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.
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“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.