The Buddha is in the street: Engaged Buddhism in Australia

Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Place of Publication

Bunbury, WA


Sherwood, P. (2003). The Buddha is in the street: engaged Buddhism in Australia. Bunbury, Australia: Edith Cowan University.


IMAGES OF SILENT CONTEMPLATIVE BUDDHAS or jovial laughing Buddhas, always seated and hands resting, in poses of self absorption. These are the common pictures of Buddhism in the minds of Australians. Buddhism is also often seen as a practice for individual stress management, a way for achieving inner peacefulness, quietness, withdrawal from the world and all its demands. At the mention of Buddhist practice in Australia, most Australians conjure images of individuals sitting in meditation pose, eyes closed and "contemplating their navels" before statues of golden or burnished bronze Buddhas. Passive, inward looking, inactive, contemplative ... these are the words used to describe Buddhist practice. These images although well known, capture vaguely only the yin side of Buddhism. They ignore entirely the yang or manifest dimensions of Buddhism daily transforming families, communities, our social cultural political and economic life. This work reveals the intimate relationship between the inner and outer dimensions of Buddhism forming an inseparable modus operandi in the life of Australia.

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