Session Abstract: Emerging in the 1960s, during the conflict usually referred to as the Vietnam War, the movement known as Engaged Buddhism is arguably the most internationally significant philosophical development of the second half of the twentieth century. It is indisputably the most globally influential philosophy to come out of Southeast Asia. Contemporary fields as diverse as architecture, business management, and psychiatry would be unrecognizable without its precepts. This panel will discuss Engaged Buddhism in the three countries, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand where it was most powerful in its early years and where it is having a renewed impact. Dat Nguyen will discuss a new generation of young urban Buddhists in Vietnam who are re-inventing what Engaged Buddhism can mean there. John Marston will examine the life of the Cambodian monk Maha Ghosananda in order to put his Engaged Buddhism into social and religious context. Jordan Baskerville will present information on the beginnings of Glum Ahimsa the first socially engaged Buddhist network in Thailand. Our discussant, Ngo Thanh Nhan, studied with many of the founding figures of the movement as a college student in 1960s Saigon and has kept in contact with some of them in the following years. His lived experience with Engaged Buddhism will shape his scholarly response to these papers.
Paper Presenter: Dat Nguyen – NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies
Paper Presenter: John Marston – El Colegio de Mexico
Paper Presenter: Jordan Baskerville – University of Wisconsin-Madison