My doctoral dissertation


Transplanting Buddhism : an investigation into the spread of Buddhism,  with reference to Buddhism in South Africa

While it is an undeniable historical fact that Buddhism has spread far beyond India, adapting to local circumstances and spawning new variations in the process, the process by means of which it did so is obscure. Recent scholarship has shown that to impute a sense of"mission" to Buddhism is to employ a specifically Christian category which does not fit in well with Buddhism as it was understood by the originators of the Buddhist tradition. For this and related reasons, contemporary scholars of religion prefer to speak of the "transplantation" of Buddhism rather than of "mission''.

 This work builds on the theories of religious transplantation advanced by Michael Pye, Frank Whaling, Martin Baumann and others. It presents a theoretical perspective on the transplantation of Buddhism that is based on an understanding of Buddhism as consisting of three interrelated "traditions" ranging from the direct perception of reality as Buddhism understands and defines it, to participation in popular Buddhist ritual. The interaction between these three traditions gives rise to four chronologically distinct, but always interacting phases in the transplantation process.

 The theoretical perspective is demonstrated with reference to Buddhist history in general and South African Buddhist history in particular, and by applying it to various problematic situations in contemporary Buddhism, such as the relation between Buddhism and "other" religions and the predominance of middle-class members (which in South Africa equates to white members) in contemporary western Buddhism

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