Contexts and Trajectories
This chapter introduces the concept of “experimental Buddhism” as a theoretical frame for identifying and organizing some of the key features that distinguish innovation and activism within broadly “Buddhist” and contemporary contexts. The idea that religious practice, belief, and affiliation can be experimental is not especially original, and yet this perspective can be useful when assessing the situation in Japan. Emphasizing experimentation also holds relevance for how individuals worldwide think of and affiliate with Buddhist traditions. Moreover, ideas commonly associated with the term “experimental”—such as its trial-and-error approach to problem solving or the agency and intentions of the person conducting the experiment—reference patterns of religious practice in local cultures, as well as how individuals, organizations, networked systems, and economies within those cultures respond to, resist, and often rework experimental processes.
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