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While the notion that “happiness can found within oneself” has recently become popular, Buddhism has taught for thousands of years that every person is a Buddha, or enlightened being, and has the potential for true and lasting happiness. Through real-life examples, the authors explain how adopting this outlook has positive effects on one’s health, relationships, and career, and gives new insights into world environmental concerns, peace issues, and other major social problems.
“Ourvan offers a succinct but illuminating overview of Zen, Tibetan, and Soka Gakkai Buddhism."—Publishers Weekly Approximately four million Americans claim to be Buddhist. Moreover, hundreds of thousands of Americans of various faiths read about Buddhism, are interested in its philosophical tenets, or fashionably view themselves as Buddhists. They’re part of what’s been described as the fastest-growing religious movement in America: a large group of people dissatisfied with traditional religious offerings and thirsty for an approach to spirituality grounded in logic and consistent with scientific knowledge. The Star-Spangled Buddhist is a provocative look at these American Buddhists through their three largest movements in the United States: the Soka Gakkai International, Tibetan/Vajrayana Buddhism, and Zen Buddhism. The practice of each of these American schools, unlike most traditional Asian Buddhist sects, is grounded in the notion that all people are capable of attaining enlightenment in “this lifetime.” But the differences are also profound: the spectrum of philosophical expression among these American Buddhist schools is as varied as that observed between Reformed, Orthodox, and Hasidic Judaism. The Star-Spangled Buddhist isn’t written from the perspective of a monk or academic but rather from the view of author Jeff Ourvan, a lifelong-practicing lay Buddhist. As Ourvan explores the American Buddhist movement through its most popular schools, he arrives at a clearer understanding for himself and the reader about what it means to be—and how one might choose to be—a Buddhist in America.
Through personal experiences, this anthology illuminates how the practice of Nichiren Buddhism has changed people’s lives for the better. These first-person narratives—representing people from all across the country of various ages and ethnic backgrounds—examine the challenges of daily life associated with health, relationships, career, and aging, and the ensuing experiences of hope, success, inspiration, and personal enlightenment that come about as a result of living as Nichiren Buddhists.
This moving dialogue between an American and a Japanese peace activist makes the compelling argument that ordinary people can and must guide their leaders to a safer and saner future free from a nuclear menace. This balance of Western and Eastern perspectives reveals how the development of true peace can grow only when narrow national loyalties are surpassed by a shared global vision. Inspiring examples of individuals working for an end to the nuclear threat showcase the role everyday people can play in the quest for peace. Particular encouragement is given to young people to build on their natural idealism to shape the world they will inherit.

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