Contemporary Understandings of Buddhism
Oxford Mindfulness Centre Research Meetings, 2016
Abstract: These days there is a lot of talk about mindfulness and Buddhism, and about how these two relate to each other. This nature of this relationship depends not only on how mindfulness is conceptualized but also on how Buddhism is understood – and just like mindfulness, Buddhism today means many things. This lecture demonstrates how Buddhism has come to mean so many different things to different people, highlighting some of those understandings that are most helpful in carrying forth this conversation in an appropriate manner. First, academic and traditional understandings of Buddhism are distinguished, and a short overview is given of its historical development in Asia and the West. The contemporary form of the tradition is discussed through the concept of ‘Buddhist Modernism’ and the development of the Vipassana Movement and its changes is given as an example of one of the source traditions of modern mindfulness.