Journal of Buddhist Ethics

An online journal of Buddhist scholarship related to ethics.


Buddhist Nuns’ Ordination in the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya Tradition

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 23, 2016

Buddhist Nuns’ Ordination in the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya Tradition: Two Possible Approaches

Bhikṣuṇī Jampa Tsedroen
Academy of World Religions and Numata Center for Buddhist Studies, University of Hamburg

This article examines the possibilities of reviving the Mūlasarvāstivāda lineage of fully ordained nuns (bhikṣuṇī). It explores two ways to generate a “flawless and perfect” Mūlasarvāstivāda bhikṣuṇī vow, either by Mūlasarvāstivāda monks alone or by Mūlasarvāstivāda monks with Dharmaguptaka nuns (“ecumenical” ordination). The first approach is based on a Vinaya passage which traditionally is taken as the Word of the Buddha, but which, from a historical-critical point of view, is dubious. The second approach is not explicitly represented in the Vinaya but involves “re-reading” or “re-thinking” it with a critical-constructive attitude (“theological” approach). Each approach is based on my latest findings from studying the Tibetan translation of the Bhikṣuṇyupasaṃpadājñāpti and related commentaries.

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Report: Conference on Buddhist Ethics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 23, 2016

Inaugural Conference on Buddhist Ethics

Daniel Cozort
Dickinson College

A report on the Conference on Buddhist Ethics held at Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, on June 14-16, 2016.

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Holistic Eco-Buddhism and the Problem of Universal Identity

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 22, 2015

Nature’s No-Thingness: Holistic Eco-Buddhism and the Problem of Universal Identity

Marek Sullivan
University of Oxford

“Holistic eco-Buddhism” has been roundly criticized for its heterodoxy and philosophical incoherence: the Buddha never claimed we should protect an “eco-self” and there are serious philosophical problems attendant on “identifying with things.” Yet this essay finds inadequate attention has been paid to East Asian sources. Metaphysical issues surrounding eco-Buddhism, i.e., problems of identity and difference, universalism and particularity, have a long history in Chinese Buddhism. In particular, I examine the notion of “merging with things” in pre-Huayan and Huayan Buddhism, suggesting these offer unexplored possibilities for a coherent holistic eco-Buddhism based on the differentiating effects of activity and functionality.

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The Eco-Buddhism of Marie Byles

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 22, 2015

The Eco-Buddhism of Marie Byles

Peggy James
University of Tasmania

Marie Beuzeville Byles (1900–1979) was a key figure in the historical development of Buddhism in Australia, and the nation’s conservation movement. From the 1940s she began to develop an eco-Buddhist worldview and Buddhist environmental ethic that she applied in her day-to-day conservation activities and articulated over the course of four books on Buddhism and dozens of published articles. She is recognized in Australia for her Buddhist environmental thought, the influence that her ideas had in a key environmental debate of her day, and her international profile as a Buddhist. Most histories of modern eco-Buddhism, however, do not mention Byles’s work, and there has thus far been little scholarly analysis of her writings. This paper examines Byles’s eco-Buddhist ideas and activities in detail, and assesses the historical significance of her contribution.

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Review: A Short History of the Buddha

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 22, 2015

From Stone to Flesh: A Short History of the Buddha. By Donald S. Lopez, Jr. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2013, 978-0-226-49320-6 (hardback), $26.00.

Reviewed by Geoffrey C. Goble

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Review: Daniel Berrigan, Thich Nhat Hanh, and the Ethics of Peace and Justice

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 22, 2015

The Prophet and the Bodhisattva: Daniel Berrigan, Thich Nhat Hanh and the Ethics of Peace and Justice. By Charles R. Strain. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2014, ISBN 978-1620328415 (paperback), $32.00.

Reviewed by Peter Herman

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Zen Meets Kierkegaard

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 22, 2015

A Love Knowing Nothing: Zen Meets Kierkegaard

Mary Jeanne Larrabee
DePaul University

I present a case for a love that has a wisdom knowing nothing. How this nothing functions underlies what Kierkegaard urges in Works of Love and how Zen compassion moves us to action. In each there is an ethical call to love in action. I investigate how Kierkegaard’s “religiousness B” is a “second immediacy” in relation to God, one springing from a nothing between human and God. This immediacy clarifies what Kierkegaard takes to be the Christian call to love. I draw a parallel between Kierkegaard’s immediacy and the expression of immediacy within a Zen-influenced life, particularly the way in which it calls the Zen practitioner to act toward the specific needs of the person standing before one. In my understanding of both Kierkegaard and Zen life, there is also an ethics of response to the circumstances that put the person in need, such as entrenched poverty or other injustices.

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Review: History of Buddhism in Ireland

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 22, 2015

Buddhism and Ireland: From the Celts to the Counterculture and Beyond. By Laurence Cox. Equinox, 2013, 426 pages, ISBN 9781908049308 (paperback), £24.99/$35.00.

Reviewed by Alison Melnick

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Battlefield Dharma

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 21, 2014

Battlefield Dharma: American Buddhists in American Wars

Robert M. Bosco
Centre College

The Internet has become a space for today’s American Buddhist soldiers to think through difficult ethical questions that cannot always be resolved on the battlefield. I argue that this emergent cyber-sangha of American Buddhist soldiers signifies the arrival of an important new feature on the landscape of American Buddhism. As Buddhism integrates ever more deeply into American life and collective consciousness, it forms links with American conceptions of national security, military values, and America’s role on the world. When viewed in the larger social and cultural context of American Buddhism, the development of this cyber-sangha represents a new generation’s answer to the predominantly anti-war Buddhism of 1960s and 1970s that continues to define Buddhism in the public imagination. We are thus beginning to perceive the faint outlines of how American Buddhism might be changing—accommodating itself, perhaps—to a new post-9/11 nationalism.

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Attitudes Arising from Buddhist Nurture in Britain

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 21, 2014

Attitudes Arising from Buddhist Nurture in Britain

Phra Nicholas Thanissaro
University of Warwick

Focus groups comprised of seventy-five self-identifying Buddhist teenagers in Britain were asked to discuss value domains that previous research has identified to be of special interest to Buddhists. These included personal well-being, the nature of faith, the law of karma, monasticism, meditation, home shrines, filial piety, generosity, not killing animals, and alcohol use. The findings suggest that some attitudes held by teenagers were conscious and intrinsically nurtured (“worldview”) while others involved social constructs (“ideologies”). The study finds that parents and the Sangha are mainly responsible for shaping “ideological” patterns in young Buddhists whereas informal nurture by “immersion” (possibly facilitated by caregivers) may be responsible for “worldview” patterns.

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Review: Buddhism Goes to the Movies

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 21, 2014

Buddhism Goes to the Movies: An Introduction to Buddhist Thought and Practice. By Ronald Green. New York: Routledge, 2014, 166 pages, ISBN: 9780415841481 (paperback), $34.95.

Reviewed by John Whalen-Bridge

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Transforming Gender Bias in Tibetan Buddhism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 21, 2014

Blossoms of the Dharma: The Contribution of Western Nuns in Transforming Gender Bias in Tibetan Buddhism

Elizabeth Swanepoel
University of Pretoria

This article investigates the nature of gender imbalance in Tibetan Buddhism, particularly pertaining to the unavailability of bhikṣuṇī ordination, and the specific role Western nuns have played in contributing to transforming this imbalance. The article postulates that male privilege continues to dominate the institutional cultures of religious life in Tibetan Buddhism. However, fertile tensions have of late emerged between an underground tradition of highly accomplished female practitioners and the institutional preference for male practitioners. A revalorization process has been initiated in recent years by a number of Western female Buddhologists, some of whom are also fully ordained Tibetan Buddhist nuns. The article highlights the efforts of these accomplished nuns as well as a number of other prominent Western Tibetan Buddhist nuns.

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Buddhist Self-immolation and Mahāyānist Absolute Altruism, Part Two

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 21, 2014

Thresholds of Transcendence: Buddhist Self-immolation and Mahāyānist Absolute Altruism, Part Two

Martin Kovan
University of Melbourne

In China and Tibet, and under the gaze of the global media, the five-year period from February 2009 to February 2014 saw the self-immolations of at least 127 Tibetan Buddhist monks, nuns, and lay-people. An English Tibetan Buddhist monk, then resident in France, joined this number in November 2012, though his self-immolation has been excluded from all accounts of the exile Tibetan and other documenters of the ongoing Tibetan crisis. Underlying the phenomenon of Buddhist self-immolation is a real and interpretive ambiguity between personal, religious (or ritual-transcendental), altruistic, and political suicide, as well as political suicide within the Buddhist sangha specifically. These theoretical distinctions appear opaque not only to (aligned and non-aligned, Tibetan and non-Tibetan) observers, but potentially also to self-immolators themselves, despite their deeply motivated conviction.

Such ambiguity is reflected in the varying historical and current assessments of the practice, also represented by globally significant Buddhist leaders such as His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and the Vietnamese monk and activist Thích Nhất Hạnh. This essay analyses the symbolic ontology of suicide in these Tibetan Buddhist cases, and offers metaethical and normative accounts of self-immolation as an altruistic-political act in the “global repertoire of contention” in order to clarify its claims for what is a critically urgent issue in Buddhist ethics.

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The Ethico-Political Significance of Mindfulness

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 21, 2014

Towards a Dialogue Between Buddhist Social Theory and “Affect Studies” on the Ethico-Political Significance of Mindfulness

Edwin Ng
Deakin University

This article stages a conversation between an emergent Buddhist social theory and current thinking in the humanities and social sciences on the affective and visceral registers of everyday experience—or what falls under the rubric of “affect studies.” The article takes the premise that prevailing models of Buddhist social theory need updating as they remain largely confined to macropolitical accounts of power, even though they argue for the importance of a mode of sociocultural analysis that would anchor itself on the “self” end of the self–society continuum. The article will thus explore ways to develop a micropolitical account of the ethical and political implications of Buddhist spiritual-social praxis—specifically mindfulness training—by formulating some hypotheses for dialogical exchange between Buddhist understandings and the multidisciplinary ideas informing the so-called “affective turn.”

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Review: Cruel Theory/Sublime Practice

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Cruel Theory/Sublime Practice: Toward a Revaluation of Buddhism. By Glenn Wallis, Tom Pepper, and Matthias Steingass. Roskilde, Denmark: EyeCorner Press, 2013, 211 pages, ISBN 978-87-92633-23-1 (paperback), $29.95.

Reviewed by John L. Murphy

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Buddhist Self-immolation and Mahāyānist Absolute Altruism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Thresholds of Transcendence: Buddhist Self-immolation and Mahāyānist Absolute Altruism, Part One

Martin Kovan
University of Melbourne

In China and Tibet, and under the gaze of the global media, the four-year period from February 2009 to February 2013 saw the self-immolations of at least 110 Tibetan Buddhist monks, nuns and lay-people. Underlying the phenomenon of Buddhist self-immolation is a real and interpretive ambiguity between personal, religious, altruistic and political suicide, and political suicide within the Buddhist saṅgha specifically, itself reflected in the varying historical assessments of the practice and currently given by global Buddhist leaders such as His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and the Vietnamese monk and activist Thích Nhất Hạnh.

Part One of this essay surveys the textual and theoretical background to the canonical record and commentarial reception of suicide in Pāli Buddhist texts, and the background to self-immolation in the Mahāyāna, and considers how the current Tibetan Buddhist self-immolations relate ethically to that textual tradition. This forms the basis for, in Part Two, understanding them as altruistic-political acts in the global repertoire of contention.

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Review: Theos Bernard, the White Lama

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Theos Bernard, the White Lama: Tibet, Yoga, and American Religious Life. Paul G. Hackett. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012, xxii + 494 pages, ISBN 978-0-231-15886-2 (cloth), $32.95.

Reviewed by David M. DiValerio

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Review: Bodh Gaya Jataka

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Cross-disciplinary Perspectives on a Contested Site: Bodh Gaya Jataka. Edited by David Geary, Matthew R. Sayers, and Abhisek Sing Amar. London: Routledge, 2012, ISBN 978-0415684521 (hardback), $150.00.

Reviewed by Brooke Schedneck

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Buddha’s Maritime Nature

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Buddha’s Maritime Nature: A Case Study in Shambhala Buddhist Environmentalism

Barbra Clayton
Mount Allison University

This paper describes the Buddhist environmental ethic of Windhorse Farm, a Shambhala Buddhist community in Atlantic Canada supported by ecosystem-based sustainable forestry and organic farming. The values, beliefs and motives for this project are described and contextualized within the Shambhala Buddhist tradition, and these results are discussed within the context of the debate in scholarly discussions of environmental Buddhism over whether interdependence or virtues such as compassion and mindfulness are more significant for a Buddhist environmental ethic. The results of this study suggest that both areteic features and the metaphysical position of interdependence play key roles in the Shambhala approach to environmentalism. Results also suggest that the Shambhala environmental ethic defies the theoretical demand for a fact/value distinction, and that this case study may indicate why Buddhist traditions tend to lack systematic treatments of ethics.

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Why Buddhism and the West Need Each Other

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Why Buddhism and the West Need Each Other: On the Interdependence of Personal and Social Transformation

David R. Loy

The highest ideal of the Western tradition has been the concern to restructure our societies so that they are more socially just. The most important goal for Buddhism is to awaken and (to use the Zen phrase) realize one’s true nature, which puts an end to dukkha—especially that associated with the delusion of a separate self. Today it has become more obvious that we need both: not just because these ideals complement each other, but also because each project needs the other. The Western (now world-wide) ideal of a social transformation that institutionalizes social justice has achieved much, yet, I argue, is limited because a truly good society cannot be realized without the correlative realization that personal transformation is also necessary. On the other side, the traditional Buddhist emphasis on ending individual dukkha is insufficient in the face of what we now understand about the structural causes of dukkha. This does not mean simply adding a concern for social justice to Buddhist teachings. For example, applying a Buddhist perspective to structural dukkha implies an alternative evaluation of our economic situation. Instead of appealing for distributive justice, this approach focuses on the consequences of individual and institutionalized delusion: the dukkha of a sense of a self that feels separate from others, whose sense of lack consumerism exploits and institutionalizes into economic structures that assume a life (and motivations) of their own.

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Mahāyāna Ethics and American Buddhism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Mahāyāna Ethics and American Buddhism: Subtle Solutions or Creative Perversions?

Charles S. Prebish
Pennsylvania State University & Utah State University (Emeritus)

“Mahāyāna Ethics and American Buddhism: Subtle Solutions or Creative Perversions?” initially explores the notion of two distinctly different forms of upāya, first presented by Damien Keown in his 1992 volume The Nature of Buddhist Ethics, in which one form of skill-in-means is available only to bodhisattvas prior to stage seven of the bodhisattva’s path and requires adherence to all proper ethical guidelines, while the second form of upāya is applicable to bodhisattvas at stage seven and beyond, and allows them to ignore any and all ethical guidelines in their attempts to alleviate suffering. This distinctly Mahāyāna interpretation of upāya is used to examine the presumably scandalous behavior of Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche and Richard Baker, Rōshi, two of the most popular and controversial figures in American Buddhism. The article concludes that we can at least infer that applied in the proper fashion, by accomplished teachers, the activities allowed by upāya do present possibly subtle explanations of seemingly inappropriate behaviors. On the other hand, if abused by less realized beings, we must recognize these acts as merely creative perversions of a noble ethical heritage.

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Making Suffering Sufferable

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Suffering Made Sufferable: Śāntideva, Dzongkaba, and Modern Therapeutic Approaches to Suffering’s Silver Lining

Daniel Cozort
Dickinson College

Suffering’s positive side was elucidated beautifully by the eighth century Mahāyāna poet Śāntideva in his Bodhicāryavatāra. Dzongkaba Losang Drakpa, the founder of what came to be known as the Gelukba (dge lugs pa) order of Tibetan Buddhism, used Śāntideva’s text as his main source in the chapter on patience in his masterwork, Lam rim Chenmo. In this article I attempt to explicate Śāntideva’s thought by way of the commentary of Dzongkaba. I then consider it in the context of what Ariel Glucklich has called “Sacred Pain”—the myriad ways in which religious people have found meaning in pain. I conclude with some observations about ways in which some Buddhist-inspired or -influenced therapeutic movements such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Positive Psychology are helping contemporary people to reconcile themselves to pain or to discover that it may have positive value.

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Review: The Mind Sciences and Contemplative Practice

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Meditations of a Buddhist Skeptic: A Manifesto for the Mind Sciences and Contemplative Practice. B. Alan Wallace. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012. xi+292 pages, ISBN-13: 9780231158343 (pbk), $27.95.

Reviewed by Eric Haynie

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Review: Race and Religion in American Buddhism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Race and Religion in American Buddhism: White Supremacy and Immigrant Adaptation. By Joseph Cheah. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2011, 192 pages, ISBN 978-0199756285 (Hardcover), $65.00.

Reviewed by Brooke Schedneck

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A Reexamination of Buddhist Teachings on Female Inferiority

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 19, 2012

Right View, Red Rust, and White Bones: A Reexamination of Buddhist Teachings on Female Inferiority

Allison A. Goodwin
College of Liberal Arts
National Taiwan University

Hundreds of psychological and social studies show that negative expectations and concepts of self and others, and discrimination based on the idea that a particular group is inferior to another, adversely affect those who discriminate as well as those who are subject to discrimination. This article argues that both genders are harmed by negative Buddhist teachings about women and by discriminatory rules that limit their authority, rights, activities, and status within Buddhist institutions. Śākyamuni Buddha’s instructions in the Tripiṭaka for evaluating spiritual teachings indicate that because such views and practices have been proven to lead to harm, Buddhists should conclude that they are not the True Dharma and should abandon them.

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Review: Prebish, Modern Dharma Pioneer

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 18, 2011

An American Buddhist Life: Memoirs of a Modern Dharma Pioneer. By Charles S. Prebish. Toronto: Sumeru, 2011, 266 pages, ISBN 978-1-896559-09-4 (pbk), $24.95 US/CAD; £17.50.

Reviewed by Nicole Heather Libin

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Review: Essays of Rita Gross

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 18, 2011

A Garland of Feminist Reflections: Forty Years of Religious Exploration. By Rita M. Gross. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2009, viii + 340 pages, ISBN 978-0-520-25586-9 (paper), US $24.95; ISBN 978-0-520-25585-2 (cloth).

Reviewed by Ravenna Michalsen

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Review: A Virtues Approach to Environmental Ethics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 18, 2011

Environmental Ethics in Buddhism: A Virtues Approach. By Pragati Sahni. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2007, 224 pages, ISBN: 978-0415396794 (cloth), US $160.00.

Reviewed by Deepa Nag Haksar

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Buddhist Theories of Free Will: Compatiblism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 17, 2010

Earlier Buddhist Theories of Free Will: Compatibilism

Riccardo Repetti
Kingsborough College, City University of New York

This is the first part of a four-article series that examines Buddhist accounts of free will. The present article introduces the issues and reviews earlier attempts by Frances Story, Walpola Rāhula, Luis Gómez, and David Kalupahana. These “early-period” authors advocate compatibilism between Buddhist doctrine, determinism (the doctrine of universal lawful causation), and free will. The second and third articles review later attempts by Mark Siderits, Gay Watson, Joseph Goldstein, and Charles Goodman. These “middle-period” authors embrace either partial or full incompatibilism. The fourth article reviews recent attempts by Nicholas F. Gier and Paul Kjellberg, Asaf Federman, Peter Harvey, and B. Alan Wallace. These “recent-period” authors divide along compatibilist and incompatibilist lines. Most of the scholarly Buddhist works that examine free will in any depth are reviewed in this series. Prior to the above-mentioned early-period scholarship, scholars of Buddhism were relatively silent on free will. The Buddha’s teachings implicitly endorse a certain type of free will and explicitly endorse something very close to determinism, but attempts to articulate the implicit theory bear significant interpretive risks. The purpose of this four-article series is to review such attempts in order to facilitate a comprehensive view of the present state of the discussion and its history.

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Western Self, Asian Other in Buddhist Studies

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 16, 2009

Western Self, Asian Other: Modernity, Authenticity, and Nostalgia for “Tradition” in Buddhist Studies

Natalie E. Quli
Graduate Theological Union

There has been considerable rancor and finger-pointing in recent years concerning the intersection of the West and Buddhism. A new wave of research has focused on Orientalism and the ways in which Western ideas about Buddhism, and even Western criticisms of Buddhism, have been appropriated and turned on their heads to produce a variety of hybrid traditions most often called Buddhist modernism and Protestant Buddhism. Western scholars and early adopters of Buddhism, as well as contemporary Western Buddhist sympathizers and converts, are regularly labeled Orientalists; Asian Buddhists like Anagārika Dharmapāla and D. T. Suzuki are routinely dismissed for appropriating Western ideas and cloaking them with the veil of tradition, sometimes for nationalistic ends, and producing “Buddhist modernism.”

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Socially Engaged Buddhism in the U.K.

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 13, 2006

The Sociological Implications for Contemporary Buddhism in the United Kingdom: Socially Engaged Buddhism, a Case Study

Phil Henry
University of Derby

This article addresses Buddhist identity in contemporary settings and asks what it means to be Buddhist in the West today. This is the overarching theme of my doctoral research into socially engaged Buddhism in the United Kingdom, which addresses the question of how socially engaged Buddhism challenges the notion of what it means to be Buddhist in the twenty-first century. The scope of this article is to portray part of that work, and, in so doing, it suggests methodological approaches for students of Western Buddhism, using my research into the identity of socially engaged Buddhists in the United Kingdom as a case study.

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Review: Western Psychology and Buddhist Practice

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 12, 2005

Buddhist Practice on Western Ground. By Harvey B. Aronson. Preface by Huston Smith. Boston and London: Shambhala, 2004. 253 pages. Paperback. ISBN 1590300939.

Reviewed by Amos Yong

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Review: Presenting Japanese Buddhism to the West

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 12, 2005

Presenting Japanese Buddhism to the West: Orientalism, Occidentalism, and the Columbian Exposition. By Judith Snodgrass. London and Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003. 351 pages. ISBN: 0-8078-5458-1 (paperback); 0-8078-2785-1 (cloth).

Reviewed by Jason Ānanda Josephson

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Review: Meditation on Good and Evil

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 12, 2005

Living with the Devil: A Meditation on Good and Evil. By Stephen Batchelor. New York: Riverhead Books (Penguin Imprint). Pp. 224. ISBN 1573222763.

Reviewed by Michael Keating

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Review: Buddhism and Psychedelics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 11, 2004

Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics. Edited by Allan Hunt Badiner and Alex Grey. Preface by Huston Smith. Foreword by Stephen Batchelor. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2002. 238 pages. Cloth. ISBN 0-8118-3286-4.

Reviewed by Geoffrey Redmond

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Review: East-West Dialogue

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 10, 2003

The Monk and the Philosopher: East Meets West in a Father-Son Dialogue. By Jean-Francois Revel and Matthieu Ricard. Translated from French by John Canti. London: Thorson, Harper Collins 1998, and 1999. 310 pages, ISBN 0-8052-4162-0 (paperback), US $14.00.

Reviewed by Seyed Javad

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The Buddha-legend’s First Journey to the West

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 9, 2002

The Killing Test: The Kinship of Living Beings and the Buddha-legend’s First Journey to the West

Graeme MacQueen
McMaster University

As it has traveled, the Buddha-legend has carried complex messages and sets of ideas, among which is the kinship of living beings. When the story made its way to Europe in the medieval period in the form of Barlām and Josaphat, however, many of its messages were removed, and the kinship of living beings was one of the casualties. Concentrating on a particular episode in Barlām and Josaphat, I show how the kinship of living beings was progressively deleted. I then suggest that this removal was based, in part, on a historical practice used for the detection and repression of Manichaeism: the killing test. With the help of this mechanism of inquisition and persecution, the Buddha-legend was prevented, until the nineteenth century, from transmitting one of its key messages to the West.

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Buddhism and Aristotle on Human Rights

ISSN 1076—9005
Volume 8, 2001

Why the Dalai Lama Should Read Aristotle

Stephen McCarthy
Northern Illinois University

The purpose of this paper is to discover a classical foundation for the establishment of universal human rights in Buddhism. Such a foundation must necessarily overcome the modern barrier imposed by the Asian values rhetoric and its claims that “Western,” Lockean, and essentially private ideas of rights have no place in Asian “family-oriented” culture. To facilitate its purpose, this paper will consider the modern, Lockean understanding of “rights” as the source of much of the Asian values’ argument, and proceed to an examination into the compatibility of a Buddhist understanding of human rights with Aristotle’s understanding of ethics and natural law. If it is possible to discover the source of universal human rights in Aristotle’s writings, as well as discover a compatibility to Buddhist beliefs and practices, then we may ground a case for the idea of human rights existing prior to their modern Lockean origins and accessible to Buddhism.

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Buddhist Contribution to Social Welfare in Australia

ISSN 1076—9005
Volume 8, 2001

Buddhist Contribution to Social Welfare in Australia

Patricia Sherwood
Edith Cowan University

This article outlines the contribution of Buddhist organizations in Australia to education and social welfare. It is argued that from the viewpoint of Buddhist organizations in Australia, they have always been concerned with social welfare and education issues, and this is not a new phenomenon. This is illustrated through examining services delivered by Buddhist organizations in Australia in nine areas: education of adults; education of children; working with the sick and dying in the community; working in hospitals and hospices; working in drug rehabilitation; working with the poor; working in prisons; speaking up for the oppressed; and working for non-human sentient beings. The worldviews of these Buddhist organizations that state social engagement has always been integral to their tradition will be articulated.

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Review: Buddhist-Christian Dialogue

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 8, 2001

Buddhists Talk about Jesus, Christians Talk about the Buddha. Edited By Rita M. Gross and Terry C. Muck. New York: Continuum, 2000, 144 pages, ISBN: 0–8264–1196–7 (paperback), US $14.95.

Reviewed by Eric Reinders

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Review: Engaged Buddhism in the West

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 8, 2001

Engaged Buddhism in the West. Edited by Christopher S. Queen. Boston: Wisdom Publishing, 2000, 544 pages, ISBN: 0–8617–1159–9, US $24.95.

Reviewed by Mavis L. Fenn

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Review: Buddhism’s Encounter with the West

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 8, 2001

La rencontre du bouddhisme et de l’Occident. By Frédéric Lenoir. Paris: Fayard, 1999, 393 pages, ISBN: 2–213–60103–8 (paper), 135 ff.
Le bouddhisme en France.
By Frédéric Lenoir. Paris: Fayard, 1999, 447 pages, ISBN: 2–213–60528–9 (paper), 140 ff.

Reviewed by Lionel Obadia

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Review: Khmer American Identity

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 8, 2001

Khmer American: Identity and Moral Education in a Diasporic Community. Edited By Nancy J. Smith-Hefner, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999, xx + 237 pages, ISBN: 0–520–21348–3 (cloth), US $55.00, ISBN: 0–520–21349–1 (paperback), US $19.95.

Reviewed by Douglas M. Padgett

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Review: Buddhism and Africa

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 7, 2000

Buddhism and Africa. Edited By Michel Clasquin and Jacobus S. Krueger. Pretoria, South Africa: University of South Africa Press, 1999, 133 pages, ISBN 1–86888–139–3 (paper), Rand 35.00, US $10.00.

Reviewed By Martin Baumann

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Review: Buddhist Communities in Toronto

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 7, 2000

Many Petals of the Lotus: Five Asian Buddhist Communities in Toronto. By Janet McLellan. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999, xii + 264 pages, ISBN 0–8020–4421–2 (cloth), 0–8020–8225–4 (paper), $60.00 (cloth), $24.95 (paper).

Reviewed by Lionel Obadia

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Review: Buddhism, A Very Short Introduction

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 7, 2000

Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction. By Damien Keown. Oxford: Oxford Paperbacks, 1996, xiii + 141 pages, ISBN: 0–1928–5386–4, US$8.95.

Reviewed by James G. Mullens

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Review: Buddhism in America

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 7, 2000

Buddhism in America. By Richard Hughes Seager. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999, xviii + 314 pages, ISBN: 0–231–10868–0, $35.00.

Reviewed By Alioune Koné–el–Adji

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Review: Bodhisattva Archetypes

SSN 1076-9005
Volume 7, 2000

Bodhisattva Archetypes: Classic Buddhist Guides to Awakening and their Modern Expressions. By Taigen Daniel Leighton. New York: Penguin Arkana, 1998, xviii + 364 pages, ISBN: 0–14–019556–4 (paper), US $14.95.

Reviewed by Franz Aubrey Metcalf

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The Buddhalegend’s Westward Journey

ISSN:1076-9005
Volume 5 1995

Changing Master Narratives in Midstream: Barlaam and Josaphat and the Growth of Religious Intolerance in the Buddhalegend’s Westward Journey

Graeme MacQueen
McMaster University

As the legend of the Buddha moved into Europe in the medieval period in the form of the story of the Christian saints Barlām and Josaphat it became marked for the first time by deep religious intolerance. The article find this structural shift to have been accomplished through two separate but integrated moves: a master narrative of emancipation through enlightenment is replaced by a master narrative of salvation through faith, and a model of religions as linked and overlapping is replaced by a perception of religions as closed systems that compete with and endanger each other.

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Right Livelihood in the FWBO

ISSN:1076-9005
Volume 5, 1998

Working in the Right Spirit: The Application of Buddhist Right Livelihood in the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order

Martin Baumann
University of Hannover

This paper shall concentrate on adaptive forms with regard to the interpretation of Buddhist economic ethics in the West as presented by Western Buddhists. A brief outline of ethics in Buddhist teachings will be followed by a presentation of Weber’s image of the “world withdrawn Buddhist,” allegedly not involved in any social and economic activities. Buddhist ethics, as portrayed by Weber, nowhere promotes socio-political engagement and entrepreneurial activities. Contrary to Weber’s stereotyped view, which was widely accepted but rarely questioned, members of The Friends of the Western Buddhist Order have started to develop businesses and cooperatives, thus combining Buddhist teachings and involvement in the world. Their team-based Right Livelihood endeavors already have created a Buddhist economy on a small scale; their ultimate aim is to bring about a transformation of Western society. Thus, supposedly “world withdrawn Buddhists” have become socio-economically active in the Western world.

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Buddhism in the West

ISSN:1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

The Dharma Has Come West: A Survey of Recent Studies and Sources

Martin Baumann
University of Hannover

This survey article will point out and discuss existing studies and sources that provide historical information of Buddhist developments in Western, industrialized countries. The aspect of Buddhist influences on European philosophy and psychology as well as results of East-West interaction cannot, unfortunately, be dealt with here. The survey will begin by mentioning the few general overviews, followed by a stock-taking of the respective regional studies.

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Review: Practice and Study of Buddhism in America

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 6, 1999

Luminous Passage: The Practice and Study of Buddhism in America. By Charles S. Prebish.  University of California Press, 1999, xi + 334 pages, ISBN: 0-520-21696-2 (cloth), 0-520-21697-0 (paper), US $45.00 (cloth), $18.95 (paper).

Reviewed by Franz Aubrey Metcalf

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Review: Tibetan Buddhism in France

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 6, 1999

Bouddhisme et Occident: La diffusion du bouddhisme tibétain en France. By Lionel Obadia. Paris: Éditions L’Harmattan (Collection Religion & Sciences Humaines), 1999, 272 pages, ISBN 2-7384-7570-1.

Reviewed by Elke Hahlbohm-Helmus

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Review: Tibetan Buddhism and the West

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 6, 1999

Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West. By Donald Lopez, Jr. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998, Hardcover 272 pages, ISBN 0226493105, US $25.00; Paperback 284 pages, ISBN 0226493113, US $14.00.

Reviewed by Tsering Shakya

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Review: Faces of Buddhism in America

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 6, 1999

The Faces of Buddhism in America. Edited By Charles S. Prebish and Kenneth K. Tanaka. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998, viii + 370 pages, ISBN 0-520-21301-7, US $50 (cloth), $22 (paper).

Reviewed by Franz Aubrey Metcalf

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Review: Reflections of a Sceptical Buddhist

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 6, 1999

Land of No Buddha: Reflections of a Sceptical Buddhist. By Richard P. Hayes. Birmingham: Windhorse Publications, 1998, ix + 276 pages, ISBN 1-899579-12-5.

Reviewed by Martin Baumann

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Review: Buddhist Studies in Europe and America

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 5 1998

A Brief History of Buddhist Studies in Europe and America. By J. W. de Jong. Tokyo: Koosei Publishing Company, 1997, 184 pages, ISBN: 4333017629, US $19.95. 

Reviewed by John S. Strong

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Review: Buddhism in Germany

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 5 1998

Deutsche Buddhisten: Geschichte und Gemeinschaften. By Martin Baumann. Marburg: diagonal-Verlag, 1995, 465 pages, ISBN 3-927165-32-8 (paper), DM 58.

Reviewed by Frank J. Korom

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Review: Kagyus in Germany

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 5 1998

Geistige Heimat im Buddhismus aus Tibet: Eine empirische Studie am Beispiel der Kagyuepas in Deutschland. By Eva Sabine Saalfrank. Ulm: Fabri Verlag, 1997, viii + 529 + xxx pages, ISBN 3-931997-05-7, DM/SFr 34.

Reviewed by Elke Hahlbohm-Helmus

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Review: Buddhism and the Beat Generation

ISSN 1076-9005
Valume 5 1998

Big Sky Mind: Buddhism and the Beat Generation. Edited by Carole Tonkinson, with Introduction by Stephen Prothero. New York: Riverhead Books, 1995, 387 pages, ISBN: 1-5732-2501-0, US $15.00.

Reviewed by Richard Hughes Seager

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Review: Buddhism in America

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 5 1998

Buddhism in America: Proceedings of the First Buddhism in America Conference. Compiled By Al Rapaport. Edited By Brian D. Hotchkiss. Rutland, Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle Co., Inc., 1998, xv + 568 pages, ISBN 0-8048-3152-1, $29.95.

Reviewed by Charles S. Prebish

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Review: Buddhism in Bath

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 5 1998

Buddhism in Bath: Adaptation and Authority. By Helen Waterhouse. Leeds: Monograph Series, Community Religions Project, University of Leeds, 1997, 251 pages, ISBN 1-871363-05, £9.

Reviewed by David Kay

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Review: The European Interpretation of Buddhism as Nihilism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 5 1998

Le Culte du Néant, Les Philosophes et Le Bouddha. By Roger-Pol Droit. Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1997, 361 pages, ISBN 2-02-012507-2, 140 FF.

Reviewed by Alioune Koné

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Review: Western Teachers in Eastern Traditions

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 5 1998

The Book of Enlightened Masters: Western Teachers in Eastern Traditions. By Andrew Rawlinson. Chicago and La Salle, Illinois: Open Court, 1997, 650 pages, ISBN 0-8126-9310-8.

Reviewed by David Kinsley

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Review: Memoir of Meditation

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 5 1998

The Accidental Buddhist: Mindfulness, Enlightenment, and Sitting Still. By Dinty W. Moore. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 1997, 208 pages, ISBN 1565121422, US $19.95.

Reviewed By Richard Hughes Seager

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Review: Buddhism without Beliefs

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 5 1998

Buddhism without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening. By Stephen Batchelor. New York: Riverhead Books, 1997, xii + 127 pages, ISBN 1-57322-058-2, US $21.95.

Reviewed By Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

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Review: Henry Steel Olcott

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

The White Buddhist: The Asian Odyssey of Henry Steel Olcott. By Stephen Prothero. Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1996, 242 pages, ISBN 0-253-33014-9 (cloth), $35.00.

Reviewed By Gananath Obeyesekere

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Review: A Zen Master’s Lessons

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

Instructions to the Cook: A Zen Master’s Lessons in Living a Life That Matters. By Bernard Glassman and Rick Fields. New York: Bell Tower, 1996, ix, 171 pages, ISBN 0-517-70377-7 (cloth), $20.00.

Reviewed by Duncan Ryuuken Williams

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Review: Female Identity in Tibetan Buddhism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

Traveler in Space: In Search of Female Identity in Tibetan Buddhism. By June Campbell. New York: George Braziller Incorporated, 1996, x, 225 pages, ISBN 0-485-11494-1 (cloth), $27.50.

Reviewed by Karen Lang

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Review: Friends of the Western Buddhist Order

ISSN:1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

Extending the Hand of Fellowship: The Relations of the Western Buddhist Order to the Rest of the World. By Sangharakshita. Windhorse Publications, 1996, 48 pages, ISBN 0-904766-62-4, $5.95.

Reviewed by Sandra Bell

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Review: Buddhist Studies in Germany

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

Forschungsprojekt “Buddhistischer Modernismus”. Edited By Detlef Kantowsky. Forschungsberichte: Universitaet Konstanz, Arbeitsbereich “Entwicklungslaender und interkultureller Vergleich,” Konstanz, 1990-1996 (cont.)

Reviewed by Oliver Freiberger

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Review: Buddhism in Australia

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 3 1996

The Buddhists in Australia. By Enid Adam and Philip J Hughes. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service, 1992, xii + 71 pages, ISBN 0 644 35805 X, A$9.95.

Buddhism in Western Australia: alienation or integration? By Enid Adam, published by the author (eadam@echidna.stu.cowan.edu.au), x + 224 pages, ISBN 0 646 25136 8, A$19.95.

Reviewed by Helen Waterhouse

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Review: Two American Theravāda temples

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 3 1996

Old Wisdom in the New World. By Paul Numrich. Knoxville, Tennessee: University of Tennessee Press, 1996, xxiv + 181 pages, ISBN 0-87049-905-X, $25 (cloth).

Reviewed by Martin Baumann

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Review: Buddhism and the West

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 3 1996

The Awakening of the West: The Encounter of Buddhism and Western Culture. By Stephen Batchelor. London: Aquarian, 1994, xvi, 416 pages, ISBN 0-938077-69-4 (paper), $ 18.00, 0-938077-68-6 (cloth), $ 30.00.

Reviewed by Adriano Lanza

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Review: Soka Gakkai in Britain

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

A Time to Chant: The Soka Gakkai Buddhists in Britain. By Bryan Wilson and Karel Dobbelaere. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1994, xi+267 pages, 0-1982-7915-9 (cloth), $39.95.

Reviewed by Brian Bocking

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“Human Rights” in Buddhism?

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 2 1995

Are There “Human Rights” in Buddhism?

Damien Keown
Goldsmiths College, University of London

It is difficult to think of a more urgent question for Buddhism in the late twentieth century than human rights. Human rights issues in which Buddhism has a direct involvement, notably in the case of Tibet, feature regularly on the agenda in superpower diplomacy. The political, ethical and philosophical questions surrounding human rights are debated vigourously in political and intellectual circles throughout the world. Yet despite its contemporary significance, the subject has merited hardly a footnote in mainstream academic research and publication in the field of Buddhist Studies. Why is this? One reason would seem to be the lack of a precedent within Buddhism itself for discussing issues of this kind; scholars, by and large, continue to follow the tradition’s own agenda, an agenda which appears to some increasingly medieval in the shadow of the twenty-first century. If Buddhism wishes to address the issues which are of concern to today’s global community, it must begin to ask itself new questions alongside the old ones.

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Ethics and Integration in American Buddhism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 2 1995

Ethics and Integration in American Buddhism

Charles S. Prebish
The Pennsylvania State University

This article identifies and explicates several of the most difficult and problematic issues facing the North American Buddhist movement today. It considers not only the obvious conflict between Asian-American and Euro-American Buddhism, but also those concerns that most directly impact on the ethical dilemmas facing modern American Buddhists. The article considers the tension that exists in American Buddhism’s struggle to find the ideal community for Buddhist practice in its Western environment, as well as some potentially creative solutions.

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Social Engagement in Western Buddhism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 2 1995

Practicing Peace: Social Engagement in Western Buddhism

Kenneth Kraft
Lehigh University

This essay examines some current concerns of socially engaged Buddhists in the West. How does one practice nonviolence in one’s own life and in the world? How can the demands of “inner” and “outer” work be reconciled? What framework should be used in assessing the effects of Buddhist-inspired activism? Today’s engaged Buddhists do not refer extensively to Buddhism’s ethical tradition, and some of their activities may not appear to be distinctively Buddhist. Nonetheless, their efforts reflect a longstanding Mahāyāna ideal — that transcendental wisdom is actualized most meaningfully in compassionate action.

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Buddhist Ethics as Virtue Ethics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 1 1994

Buddhist Ethics in Western Context: The Virtues Approach

James Whitehill
Stephens College


Contemporary Buddhism increasingly seeks to make itself understood in modern terms and to respond to contemporary conditions. Buddhism’s legitimation in the West can be partially met by demonstrating that Buddhist morality is a virtue-oriented, character-based, community-focused ethics, commensurate with the Western “ethics of virtue” tradition.

The recent past in Western Buddhist ethics focused on escape from Victorian moralism, and was incomplete. A new generation of Western Buddhists is emerging, for whom the “construction” of a Buddhist way of life involves community commitment and moral “practices.” By keeping its roots in a character formed as “awakened virtue” and a community guided by an integrative soteriology of wisdom and morality, Western Buddhism can avoid the twin temptations of rootless liberation in an empty “emptiness,” on the one hand, and universalistic power politics, on the other. In describing Buddhist ethics as an “ethics of virtue,” I am pointing to consistent and essential features in the Buddhist way of life. But, perhaps more importantly, I am describing Buddhist ethics by means of an interpretative framework very much alive in Western and Christian ethics, namely, that interpretation of ethics most recently associated with thinkers like Alasdair MacIntyre and Stanley Hauerwas. The virtue ethics tradition is the Western tradition most congenial to the assumptions and insights of Buddhist ethics. Hence, virtue ethics provides a means of understanding Buddhist ethics… and, reciprocally, Buddhist ethics also offers the Western tradition a way of expanding the bounds of its virtue ethics tradition, which has been too elitist, rationalistic, and anthropocentric. On the basis of this view, I predict some likely, preferable future directions and limits for Buddhism in a postmodern world.

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Vinaya in American Theravāda Temples

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 1 1994

Vinaya in Theravāda Temples in the United States

Paul David Numrich
University of Illinois at Chicago
 
Vinaya (the monastic discipline) plays an essential role in defining traditional Theravāda Buddhism. This article examines the current state of vinaya recitation and practice in the nearly 150 immigrant Theravāda Buddhist temples in the United States, and also speculates on the prospect of traditional Theravāda’s firm establishment in this country. Specific vinaya issues discussed include the pātimokkha ceremony, the discussion about vinaya adaptation to the American context, adaptations in the areas of monastic attire and relations with women, and principles of adaptation at work in Theravāda temples in the United States. 

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