The Buddhist Rhetoric of the H Temple: What Does It Mean to Be an American Buddhist?
In this book, I explored the rhetorical contours of the H Temple of L city, Ohio. By examining its opportunities for involvement, challenges to sustainability, and its ethical dilemmas in an era of globalization, I illuminated a new form of Buddhism within the context of modernization. Previous studies have detailed Buddhism’s transformation from East to West, from Asian Buddhists to Euro-American Buddhists, and from traditional to the multiple variations of Buddhism within this critical historical juncture. Grounded in these studies, this project approached the H temple as an embodiment of Buddhist rhetoric (with both discursive and non-discursive expressions) within the discourses of modernity. The primary goal of this study was to better understand the Westernization of Buddhism and its adapted practices and rituals in a host culture. The argument presented here was that the Buddhist rhetoric of the temple functioned to constitute and negotiate religious identities of the community members through its various rituals and activities. At the same time, the generative space and settings of the temple also facilitated the religious identity formation and preservation. By analyzing core ideographs in the temple’s rhetoric that aimed to maintain its Japanese Zen traditions, I discovered that they actually represented and reinforced Western ideologies related to individualism, gender equity, education, and community building. Additionally, by discussing the temple’s use of communication technology, the naming practice, the members’ secrecy of being a Buddhist, and the temple itself as a sacred space, I illuminated how identities were strategically constructed in the temple through these rhetorical practices. In the following sections, I first answer my research questions raised in Chap. 1. Then, I summarize the theoretical implications of the Buddhist rhetoric developed in this study. Finally, I suggest what this study can contribute to future research on religious communication, intercultural rhetoric, and critical rhetoric.
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