Drawing lines: The Modern Creation of Vietnamese Buddhist Sects

How has the modernist Buddhist organisation Trúc Lâm Zen created a particular way of understanding Buddhism that reflects constructions that are not traditionally part of the Vietnamese Buddhist understandings? Open for all.

Alexander Soucy. Photo: Saint Mary’s University.

Buddhists in Vietnam have not typically identified with particular sects. In the last decade, however, Zen has gained in popularity. One particularly successful group, Trúc Lâm Zen, has attracted followers with its modernist message and practices which resonate with globalised trends in Buddhism. However, equally important is the systematic way in which it creates a distinct identity among its followers.

Part of the process of creating this feeling of identity has been drawing distinctions between a normative Buddhism and “superstition”, and between Zen and traditional devotional (Pure Land) practices.

This presentation will explore the ways that this modernist Buddhist organisation has created a particular way of understanding Buddhism that reflects constructions that are not traditionally part of the Vietnamese Buddhist understandings.

About Alexander Soucy

Alexander Soucy is an associate professor in religious studies at Saint Mary’s University. He is the author of The Buddha Side: Gender, Power, and Buddhist Practice in Vietnam (2012).

Published Mar. 4, 2016 2:28 PM - Last modified Mar. 4, 2016 2:28 PM