This edition updates existing text and adds three new essays on contemporary developments in American Buddhism, particularly the aging of the baby boom population and its effect on American Buddhism’s modern character. New material includes revised information on the full range of communities profiled in the first edition; an added study of a second generation of young, Euro-American leaders and teachers; an accessible look at the increasing importance of meditation and neurobiological research; and a provocative consideration of the mindfulness movement in American culture. The volume maintains its detailed account of South and East Asian influences on American Buddhist practices, as well as instances of interreligious dialogue, socially activist Buddhism, and complex gender roles within the community. Introductory chapters describe Buddhism’s spread across America, arriving with the nineteenth-century transcendentalists and spreading rapidly with the Beat poets of the 1950s. The volume concludes with a frank assessment of the challenges and prospects of American Buddhism in the twenty-first century.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
More than anything else, this is a book about American Buddhist communities (sanghas) and about life within those communities. Prebish considers various Buddhist practices, rituals, and liturgies, as well as the ways these communities have confronted the changing American spiritual landscape. In profiling several different sanghas Prebish reveals the ways that Buddhism is being both reinvented and Westernized. He includes the first exploration of the American Buddhist "cybersangha," a community that has emerged from recent developments in information-exchange technology, and discusses the growing community of "scholar-practitioners." The interactions of Buddhist identities that are related to ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, social engagement, and the healing professions are also examined. This book fully captures the vibrancy and importance of Buddhism in American religious life today.
Finally, Prebish appraises the state of Buddhism at the millennium. Placing the development of American Buddhism squarely in the midst of the religion's general globalization, he argues for an ecumenical movement which will embrace Buddhist communities worldwide.
Murphy, a Zen student and an accomplished writer, conducted numerous personal interviews and distilled over one hundred pithy stories. He covers Zen masters Suzuki, Maezumi, Seung Sahn, Robert Aitken, and Philip Kapleau along with earnest students Gary Snyder, Alan Watts, and Philip Whalen and others.
Essential Buddhism responds to these questions and many more, offering an accessible, global perspective on the religion's past, present, and future. It identifies how the principal concepts and practices originated and evolved through diverse cultural adaptations into three basic formats:
* Theraveda (including Vipassana, brought from Vietnam in the 1960s and including such practitioners as Jack Kornfield and Jon Kapat-Zinn)
* Mahayana (including Zen Buddhism, originally brought to America by Japanese teachers after World War II and popularized by Jack Kerouac and Thomas Merton)
* Vajrayana (including Tibetan Buddhism, from the teachers who fled the Chinese takeover of Tibet in the 1950s as well as the Dalai Lama, and embraced by Allen Ginsberg, Richard Gere, and countless others)
Essential Buddhism is the single best resource for the novice and the expert alike, exploring the depths of Buddhism's popularity and illuminating its tenets and sensible approach to living. Written in the lucid prose of a longtime professional storyteller, and full of Buddhist tales, scriptural quotes, ancient stories, and contemporary insights, Essential Buddhism is the first complete guide to the faith and the phenomenon.
From the Trade Paperback edition.