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Comparative Studies 367.03 Annotated Bibliography March 12, 2008 Introduction: I am interested in addressing how the practice and belief system of Buddhism has been influenced by coming to the consumerist and capitalistic society that America is. My research will be limited to what changes have occurred in traditional Buddhism with Americanization, and focused most specifically on convert Buddhism in the States. In doing so, I hope to gain an opinion on the controversial issue of whether or not American Buddhism can be considered Buddhism. My research will be limited as, in the contexts of this paper, I am not interested if Buddhism itself can be considered a religion or how Buddhism, Americanized or otherwise, can help to improve American society or why Americans seek Buddhism for fulfillment. By researching interviews from Buddhists and scholarly journals and articles, I hope to arrive at a better understanding of how a fast-paced, ever-changing, consumerist culture and the America Dream affects a religion that is so opposed to material possessions as a path to both self and worldly improvement and its adherents. I hope to recognize how a religion based on the Middle Way of moderation, the cessation of desire, and the ability to slow down and meditate as parts of the path to enlightenment, are affected by a market driven economy and its ideals. I did, however, come to be interested in this particular topic through class discussions on whether American Buddhism is simply another manifestation of Buddhism or if it is so remarkably different from traditional Buddhism that it should be considered an imposter. I questioned what transformations American Buddhism has made that would set it apart from other chapters in history where Buddhism has developed, adapted, and changed to a variety of cultural settings, including India, Japan, and China to name only a few; readings and debates
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made me curious as to why an American Buddhist school of thought was so different from traditional schools, such as Theravada, Mahayan, Zen, and Vajrayana Buddhisms. Primary Sources: Barnhill, David L. "Good Work: an Engaged Buddhist Response to the Dilemmas of Consumerism." Buddhist-Christian Studies 24 (2004): 55-63. JSTOR . 2 Mar. 2008 <http://www.jstor.org/view/08820945/sp070001/07x0006f/0>. Summary: Barnhill begins his response by making it clear that consumerism is ingrained in our culture, and thus “difficult to avoid and easy to ignore” (55). He goes on, citing his belief that “consumerism goes directly against virtually everything Buddhism stands for” (55). He questions how you can both criticize and be a part of the same system and what can be said for the little effect Buddhism can have on consumerism. Barnhill holds that monastic tradition is insufficient in our society. He believes that Engaged Buddhism provides a way to comprehend, criticize, envision an alternative, and then respond to the “complex moral situation” consumerism presents (58). Barnhill argues that consumerism
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