Guru Devotion and the American Buddhist Experience

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This work asks and preliminarily answers the question, "Who do Americans practice Tibetan Buddhism?" Contrary to most previous scholarship on the guru-disciple relationship in the United States, this study finds that the mystical relationship with the spiritual teacher can actually respond in a healthy way to psychological dimensions of the practitioners' lives.


"Full-fledged and in-depth ethnographies of particular religious traditions are only recently being conducted. Daniel Capper's two years in a Tibetan Buddhist community in the United States is an important exception. Not only is this ethnography extensive and deeply probing, it embodies some of the finest postmodern techniques for conducting field work. ... Capper probes beneath the surface level in order to reveal the powerful emotional bonds between the Llama and his disciple, emotions similar to the psychoanalytic notions of transference and countertransference that emerges in psychotherapy."
Dr. James Preston

"I believe the religious studies community, and even the dynamic psychology community stand to benefit greatly from this truly rich and instructive work ... Capper's contextualization of careful ethnography in the context of the sociology and history of American religion blazes a vital trail."
Dr. Franz Metcalf

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
1. Encountering Buddhism in the United States
2. Creating an Ethnography of Enchantment
3. Transference and Countertransference
4. Brief History of the Tibetan Guru-Disciple Relationship
5. The Ethos of Siddha Gompa
6. Experiences in the bardo
7. Finding the Womb
8. The Jewel House and the Pleasure Garden
9. Buddhist Transformations
Appendix A: Interview Questions
Appendix B: Lineage Prayer
References; Index

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