Please go to wanderingdhamma.org. The same Buddhist travel information and new posts will be available here.
This website is run by me, Brooke Schedneck. I am currently a Ph.D. candidate at Arizona State University under the supervision of Juliane Schober. This website is a forum for my thoughts about my research within the field of Buddhist studies. I was awarded one of the 2009-2010 Fulbright research grant to conduct fieldwork in Thailand for my Ph.D. dissertation. My research focuses on the cultural and religious encounters between Thai Buddhists and international meditators. I explore this question of how the dialogue between Thai Buddhists and international meditators shapes mutual perceptions of religious beliefs and practices.
This website supports this research and makes it available, along with my other academic interests, to the public. To this end each page of this website contains a different category of interest:
Buddhist Travel in Thailand: This page contains the main ideas concerning my research in Thailand, and the research sites I have visited, both International Meditation Centers and forest monasteries. This research investigates the strategies of reinterpretation and pedagogical discourses of meditation taught to those English-speakers who are a unique audience in that many consider themselves non-Buddhists. I delve into meditation techniques and Thai meditation masters, however, this is more of the backdrop for the research, rather than the main focus. I post content from the many interviews I conducted with meditation teachers, both Thai and Western, both lay and ordained, at these research sites throughout Thailand. Many of the questions I ask concern teaching practices to non-Buddhist audiences and the separate communities of Thai and English-speaking meditators that are created at these sites.
Reflections: This page contains my essays and thoughts on global Buddhist manifestations that are beyond the purview of Buddhist travel in Thailand. Here I write about new trends in American Buddhism as well as current discourses about meditation.
Reviews: This page is reserved for book reviews. Each book is a recent work on contemporary Buddhism. I offer a balanced and informative take in each book review.
Writings: This page links to my other writings available on the internet.
People are often curious about my interest in Buddhism. My answer to this question, I think, lies within my educational background. The schools where I received my primary and secondary education focused primarily on American and European studies, and, because they were Catholic schools, the intricacies of the Catholic religion. By the time I entered college at Boston University, I was ready for something different. Asian cultures seemed compelling to me, even exotic. I took Japanese language classes, seminars on Tantric Buddhism and Chinese Medicine, and as I studied these areas more deeply, they no longer seemed exotic but rather quite natural. I decided to major in anthropology because I thought this discipline would allow me to get closest to those Asian countries and cultures. But as I read about the use of magic in African societies and fire rituals in Japan, I realized that it was the religious aspect of culture that most fascinated me. I found that I was continually able to express creative ideas in classes on topics from the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Hindu epics. During my last college semester I wrote a paper for a Buddhist studies seminar that involved field research comparing contemporary meditation practice with the first Buddhist communities. While researching meditation centers around the Northeast, I realized that I was drawn to topics concerning religion in modernity.
While earning a master of theological studies from Harvard Divinity School (HDS), I continued with the same themes. Within my ideas there is a pattern of interpreting contemporary ideas and perceptions surrounding ancient Asian religions. I am interested in how people use the resources within their traditional religious systems to fit with modern issues and concerns. Through these papers and classes, I have thought deeply about how Buddhism adapts according to contemporary topics and modern times.
After graduating from HDS, I became interested in Westerners who converted to Buddhism. I learned how Buddhism is being seen as a viable alternative to the cultural mainstream. I also learned about modern Buddhism in Asia and Western influences. This interchange of religious ideas, each side appropriating aspects of the other, is intriguing to me, and an extension of my interest in religious change in modernity. At this time I also became interested Western Buddhist convert memoirs, which I still find deeply compelling. These memoirs embody the dialogue of East and West, as they intimately depict a person’s attraction and reaction to Buddhism. I will also be posting about my thoughts on this ever-burgeoning genre of Buddhist memoirs and offering reviews of the latest ones.
I hope both scholars and practitioners will find this website enjoyable. Meditators interested in coming to Thailand will get a good sense of what is available and academics can read my reflections about Buddhist travel in Thailand and global formations of Buddhism.
Check out my interview on Buddhist Geeks to learn more about me and my current research.