12. Contemporary Scholarship
While our purpose in this Study Guide is to study Buddhism as practitioners, not scholars, our practice is much informed by contemporary scholarship. We have been reading, and in conversation, for years, with a number of America’s most important Buddhist scholars, most of whom have a significant relationship to practice.
Contemporary scholarship tends to focus on historical or social issues, that is, what actually has happened and does happen in religious life, rather than what scriptures or sermons say ought to happen. Such an attitude is often a challenge to religious groups, who tend to see it as debunking or disrespectful.
But for Everyday Zen, dedicated to the Zen practice we can do, rather than the Zen practice we should or could do, or imagine people did in an idealized past, this contemporary approach is refreshing and empowering. The books below are distinctly academic, and may not be to the taste of everyone. Many more could have been included, but these are books that have been important for us so far.