Transmitting Buddhism in the Secular Setting: A Reflection on McGill’s School of Religious Studies’ Reading Group on The Making of Buddhist Modernism

On the sunny afternoon of April 24th, students and colleagues of the School of Religious Studies (SRS) at McGill University reunited at the Redpath Library for the third session of their reading group[1] on “Multiple Facets of Secularism.” Starting at 2 p.m., their discussion on David McMahan’s The Making of Buddhist Modernism lasted for two [...]


What water? asked the fish: “globalization” as obscuring Euro-American/white culture by Richard K. Payne

Richard K. Payne

Recently I have twice explicitly encountered a rhetoric that claims that it does not make sense to think about the “Westernization” of Buddhism, since it is being globalized anyway. The effect of this rhetoric, however, is to naturalize Euro-American culture—its values and preconceptions—as unproblematically universal.

One instance is in the introduction to the forum on mindfulness published on Lion’s Roar in which we find the rhetoric employed parenthetically, as if it is so obvious that it does not require consideration:

We are still in the very early phase of the establishment of a “Western” Buddhism—if the term even has any meaning in this age of globalization—

Jon Kabat-Zinn made almost exactly the same claim in the course of his interview on the Mindfulness Summit, when he appeared on the Summit’s final day.

I’m sure that there are a lot of other examples of this rhetoric being deployed, such the changes…

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