Organized Panel Session
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 four countries, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Burma/Myanmar 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. Ingrid Jordt will discuss how Burmese Buddhism moved from proposals for international mass enlightenment in the mid-twentieth century to an embattled form of engagement in the twenty first. 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.