Andrew Yip and Sarah-Jane Page: Understanding Young Buddhists | Living Out Ethical Journeys | Chapter 1-E: Contextualising the Research: Living, Crossing and Dwelling | Structure of the Book

TÂM KHUYẾN | Tu thư Sen Trắng lược dẫn: Những nghiên cứu của giới học giả về giới trẻ Phật giáo hiện nay, nói chung, vẫn còn rất ít ỏi. Tìm hiểu Giới Trẻ Phật Giáo, là bước vào hành trình tâm linh tháo vát và sáng tạo của tuổi trẻ, xuyên qua những thực nghiệm phong phú của họ khi đối diện với những thách thức, cạm bẫy đa dạng trong cuộc sống. “Để  Hiểu Giới Trẻ Phật giáo – Understanding Young Buddhists,” có thật sự là mối quan cho những ai đứng trước ngưỡng cửa mong muốn sẽ trở thành những “nhà giáo dục thanh thiếu, đồng niên” hay không? Thời nay, càng thấy đó là lời tra vấn đối với tất cả anh chị Trưởng đã tham gia ở những khóa trại Huyền Trang trở lên, và từ cấp Tín về sau. Trong chương trình tu học Huynh trưởng của GĐPT hiện nay, khái niệm về Giáo dục nói chung, Giáo dục Phật giáo nói riêng trong đó có giáo dục GĐPT không phải là những khẩu hiệu để khoa trương, mà nhất định phải là yếu tố cần nắm vững, thật vững, của người được cộng đồng xã hội, phụ huynh con em, giáo hội, thầy cô nơi tự viện… giao phó trách nhiệm “chăm sóc mầm non PG”. Điều này chúng tôi tin giới lãnh đạo chân chính của tổ chức hôm nay, càng lúc càng thấy rõ sự giới hạn của các bậc Kiên-Trì-Định và Lực trong thời đại và viễn cảnh phát triển của GĐPT trên thế giới.

“Tìm Hiểu Giới trẻ Phật giáo – Understanding Young Buddhists,” chúng tôi tin là tư liệu cần thiết để quý anh chị trưởng đang hướng dẫn đơn vị, hướng dẫn đoàn sinh có thể tham khảo để tìm đâu giữa những điều phân tích của tác giả Andrew Yip và Sarah-Jane Page, những giá trị lý tưởng có thể phát triển tổ chức. Tất nhiên phải bằng một thái độ tỉnh táo, có chắt lọc.

Tư liệu đã và đăng nhiều kỳ, nên những mong quý anh chị hằng quan tâm chịu khó theo đuổi sự cập nhật. Song song, các bài tham khảo về Giáo dục xã hội, Giáo Dục Phật Giáo…v.v sẽ sưu lục và phổ biến, để anh chị em có cơ sở so sánh, phân tích và tìm ra những đáp án cho hướng phát triển hiện tại lẫn tương lai của tổ chức mình, vì mục đích GĐPTVN đã xác lập là đi trên con đường văn hóa giáo dục tuổi trẻ trong tinh thần Phật giáo.

Trân trọng!

Contextualising the Research: Living, Crossing and Dwelling 

The title of this book affirms the notion of ‘journey’ in these young adults’ accounts. Following Tweed (2006; 2011) we recognise religion as a dynamic, moving entity and experience, which is lived in diverse and complex ways. Tweed views religion as something that crosses and dwells – religion crosses in the sense that it is fluid and travels between spaces and between people.[1] Religion is boundary-crossing, which is especially apt in the context of Buddhism where there has been much discussion on the relationship between its ‘eastern’ and ‘western’ forms, and how it adapts in new contexts and locations (Hamilton, 2002; Mellor, 1991: Possamai, 2009; Queen, 1999; Waterhouse, 1997, 2001). When Buddhism becomes a marker of identity, individuals respond to and shape Buddhism in new contexts. This links to Tweed’s second point that religion is also about dwelling. Religions are encapsulated in particular spaces, locations, and enactments. This may be fleeting, such as the Catholic Feast Day procession that temporarily tours the streets of Miami, as Tweed describes. Or it may be somewhat more permanent, such as a place of worship in a physical building, or a religious artefact. But the meanings and processes of understanding religion are continually shifting.

Ammerman (2007, 2014a, 2014b), McGuire (2008), and Orsi (2005, 2010) also assert that religion is lived within the everyday, and this dynamism means that religious identities are in flux, and always being made and re-made, within and across spaces. In other words, crossing (e.g. identity re-making) can take place while dwelling in the same space. So while ‘crossing’ automatically denotes movement, change and potential transformation, ‘dwelling’ potentially can do the same. ‘Dwelling’ does not necessarily denote staying put or being static. For example, a young adult currently ‘dwelling’ at university, may experience this as a key place from which to revise her/his religious identity.

In terms of ‘dwelling’, all our participants had made a conscious decision to identify as Buddhist, even those who had been socialised within Buddhism to some extent during their upbringing. Therefore, our participants were also experiencing religion in terms of ‘crossing’ – there was a real sense of a journey that they were making, which captured the dynamic sense of movement and change, whether in terms of moving between Buddhist traditions, or varying degrees of Buddhism’s salience in their lives over time.

By viewing religion as lived (Ammerman, 2007, 2014a, 2014b; McGuire, 2008; Orsi, 2005, 2010; Nynäs and Yip, 2012; Yip and Page, 2013), and how it crosses and dwells (Tweed 2006; 2011), we are also able to better-understand and engage with those participants combining more than one religious tradition. As Orsi (2010) notes, there has traditionally been a tendency for scholars to map how closely a religious individual is following her/his religious tradition. The starting point for such an approach conceptualises religion in a rather static way, as a set of clear rules and official guidance against which one would measure oneself. Orsi highlights that those who absorb and cultivate complex religious identities of varying provenance are dismissed as either not undertaking their religious commitments seriously or enacting them ‘properly’. Therefore, in traditional scholarship, Orsi’s point is that our participants who identified as ‘Anglican-Buddhist’ or as ‘Buddhist-Catholic’ would not be taken seriously. Instead of creating a binary between ‘proper’ religion and ‘popular’ religion, Orsi argues that the concept of ‘lived religion’ invites scholars to take seriously the various ways in which religion is experienced and understood.

Similarly, Tweed (2011) uses the concept of the ‘translocative’ to convey how Buddhism can be theorised in the contemporary world. Crossing and dwelling is a key part of this, evidenced through how Buddhist ideas, people and artefacts circulate in various global flows. But Tweed (2011) also notes how his theory is especially relevant to Buddhism, emphasising key elements of Buddhist thinking, such as no-self (the self does not exist; rather humans fluidly comprise ‘body, sensation, perception, habit, and consciousness’ [2011: 23]) and impermanence (constant change; nothing stays the same). These concepts highlight the transient nature of Buddhism; it is ‘always becoming, being made and remade over and over again in contact and exchange’ (2011: 23) (see also Harvey, 2000, 2013).

Structure of the Book

Chapter 2 will articulate the religious and non-religious upbringings of our participants, and how they became acquainted with Buddhism. It will offer key reasons why Buddhism appealed, and equally, why other worldviews lacked appeal in their spiritual quests. Chapter 3 will focus on our participants’ engagement with Buddhism, emphasising how they understood Buddhism, the ethics they derived from Buddhism, how they practised their Buddhism, and what sources of inspiration they draw upon for sustaining their religious engagement. Chapter 4 will focus on their attitudes and experiences of sexuality, and how this was underpinned by their Buddhist identities, with a focus on the key notion of avoiding sexual misconduct. The chapter will also detail the experiences of lgbt Buddhists. Chapter 5 will explore explicitly how our participants navigated broader culture as Buddhists, examining the way decisions were made, and the way their Buddhist approach underpinned these negotiations. Participants cultivated a certain ethical approach which impacted their negotiation of issues such as drinking alcohol, consumerism and the sexualisation of culture. Finally, Chapter 6 will offer a summary of findings, followed by an engagement with four conceptual themes. We will emphasise the salience of religion for some young people, how Buddhism offers an ethics for life for our participants, the way the concept of ‘lived religion’ is one of the best means of capturing the experiences of young Buddhists, and the impact of capital of various kinds on their practice of Buddhism.

___________________________

[1] Tweed deploys these concepts broadly to theorise religious transformation and flow on the macro, meso, and micro levels. In this book, however, we use his theory selectively and focus primarily on the micro level, putting the young Buddhists we studied at centre stage and using their voices and lived experiences as the fundamental basis for our story-telling.

 

[ Next: Chapter 2: Journeying to Buddhism ]

Leave a Reply