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The Buddha's Apprentices: More Voices of Young Buddhists


Sumi Loundon's Blue Jean Buddha was hailed by the New York Times Review of Books as "a bellwether anthology"—mapping the spiritual trails followed by a generation of American Buddhist youths. The Buddha's Apprentices examines that territory in fuller detail, telling twenty-six more stories of this powerful spiritual path, including the stories of many teenagers. The book shows us the common challenges that spiritually hungry young adults of today might face, with a focus on the identity issues around personality,...

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Sumi Loundon's Blue Jean Buddha was hailed by the New York Times Review of Books as "a bellwether anthology"—mapping the spiritual trails followed by a generation of American Buddhist youths. The Buddha's Apprentices examines that territory in fuller detail, telling twenty-six more stories of this powerful spiritual path, including the stories of many teenagers. The book shows us the common challenges that spiritually hungry young adults of today might face, with a focus on the identity issues around personality, profession, and lifestyle. Also included are several affirming essays from prominent older Buddhists, recalling their first encounters with Buddhism. The Buddha's Apprentices inspires, examining the tectonic shifts that young, spiritually-inclined people undergo as they leave home, search for partners, consider commitment and marriage, and build their lives. Furthermore, they tell of how Buddhism changes and enhances their abilities to face life's difficulties.

Sumi Loundon's rich and youthful commentary lets us appreciate each contributor's individual voice, and helps us to see how they contribute to the always-evolving chorus of modern Buddhism.

The Buddha's Apprentices can be considered a sequel to Sumi Loundon's Blue Jean Buddha, but goes beyond that work by giving extra attention to teens and young adults and including pieces from Thich Nhat Hanh, Lama Surya Das, and a truly diverse array of younger author/contributors.

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Editorial Reviews

Matthew Bortolin
"A powerful and profound collection, alive with the voices of young Buddhists, whose sincere and honest personal stories deepen our understanding of the common life experiences we all share. I'd cut class to read this book!"
Shambhala Sun
"In The Buddha's Apprentices, the contributors bring a broader range of experiences. There is more representation from teens and there is also a selection of narratives from big-name, older practitioners who reflect on their youthful engagement with the dharma. Some of the stories offer genuinely touching and complex accounts of how practice has been important to their lives and self-formations. The stories in Buddha's Apprentices help us understand that in most sanghas today, you are considered young if you're under forty—because most everyone else is over fifty. This can be alienating. If you're a young person interested in the buddhadharma and you're far from a center or Buddhist community, you might feel even freakier. And so this book offers something to the lucky, isolated youth who manages to get her hands on it. The Buddha's Apprentices is a fine volume, and a solid successor to Blue Jean Buddha."
"Young Buddhists from several countries share their life experiences. Their ages range from very young teens to those in their twenties and thirties, closing with a section of reminiscences by longtime Buddhists as mature as the 76-year-old Thich Nhat Hanh. Remarkable first-hand accounts that resonate with eagerness and curiosity."
Richard Hughes Seager
"Always insightful, sometimes sweet, and occasionally startling, these simply-told tales of being young and Buddhist, whether in a fundamentalist Christian, secular, traditionally Asian, or hip, Sixties-style family, are timely reminders that the dharma continues to thrive, even if Buddhism is not in the media spotlight today as it was during the 1990s. Loundon here provides the reader with a rich trans-generational look at Buddhism and youth. Opening with first-person accounts of the meaning Buddhist practice for contemporary teens, it then moves onto the edgier experiences of twenty and thirty-somethings. It concludes with fond reminiscences by some of today's senior leaders and teachers—Norman Fisher, Surya Das, Venerable Yifa, and Thich Nhat Hanh among others—about their own youthful search for meaning and their eventual discovery of the dharma. This is an engaging book that ought to be of interest to general readers, practitioners, and scholars with an interest in American Buddhism."
Franz Metcalf
"There's something profound and beautiful in every chapter."
Noah Levine
"The Buddha's Apprentices is a stellar follow up to Sumi's first collection, Blue Jean Buddha. In this book she broadens the perspective of dharma practitioners in the west, diversifies the voices and shines light upon the important issues of age, race, and tradition. Reading this book is like having conversations with and hearing the stories of your friends, children, teachers and peers. A great introduction for newcomers to Buddhism and an inspiration to practitioners from all schools of Buddha Dharma."
Jack Kornfield
"It is a pleasure to listen to these voices. They point to the future of Buddhadharma in the West."
Soren Gordhamer
"Awesome in the beginning, awesome in the middle, and awesome in the end. Forget Chicken Soup for the whatever Soul, The Buddha's Apprentices is a four-course meal of spiritual food. Whether you are new to Buddhism or have read an assortment of books on the subject, The Buddha's Apprentices has something for everyone. Crisp, clear, honest writing reveals how these young adults (and a few elders) are living the teachings in our modern world—in high schools, colleges, and monasteries, through relating with parents, teachers, and friends. The book does an excellent job of showing more than telling the power and challenges of the path. If you are in the high school or college-age population and are looking to live your life with deeper wisdom, this book is for you."
Martine Batchelor
"Well-written and fascinating. It is inspiring to see how young people put the dharma into practice in all aspects of their lives."
Judith Simmer-Brown
"Don't think of this book as merely a sociology of young western Buddhism. These riveting stories are timeless classics, with authentic voices of 'beginner's mind' shared by every genuine practitioner. You won't be able to put it down."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780861713325
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications MA
  • Publication date: 1/9/2006
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 9.04 (w) x 6.26 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

Rev. Sumi Loundon Kim is the Buddhist chaplain at Duke University and minister for the Buddhist Families of Durham. She has published two anthologies, Blue Jean Buddha: Voices of Young Buddhists and The Buddha's Apprentices: More Voices of Young Buddhists. Following a master's degree in Buddhist studies and Sanskrit from the Harvard Divinity School, she was the associate director for the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies in Barre, Massachusetts. She lives in Durham, North Carolina, with her husband and two children.

Sharon Salzberg, a co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society, has practiced Buddhist meditation since 1971 and has been teaching worldwide since 1974. She is the author of Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience, Lovingkindness, and A Heart As Wide As The World. She lives in Barre, Massachusetts.

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Table of Contents

I Teens
"I try" 3
"Yes, I'm a Buddhist" 7
The fuss over suffering 10
The little things in life 14
That sighing feeling 18
Buddhism is my constant 22
II Twenties and thirties
Nothing special 31
Fortune baby? 37
Home-leaving and home-making 42
The dharma of identity 49
Studying the menu 54
Crossing over 59
Pushing forward and standing still 65
Mean street monk 75
Black is Buddhafull 81
Born to a born - again mother 89
Dangerous thoughts 96
What's crazy, really? 101
"Are you joining a cult?" 108
Clouds and water 115
III Longtime Buddhists
When I was young, no one had plans 125
Full circle 134
The long and winding road 143
How I became a Buddhist nun 152
Stories of a young Zen monk 159
Journey to mindfulness 175
IV Looking ahead
Looking ahead 189
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