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Buddhadharma : Win 2012
WINTER 2 0 1 2 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 77 example, in Dixie Dharma one hears terms like “maps,” “boundary-cross- ing,” “permeability,” and “positional- ity”—all ideas that closely echo those found in Thomas Tweed’s Crossing and Dwelling: A Theory of Religion. (Inter- estingly, when Wilson speaks here of his own positionality, he tells readers that he is a Buddhist practitioner, but does not divulge information about his personal familial ancestry. One would suspect it is deeply Southern.) Moreover, because he wishes to situate his study within the field of American religious history as well as Buddhism, Wilson also tends to see parallels with that particu- lar history. He describes, for example, Takashi Tsuji, the original founder of Ekoji, as a “Buddhist circuit-rider,” echoing the terminology and ethos of the early Methodist preachers in this country. While interesting and even entertaining, sometimes it seems to me that such analogies are stretched a bit far. And, of course, the largest issue of all: Wilson’s study focuses on a single Southern sangha, and a pretty unique one at that given that it houses multiple Buddhist traditions. There are many other sanghas located throughout the South, which may vary a great deal from Ekoji. We will have to wait for other ethnographies before we can declare a definitive Southern-style Buddhism. These criticisms aside, I see this book as being immensely valuable. Typically, when we think of Buddhism in America or of American Buddhism, we’re think- ing of Buddhist centers and practitioners found in the Northeast or along the West Coast. And though Buddhism has—espe- cially over the last few decades—been drifting into new regions of this country, very little attention has been focused on these new sites prior to this study. The power of this book is that for the first time—through Wilson’s careful atten- tion to space and place and region, and his thorough interviews—we are given access to the actual experiences of people practicing Buddhism in the South. REVIEWS