American Buddhism as a Way of Life

The USA appears turning into a Buddhist state. famous person converts, the recognition of the Dalai Lama, motifs in renowned videos, and mala beads on the mall point out an expanding inculcation of Buddhism into the yankee realization, no matter if a comparatively small percent of the inhabitants truly describe themselves as Buddhists. This e-book seems to be past the trendier manifestations of Buddhism in the United States to examine especially American Buddhist methods of life—ways of perceiving and realizing. John Whalen-Bridge and Gary Storhoff have prepared this designated assortment according to the Buddhist idea of the 3 Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.

The Buddha part discusses the 2 key academics who popularized Buddhism in the USA: Alan Watts and D. T. Suzuki and the actual sorts of spirituality they proclaimed. The Dharma part bargains with how Buddhism can enlighten present public debates and a attention of our nationwide earlier with explorations of bioethics, abortion, end-of-life judgements, and realization in overdue capitalism. the ultimate part at the Sangha, or group of believers, discusses how Buddhist groups either formal and casual have affected American society with chapters on family members lifestyles, Nisei Buddhists, homosexual liberation, and Zen gardens.

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This idea gets its fullest expression in Alan Watts, Myth and Ritual in Christianity (Boston: Beacon Press, 1968), written after Watts had left the church. 28. Watts, In My Own Way, 213. 29. See Alan Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety (New York: Pantheon, 1951), 69, n. 1. indd 36 11/15/09 8:33:01 AM The Authenticity of Alan Watts 37 30. Watts appears in Kerouac’s Dharma Bums as Arthur Wane, a formal, loquacious intellectual among the hipsters. Of Gary Snyder, Watts wrote memorably that “he is just what I have been trying to say.

In view of his later international reputation as a scholar, it seems surprising that he never completed his college studies; his only degree was an honorary doctorate bestowed upon him at the age of sixty-three by Kyoto’s Otani University. Suzuki’s first exposure to Zen Buddhism began quite early, as his family observed Zen practices. Troubled by the early death of his father and the family’s financial problems, at one point he sought out the priest of a small Rinzai Zen temple in his home city of Kanazawa.

Also, of course, the “intelligence” to which Watts attributes the power to change is not the abstract conceptual mind, but the intelligence we share with the cosmos—the self-organizing genius by which we live, move, and have our being. Intelligence is what we already have and foolishly think we need to realize. Coming to it, then, is at once the most obvious and most subtle of arts. In any case, Watts has a characteristic description of the result: “to be released from the . . ”53 Play is an activity whose end is in itself, and this is precisely Watts’s point.

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