Wilson, Melinda (2008-12). Buddhism east and west: Chinese Buddhism in Beijing and Houston. Master's Thesis. Thesis uri icon

abstract

  • Although Buddhism was introduced in the United States over a century ago, only recently has it become part of the mainstream. In addition to the exponential increase in Buddhist practitioners in the United States, scholar Thomas Tweed argues that Buddhist images and references, devoid of religious context, have seeped into American society. The increasing popularity and prevalence of Buddhism in America is attributable to many factors including changes to the immigration laws in the 1960s and the episodic popularity of all things Eastern. This fascination with the East is epitomized by the current Dalai Lama, who has a pop-culture presence as well as political sway, as evidenced by his meeting with John McCain on July 25, 2008. Just as the pre-1965 immigration laws stifled Buddhism in the United States by limiting the number of Asian immigrants, Mao's communist doctrines prevented the practice of Buddhism in China. As a result, in recent years Buddhism has emerged in the United States and remerged in China. By examining the state of Buddhism in Beijing and Chinese Buddhism in Houston this thesis shows that despite the comparable newness of the religion in both places, it is developing in very different ways, showing the impact region has on religion.
  • Although Buddhism was introduced in the United States over a century ago, only recently has it become part of the mainstream. In addition to the exponential increase in Buddhist practitioners in the United States, scholar Thomas Tweed argues that Buddhist images and references, devoid of religious context, have seeped into American society. The increasing popularity and prevalence of Buddhism in America is attributable to many factors including changes to the immigration laws in the 1960s and the episodic popularity of all things Eastern. This fascination with the East is epitomized by the current Dalai Lama, who has a pop-culture presence as well as political sway, as evidenced by his meeting with John McCain on July 25, 2008.
    Just as the pre-1965 immigration laws stifled Buddhism in the United States by limiting the number of Asian immigrants, Mao's communist doctrines prevented the practice of Buddhism in China. As a result, in recent years Buddhism has emerged in the United States and remerged in China. By examining the state of Buddhism in Beijing and Chinese Buddhism in Houston this thesis shows that despite the comparable newness of the religion in both places, it is developing in very different ways, showing the impact region has on religion.

publication date

  • December 2008