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Secularizing Buddhism Book Event

September 10, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Buddhism is both deeply personal and profoundly social. In the neutral tones of academic language, we might say that secular Buddhism, and secularized forms of Buddhist practice such as mindfulness, are simply adaptations to a new society. This picture is at times supported by claims that reinterpretation is simply what Buddhist history has always been. We can, however, look through the neutral measured tones of that language with a hermeneutics of suspicion. Then, we can see a history of conflict, competition, claims to power and authority, expropriation, and Othering. The secularizing of Buddhism is not a natural, evolutionary, or inevitable process, but rather the accumulation of perceptions, decisions, and actions by individual Buddhists, whether they consider themselves traditionalist or secularist. Drawing on the work in Secularizing Buddhism: New Perspectives on a Dynamic Tradition, Funie Hsu and Richard K. Payne will discuss the processes by which Buddhism has been stripped of racial and ethnic associations, and recontextualized in contemporary American society. 

Secularizing Buddhism is a new collection edited by Richard Payne, featuring essays by Bikkhu Bodhi, Gil Fronsdal, Kathleen Gregory, Funie Hsu, David McMahon, and Ron Purser, known for coining the phrase “McMindfulness.” Exploring the issue of “secular Buddhism” from a variety of standpoints, including race and racism, neoliberalism, traditional doctrines of rebirth, modern psychology, and more, this new publication is an exciting contribution to the field.

Join us for a conversation between Richard Payne and Funie Hsu on Friday September 10 to discuss the new book, Secularizing Buddhism: New Perspectives on a Dynamic Tradition.

Register for this webinar here.

Learn more about the book here.

About the participants:

Richard K. Payne Richard K. Payne is Yehan Numata Professor of Japanese Buddhist Studies at the Institute of Buddhist Studies, Berkeley. He was born and raised in the South Bay, and his family attended
public events, such as O-Bon and bonsai shows, at BCA temples throughout the 60s. His interest
in Buddhism was both personal and intellectual, eventually leading to doctoral research on
Shingon Buddhism. In addition to his academic research at Mt. Koya, the main training center
for Shingon, he completed his training and was initiated as an ajari (acarya). His tenure at the
IBS covers some 25 years as Dean. He is the co-editor of Homa Variations, co-editor-in-chief of
the Oxford Encyclopedia of Buddhist Studies, and editor of Secularizing Buddhism: New
Perspectives on a Dynamic Tradition.

Funie Hsu is Associate Professor of American Studies at San José  State University. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a B.A. from the University of California, Davis. Her prior experience as an elementary school teacher informs her scholarship on education, empire, Buddhism, mindfulness, and race. Funie was raised in a Taiwanese Humanistic Buddhist tradition. In addition to maintaining that practice, she has recently been learning about the Jodo Shinshu tradition.


September 10, 2021
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
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Zoom Webinar


Institute of Buddhist Studies
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