Episode 121 :: Charles Prebish :: An American Buddhist Life

Charles Prebish

Charles Prebish, scholar of American Buddhism, speaks with us about his book An American Buddhist Life: Memoirs of a Modern Dharma Pioneer.

As Buddhism has moved into new cultures and societies, it has done two things: it has created outposts of its historical traditions in those new locations and times, and it has evolved new forms that influence and are influenced by new locations and times. We see that today in the West, as temples are started adhering to a particular people’s religious framework for study, practice, and worship, while others more closely mirror the current social norms. In our contemporary Western culture, there is more inclination to secular attitudes, and so we see the development of a Buddhism that is informed by the past, but not adherent to it in all ways.

The wonderful opportunity we have is that these differing approaches can help one another, learn from one another, and contribute to one another to help foster the ongoing growth of a beneficial practice for people, regardless of their background.

Charles Prebish is among the most prominent scholars in studying the forms that Buddhist tradition has taken in the United States. Dr. Prebish has been an officer in the International Association of Buddhist Studies, and was co-founder of the Buddhism Section of the American Academy of Religion. In 1994, he co-founded the online Journal of Buddhist Ethics, which was the first online peer-reviewed journal in the field of Buddhist Studies. Prebish has also served as editor of the Journal of Global Buddhism and Critical Review of Books in Religion. In 1996, he co-founded the Routledge “Critical Studies in Buddhism” series, and currently co-edits the Routledge “World Religions” series of textbooks. He is also co-editor of the Routeldge Encyclopedia of Buddhism project. By the way, I would encourage you to come to the episode page for this episode, as I’ve included a link to a video talk Dr. Prebish gave that is a terrific resource, and simply fun to listen to.

So, sit back, relax, and have a nice Jasmine Mint tea.

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Music for This Episode


Chikuzen Shakuhachi Series

The music heard in the middle of the podcast is from the Chikuzen Shakuhachi Series, Volume 1, courtesy of Tai Hei Shakuhachi. The tracks used in this episode are:

  • Track 6 :: Esashi Oiwake