Be the Refuge: Raising the Voices of Asian American Buddhists

North Atlantic. Jan. 2021. 256p. ISBN 9781623175238. pap. $17.95. REL
Han’s illuminating debut examines how non-Asian Americans have co-opted Buddhism. This, she notes, is clearly seen by the vast majority of prominent Buddhist American scholars and spiritual leaders who are non-Asian. She conducts interviews with dozens of Asian American Buddhists. From these interviews, Han draws several salient conclusions. One of these is that many share the same feeling that Asian Americans are often seen as being too Asian if they are Buddhists or are not Asian enough if they are not practicing Buddhists. It is an untenable position to be in, she argues. Han’s work is divided into chapters that detail how Buddhism arrived in the United States while also covering people who sought to teach its core tenets, and even how Asian American Buddhists have often lacked an identity. It is ironic, Han notes, that many scholars trace American Buddhist beginnings to the Beat writers Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg when it is well documented that Asian Buddhists brought their beliefs to the United States in the 1800s.
VERDICT Han’s contribution to this overlooked aspect of the Asian American experience is an important one as it gives a voice to many invisible people in American society.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing