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The Making of Buddhist Modernism$
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David L. McMahan

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195183276

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195183276.001.0001

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The Spectrum of Tradition and Modernism

The Spectrum of Tradition and Modernism

(p.27) 2 The Spectrum of Tradition and Modernism
The Making of Buddhist Modernism

David L. McMahan (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter charts a variegated continuum between traditionalist and modernist Buddhists by providing five composite profiles of Buddhists: a British “Buddhist sympathizer,” a traditional Thai laywoman, an American dharma teacher, a Tibetan monk, and an Asian modernizer. It then discusses three processes by which modernization has taken place in Buddhism: detraditionalization, whereby authority is internalized and shifted from institutions to individuals; demythologization, in which elements of traditional cosmology, such as the six realms of rebirth, are re-interpreted as mental states; and psychologization, in which unseen beings are translated into psychological phenomena and, more generally, Buddhism comes to be interpreted in terms of western psychology.

Keywords:   detraditionalization, demythologization, psychology, wheel of rebirth, Buddhist sympathizer, modernization, Tibetan monks, Buddhist deities, Walpola Rahula, Rudolph Bultmann

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