The Buddhist Experience in America

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Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004 - Religion - 372 pages

The Buddhist Experience in America explores how the world's fourth-largest religion came to America and flourished here. Although the percentage of Buddhists in America has always been, and will probably remain, low, Buddhism has had a greater impact on culture than its small numbers might indicate. Concepts such as Nirvana and practices such as meditation have entered the mainstream of American life. Zen has turned into a commonplace adjective, and everybody knows who the Dalai Lama is. But Buddhism is a much more complex and powerful phenomenon than is indicated a catchy phrase, a political cause, or devotion to a charismatic personality. This book provides an accessible introduction to the religion, as well as to how Buddhists follow their beliefs in the United States.

Just as the teachings of Jesus gave birth to Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and hundreds of different Protestant sects, the teachings of the historical Buddha developed into many different traditions. The Buddhist Experience in America examines how these traditions are practiced: Theravada Buddhism, oldest of Buddhist sects, was the last to have a substantial presence in this country; the Mahayana tradition, with particular attention to Pure Land Buddhism, the Buddhism of most Japanese- and Chinese-Americans; the special case of Zen Buddhism, which, while a distinctly minority religion is Japan, has been historically the greatest Buddhist influence in America; and Vajrayana, or Tibetan Buddhism, currently the fastest growing school of Buddhism in America. The book includes a discussion of the historical Buddha and an examination of how contemporary Buddhism has responded to current issues and concerns. Appendices include a glossary, a who's who of Buddhism, a timeline, and a list of resources for further information.

 

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The Buddhist experience in America

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Expensive but worthwhile, this introductory work thoroughly explores how Buddhism, the world's fourth-largest religion, came to thrive in America. Morgan (religion & philosophy, Wilson Coll.), who has ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
The Buddha and His Teaching
19
Theravada The Way of the Elders
67
Mahayana The Second Turning of the Wheel
91
American Zen
147
Tibetan Buddhism The Diamond Vehicle
211
Contemporary American Buddhism The Third Turning of the Wheel
240
Note on Buddhist Names and Titles
295
Whos Who in Buddhism
297
Glossary
305
Research Questions and Projects
321
Resources
325
Index
367
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About the author (2004)

DIANE MORGAN teaches religion and philosophy at Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. She is the author of over a dozen books, including the Best Guide to Eastern Philosophy and Religion (2001).

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