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HeartwoodThe First Generation of Theravada Buddhism in America$
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Wendy Cadge

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780226088990

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226089010.001.0001

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Ascribed and Achieved Buddhist Identities

Ascribed and Achieved Buddhist Identities

Chapter:
(p.150) Chapter 6 Ascribed and Achieved Buddhist Identities
Source:
Heartwood
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226089010.003.0006

Based on how practitioners at Wat Phila and the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center (CIMC) constructed their organizations, the Buddha's teachings, and their communities, this chapter explores how practitioners construct personal identities in light of the Buddha's teachings and their involvement in Wat Phila or the CIMC. Practitioners at Wat Phila and the CIMC emphasize the Buddha's teaching to “come and see” in their conversations about their personal identities. Regardless of what they draw from the tradition, most of them do develop some kind of identity in relation to the Buddha's teachings, rather than to Wat Phila or the CIMC as organizations. At both Wat Phila and the CIMC, many practitioners describe themselves through achieved religious or spiritual identities that they have chosen in the United States. The fact that Wat Phila and the CIMC include practitioners with such a range of religious and spiritual identities shows that identity is not a central organizational concern at either center. Rather than a subcultural identity theory, Wat Phila and the CIMC point to the need for more of a cohesive particle theory of minority religious identity

Keywords:   Wat Phila, Cambridge Insight Meditation Center, Theravada Buddhism, America, Buddhist organizations, religious practitioners, Buddhist identities

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