Monday, June 28, 2010
American Buddhism As a Way of Life
The United States is becoming more comfortable with Buddhism each year. Celebrity converts, the popularity of the Dalai Lama, a stream of references in popular culture, and mala beads on every third person's wrist all indicate that Buddhism is becoming an accepted part of American life, even if a relatively small percentage of the population actually describes itself as Buddhist. This book investigates the ways in which Buddhist and American ways of life have inflected one another. Gary Storhoff and John Whalen-Bridge have organized this unique collection in accordance with the Buddhist concept of the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. "Buddha" discusses two key teachers who popularized Buddhism: Alan Watts and D. T. Suzuki, correlating their personal situations with the approach to spirituality they proclaimed. "Dharma" is concerned with the impact of Buddhist ideas and texts on the most ing social problems faced by Americans, including bioethics, abortion, end-of-life decisions, and identity theft. "Sangha" treats Buddhism in relation to social relationships, with chapters on family life, generational shifts, Asian American communities, the gay/straight divide, and Buddhist artistic practices-such as the making of a Zen garden-used to strengthen communal bonds.