Cover image for Luminous passage : the practice and study of Buddhism in America
Title:
Luminous passage : the practice and study of Buddhism in America
Author:
Prebish, Charles S.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Berkeley : University of California Press, [1999]

©1999
Physical Description:
xi, 334 pages ; 24 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780520216969

9780520216976

9780520204607
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

In Luminous Passage a well-known Buddhologist and longtime observer of Buddhism in the United States presents the first comprehensive scholarly study of American Buddhism in nearly two decades. Charles S. Prebish revisits the expanding frontier of the fastest growing religion in North America and describes its historical development, its diversity, and the significance of this ancient tradition at century's end.

More than anything else, this is a book about American Buddhist communities ( sanghas ) and about life within those communities. Prebish considers various Buddhist practices, rituals, and liturgies, as well as the ways these communities have confronted the changing American spiritual landscape. In profiling several different sanghas Prebish reveals the ways that Buddhism is being both reinvented and Westernized. He includes the first exploration of the American Buddhist "cybersangha," a community that has emerged from recent developments in information-exchange technology, and discusses the growing community of "scholar-practitioners." The interactions of Buddhist identities that are related to ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, social engagement, and the healing professions are also examined. This book fully captures the vibrancy and importance of Buddhism in American religious life today.

Finally, Prebish appraises the state of Buddhism at the millennium. Placing the development of American Buddhism squarely in the midst of the religion's general globalization, he argues for an ecumenical movement which will embrace Buddhist communities worldwide.


Summary

In Luminous Passage a well-known Buddhologist and longtime observer of Buddhism in the United States presents the first comprehensive scholarly study of American Buddhism in nearly two decades. Charles S. Prebish revisits the expanding frontier of the fastest growing religion in North America and describes its historical development, its diversity, and the significance of this ancient tradition at century's end.

More than anything else, this is a book about American Buddhist communities ( sanghas ) and about life within those communities. Prebish considers various Buddhist practices, rituals, and liturgies, as well as the ways these communities have confronted the changing American spiritual landscape. In profiling several different sanghas Prebish reveals the ways that Buddhism is being both reinvented and Westernized. He includes the first exploration of the American Buddhist "cybersangha," a community that has emerged from recent developments in information-exchange technology, and discusses the growing community of "scholar-practitioners." The interactions of Buddhist identities that are related to ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, social engagement, and the healing professions are also examined. This book fully captures the vibrancy and importance of Buddhism in American religious life today.

Finally, Prebish appraises the state of Buddhism at the millennium. Placing the development of American Buddhism squarely in the midst of the religion's general globalization, he argues for an ecumenical movement which will embrace Buddhist communities worldwide.


Author Notes

Charles S. Prebish is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Pennsylvania State University and author and editor of numerous works, including Buddhist Monastic Discipline (1975), American Buddhism (1979), and A Survey of Vinaya Literature (1994). He is coeditor of The Faces of Buddhism in America (California, 1998) and also coeditor of the electronic Journal of Buddhist Ethics .


Charles S. Prebish is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Pennsylvania State University and author and editor of numerous works, including Buddhist Monastic Discipline (1975), American Buddhism (1979), and A Survey of Vinaya Literature (1994). He is coeditor of The Faces of Buddhism in America (California, 1998) and also coeditor of the electronic Journal of Buddhist Ethics .


Reviews 2

Choice Review

Earlier, now outdated studies of Buddhism in America include Rick Fields, How the Swans Came to the Lake (CH Apr'82, 3rd ed. 1992); Emma Layman, Buddhism in America (1976); and Charles Prebish, American Buddhism (CH, Mar'80). Prebish (Pennsylvania State Univ.) even refers here to his own 1979 volume as "horribly outdated." Luminous Passage builds on the earlier studies, updating and expanding on their content. Prebish opens with a history of American Buddhism. He then turns to consideration of the varieties of Buddhist sanghas in America. This focus on Buddhist communities differs from that of other volumes, which more often center on their leaders and founders. Particularly interesting are Prebish's chapters on Buddhism in the academy and virtual communities in cyberspace. Prebish closes with revisions of his earlier speculations on the future of American Buddhism. In the course of this eminently readable study, Prebish engages in debate not only with other writers, but also with his own earlier work. This is an excellent book and should find a wide audience at any level. An important addition to both academic and general library collections, it nicely complements Charles Prebish and Kenneth Tanaka's collection The Faces of Buddhism in America (CH, Jun'99). J. P. McDermott; Canisius College


Choice Review

Earlier, now outdated studies of Buddhism in America include Rick Fields, How the Swans Came to the Lake (CH Apr'82, 3rd ed. 1992); Emma Layman, Buddhism in America (1976); and Charles Prebish, American Buddhism (CH, Mar'80). Prebish (Pennsylvania State Univ.) even refers here to his own 1979 volume as "horribly outdated." Luminous Passage builds on the earlier studies, updating and expanding on their content. Prebish opens with a history of American Buddhism. He then turns to consideration of the varieties of Buddhist sanghas in America. This focus on Buddhist communities differs from that of other volumes, which more often center on their leaders and founders. Particularly interesting are Prebish's chapters on Buddhism in the academy and virtual communities in cyberspace. Prebish closes with revisions of his earlier speculations on the future of American Buddhism. In the course of this eminently readable study, Prebish engages in debate not only with other writers, but also with his own earlier work. This is an excellent book and should find a wide audience at any level. An important addition to both academic and general library collections, it nicely complements Charles Prebish and Kenneth Tanaka's collection The Faces of Buddhism in America (CH, Jun'99). J. P. McDermott; Canisius College