• Adaptation and developments in Western Buddhism: Socially engaged Buddhism in the UK

      Henry, Philip M.; University of Derby (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015)
      In recent years, there has been a growing academic acknowledgment around the world of a contemporary Buddhist phenomenon described as Engaged, or Socially Engaged Buddhism (SEB). It is a contested phenomenon variously associated with finding Buddhist solutions for social, political and ecological problems. The debate about its origins, practice and legitimacy has stirred academics and practitioners alike. Firstly, does such an approach to Buddhist practice constitute a departure with the past, in which case a new expression of an ancient practice is being experienced all around us? Or is this really a continuity of practice, adapted to inform current understanding given that some would describe Buddhism as always having been engaged? Adaptation and Developments in Western Buddhism examines the UK Socially Engaged Buddhist experience captured through a series of five case studies of Buddhist groups and a survey undertaken over two years in the field. The volume is a ground-breaking and benchmark analysis of Socially Engaged Buddhism in the UK, drawing for the first time on evidence from practitioner's experiences with which to characterise the previously dichotomous academic debate. Ultimately, the volume locates Socially Engaged Buddhism in the UK and places it within the broader and global context of an emerging “Western Buddhism”, characterising the phenomenon and its relationships to the wider Buddhist world.
    • 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.