Westward Dharma: Buddhism beyond Asia

Westward Dharma: Buddhism beyond Asia

Westward Dharma: Buddhism beyond Asia

Westward Dharma: Buddhism beyond Asia

Synopsis

"Like seeds on the wind, Buddhist teachings continue to reach new lands. This outstanding book brings to light, in rich detail, the current flowering of Buddhism in the West. Long a world religion, Buddhism is now a global one."--Kenneth Kraft, author of "The Wheel of Engaged Buddhism

""Westward Dharma deserves a place on the growing bookshelf of contemporary Buddhist studies. Prebish and Baumann broaden our horizons from North America to the wider Western world, exploring key aspects of Buddhism's most recent geographical and cultural expansion."--Paul David Numrich, coauthor of "Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs in America.

Excerpt

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 the 1990s witnessed an explosion of academic studies researching Buddhism in North and South America, Europe, Australia, and South Africa. However, a concise overview surveying and analyzing the various histories associated with these new and dramatic developments is lacking. We thought it important to bring together leading scholars in this emerging field to provide an overview and evaluation of the rapidly expanding phenomenon of “Buddha in the West. ”

The first time we met was at the book display of the University of California Press at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion, held in Orlando, Florida, in 1998. Although this was our first face-toface meeting, we had exchanged numerous letters and e-mails for many years. The occasion for this meeting was our participation in a panel entitled “American Buddhism at the Millennium, ” on which we were joined by Richard Seager, Kenneth Tanaka, Christopher Queen, and Duncan Ryūken Williams. That panel attracted more than 150 attendees, the largest audience for any panel devoted to Buddhism at that year's meeting. Similar results from professional society meetings in Canada and Europe could also be cited. Buoyed by the enthusiasm and exciting questions from the audience, we felt our interests and perspectives made a good match both to fill the research gap and to overcome the apparent continental centrism or parochialism in studying Buddhism outside of Asia. One of us concentrates . . .

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