Sociology f Religion 007, 8:2 201-205
Reflections on Habits, Buddhism in America, and Religious Individualism*
Brandeis niversity The twentieth nniversary f the publication of Habits of the eart, coinci dentally, oincides with the twentieth nniversary f the founding f the two Buddhist centers I write about in my book, Heartwood: The First Generation of Theravada Buddhism n merica (Cadge 2005). Shortly fter was invited o speak on the 20th anniversary f Habits, the director f Cambridge Insight editation Center (CIMC) in Cambridge, Massachusetts-one of the two Buddhist centers I studied-asked me to speak at their twentieth nniversary arty. said yes to both invitations, hough ith a bit of hesitation. My hesitation stemmed rimarily, s I said to the three hundred or so cele brants who gathered t CIMC on a steamy unday afternoon n July 005, from the fact that was not around for most of the history f CIMC. Nor was I aware of the discipline of sociology r the wide range f newspapers nd other media in which Habits was reviewed when it was released in 1985. Rather, I was in ele mentary school getting ready for that not so happy move to the middle school and, at least in July f 1985 when CIMC opened, probably ttending vacation bible school at the United Methodist church my family ttended in suburban
Much has changed since 1985-in my life, n the field f sociology, n the structure nd operation of CIMC (and the other Buddhist center I studied, a Thai Buddhist temple Wat Mongkoltepmunee near Philadelphia), and in the lives f the uthors f Habits and the founders f CIMC. Thinking about the cen tral rguments ade in Habits in relation to the history, tructure, nd evolution of CIMC, and Buddhism in America more broadly, has led me down some intriguing hought aths. Here I briefly hare three f those. First, nd most generally, was struck n re-reading arts of Habits by the descriptions nd characterizations f Eastern religions n its pages. Putting to the side the big fact that the voices and life xperiences f post-1965 immigrants were largely issing from ts pages, it was revealing to me to see Buddhism char acterized rimarily s counter-cultural. few f the people described were seri
*Direct correspondence o Wendy Cadge, Department of Sociology, Brandeis University, S 071,
Waltham, A 02454 firstname.lastname@example.org).