Be The Refuge: Raising the Voices of Asian American Buddhists

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Be The Refuge explores the invisibility and erasure of Asian Americans in contemporary spaces of Buddhist sangha (community) in the United States. Through interviews with young Asian Americans who study and practice Buddhism from various cultural and spiritual orientations, author Chenxing Han centers the narratives of diversity and inclusion – or lack thereof – among multi-generational, multi-ethnic Asian Americans. While there are differences in the challenges shared by second-generation and convert Buddhists, there are also many similarities in the constant struggle to define Asian American Buddhist identity in the U.S..

Han analyzes the internal spiritual lives of dharma seekers and highlights the historical and current experiences of racism among diverse Asian American communities. The practice of Shin Buddhism, brought over by newly arrived Japanese workers in the early 1900s, became one of the casualties of racist and xenophobic policy that imprisoned Americans of Japanese descent during World War II. Han discovers that fifth-generation Japanese-Americans – whose families endured incarceration – are proudly bringing back the rituals and traditions that define Buddhism as practiced by their immigrant forebears.

The practice of Buddhism requires a nurturing sangha. In Be The Refuge, Buddhists from all backgrounds will find truth in the words of like-minded people from various Asian streams, dealing squarely with the complexity of “betwixt-and-between” racial identities and life experiences. While reclaiming traditional Buddhist rites in their practice, Asian American Buddhists are also defining engaged practice by incorporating social justice advocacy and action in their commitment to faith. Han’s analysis is cause for celebration and hope: both of enduring cultural heritage and the power of unifying and empowering experiences, rooted in equanimity.

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Star Count 5/5
Format eBook
Page Count 256 pages
Publisher North Atlantic Books
Publish Date 2021-Jan-26
ISBN 9781623175238 Buy this Book
Issue January 2021
Category Religion


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