Abstract

Critical views of Beat adaptations of Buddhism tend to fall into two groups. The first criticizes Beat adaptations of Buddhism as shallow and stereotyped. The second praises the Beats' uses of abstract Buddhist philosophy, but without engaging issues of cultural appropriation. Both of these views are limited. Rather, Beat Buddhism offers surprising syntheses of American freedom and Buddhist emptiness. I investigate this influential cross-cultural adaptation in three crucial writers linked to the Beat tradition: Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, and Tom Robbins. All three promote Americanized Buddhism as an alternative to consumerism. Within a shared commitment to shaping American Buddhism, there is diversity: Snyder sees a harmonious merging of cultures; Kerouac struggles with unresolved conflicts; and Robbins combines cross-cultural openness with ethnically sensitive caution.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1542-4286
Print ISSN
0093-3139
Pages
pp. 200-230
Launched on MUSE
2017-04-25
Open Access
No
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