Buddhism has exploded into multiple arenas of American life over the past few decades. Books on mindfulness proliferate in airport bookstores, saffron-robed monks rally for environmental causes and Asian American immigrants build golden stupas and sprawling temples in America’s cities.
In Asia, Buddhism flourishes not only as a religion but also as an integral part of the social and political fabric. Likewise, Buddhists and non-Buddhist in the West invoke, interpret and spread the tradition widely during the course of their lives. The dynamics of Buddhism in Asia, its practice in the diaspora and its innovative developments within American public life make us mindful that Buddhism is not only an ancient tradition but also a living one.
- CommentaryWhat’s So Wrong with Mindfulness?This article originally appeared in Tricycle. “I was stressed out, burned out, and divorced. And then I started doing yoga.” This is how many people I have spoken to in the course …Topics: Buddhists and Buddhism, Creativity and Innovation, Meditation and Prayer, Transnational
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- VideoAgainst the Stream: Taking Refuge in an American Sangha
- ArticleMapping the New Landscape of Religion in Los FelizThis article originally appeared in BOOM: A Journal of California. Mt. Hollywood Congregational Church was in trouble. Its congregation had become too small to sustain the decaying Los Feliz building that had …Topics: Buddhists and Buddhism, Christians and Christianity, Creativity and Innovation, LGBT Issues, Place and Religion, Religious Affiliation, Southern California
- Photo GalleryThe Korean Buddhist Version of a MegachurchSeoul isn’t just the megachurch capital of the world; Nungin Sunwon Zen Center is considered a mega-temple, with 100,000 members. Gold #Buddha at Nungin Sunwon #Zen Center in #Seoul, #SouthKorea. #ReligioninSeoul #nunginsunwon …Topics: Asia, Buddhists and Buddhism, Creativity and Innovation, Korea
- CommentaryTraditional and Innovative – How Korean Buddhism Stays RelevantSouth Korea has become most widely known for its rapidly growing Christian population in the recent past, but nearly a quarter of the country’s population identify as Buddhist. (A majority of the …Topics: Asia, Buddhists and Buddhism, Creativity and Innovation, Korea, Transnational
- CommentaryReligious, Spiritual and “None of the Above”: How Did Mindfulness Get So Big?This post originally appeared on Religion Dispatches. The ever-growing popularity of mindfulness—from corporate boardrooms to inner-city schools—has finally made my academic interest a conversation-starter at dinner parties. “Ah, the Buddha was talking about cognitive …Topics: Buddhists and Buddhism, Creativity and Innovation, Meditation and Prayer
- CommentaryWhy Do Buddhists Give Money in Sri Lanka, But Not in the U.S.?During visit to observe a Los Angeles-based mindfulness group a few months ago, the teacher asked me to explain to her students the significant role that dana, one of the ten pāramitā …Topics: Asia, Buddhists and Buddhism, Community Organizing, Creativity and Innovation, Economic Inequality, Faith-Based Organizations, Religious Leadership
- CommentaryCompetitive Religious Philanthropy in the Wake of the Nepali EarthquakeThis post originally appeared at Religion Dispatches. The death toll in Nepal has surpassed 8,500, Reuters reported this week, making it the country’s deadliest earthquake on record. In the aftermath of the disaster, …Topics: Asia, Buddhists and Buddhism, Creativity and Innovation, Disaster Response, Hindus and Hinduism, Missionaries, Religious Extremism
- CommentaryMindful TogethernessMindfulness is everywhere. From die-hard new atheists like Sam Harris to tech-gurus like Chade-Meng Tan, it is attracting a surprisingly diverse audience. Like yoga in recent decades, this derivation of a traditional …Topics: Buddhists and Buddhism, Community Dynamics, Creativity and Innovation, Meditation and Prayer
- CommentaryGood Vibrations: Sonic Rituals and Sacred Time“Please come on Saturday morning, by 6:50am to get settled in for the 7-8:30am gathering.” So read the email from Kathryn, one of my research interlocutors, who helps coordinate a small group …Topics: Buddhists and Buddhism, Creativity and Innovation, Meditation and Prayer, Southern California
- CommentaryThe Wild, Wild West of MindfulnessDiana Winston’s post-college spiritual journey was something of an anachronism. After she graduated from Brown in the late 1980s, Winston traveled to Southeast Asia, where she spent several years working with Theravada …Topics: Buddhists and Buddhism, Creativity and Innovation, Meditation and Prayer, Religious "Nones", Southern California
“While much of what has been written about the contemporary mindfulness movement concerns the so-called secularization of the Buddhist path of awakening, this phenomenon can also provide us with some specific insights about spirituality in America.”
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- Nalika GajaweeraResearch AssociateNalika Gajaweera is a cultural anthropologist specialized in Buddhism, transnationalism and ethics, with an area expertise in South Asia.
- Lori MeeksLori Meeks studies the social and cultural history of Buddhism in Japan, particularly related to the role of women.
- Nick StreetSenior WriterNick Street is a journalist covering religious change and innovation, Buddhism, Pentecostalism and LGBT issues.