Buddhism and the Deconstruction of Selfhood

Amanda Porterfield

in The Transformation of American Religion

Published in print April 2001 | ISBN: 9780195131376
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834570 | DOI:
Buddhism and the Deconstruction of Selfhood

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Buddhism emerged as an important component of American culture in the late twentieth century. New laws lifting restrictions on Asian immigrants contributed to this development, as did changes in American intellectual life that led more Americans than ever before to become predisposed toward Buddhist ideas about selfhood. Buddhist ideas had been present in America since the mid‐nineteenth century, but not until the writings of D.T. Suzuki and the Beat poets in the 1950s did these ideas catch hold as antidotes to the materialism and individualism of American culture. This chapter shows how Buddhist ideas of emptiness, nondualism, and no‐self contributed to the development of American psychology and popular culture, and also how American psychology and popular culture revised and redirected these Buddhist ideas.

Keywords: Beat poets; Buddhism; emptiness; individualism; nondualism; no‐self; popular culture; psychology; selfhood

Chapter.  14361 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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