Knowing Body, Moving Mind
Ritualizing and Learning at Two Buddhist Centers
Oxford University Press 2011
There is a lot of ritual involved in Buddhist practice. As more and more North Americans are discovering Buddhism, they are engaging in more and more Buddhist ritual, despite a general aversion many North Americans have to ritualized behavior. Dr. Patricia Campbell‘s new book, Knowing Body, Moving Mind: Ritualizing and Learning at Two Buddhist Centers (Oxford University Press, 2011), presents an ethnographic survey of two Toronto-based meditation centers and explores the ways in which Buddhists and Buddhist sympathizers engage in Buddhist ritual. Obviously, ritual theory plays an important role in her book as a methodology for analyzing these Buddhist communities; but Dr. Campbell also takes note of the process of embodied learning and how engaging in ritualized behavior affectively changes practitioners. How we come to learn about Buddhism happens not only through the cognitive acquisition of knowledge, but through the process of ritualized practiced.
The book is a great contribution to the growing field of Buddhist studies in North America. A thorough ethnographic study of so-called convert communities combined with an astute analysis of Buddhist ritual makes Dr. Campbell’s book a valuable addition to the field.