HeartwoodThe First Generation of Theravada Buddhism in America

HeartwoodThe First Generation of Theravada Buddhism in America

Wendy Cadge

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226088990

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Theravada is one of the three main branches of Buddhism. In Asia it is practiced widely in Thailand, Laos, Burma, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia. This ethnography opens a window onto two communities of Theravada Buddhists in contemporary America: one outside Philadelphia that is composed largely of Thai immigrants and one outside Boston that consists mainly of white converts. The book first provides a historical overview of Theravada Buddhism and considers its specific origins here in the United States. It then brings the findings to bear on issues of personal identity, immigration, cultural assimilation, and the nature of religion in everyday life. The work is a systematic comparison of the ways in which immigrant and convert Buddhists understand, practice, and adapt the Buddhist tradition in America. The men and women in this story speak directly to us in this work, both in their personal testimonials and as they meditate, pray, and practice Buddhism.