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Race and Religion in American BuddhismWhite Supremacy and Immigrant Adaptation$
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Joseph Cheah

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199756285

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199756285.001.0001

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Adaptation of  Vipassana Meditation by Convert Buddhists and Sympathizers

Adaptation of  Vipassana Meditation by Convert Buddhists and Sympathizers

(p.59) 3 Adaptation of  Vipassana Meditation by Convert Buddhists and Sympathizers
Race and Religion in American Buddhism

Joseph Cheah

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the contemporary adaptation of vipassana meditation by convert Buddhists and sympathizers to the American context. It employs racial formation theory to distinguish between cultural and racial rearticulations of Buddhist ideas, beliefs, and practices. Cultural rearticulation is an ordinary means of taking Asian religious practices and rerepresent them in terms that are recognizable and meaningful for Americans in the mainstream culture. The incorporation of Western psychology into vipassana meditation and the demystification of Buddhist practices are two prime examples of cultural rearticulation of vipassana meditation. While these adaptations can be seen as inevitable products of the transmission of Buddhism in America, they can also be considered examples of racial rearticulation if they demonstrate the ways in which Burmese vipassana meditation has been rearticulated into specific but deliberately chosen forms that help preserve the prevailing system of racial hegemony and privileges surrounding whiteness.

Keywords:   adaptation, racial formation, racial rearticulation, cultural rearticulation, Western psychology, racial hegemony, white privilege

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