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Blue Jean Buddha : Voices of Young Buddhists Paperback – June 15, 2001

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 233 pages
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications; Softcover Ed edition (June 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0861711777
  • ISBN-13: 978-0861711772
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #330,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Buddhism isn't just for baby boomers anymore. As the spiritual marketplace continues to broaden in North America, Buddhism is emerging as a popular religious alternative among the young. Sumi Loundon, a practicing Buddhist and graduate student at Harvard Divinity School, has gathered a group of Generation X-ers and even younger Generation Y-ers around a virtual campfire to swap stories about what it means to be Buddhist. These are more than just your average tales of pious conversion or blissful living. Loundon's cadres find the relevance of Buddhism atop a sheer cliff face; in the throbbing heart of New York City; strung out on crack; in relationships good and bad; in tragic accidents; and in social activism. Some are monks, others punks; some meditate, others chant; some teach the dharma, others just live it. In this group, Buddhism is neither exotic nor a panacea. For many, it is a feeling of coming home and a proven method of coping while remaining open to the vicissitudes of life. Anyone who has felt the pull of Buddhism--the compelling arguments of its philosophy or the quiet expansiveness of it practices--will quickly identify with the personal experiences in this collection. Like Douglas Coupland's Generation X, Blue Jean Buddha could well become a book that defines and binds a group growing in self-awareness. --Brian Bruya

From Library Journal

A "twentysomething" American who grew up in the Zen Buddhist tradition, Loundon queried hundreds of her contemporaries in order to confirm that a generation of young Buddhists did in fact exist, to identify the challenges they face, and to define what it means to be a Buddhist in America today. She then asked 28 respondents mostly college-educated, self-identifying Buddhists in their twenties to write about how Buddhism has affected their self-transformations, life stories, and means of livelihood. This resulting collection of mostly brief, well-written, and interesting essays ranges from the poignant and inspiring (e.g., Jessica Morey's "Ordinary Awakening" and Seth Castleman's "If a Nice Jewish Boy Sits in a Cave, Does He Make a Difference?") to the sophomoric. Recommended as a secondary purchase for popular collections; more academic overviews of contemporary Buddhism in America can be found in The Faces of Buddhism in America (Univ. of California, 1998), edited by Charles Prebish and Kenneth Tanaka, and James Coleman's The New Buddhism (LJ 1/01). James R. Kuhlman, Univ. of North Carolina Lib., Asheville
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 22 customer reviews
Many of the essays are excellent.
Roy Gordon
Also, because of BJB, I feel like I understand Buddhism and how it can be practically applied.
g celine
This book is profound but quite readable by any non-expert.
Thomas Mikelson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 52 people found the following review helpful By G. McKenna on September 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
I'm a young American (20-something) and I am so happy that someone is finally paying attention to my generation of practicing Buddhists! This book is interesting whether you're a young person just discovering Buddhism, or an older person interested in the new spirtiual motivations in youth culture today. The only weakness I can mention about this book is that it does not cover a wide range of Buddhist traditions. I wish, for example, it had included interviews with young Buddhists in the Soka Gakkai tradition which is one of the most youthful schools of Buddhism I know of in the United States these days. In any case, I am just glad someone finally published a book like this one. I also highly recommend a little gift book written by a 20-something American Buddhist named Taro Gold called "Open Your Mind, Open Your Life: A Little Book of Eastern Wisdom." I hope more and more young Buddhist voices will be found in print in the near future.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Daniel C. Fisher on November 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
Sumi Loundon and company's BLUE JEAN BUDDHA is a rarity in several regards. For one thing, Loundon and her writers manage to lucidly articulate many ideas and feelings about culture, pop culture, age, and Buddhism that have previously proven to be precarious ground for authors to tread (this is particularly true of Loundon's first-class analyses throughout the book). For another, it switches gears gracefully--for any book, not just a dharma book--between being a sociological study (pieces like Kenneth Lee's "Drugs and the Dharma" and Thich Nu Pho-Chau's "Life as a Vietnamese Nun" exemplify this); a unique and very broad dialogue on philosophy, cultural ideologies, psychology, service, and peace (Claudia Heiman's "Winning over Depression," Noah Levine's "A Dharma Punx Path," and Adrienne Stauffer's "Freeing Tibet, Freeing Myself"); and very often literary nonfiction (Seth Castleman's "If a Nice Jewish Boy Sits in a Cave, Does He Make a Difference?" and Lillian Guild's "The Perfect Buddhist Boyfriend"). And lastly, its pieces burst with a very special kind of honesty about spiritual pursuits and the many facets of American life that only the spirit of youth could offer (Hanuman Goleman's "I'm a Mutt"). BLUE JEAN BUDDHA is fresh, insightful, and right-on. All of the bull's-eyes it manages to hit combined with its heart and humor make it an engaging read for anyone and an essential volume for any Buddhist's library.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Roy Gordon on April 22, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is the rarest of spiritual books: one of honesty, and problematic outcome. Even the self-absorbed essays, being almost ingenous in their expression, lend to the honesty of belief and expression.
You know, even the best of spiritual books have to me that breezy tone of "you too can have the perfect life in only five minutes a day..." And, if the author recounts some of their past troubles, somehow they seem to have been effortlessly overcome with no residual effects.
This book is different. It is a collection of essays by young Buddhists, primarily in their late 20's and early 30's.
Many of the essays are excellent. "The Perfect Buddhist Boyfriend" depicts the disintegration of a relationship in which both partners have adopted all the accountremonts of being with-it young Buddhists. Similarly, there's the rude awakening of a young American Buddhist at a Tibetan retreat who, after several days, realizes that the wonderful authentic soup he his being served may be authentic, but it's Ramen that he could purchase at any supermarket. And why were they all isolated here meditating hours on end amongst themselves instead of going out and helping people. (The essay's conclusion is less satisfactory to me.)
My favorite essays are by those who have grown up in Buddhistm. "Growing Up with the Dharma Bums" is a riot, as the author in 1970's Rochester has to explain to his friend's mom why he cannot eat meat, straightforwardly, but reluctantly, informimg her that his parents are Buddhists and believe that killing animals is wrong. And at school he and his best friend are quick to remonstrate when they spy other kids burning up ants under the magnifying glass!
I myself gave copies of this book to each of my teenage sons.
Read more ›
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Brown on October 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
What does Buddhism really mean to young people in a century when the Dalai Lama's image is used to sell computers & "Nirvana" is a rock band?
In his Foreword, Jack Kornfield poses the question: "What if Buddha were born in North America, in our times?"
Sumi Loundon, born into the North American Buddhist culture & coming into her third decade of life, is also asking: "What is being a Buddhist in today's Western world?" As she finds her answers, she also finds she is not alone & so evolved this collection of enchanting, first-person essays from young Buddhists all over this globe.
Like pebbles on a beach, each story is fascinating as the writers tell of their strife & boredom, yearning & bliss, hectic lives & momentary glimpses of spiritual stillness.
For a look at the world through another window where our senses & our monkey minds are engaged as never before, pick up a copy of BLUE JEAN BUDDHA & if you don't get it on the first read - keep it! Then take it down during a particularly hyper-active period in your life & see how others have walked through their chaos into the Buddhic balance & life-affirming consciousness.
Well worth the read! Gave me much about which to think & write!
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