History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Booknotes: The making of modern buddhism

April 25th, 2015 · No Comments

The Making of Modern Buddhism is the book I was looking for: I have been observing the way that buddhism was a ‘secular reformation’ from early antiquity and that it has passed into the modern world very easily as a stealth ‘new age’ movement turning rapidly into a mainstream ‘secular’ movement, working at a very high level of sophistication in its rapid adaptation to modernity. This useful book shows the breadth, intelligence and sly costume change that has made buddhism, which is starting to need a new term, into a vibrant part of modernity. In many ways it has outdone Xtianity in this respect. Only the deliberate stubbornness and muddle-headedness of the new atheists has ever bothered to attempt ‘extermination’ of this religion. There remains the problem of not dissolving altogether into the modern social scene. It is not clear how this will play out. The one problem is that world renunciation has perhaps ceased to be a focus. Short of armies of buddhist panhandlers (I was one myself) the nip and tuck comfy-asana will become a problem, but it was already becoming a problem in early buddhism itself. The original yogis ate fruits and berries in the forest. It was a buddhist innovation, and partial social capitulation that brought about the drastic interaction with a world renounced in the begging of alms with the begging bowl.

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