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Showing 1-2 of 2 reviews(5 star). Show all reviews
on June 3, 2000
In this long-awaited volume, Charles Prebish, the founder of the scholarly study of Buddhism in America, brings us up to date on the rich, diverse, and very American practice of Buddhism in the United States.
This book is not for scholars only, but deserves to be read by Buddhists and by anyone interested in the diversity and the freshness of this ancient religion in these new surroundings. In fact, Buddhism has been in America for over 100 years, but in this last generation it has begun not only to be changed by, but to change American culture. For a look at where Buddhism has been and where it is going, this is an unbeatable source.
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At the time this book was published in 1999, Charles Prebish was Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Pennsylvania State University. He has also written/edited books such as American Buddhism,Westward Dharma: Buddhism beyond Asia,The Faces of Buddhism in America,An American Buddhist Life: Memoirs of a Modern Dharma Pioneer,Introducing Buddhism (World Religions (Routledge)), etc.

He wrote in the Preface, "More than anything else, this is a book about Buddhist communities ... it focuses on life within the communities that these individuals have founded and structured. It considers the various Buddhist practices and rituals and liturgies employed in these communities, as well as the manner in which American Buddhist communities have confronted the changing, shifting framework of American values and lifestyles. The book considers the legacy Buddhism will leave to the children of many American Buddhist pioneers. And it presents a first look at the role of technology in American Buddhism as new technological develoments alter the very nature of the defining characteristics of the Buddhist sangha."

Here are some additional quotations from the book:

"(D.T.) Suzuki's contribution is especially significant in that he was not a Zen priest and never became a Zen master." (Pg. 9)
"Helen Tworkov ... added, 'the spokepeople for Buddhism in America have been, almost exclusively, educated members of the white middle class." (Pg. 57)
"The former technique of aggressive shakubuku (evangelism) seems to have virtually evaporated (from Soko Gakkai) in the 1990s..." (Pg. 121)
"During the weekend I noticed a few black, Hispanic, and Asian American faces in the audience, but for the most part I saw Euro-American Buddhists congregating to share and discuss their views and understanding of Buddhist practice in North America." (Pg. 234)
"When Peter Jennings's researchers contacted me to solicit my estimate of the number of American Buddhists ... They said that Robert Thurman had referred them to me, as a means of verifying HIS estimate of 5 to 6 million. I told them I thought Thurman was wrong, and that I would be very surprised if there were more than 3 or 4 millions Buddhists in America. Needless to say, they asked me how I arrived at that figure. My response" 'I got that figure the same way Thurman got his. I guessed.'" (Pg. 256)
"Surya Das noted that half of the Buddhist teachers in the West are women, and that the American Dharma needed to be an equal-opportunity enterprise." (Pg. 264)
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