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Buddhist Doctrine and Practice as a Reflection of the Sensibilities of Anglo-Australian Buddhists.

Dr Glenys Eddy

Between 2003 and 2005, interviews conducted with practitioners from the Theravadin Blue Mountains Insight Meditation Centre and Vajrayana Institute in Sydney, yielded data which indicated that the two types of practitioner undergo a similar socialization and commitment process. Commitment to the Buddhist worldview occurs when its claims are experientially validated against inner understandings and convictions, which themselves become clearer as a result of participation in religious activity, and when meditative experience and its doctrinal interpretation is found to both improve the quality of lived experience and facilitate a gradual shift in one’s sense-of-self. Commitment is also conditional upon the acceptance of the Four Noble Truths and the three marks of samsaric existence, duhkha, anitya and anatman (Skt) as an interpretive framework for lived reality. Throughout the socialization process, the three groupings of the Noble Eight-fold Path, sila/ethics, samadhi/concentration, and prajna/wisdom, function as a strategy for both negotiating lived experience and experientially validating the claims of the Buddhist worldview. This paper considers these characteristics of the commitment process as reflections of the values and sensibilities of the practitioners concerned, who were mostly middle-aged and from a Christian background.

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Dr Glenys Eddy

Glenys Eddy graduated last year from the University of Sydney with a PhD in Religious Studies. Her area of research, Western Buddhist belief and practice, combines her interests in Buddhism, meditation, religious experience and change, and in alternative religious practices in the West. Her publications include "The Ritual Dimension of Western Esotericism: the Rebirth Motif and the Transformation of Human Consciousness" in Esotericism and the Control of Knowledge (Department of Studies in Religion, University of Sydney, 2004), and "A Strand of Contemporary Tantra: Its Discourse and Practice in the FPMT" in Journal of Global Buddhism.

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