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The Institute of Buddhist Studies would like to thank all the panelists, participants, and guests who made the 2010 Buddhism Without Borders Conference such a wonderful success!

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Buddhism without Borders: Contemporary Developments of Buddhism in the West

at the Institute of Buddhist Studies
Berkeley, California
March 18 - 21, 2010

Panel III: Transnational Buddhisms, 2:00 - 5:00

Comparative Study of Zen Buddhism in Japan and North America

Chapla Verma

Zen Buddhism has greatly influenced the cultural life of Japanese people. A doctrine or belief system is able to sustain and cast a long term influence when it assimilates with the perspectives, customs and existing way of life. For integration purpose, the rituals and practices often promulgated by the original founder are transformed in order to be understood, survive and flourish. This process may be seen in the different flavors of Buddhism in each country it has migrated. This comparative research examines the various Zen Buddhist practices in Japan and the US to understand ways in which the core philosophy has been modified and adapted to grow roots in each country. Utilizing a research grant from American Public University, I will visit and participate in meditations and rituals in Kyoto Japan, LA. California, this summer and Bloomington Indiana which is already part of this study. The research will focus upon the architecture-design of meditation centers, the time and rituals of meditation practices by the followers as well as the demographic, social, economic and family background of the practitioners. The growing popularity of Soto Zen in the US will be ascertained from the ways it has incorporated a number of American themes and permeated into a variety of discourses. Simultaneously, its losing appeal in the rapidly modernizing Japanese society will be explored to understand ways in which it has failed to integrate the new perspectives of the Japanese people.

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