Heartwood: A Case Study of Theravada Buddhism

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Heartwood: A Case Study of Theravada Buddhism

Kat Kuang, a member of A2Z, summarized Heartwood: The First Generation of Theravada Buddhism in America by Sociologist Wendy Cadge (University of Chicago Press, 2005). It’s a case study of Wat Mongkoltempunee (or Wat Phila), a temple set up and run by Thai immigrants in Philadelphia and of the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center (CIMC), a convert Insight space.

Kat’s outline for us all (with quotes from the book): A2Z – Theravada Buddhism

Before listening to the audio of the class, a few points you may want to listen for in Kat’s talk and the group’s lively discussion:

What’s “lost” with convert Buddhism (and is there negativism implied in that word?

What is “gained” (again, word implications?) when converts take on “achieved” Buddhist identities vs. immigrant “ascribed” Buddhist identities; terms Cadge presented.

What is the “heartwood” of Buddhism? ( Cadge’s metaphor via The Heartwood Sutra)

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Oh, and just to follow the last class’ webpage fun format, a few more pictures from my practice in Thailand in 2006:

w Luong Poo n MnN

In this picture, Luang Poo Punjalit is 92. Considered an Arahat and one of the 8 top meditation masters by Thais. Yes, he’s smoking a cigar. He also loves watching tennis via cable and Kung Fu movies! I’m with foreign mae jis and a monk along with Thai and German laity.


The posh kuti I stayed in while practicing in Bangkok with Luang Poo. His benefactor wanted me to move out of it when 2 monks came to visit and wanted to stay overnight for one day but he insisted that I could stay. This was a big deal ’cause, as in most Buddhist lineages, “a monk of a day is more senior than a nun of a thousand years.”

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