Be the Refuge: Raising the Voices of Asian American Buddhists

Be the Refuge: Raising the Voices of Asian American Buddhists

by Chenxing Han
Be the Refuge: Raising the Voices of Asian American Buddhists

Be the Refuge: Raising the Voices of Asian American Buddhists

by Chenxing Han


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A must-read for modern sanghas—Asian American Buddhists in their own words, on their own terms.

Despite the fact that two thirds of U.S. Buddhists identify as Asian American, mainstream perceptions about what it means to be Buddhist in America often whitewash and invisibilize the diverse, inclusive, and intersectional communities that lie at the heart of American Buddhism.

Be the Refuge is both critique and celebration, calling out the erasure of Asian American Buddhists while uplifting the complexity and nuance of their authentic stories and vital, thriving communities. Drawn from in-depth interviews with a pan-ethnic, pan-Buddhist group, Be the Refuge is the first book to center young Asian American Buddhists' own voices. With insights from multi-generational, second-generation, convert, and socially engaged Asian American Buddhists, Be the Refuge includes the stories of trailblazers, bridge-builders, integrators, and refuge-makers who hail from a wide range of cultural and religious backgrounds.

Championing nuanced representation over stale stereotypes, Han and the 89 interviewees in Be the Refuge push back against false narratives like the Oriental monk, the superstitious immigrant, and the banana Buddhist—typecasting that collapses the multivocality of Asian American Buddhists into tired, essentialized tropes. Encouraging frank conversations about race, representation, and inclusivity among Buddhists of all backgrounds, Be the Refuge embodies the spirit of interconnection that glows at the heart of American Buddhism.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781623175238
Publisher: North Atlantic Books
Publication date: 01/26/2021
Pages: 344
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

CHENXING HAN is a Bay Area-based writer whose publications have appeared in Buddhadharma, Journal of Global Buddhism, Lion's Roar, Pacific World, Tricycle, and elsewhere. She holds a BA from Stanford University and an MA in Buddhist studies from the Graduate Theological Union. After studying chaplaincy at the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, California, she worked in spiritual care at a nearby community hospital in Oakland. Be the Refuge is her first book.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction 1

Wondering 1

Seeking 6

Connecting 12

Part 1 Trailblazers

1 Erasure 21

2 Belonging 35

3 Lineage 49

Part 2 Bridge-Builders

4 Gaps 65

5 Reclamation 79

6 Compassion 93

Part 3 Integrators

7 Tension 113

8 Affinity 127

9 Roots 143

Part 4 Refuge-Makers

10 Anger 165

11 Privilege 185

12 Solidarity 207

Benediction 251

Appendix 1 Questions for Other Asian American Buddhists 255

Appendix 2 Interview Questions 261

Appendix 3 List of Interviews 267

Appendix 4 Interviewee Ethnicities 273

Appendix 5 A Diverse Group 277

Notes 285

Bibliography 303

Index 319

About the Author 327

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