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Experimental BuddhismInnovation and Activism in Contemporary Japan$
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John K. Nelson

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780824838331

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824838331.001.0001

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Experimental Buddhism

Experimental Buddhism

Contexts and Trajectories

(p.1) 1 Experimental Buddhism
Experimental Buddhism

John K. Nelson

University of Hawai'i Press

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.

Keywords:   experimental Buddhism, innovation, activism, religious practice, experimentation

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