• The sociological implications for contemporary Buddhism in the UK: socially engaged Buddhism, a case study

      Henry, Philip M.; University of Derby (Dickinson Blogs, 2006)
      Buddhist Studies has, for well over a century, been seen by many in the academy as the domain of philologists and others whose skills are essentially in the translation and interpretation of texts derived from ancient languages like classical Chinese, Pāli, Sanskrit, and its hybrid variations, together with the commentarial tradition that developed alongside it. Only in the last thirty-five years has there been an increasing number of theses, journal articles, and other academic texts that have seriously addressed the developments of a Western Buddhism as opposed to Buddhism in the West. As Prebish (2002:66) attests, based on his own 1975 experience of teaching Buddhism in the United States, “Even a casual perusal of the most popular books used as texts in introductory courses on Buddhism at that time reveals that Western Buddhism was not included in the discipline called Buddhist Studies.” Fundamentally, this paper addresses Buddhist identity in contemporary settings, and asks what it means to be Buddhist in the West today. This is the overarching theme of my doctoral research into socially engaged Buddhism in the United Kingdom, which addresses the question of how socially engaged Buddhism challenges the notion of what it means to be Buddhist in the twenty-first century.