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Buddhadharma : Fall 2012
FALL 2 0 1 2 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 79 of a strength, with each essay approach- ing the topic of Buddhism’s place in the modern world from a slightly different perspective. Among the most thought- provoking are the discussions of Bud- dhism and contemporary political and economic issues, in particular the rela- tionship between Buddhist ideals of renunciation, Buddhist notions of com- munal patronage and prosperity, and modern cultural patterns of globaliza- tion, consumerism, and marketing. What is to be the fate of Buddhism in the modern world? In the first half of the book, the authors consider some of the specific challenges confronting Buddhists in various regions. From the intense gov- ernment pressure on Tibetan Buddhists in the People’s Republic of China to the militarization of some branches of the Sri Lankan Buddhist establishment, and from the complex economic and social shifts in the landscape of Japanese Bud- dhism to the enormous outpouring of women’s commitment to Buddhism and social engagement in Taiwan, the picture is so diverse that it’s hard to categorize. But a few signposts appear. A great deal of creativity, flexibility, and adaptability are on display in the cases described in this book. On the other hand, the pres- sures of the marketplace are subtle but difficult to resist over time. While Bud- dhist teachers and texts provide some of the most incisive tools anywhere for critiquing consumer society, one has only to think of the Buddha-shaped pudding molds to wonder just how much Bud- dhist ideas, practices, or values may be altered in the sticky modern world. Or then again, perhaps not. Bud- dhism in the Modern World at least will give readers one gift that Buddhists are said to prize—that of a certain kind of self-awareness, in this case of the history and implications of some of their daily choices where Buddhism is concerned. What readers do with this awareness is of course unpredictable. REVIEWS