Buddhism and Spiritual Technologies Amid the Pandemic



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The pandemic offers an opportunity to reflect on the place that spirituality has in contemporary life. Old religious traditions evolve and Buddhism, particularly, has become decontextualized spiritual practices. My research explores whether decontextualized Buddhist practices are appropriate and therefore assesses the pragmatic value of spirituality. It looks at several different Buddhist spiritual technologies and how and why they are used. For this project, I studied 7 primary sources that include Theravada, Mahayana, Tibetan, and Zen Buddhist texts. Additionally, I attended 2 Buddhist retreats, one focusing on insight meditation and the other on disrupting habitual reactive cycles. I argue that the reappropriations of Buddhism in the West should be celebrated because its diversity is a product of its own religious outlook, namely, its doctrine of skillful means. By acknowledging the pragmatic functions that a spiritual education has, religion could find its place in the secular world with a refreshed purpose for its existence. Religion is a humanistic endeavor responding to the human condition, aimed at increasing the quality of each living experience. Optimal mental health in the face of suffering is its goal.