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The Changing Nature of Buddhism

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Abstract

This chapter introduces the book’s central thesis that the tensions between traditional Buddhist understandings of enlightenment and Western understandings of well-being are critical factors determining the course of contemporary Western Buddhism’s evolution. The chapter addresses the general problems that arise whenever one attempts grafting borrowings from another culture onto one’s root culture. It also addresses how all religions that survive over time evolve as they adapt to new cultural realities and existential concerns through creative processes of reinvention and renewal. Lastly, it explores how Western beliefs regarding (1) the continuity of life after death, (2) scientific naturalism and materialism, and (3) the nature of human well-being and flourishing impede the Western assimilation of traditional Buddhist teachings in an unadulterated form.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.White PlainsUSA

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