The Journal of Global Buddhism is an open access, peer reviewed scholarly journal established to promote the study of the globalization of Buddhism, both historical and contemporary, and its transnational and transcontinental interrelatedness. We publish research articles, special issues (special focus sections), discussions, critical notes, review essays and book reviews.

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The Globethics.net library contains articles of the Journal of global Buddhism as of 1(2000) to current.

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  • The Influence of Chinese Master Taixu on Buddhism in Vietnam

    DeVido, Elise A.; St. Bonaventure University (University of Lucerne, 2015-02-20)
    From the 1920s, Vietnamese Buddhist reformers revitalized their religion, inspired in great part by the Chinese monk Taixu’s blueprint to modernize and systematize sangha education and temple administration, and by his idea ofrenjian fojiao, “Buddhism for this world,” emphasizing the centrality of education, modern publishing, social work, and Buddhist lay groups to Buddhism’s future in the modern world. This article first discusses the Chinese Buddhist revival, then the activities of Buddhist reformers in Vietnam 1920s–60s, and the flows of Buddhist personnel and materials between Vietnam and China. This article explores how renjian fojiao was interpreted and realized in Vietnam, especially its influence upon Thich Nhat Hanh as he developed his ideas on “Engaged Buddhism.”
  • A Secular Buddhism

    Batchelor, Stephen; Independent Scholar (University of Lucerne, 2015-02-20)
    This essay explores the possibility of a complete secular redefinition of Buddhism. It argues that such a secular re-formation would go beyond modifying a traditional Buddhist school, practice or ideology to make it more compatible with modernity, but would involve rethinking the core ideas on which the very notion of “Buddhism” is based. Starting with a critical reading of the four noble truths, as presented in the Buddha’s first discourse, the author proposes that instead of thinking of awakening in terms of “truths” to be understood one thinks of it in terms of “tasks” to be accomplished. Such a pragmatic approach may open up the possibility of going beyond the belief-based metaphysics of classical Indian soteriology (Buddhism 1.0) to a praxis-based, post-metaphysical vision of the dharma (Buddhism 2.0).
  • The Emergence of Buddhist Critical-Constructive Reflection in the Academy as a Resource for Buddhist Communities and for the Contemporary World

    Makransky, John; Boston College (University of Lucerne, 2015-02-20)
    Academic Buddhist Studies investigates historical and social conditions behind Buddhist formulations and institutions. Buddhists must appropriate these findings to establish their place in the modern world and to speak effectively within it. But many traditional Buddhist centers remain largely uninformed by such findings. Some academic scholars of Buddhism, who also practice Buddhism, are exploring new ways to serve both the critical interests of the modern academy and the constructive needs of their Buddhist communities in meeting the modern world. This new vehicle in the academy has been called “Buddhist critical-constructive reflection” or “Buddhist theology.” How might academic knowledge inform contemporary Buddhist understanding and practice? How might Buddhist understanding and practice help address current social needs and provide new insights into current issues? Buddhist critical-constructive reflection explores those questions.
  • Theory and Method in the Study of Buddhism: Toward ‘Translocative’ Analysis

    Tweed, Thomas A.; University of Texas (University of Lucerne, 2015-02-20)
    Focusing on theory and method in the study of U.S. Buddhism, this article analyzes the subfield’s interpretive categories and theoretical assumptions during each of its four phases. A new phase opened in 2000, and no single theory or method has emerged as predominant, just as few scholars have scrutinized the moral implications of their frameworks. Most prevailing interpretive models, which are borrowed from scholars not trained in religious studies, remain indifferent or hostile to religious practice, or specialists draw on models from religious studies that commit the interpreter to a static and bounded notion of culture that offers little aid to those who want to study the dynamics of religious practice in the era of global flows. Further, whether the guiding models are derived from religious studies or not, the models’ moral implications are not always examined. The emergent concerns of the subfield, in other words, are not well served by the available theories of religion and the usual methodological prescriptions. To address that problem, in this essay I propose one possible framework for the ‘translocative’—not international, transnational, or global—study of Buddhism.
  • British Buddhism: Teachings, practice and development, by Robert Bluck.

    Smith, Simon G.; University of Leeds (University of Lucerne, 2015-02-20)
  • Buddhism and Postmodern Imaginings in Thailand: The Religiosity of Urban Space, by James Taylor.

    Keyes, Charles; University of Washington (University of Lucerne, 2015-02-20)
  • How the Dharma Landed: Interpreting the Arrival of Buddhism in New Zealand

    Kemp, H.; University of Wellington (University of Lucerne, 2015-02-20)
    In this paper, I describe how Buddhism arrived in New Zealand, and offer a preliminary discussion about its emerging contours. I propose that the 1970s was a watershed decade, effectively delineating an early period (pre-1970s) and a contemporary period (post-1970s). I demonstrate that in the contemporary period a "two Buddhisms" model – "convert" and "ethnic" (Prebish; 1979, 1993) – helps frame an understanding of the emerging contours of Buddhism in New Zealand. I argue that in the contemporary period the fuel for the ongoing arrival, dissemination and growth of both "convert" and "ethnic" Buddhism in New Zealand is a continuing interplay of import and export dynamics: as Buddhism is "demanded", so it continues to be fetched or sent. Furthermore, while the two strands remain distinct, there are ambiguities, and it may be wiser to conclude, following Numrich (1996:64), that the Buddhism of "Asian immigrants" and the Buddhism of "New Zealand converts" is a more appropriate descriptor for the foreseeable future.
  • Buddhism in Switzerland

    Baumann, Martin; University of Hannover (University of Lucerne, 2015-02-19)
  • Critical Comments on Brian Victoria's "Engaged Buddhism: Skeleton in the Closet?"

    Miyata, Koichi; Soka University (University of Lucerne, 2015-02-19)
    In "Engaged Buddhism: A Skeleton in the Closet?" (Vol. 2) Brian Daizen Victoria claims, among other things, that Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871-1944), founder of the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai (forebear of the Soka Gakkai and Soka Gakkai International), was an active supporter of the Japanese wars of aggression. In this response, Koichi Miyata argues that Victoria's claims rest on the highly selective use of quotes, and ignore key interpretative issues associated with Japanese imperial fascism and its underlying belief structures. Miyata discusses the significance of Makiguchi's arrest and imprisonment under a law specifically aimed at opponents of the war efforts, in his analysis of critical lapses in Victoria's article.
  • Engaged Buddhism: A Skeleton in the Closet?

    Victoria, Brian Daizen; University of Adelaide (University of Lucerne, 2015-02-19)
  • Beyond “Bad Buddhism”: Conceptualizing Buddhist Counseling in Ulan-Ude, Buryatia

    Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology; Jonutytė, Kristina; Vilnius University and Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology (University of Lucerne, 2020-11-18)
    In Ulan-Ude, the multi-ethnic, multi-religious capital of Buryatia, most laypeople make use of “Buddhist counseling” (Rus. priyom u lamy), or various ritual, medical and other services that ameliorate illness and misfortune. Laypeople consult lamas about a range of issues from economic to familial matters, from imp attacks to joblessness. Such Buddhist counseling is one of the most common kind of interactions with Buddhist institutions and practices in Buryatia. At the same time, it is a deeply contested practice, as local critiques refer to the rise of “consumerist”, “commercialized”, “utilitarian” or “bad” Buddhism. This article explores Buddhist counseling as a site of value-laden negotiation of post-Soviet Buddhism. It looks at normative emic notions of good Buddhist practice and their translocal sources as well as social and historical context.
  • Bad Buddhists, Good Robots: Techno-Salvationist Designs for Nirvana

    Gould, Hannah; Walters, Holly (University of Lucerne, 2020-11-18)
    When Buddhism fails to live up to the projected promise of its doctrine or past forms, it is often the human nature of its adherents (“Bad Buddhists”), rather than the content of its teachings (“Bad Buddhism”), that is blamed. But what if such human failings—greed, corruption, violence, even mortality—could be transcended? In the quest for a “good Buddhism,” high-tech designs that utilise robotics, artificial intelligence, algorithmic agency, and other advancements are increasingly pursued as solutions by innovators inside and outside Buddhist communities. In this paper, we interrogate two recent cases of what we call “Buddhist techno-salvationism.” Firstly, Pepper, the semi-humanoid robot who performs funeral sutras to a rapidly secularising and aging population of parishioners in Japan. Secondly, the Lotos Network, a US start-up proposing to use blockchain technology to combat financial corruption within global sangha. We argue that such robotic and digital experiments are the logical outcome of techno-salvationist discourses that identify human failings as the principal barrier to perfect Buddhist praxis. If not always practical solutions, these interventions are powerful nonetheless as contested projections of Buddhist futures.
  • Japan’s “Priests’ Bars”: “Bad Buddhism” or Hope for the Future?

    Nelson, John (University of Lucerne, 2020-11-18)
    For a telling example of allegedly “Bad Buddhisms” in the contemporary world, one need look no further than urban Japan and its numerous “Priests’ Bars” (Bōzu bāzu ) that allow a heady interaction of Buddhism and alcohol. While listening, lecturing, and sometimes even mixing drinks, priests of various denominations are proprietors for a new type of upāya practice (or “skillful means”) for disseminating the dharma. They have the opportunity to encourage their clientele towards solving personal problems and perhaps even awakening as they violate the fifth Buddhist precept which warns monks of the dangers of intoxication. The priests in charge of these bars are well aware of the prohibition against alcohol, and yet, given a variety of social problems facing Japanese workers and citizens, feel compelled to experiment in delivering the teachings of their traditions. Though “bad” from the perspective of Buddhist practitioners outside Japan (as well as that of traditional Buddhist studies), these bars remain a constructive means for moving Japanese Buddhisms into the twenty-first century.
  • Connecting with and Distancing from: Transnational Influences in the Formation of Buddhist Identity and Practices in Bangladesh

    Sraman, Upali (University of Lucerne, 2020-11-18)
    The contemporary Theravāda form of Buddhism in Bangladesh was in fact introduced in 1856, following a reformation movement led by Sāramedha Mahāthera from the Arakan region of Burma. Following this reformation Bangladeshi Buddhists have connected with other Buddhist majority countries for models of Budddhist texts, religious practice, and education. Since the reformation, it has come to be mistakenly assumed that Bangladeshi Buddhists uniformly follow Theravāda Buddhism. In this paper, I clarify this misconception by pointing out that other forms of Buddhism are also practiced in Bangladesh. More specifically, the introduction of Mahāyana Buddhism through philanthropic organizations like Japan’s Rissho-Kōshei Kai also expand the transnational influences that shape Bangladeshi Buddhism. This requires us to reconsider scholarly assumptions on Bangladeshi Buddhism. As I sketch the outcomes of their transnational connections to survive in a Muslim majority country, I also examine how Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim refugee crisis has put Bangladeshi Buddhists into a difficult situation, requiring them to distance from violent expressions of Buddhism.
  • The Mothers of the Righteous Society: Lay Buddhist Women as Agents of the Sinhala Nationalist Imaginary

    Gajaweera, Nalika (University of Lucerne, 2020-11-18)
    Discussions about the gendered experience of Buddhism, especially in the modern period, have often centered on the status of Buddhist women and the changing role of women’s authority and legitimacy vis-a-vis their male counterparts.  Based on fieldwork conducted in Sri Lanka   between 2009-2010, this essay explores some of the conceptual challenges that lay Buddhist women's participation within Buddhist nationalism in Sri Lanka pose to standard liberal conceptions of women's agency and power. Women’s religious giving and charity has played a pivotal role in efforts to sustain a postcolonial Sinhala Buddhist imaginary in Sri Lanka. They derive their power and agency in these nation-building efforts not feminist consciousness within the oppressive patriarchal nationalist project. Instead Sinhala middle-class lay Buddhist women enacted their own privileged place in Sri Lankan society by shoring up culturally prescribed notions of motherhood for the purpose of the elite nationalist aspirations to realize a “righteous society.”
  • Monastic Intimacies: An Anthropology of Good and Bad Buddhism among the Tai Lue of Sipsong Panna (P.R. China)

    Casas, Roger (University of Lucerne, 2020-11-18)
    The Tai Lue of Sipsong Panna (Chinese: Xishuangbanna), in southern Yunnan Province, are usually identified as the largest community of Theravada Buddhists in China. Following the end of the repression of the Maoist period, Sipsong Panna monastics have gradually incorporated into regional and global Buddhist networks. Within this context of increasing connectivity and visibility, the public participation of Tai Lue monks and novices in practices usually considered inappropriate and even unacceptable for monastics in China and Southeast Asia has become problematized and identified as proof of ‘ignorance’ or ‘defectiveness’ on the part of this minority religious community. Building on long-term fieldwork among monastics in Sipsong Panna, this paper questions popular and academic portrayals of such unorthodox monasticism as a symptom of backwardness and degeneration, using the notion of ‘cultural intimacy’ (Herzfeld 1996) to offer innovative insights onto the articulation of contemporary forms of Buddhist monasticism, and onto anthropological debates concerning their conceptualization.
  • Doing good: Local and global understandings of Buddhism in Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement

    Westendorp, Mariske (University of Lucerne, 2020-11-18)
    In this paper, I present Hong Kong Buddhism as a construct of modernity, particularly in its emphasis on tradition. 'Modern Buddhism' shapes how Buddhists in the city reflect on their religion and their being in the world. The latter is seen in how Hong Kong Buddhists responded to the 2014 Umbrella Movement. Although the Umbrella Movement was in essence a political movement seeking universal suffrage, it indirectly highlighted the importance of religion in the everyday lives of Hong Kong middle-class residents. While some Buddhists went to the protest sites, others stayed at home to meditate, and many decided to disengage from the protests altogether. While differing in terms of civic engagement, there is significant similarity in these narratives regarding the perception of how to act as 'good' Buddhists.
  • Authenticating Buddhism in the Public Sphere: Moral Dialogues in Ladakh

    Singh, Rohit (University of Lucerne, 2020-11-18)
    Following the partition between India and Pakistan in 1947, the residents of Leh, Ladakh became citizens of the Indian nation-state and residents of Jammu and Kashmir.  Partition introduced Buddhists in the region to what Dipesh Chakrabarty refers to a political modernity: “rule by modern institutions of the state, bureaucracy, and capitalist enterprise…”(Chakrabarty 2000, 4).  In response to the new prospects, promises, and possibilities of Ladakh’s political modernity, political leaders and religious reform group have attempted to mobilized local Buddhists around a common core sense of Ladakhi Buddhist identity.  These dynamic have engendered a variety of debates and dialogues in the public sphere over what it means to be a good Buddhist and what local practices and traditions constitute bad Buddhism.  

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