Adaptation of  Vipassana Meditation by Convert Buddhists and Sympathizers

Joseph Cheah

in Race and Religion in American Buddhism

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199756285
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918874 | DOI:


Adaptation of  Vipassana Meditation by Convert Buddhists and Sympathizers

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This chapter examines the contemporary adaptation of vipassana meditation by convert Buddhists and sympathizers to the American context. It employs racial formation theory to distinguish between cultural and racial rearticulations of Buddhist ideas, beliefs, and practices. Cultural rearticulation is an ordinary means of taking Asian religious practices and rerepresent them in terms that are recognizable and meaningful for Americans in the mainstream culture. The incorporation of Western psychology into vipassana meditation and the demystification of Buddhist practices are two prime examples of cultural rearticulation of vipassana meditation. While these adaptations can be seen as inevitable products of the transmission of Buddhism in America, they can also be considered examples of racial rearticulation if they demonstrate the ways in which Burmese vipassana meditation has been rearticulated into specific but deliberately chosen forms that help preserve the prevailing system of racial hegemony and privileges surrounding whiteness.

Keywords: adaptation; racial formation; racial rearticulation; cultural rearticulation; Western psychology; racial hegemony; white privilege

Chapter.  10021 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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