth analysis of Buddhist modernism in the United States during the Victorian period. Tweed’s valuable and voluminous collection of sources for this study—periodical articles as well as monographs—is reprinted in Tweed 2004. The study of Buddhism in North America has entered a new phase the last two decades. Two excellent ethnographic studies are Numrich 2008 and Cadge 2004. Numrich 2008 contains a number of social scientific essays relevant to the latest developments in North American Buddhism. Cadge 2004 compares two Theravada institutions through fieldwork—one primarily of white converts and one primarily of Thai immigrants—and analyzes what each considers the “heartwood” or core of the tradition. Prebish and Tanaka 1998 contains essays on adaptation and modernization in North America, and Coleman 2001 is a sociological study of mostly European-American converts in Zen, Vipassanā, and Tibetan groups in the United States.

  • Cadge, Wendy. Heartwood: The First Generation of Theravada Buddhism in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.

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    Cadge contrasts two Theravada institutions in the United States—the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center and Wat Phila—through fieldwork, ascertaining what each considers the “heartwood” or core of the tradition. Issues of gender, identity, ethnicity, and modernity are central.

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  • Carus, Paul. “Buddhism and Its Christian Critics.” In Buddhism in the United States, 1840–1925. Vol. 4. Edited by Thomas Tweed. London: Ganesha, 2004.

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    Apologetic work that constructed, as much as defended, a modernized Buddhism against Christian critics in the late 19th century. Helped establish Buddhism as a “rational religion” among Americans in the Victorian period. Originally published in 1897 (Chicago: Open Court).

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  • Coleman, James William. The New Buddhism: The Western Transformation of an Ancient Tradition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

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    Although lacking in historical perspective, Coleman’s book provides a compelling portrait of meditation-based, mostly non-Asian convert communities in the United States along with some useful statistical information.

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  • Numrich, Paul David. North American Buddhists in Social Context. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: E. J. Brill, 2008.

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    A collection of social scientific scholarship on North American Buddhism examining a broad range of traditions. Includes essays attentive to the issue of modernism and modernization of Buddhism.

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  • Prebish, Charles S., and Kenneth K. Tanaka, eds. Faces of Buddhism in America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

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    Essay on a wide array of Buddhist communities and issues in the United States. Themes of modernity and tradition are implicit in many chapters.

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  • Prothero, Stephen. The White Buddhist: The Asian Odyssey of Henry Steel Olcott. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.

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    Thoughtful study of one of the founders of Buddhist modernism. Prothero interprets Olcott’s Buddhism as representing a “creole” Buddhism that retained essentially Protestant themes, dispositions, and presuppositions.

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  • Tweed, Thomas A. The American Encounter with Buddhism, 1844–1912: Victorian Culture and the Limits of Dissent. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000.

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    Thorough study of how Buddhism was received, interpreted, and reconstructed by Americans during a flourishing of interest in Buddhism during the Victorian period. Invaluable in tracing the roots of early modernist articulations of Buddhism in the West.

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  • Tweed, Thomas A. Buddhism in the United States, 1840–1925. 6 vols. London: Ganesha, 2004.

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    Extensive collection of works, including books and periodical articles, documenting Buddhism’s encounter with North American culture in the Victorian period. Includes works by some of the central figures in the construction of Buddhist modernism, including Paul Carus, William Sturgis Bigelow, and Henry Steel Olcott.

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Europe

These works on Buddhism in Europe and European interpretations of Buddhism include both studies and examples of early Western interpretations and more recent studies. Almond 1988, Batchelor 1994, and Driot 2003 all discuss from varying perspectives European attempts to understand Buddhism. Dahlke 2003 is less a scholarly analysis than an example of how a German convert in the early 20th century came to interpret Buddhism in terms of his own philosophical heritage based in European romanticism. Kantowsky 1995, Kay 2004, and Obadia 1999 all take up the issue of Buddhist modernism in various parts of Europe.

  • Almond, Philip C. The British Discovery of Buddhism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

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    Takes a Saidian approach to the Victorian representations of Buddhism in England, seeing them as essentializing and Orientalist. Almond critically addresses representations by British and does not attempt to get at what Buddhism “really is.”

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  • Batchelor, Stephen. The Awakening of the West: The Encounter of Buddhism and Western Culture. Berkeley, CA: Parallax, 1994.

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    Surveys the ways philosophers and practitioners in the West have appropriated and interpreted Buddhism in Western terms. Largely a popular account that may not satisfy some scholars, it nevertheless contains useful discussions especially about some of the early interpreters of Buddhism in the West.

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  • Baumann, Martin. “Protective Amulets and Awareness Techniques, or How to Make Sense of Buddhism in the West.” In Westward Dharma: Buddhism Beyond Asia. Edited by Charles S. Prebish and Martin Baumann, 51–65. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.

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    Baumann discusses the analytical paradigm of “two Buddhisms” in the West—convert and ethnic—and argues for a new perspective that does not rest on the ethnic categories but posits instead “traditionalist” and “modernist” forms and interpretations.

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  • Dahlke, Paul. Buddhism and Its Place in the Mental Life of Mankind. Whitefish, MT: Kessinger, 2003.

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    Essays by German convert Paul Dahlke, a prominent figure in the emerging Buddhist movement in Germany in the 1920s. This work can be seen as a primary text by someone interpreting Buddhism along the lines of German Romanticism.

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  • Droit, Roger-Pol. The Cult of Nothingness: The Philosophers and the Buddha. Translated by David Streight and Pamela Vohnson. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.

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    Discusses the interpretation of Buddhism by Western philosophers in the 19th century, such as Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Hegel, Cousin, and Renan, who imagined Buddhism as a religion of the “negation of the world.” Driot argues that this interpretation was a projection of fears engendered by the collapse of traditional European values and the threat of nihilism in Europe itself.

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  • Kantowsky, Detlef. “Buddhist Modernism in the West/Germany.” In Buddhism and Christianity: Interactions between East and West. Edited by Ulrich Everding, 101–115. Colombo, Sri Lanka: Goethe-Institut, German Cultural Institute, 1995.

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    Essay on Buddhism in Germany with special attention to modernist themes such as female spirituality, social and ecological involvement, and ecumenity from the perspective of practicing Buddhists.

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  • Kay, David N. Tibetan and Zen Buddhism in Britain: Transplantation, Development, and Adaptation. London and New York: Routledge, 2004.

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    Study of the transplantation, adaptation, and development of the New Kadampa Tradition and the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives in Britain.

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  • Obadia, Lionel. “Le Bouddhisme: Une Religion ‘Moderne’? Le Bouddhisme dans les Sociétés Occidentales: Entre le Réel et l’imaginaire, la Tradition et la Modernité.” In Modernités et recomposition locale du sens: actes du colloque des 19, 20 et 21 mai 1999. Edited by Jean-Émile Charlier and Frédéric Moens. Mons, France: Facultés universitaires Catholiques de Mons, 1999.

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    Sociological account of the prevalent image of Buddhism as a “modern” religion in Europe.

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Oceana and Latin America

Scholarship on Buddhism outside of Asia, Europe, and North America is in a fledgling state; nevertheless, some recent works show a great deal of promise for study of the relatively new phenomenon of Buddhism in these diverse geographical areas. Rocha 2006 discusses the appeal of Zen in Brazil among the urban, cosmopolitan upper class, and Usarski 2002 analyzes Buddhism in Brazil across various social categories. Spuler 2003 examines Buddhism and cross-cultural adaptation in Australia focusing on a particular Zen group, the Diamond Sangha. Finally, a thematic issue of the Journal of Global Buddhism (Rocha 2007) contains a series of articles on Buddhism in contemporary Australia and New Zealand.

  • Rocha, Cristina. Zen in Brazil: The Quest for Cosmopolitan Modernity. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2006.

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    Draws on fieldwork in both Japan and Brazil and discusses Zen in Brazil in terms of globalization and global flows of people and ideas, as well as the idea of “cannibalizing” the modern Other to become a cosmopolitan modern oneself.

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  • Rocha, Cristina, ed. Special Issue: Buddhism in Oceana. Journal of Global Buddhism 8 (2007).

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    Collection of articles analyzing contemporary Buddhism in Australia and New Zealand. Available online.

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  • Spuler, Michelle. Developments in Australian Buddhism: Facets of the Diamond. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003.

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    Examines the modernization and adaptation of Zen to Australia. Addresses the Diamond Sangha Zen group and reflects of methodologies for studying adaptation of Buddhism to the West.

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  • Usarski, Frank. “Buddhism in Brazil and Its Impact on the Larger Brazilian Society.” In Westward Dharma: Buddhism Beyond Asia. Edited by Charles S. Prebish and Martin Baumann, 163–176. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.

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    Analyzes Buddhism in Brazil in terms of three ideal-typical categories: ethnically rooted Buddhism, universalistic philosophical Buddhism, and “globalized” Buddhist groups.

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Psychology

The cross-fertilization of Buddhism and psychology began in earnest in the latter half of the 20th century. It can be considered a de facto aspect of Buddhist modernism, since it assumes a relatively demythologized understanding of Buddhism at the outset. The interpretation of Buddhism as a kind of psychology has been one of the important ways Buddhism has been rendered in Western terms and by which it gained prestige and adherents in the West. Literature on the subject often straddles the popular and scholarly. Carl Jung was one of the first to interpret Buddhism systematically in psychological terms. In a preface to Evans-Wentz’s Tibetan Book of the Dead, he interprets the vast pantheon of Tibetan deities as psychological archetypes (Jung 2000), an interpretation that remains popular today, though recent scholarly work casts doubt on this view (see Dreyfus 2003, cited under Tibet). Two other influential works see the aims of meditation as consonant with those of psychoanalysis: essays collected in Suzuki, et al. 1970 insist that Zen meditation (zazen) involves a radical de-repression of the contents of the unconscious, while Epstein 1995 interprets Buddhist meditation as a radicalization of Freudian psychoanalysis. Kwee, et al. 2006 and Nauriyal, et al. 2006 are collections of essays, many by psychologists and psychotherapists, discussing various ways of incorporating Buddhism into therapeutic contexts. Safran 2003 and Unno 2006 contain essays by Buddhists, Buddhist studies scholars, and psychologists reflecting more broadly on Buddhism and psychology.

  • Epstein, Mark. Thoughts without a Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective. New York: Basic Books, 1995.

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    Interprets Buddhist meditation and mindfulness practice in Freudian terms, seeing the six realms of existence as psychological states.

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  • Jung, Carl G. “Psychological Commentary.” In The Tibetan Book of the Dead, or The After-Death Experiences on the Bardo Plane, according to Lāma Kazi Dawa-Samdup’s English Rendering. Edited by W. Y. Evans-Wentz, xxxv–lii. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

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    Interprets the pantheon of Tibetan Buddhist buddhas and bodhisattvas as psychological archetypes in the collective unconscious. Although largely rejected by scholars today, this interpretation is still popular and was crucial in rendering Tibetan Buddhism in terms attractive to Westerners. Jung’s essay originally published in the 1960 edition.

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  • Kwee, Maurits G. T., Kenneth J. Gergen, and Fusako Koshikawa. Horizons in Buddhist Psychology: Practice, Research, and Theory. Chagrin Falls, OH: Taos Institute, 2006.

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    Collection of essays by Buddhist studies scholars, psychotherapists, and psychologists who explore various ways of incorporating Buddhist practice, especially mindfulness and meditation, into therapeutic work.

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  • Nauriyal, D. K., Michael S. Drummond, and Y. B. Lal. Buddhist Thought and Applied Psychological Research: Transcending the Boundaries. Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism. London and New York: Routledge, 2006.

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    Wide-ranging collection of essays of varying quality on Buddhism and psychology from empirical, philosophical, and clinical perspectives.

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  • Safran, Jeremy, ed. Psychoanalysis and Buddhism: An Unfolding Dialogue. Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2003.

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    Essays from largely apologetic perspective, but useful in discerning current thinking on Buddhism and psychotherapy.

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  • Suzuki, Daisetz Teitaro, Erich Fromm, and Richard de Martino. Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis. New York: Harper, 1970.

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    Asserts a close relationship between Zen and psychoanalysis. Fromm interprets Zen meditation as a process of bringing to consciousness the entirety of the unconscious, something that surpasses the aspirations of analytic psychology. Originally published in 1960.

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  • Unno, Mark, ed., Buddhism and Psychotherapy across Cultures: Essays on Theories and Practices. Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2006.

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    Largely sympathetic but critical essays on Buddhism and psychotherapy from historical, philosophical, and psychological perspectives. Includes essays on Pure Land Buddhism, something previously neglected in work on Buddhism and psychology.

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Science

Scholars and practitioners have been considering the relationship of Buddhism to science since the late 19th century, when Anagarika Dharmapala and other Buddhist apologists and reformers began to claim that Buddhism was compatible with modern science—or even that it was itself a kind of science. Dharmapala 1965 includes such characterizations. Olcott 1881 is another classic example of an early attempt to construe Buddhism as wholly compatible with modern science. McMahan 2004 offers a critical discussion of both of these figures’ “scientific” interpretation of Buddhism. Lopez 2008 also examines the attempts to present Buddhism as scientific, emphasizing the polemical, political, and legitimating strategies employed in this discourse. The dialogue between Buddhism and various sciences has taken an empirical turn in recent decades, with neuroscientists using the latest brain-imaging technology to study the neural systems of meditators. Many such studies and discussions of them, such as Austin 1998, show an implicit modernist tendency and sometimes lack historical and cultural understandings of Buddhism. Some, however, such as Lutz, et al. 2007, which gives an overview of recent neuroscientific studies, show signs of increasingly nuanced understandings of Buddhism. Wallace 2007 offers a contemporary iteration of the view that Buddhist meditation is a kind of scientific method, while Wallace and Lutzker 2003 is a collection of essays, both historical and thematic, exploring the relationship between Buddhism and various sciences.

  • Austin, James H. Zen and the Brain: Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1998.

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    A discussion of the brain’s and body’s response to Zen meditation by a neurologist and Zen practitioner. Assumes a modern, Western view of Zen, but provides extensive detail on meditation research.

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  • Dharmapala, Anagarika. “The World’s Debt to the Buddha.” In Return to Righteousness: A Collection of Speeches, Essays, and Letters of the Anagarika Dharmapala. By Anagarika Dharmapala and Ananda W. P. Guruge. Colombo, Ceylon: Anagarika Dharmapala Birth Centenary Committee, Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs, 1965.

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    Originally a speech addressed to the World’s Parliament of Religion; summarizes the “religious revolution” inspired by the Buddha.

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  • Lopez, Donald, Jr. Buddhism and Science: A Guide for the Perplexed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

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    A critical investigation of the engagement of Buddhism with science. Lopez is skeptical about attempts to construe Buddhism as scientific or as compatible with science.

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  • Lutz, Antoine, John D. Dunne, and Richard J. Davidson. “Meditation and the Neuroscience of Consciousness: An Introduction.” In The Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness. Edited by Philip David Zelazo, Morris Moscovitch, and Evan Thompson, 499–554. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

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    A good overview of recent scientific research on Buddhist meditation.

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  • McMahan, David L. “Modernity and the Early Discourse of Scientific Buddhism.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 72.4 (2004): 897–933.

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    Historical-critical discussion of three influential figures who portrayed Buddhism as compatible with science: Anagarika Dharmapala, Henry Steel Olcott, and Paul Carus.

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  • Olcott, Henry Steel. A Buddhist Catechism, According to the Canon of the Southern Church. Colombo, Ceylon: Theosophical Society, Buddhist Sections, 1881.

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    Advances a quasi-scientific view of Buddhism informed by Theosophy. Influential both in the West and in Sri Lanka. Revised 47th ed. published in 1947 (Adyar, India: Theosophical Publishing House).

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  • Wallace, B. Alan. Contemplative Science: Where Buddhism and Neuroscience Converge. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.

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    Somewhat polemical discussion of contemporary neuroscientific studies of meditation and their implications. Wallace has a thorough knowledge of Buddhism, particularly Tibetan, as well as a firm grasp on the sciences he addresses.

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  • Wallace, B. Alan, and Arnold P. Lutzker, eds. Buddhism and Science: Breaking New Ground. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.

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    Essays exploring the interface of Buddhism with various sciences, particularly cognitive sciences and physics, along with some historical and theoretical discussion.

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Gender

An important part of Buddhist modernism has been the increased prominence and expanded roles of women. In Asia, this includes efforts to reestablish the nuns’ monastic order, as well as the development of new categories of women renunciates, such as the mai chi in Thailand. In Europe and North America, women have attained an unprecedented level of leadership, running their own monasteries and meditation centers and teaching women and men together, something rare in Asia. Scholarship dealing with women and gender issues tends toward advocacy scholarship and critical-constructive (“theological”) work. While few of the pieces below address the issue of Buddhist modernism explicitly, the subject is implicit in most discussions of gender in the contemporary Buddhist world, since the modern egalitarian perspective on gender deeply informs efforts to reform Buddhist attitudes toward gender and to mine the tradition for resources helpful in this regard. Gross 1993 pioneered this kind of scholarship, modeled on feminist Christian theologies. Klein 1995 also contains a richly informed constructive perspective on gender from the Tibetan and feminist traditions. Kawanami 2007 discusses efforts to revive the nuns’ sangha, and Tsomo 2000 contains wide-ranging essays on Buddhism and women throughout the world.

  • Gross, Rita M. Buddhist after Patriarchy: A Feminist History, Analysis, and Reconstruction of Buddhism. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993.

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    A feminist critique of Buddhism that seeks to find an “accurate and useable” past as a resource for overcoming Buddhist androcentrism.

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  • Kawanami, Hiroko. “The Bhikkhunī Ordination Debate: Global Aspirations, Local Concerns, with Special Emphasis on the Views of the Monastic Community in Burma.” Buddhist Studies Review 24.2 (2007): 226–244.

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    Highlights efforts to revive the sangha of nuns in Sri Lanka and Burma and discusses tensions between traditionalists and international bhikkhunīs who promote modernist views of gender equality, individual rights, and universalism.

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  • Klein, Anne C. Meeting the Great Bliss Queen: Buddhists, Feminists, and the Art of the Self. Boston: Beacon, 1995.

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    Klein discusses the idea of personhood in Western feminism and Buddhism by examining the tension between essentialism and postmodernism in the West and between different understandings of enlightenment in Buddhism.

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  • Tsomo, Karma Lekshe, ed. Innovative Buddhist Women: Swimming against the Stream. Richmond, UK: Curzon, 2000.

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    A mixture of popular, scholarly, and autobiographical essays by over two dozen authors on diverse subjects involving women in Buddhism. A number of chapters discuss contemporary involvement of Buddhist women in issues such as human rights, sexual ethics, race, the media, and peace, implicitly addressing issues of modernism and tradition.

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Engaged Buddhism

Social and political activism constitutes a significant aspect of Buddhist modernism, especially in recent decades. Engaged Buddhism can be understood as a facet of Buddhist modernism insofar as it entails sometimes radical reinterpretations of Buddhist doctrine to address the systemic suffering induced by modern social and political institutions. It employs reformulations of Buddhist thought and practice in terms applicable to contemporary social, political, gender, and environmental issues. Little scholarly work has been done thematizing engaged Buddhism as a kind of Buddhist modernism, though a few of the studies cited here take up issues of Buddhism and modernity explicitly. In the introductory essay to Queen and King 1996, engaged Buddhism is seen as a “fourth yāna,” or vehicle, and placed in its historical context. The essays in this volume discuss the wide range of engaged Buddhist movements in Asia, while Queen 2000 introduces engaged Buddhism in the West. Essays in these two volumes are largely sympathetic, while a few essays in Queen, et al. 2003 are critical of the movement. Connecting Buddhism with environmental activism is a prominent engaged Buddhist theme, and Tucker and Williams 1997 contains essays by both scholars and activists on Buddhism and ecology, including some questioning whether Buddhism has anything to do with environmentalism. Harris 1991 also questions the application of Buddhism to environmental issues.

LAST MODIFIED: 09/13/2010

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195393521-0041

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