American Buddhism is Here

Karen Maezen Miller contributes to Killing the Buddha, writing about American Buddhism (via China):

Recently I ran across a new Buddhist blog that says it is for people who “are interested in meditation but don’t want to pretend they live in ancient Asia.” I try not to get too worked up about how people characterize Buddhism, but that line about pretense got my attention.


A similar question seems to be on the minds of quite a few Buddhist pundits these days: the question of what an authentic version of American Buddhism should look like. The presumption is that it is bound to look different from its antecedents. It must be more relevant to contemporary culture, more comprehensible to the Western intellect, and more technological so it can be transmitted to the comfort of your own home before it dies out altogether.

Miller is one of those people who is fond of talking about American Buddhism. She delves into the tough issues: authenticity, tradition, immigration, change… I have to give her credit that although I would never write about American Buddhism the same way she does, she consistently avoids words and phrases that align American Buddhism with cultural factions that marginalize her Asian American brothers and sisters. If you are Buddhist in America, you are part of American Buddhism—whatever it is.

One thought on “American Buddhism is Here

  1. Archivist’s Note: Comments have been preserved from the original website for archival purposes; however, comments are now closed.

    AnonymousNovember 6, 2009 at 12:38 PM
    I confess I’m more fond of talking about the absurdity of talking about American Buddhism. And I’m especially fond of reading that someone reads it.

    Fondly, KMM.

    EricNovember 7, 2009 at 12:09 PM
    During our last Dharma talk meeting, Kusala started a discussion about what the Buddha would look like in America. He said in India, he looked Indian. In China, he looked Chinese. How about America?

    ArunNovember 7, 2009 at 5:07 PM
    @Karen Maezen Miller: Thanks for your comment!

    @Eric: Might look like this.

Comments are closed.