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The Making of Buddhist Modernism

The Making of Buddhist Modernism A great deal of Buddhist literature and scholarly writing about Buddhism of the past years reflects and indeed constructs a historically unique modern Buddhism even while purporting to represen

  • Title: The Making of Buddhist Modernism
  • Author: David L. McMahan
  • ISBN: 9780195183276
  • Page: 292
  • Format: Hardcover
  • A great deal of Buddhist literature and scholarly writing about Buddhism of the past 150 years reflects, and indeed constructs, a historically unique modern Buddhism, even while purporting to represent ancient tradition, timeless teaching, or the essentials of Buddhism This literature, Asian as well as Western, weaves together the strands of different traditions to creaA great deal of Buddhist literature and scholarly writing about Buddhism of the past 150 years reflects, and indeed constructs, a historically unique modern Buddhism, even while purporting to represent ancient tradition, timeless teaching, or the essentials of Buddhism This literature, Asian as well as Western, weaves together the strands of different traditions to create a novel hybrid that brings Buddhism into alignment with many of the ideologies and sensibilities of the post Enlightenment West.In this book, David McMahan charts the development of this Buddhist modernism McMahan examines and analyzes a wide range of popular and scholarly writings produced by Buddhists around the globe He focuses on ideological and imaginative encounters between Buddhism and modernity, for example in the realms of science, mythology, literature, art, psychology, and religious pluralism He shows how certain themes cut across cultural and geographical contexts, and how this form of Buddhism has been created by multiple agents in a variety of times and places His position is critical but empathetic while he presents Buddhist modernism as a construction of numerous parties with varying interests, he does not reduce it to a mistake, a misrepresentation, or fabrication Rather, he presents it as a complex historical process constituted by a variety of responses sometimes trivial, often profound to some of the most important concerns of the modern era.

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    1 thought on “The Making of Buddhist Modernism

    1. Popular Buddhist literature often represents Buddhism as a timeless (and in some sense post-cultural) teaching. Acutely sensitive to its internal diversity, Mcmahan convincingly analyzes contemporary Buddhism as a thoroughly culturally embedded hybrid of traditional sources and broader “discourses of modernity.” Worthwhile if you are interested in religion and the history of ideas, a must if you are interested in contemporary Buddhist practice.

    2. Though it was published in 2008, I only just got to this important and necessary book! It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to anyone with any understanding of the history of buddhism to hear that what is generally purported to be “buddhism” by leading contemporary teachers (whether western or asian) is almost certainly not what has been understood to be buddhism for most of its 2600 years.McMahan, in this never less than interesting exploration, charts the development of the various bud [...]

    3. A nearly perfect book. A beautifully and compellingly written account of the cultural and historical forces that shaped the emergence of global Buddhist modernism. McMahan has a deep grasp of the scientific, religious, philosophical and artistic history of Western modernism and its critical fault lines, all of which set the preconditions for how Buddhism would be understood, interpreted, and made use of as it Westernized, and how this modernizing process was abetted by Asian Buddhists who both a [...]

    4. This is a well researched, informed and accessible book which provides an invaluable historical insight into the way the modern westerners (or Americans) conceive and understand Buddhism (why they think about and understand Buddhism the way they do).Despite of the many merits of the book, only 3 stars, not 5.Why?It's because (as a South Korean who inherits the East Asian Buddhist tradition) I can't fail to notice that the author is all too often a shameless Orientalist (In the very negative sens [...]

    5. David McMahan does an excellent job of explaining the intersection of Buddhism with the West - both the rationalism of the Enlightenment and the Romantic reaction to that - in the past 100-125 years or so.But, he also notes that it's more than just an intersection. It was a reaction to colonialism penetrating ever more of the Buddhist heartland. And, while Emerson and other Transcendentals may have made Eastern religion (much more focus by them on Hinduism, though) synthesized with new thoughts [...]

    6. I have read many Buddhist books over the years and found myself lost in a sea of ideas. Buddhism exists in many different forms for many different cultures. All the ideas bounced around in contradiction, messiness, and confusion.This book really addressed many of the ideas I became lost in. At least it places them in a historical perspective.I highly recommend this book if you wish to see how Buddhism has evolved over the years. It is either my first or second favorite book on Buddhism. I will r [...]

    7. Excellent philosophical points and a good, honest reminder or revelation to new Buddhist practitioner s or sympathizers that like other world religions, new interest shift emphasis in a tradition and cloud it's true history. It does not debunk Buddhism but sends a reminder of its earlier main themes: less about meditation and mindfulness and more about ritual, perhaps until Christian missionaries came into contact with Buddhism and Buddhists themselves wanted a world religion that could resist s [...]

    8. This helped me put my Buddhist practice (and hell, pretty much all of my Buddhistic tendencies) into context--I was surprised at just how much what I thought of as "purely" Buddhist practices and beliefs were directly inspired and augmented by Western Romantic literature and philosophy. Like all things, the dharma too is a protean, changeable thing, and Buddhism even now is changing into a new globalized philosophy, for better or worse.

    9. This is an intense book that took me a long time to read (and hopefully digest). Many interesting questions and it has a depth and breath that is quite interesting. There is an academic element to it, there is also a kind of tour de force of ideas, but it also goes after more specifics at times. I really think it's an indispensable book for the modern Buddhist.

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