Emotional Healing Amidst Religious and Cultural Wayfinding: A Case Study of the Atlanta Soto Zen Center Restricted; Files Only

Miller, Elizabeth Rae (Spring 2018)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/9306sz34x?locale=en
Published

Abstract

Due to the attribution of the lineage of non-heritage Buddhists in the United States to the Transcendentalists, Beat writers, and influential Japanese Zen teachers like D.T. Suzuki, Zen has developed into a uniquely individual practice. Because of the individual nature of American Zen meditation, media coverage has emphasized the physiological and psychological benefits of meditation, making it appealing to those seeking healing. Attempting to understand the attraction to Zen Buddhist meditation, this thesis analyzes the spiritual biographies, or “Wayfinder talks,” of six practitioners at the Atlanta Soto Zen Center of Atlanta, Georgia, in the broader context of Zen Buddhism in the United States.

I argue that the six wayfinder talks reveal three key themes: (1) a rejection of the West and romanticization of the East; (2) abandonment of one’s familial religion and “shopping around” in various religious traditions before settling on Soto Zen Buddhism; and (3) seeking and finding psycho-emotional healing through Zen meditation practice. To support these claims, I have drawn comparisons between findings at the Atlanta Soto Zen Center and individuals from Old Wisdom in the New World: Americanization in Two Immigrant Theravada Buddhist Temples by Paul Numrich, among other ethnographic and sociological studies.

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

 

I.               DEVELOPMENT OF ZEN BUDDHISM IN THE UNITED STATES . . . . . 7

 

II.             SITUATING SOTO ZEN IN ATLANTA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18

 

Soto Zen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18

Michael Elliston Roshi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

The Atlanta Soto Zen Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23

      The Atlanta Soto Zen Center’s Facilities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

      The Atlanta Soto Zen Center’s Offerings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29

 

III.           SPIRITUAL PATHWAYS TO THE ATLANTA SOTO ZEN CENTER . . .32

 

IV.          THEMES AND ANALYSES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42

 

Rejecting the West, Romanticizing the East . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42

Abandoning Familial Religion, “Shopping Around,” and Settling

on Soto Zen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49

Seeking and Finding Emotional Healing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55

 

CONCLUSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .65

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .68

About this Master's Thesis

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
School
Department
Degree
Submission
Language
  • English
Research field
Keyword
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Last modified No preview

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files