One thought on “Engaged Buddhism: New and Improved!(?)”

  1. I am neither American nor an academic, yet I am quite interested in the topic (I first posted 18 years ago). The discussion on continuity or discontinuity is dualistic trap, since neither can be thought without the other. But at least we can discuss transformation, which involves both. Other dualities are often constructed by the authors analyzed in the paper and seem to lead to the same type of aporia.

    At least what is new is that “Dharma came to the West” as it is often put. And this did not occur through scholars and Orientalists alone. Many westerners went to Asia and brought back Dharma, creating communities, new sanghas, in the West. Of course, some scholars are also involved in creating such sanghas locally. Reservedly, some practitioners acquire academic skills along the road.

    The first point I want to address is that “Dharma came to the West” is an historical novelty. More generally, the meeting of Eastern and Western cultures could be of importance in the future, if humanity has a future. So this situation may be “no more unique than anyone else’s in the past” (Dharma spread East long ago with huge cultural and spiritual adjustments, for example, in China), but it is not trivial, either. I write “cultures” since the meeting of East and West, supposing a distinction, may not mean much in an age of globalized capitalist economy.

    My second point is that to my knowledge, the “various social, political, economic, etc., institutions, structures, and systems in society” have never been analyzed in history the specific way they are now (another novelty) and this mostly comes from the West. Of course, now those approaches have been assimilated all over the world.

    So I wonder what happened with the debates evoked in this article.

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