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Title: Socially engaged Buddhism in the UK : adaptation and development within Western Buddhism
Author: Henry, Philip Michael
ISNI:       0000 0004 2675 6826
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2008
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Socially Engaged Buddhism (SEB) in the UK forms part of a diverse and complex Buddhist picture. Concerned with developing Buddhist solutions to social, political and ecological problems it had its genesis in the movements against nuclear weapons and the Vietnam War in the 1960s. It holds with the notion of engagement in caring and service, in social and environmental protest and analysis, in non-violence as a creative way of overcoming conflicts, and in `right livelihood' and other initiatives which prefigure a society of the future. Engaged Buddhism has transformed the soteriological emphasis of more traditional forms of Buddhist thought to programs of social, political, and economic transformation. The spiritual emphasis on Buddhist practices such as meditation continues to be at the heart of many forms of engaged Buddhism, but, to apply a term Evelyn Underhill coined many years ago in her study of mysticism, it is a "practical spirituality, " one in which the transformation of society takes equal precedence with the transformation of the individual. Both textual and anthropological studies of Buddhism, have often presented it as stereotypically 'other-worldly' (Weber 1958/62), lacking in social engagement. This study adopts an inductive investigation that will test empirically the `this-worldly', `other-worldly' dichotomy, through the relationship of Buddhists to their social settings. This implies a continuity versus discontinuity debate at stake in this discussion, suggesting the possibility of a continuous (traditional) view, which asserts `all Buddhism is engaged' (Nhat Hanh 1987), or that SEB is in some sense `a new phenomenon' (Queen, 2000: 1) and thereby is a break with tradition. The lack of empirical scholarly research, however,h as left only the voices of academics talking to each other within the framework of the debate. This study sets out to remedy that situation, by presenting an empirically based extensive case study analysis and survey of five New Buddhist organisations, who are socially engaged in a variety of ways. This thesis aims to locate Socially Engaged Buddhism in the UK and place it within an emerging `Western Buddhism' examining its adaptation and development and discerning the significance and impact of SEB on the British Buddhist landscape in order to characterise the phenomenon and its relationships to the wider British Buddhist world, and academic discourse
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available