Diverse Practices and Flexible Beliefs among Young Adult Asian American Buddhists

Chenxing Han


The increasingly criticized “two Buddhisms” dichotomy in scholarly and popular literature bifurcates American Buddhism into two separate groups: white converts who are focused on meditation, and Asian immigrants who engage in devotional practices. This paper builds on critiques of the “two Buddhisms” model by demonstrating the importance of attending to generation as a factor of analysis when studying American Buddhists. Specifically, this study analyzes the diverse practices and nuanced beliefs of twenty-six young adult Asian American Buddhists from a diverse range of ethnic and sectarian backgrounds. In their open-minded attitudes toward a wide range of Buddhist practices and multivalent interpretations of various Buddhist beliefs, these young adults challenge simplistic representations of Asian American Buddhists and present an inclusive vision of Buddhism that embraces nuance, ambiguity, and change. 


Buddhism; Buddhism in American; Asian American Buddhist; young adult

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