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Thesis

Abstract

Since the 1960s, the movement known as "Engaged Buddhism" has grown on a global scale. From protesting human rights violations to spending meditation retreats as homeless persons on the streets ofNew York, Engaged Buddhists react to modem problems by using a Buddhist framework. The Engaged Buddhist Environmentalism movement is a specific example of Engaged Buddhism. In the United States, Engaged Buddhist Environmentalists respond to problems such as nuclear waste and species extinction by reinterpreting traditional Buddhist doctrines and applying them to an ecological setting. Thai Engaged Buddhist Environmentalists, on the other hand, apply those doctrines to Buddhist rituals in response to the deforestation and pollution their country is experiencing. The differences between these two movements rest largely on the foundations of each group's activism. Specifically, American activists tum to reinterpretations of the doctrine whereas Thai activists turn to traditional doctrines and rituals as the sources of their enviromnental action. This study examines the movement in each country and then looks at the differences between the two. Finally, it argues that the Engaged Buddhist Environmentalism movement is a lens through which to view how Buddhism is interpreted within each culture.

Disciplines

Arts and Humanities

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