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북미주 학계와 선불교 : North American Academe and Meditation Buddhism

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서울대학교 미국학연구소
미국학, Vol.23, pp. 169-193
This paper is aimed at examining research trends in Meditation Buddhism in North American academe. Source material used for this purpose are doctoral dissertations related to this subject produced in the field of Philosophy, Religion, and Theology" among dissertations registered in the UMI(University Microfilms International) during the period between 1962 and 1999. This artic1e is composed of two paπs: Part One discusses the importance of this research; and Part Two analyzes academic trends in dissertations on Buddhism, and those on Meditation Buddhism in isolated nations, its chronology, and themes. In addition, a list of dissertations on the subject is attached as an appendix. The number of dissertations on Buddhism in North America saw a gradualincrease in the 1970s, the 1980s demonstrated explosive" growth in their number, and about half of the dissertations on Buddhism ever published were a product of the 1990s. American academic circles also have had a leading role in Meditation Buddhist studies and research on this subject constitutes the greatest part among thematic studies of Buddhism there. The majority of the dissertations on this subject are those related to engaged Buddhism, followed by those on Meditation Buddhism itself, and comparative research with other philosophical systems of thought. In addition, study of monasticism is a new field that emerged in the 1990s. In North America, studies have been conducted on diverse meditative traditions developed in isolated areas. However, the majority of research on the subject has been devoted to their East Asian counterparts, represented by Zen, the Japanese Meditative tradition, which has attracted the greatest attention from Western scholars. While research on the Chinese tradition is primarily concerned with the lives of eminent Meditation monks and their thought, Zen is studied in terms of engaged Buddhism. In comparison, the Korean counterpart has been virtually ignored by Western scholarship. However, it is recently said that: Zen popular among North Americans is not the mainstream of Zen in ]apan; and it corroborated with Japanese militarism after the Meiji restoration. In contrast, the Korean tradition of Meditation Buddhism is said to have a greater possibility of contributing to the development of Buddhist Studies around the world. This is because the Korean version predated the Japanese one and has well preserved the pure praxis of traditional East Asia. Conventional scholarship on the Korean meditative tradition has been limited to the lives of eminent monks and their thought. In this regard, Korea is quite different from North America. Early Buddhism put the greatest emphasis on the thorough recognition of human reality and focused primarily on solving impending issues in human society. From this perspective, research trends in North American academe on Meditation Buddhism provide much viable information for the prospective future of Buddhist studies in Korea. A qualitative evaluation of the scholastic achievements of North American scholars related to Meditation Buddhism remains for further study. In addition, an in-depth examination of books and scientific treatises on Meditation Buddhism wiIl also be necessaη for our better understanding of research trends on this subject in North America.
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