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Buddhadharma : Spring 2019
BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 109 “WESTERN BUDDHISM MUST BE RUINED.” With that ringing sentence, Glenn Wallis throws down his challenge to readers. In his provocative new book, A Critique of Western Buddhism: Ruins of the Buddhist Real, Wallis takes on the complacencies and complicities of what he identifies as West- ern Buddhism and offers a rigorous philosophical remediation: “ruin,” in the special sense in which he uses the term. Drawing on Continental European philosophical traditions, in particu- lar the contemporary French thinker François Laruelle, Wallis attempts to open new critical and philosophical possibilities from within Buddhism. Wallis’ distaste at what he identifies as Western Buddhism’s neoliberal accommodations and consumerist desires clearly fuels the urgency of his mission. He skewers a range of contemporary Western Buddhist developments, ranging from the corporate mindfulness movement to timely examples of hypocrisy and violence, such as sexual predation by Buddhist teachers and genocidal attacks by Burmese Buddhists against the Rohingya in Myanmar. Yet this book aims to offer more than a simple cri- tique of the manifestations of Buddhist malaise. Wallis here tack- les what he sees as a far deeper problem, a fundamental evasion within the heart of Buddhist thought. Wallis suggests this evasion is not limited to recent Western iterations of Buddhism, although in his view the form of Buddhism he calls “Western” is home to some of its most egregious manifestations. A Critique of Western Buddhism: Ruins of the Buddhist Real by Glenn Wallis Bloomsbury Academic, 2018 232 pages; $114 A Clarion Call for Buddhism REVIEWS ANNABELLA PITKIN opposite | Buddha, 2010 by Sopheap Pich