Roy Wimer with members of his host family.
Participant in the 2011 ACM Student Symposium on Off-Campus Study
- Program: Japan Study - 2009-10
- Graduation: June 2011
- Major: Government
- Minor: Japanese
Globalization Saves Zen: A Case Study of Sogenji Temple's "Foreign Policy"
For the 3rd Annual ACM Student Symposium on Off-Campus Study, I would like to present on a unique six weeks spent in a Zen Buddhist temple in Okayama, Japan. My presentation will give a glimpse into the daily life and practice of a Buddhist monk as I experienced it first-hand as well as ideas regarding the globalization of religion.
When I first entered the temple, I was expecting a community of Japanese monks. However, I found that Japanese practitioners were in the minority with most monks from various parts of Europe and the U.S.
In the rural and homogenous town of Okayama, having such a diverse international population — in a traditional temple nonetheless — reveals an interesting aspect of the Zen Buddhist Practice and speaks to the changing nature of religion in a globalizing world. Namely that religions and religious ideas may be growing stronger and not weaker as religious communication is opened up and religious ideas are transported throughout the world. Sogenji temple has in fact been able to survive as a Buddhist place of worship because of the globalizing of the Zen practice carried out by the Abbot of the Temple, Harada Roshi. He carries out yearly trips to the U.S. and Europe, recruiting monks for his temple, where Japanese monks have all but ceased to continue in his tradition.
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