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Western Buddhism and social work

Humphrey, Caroline


Caroline Humphrey


Beth R. Crisp


Buddhism was transported from the Asian continent to Europe, North America and Australia from the nineteenth century onwards when representatives of colonial powers analysed Buddhist scriptures, art and architecture. The Buddha imparted the Dharma in different ways to different audiences in order that the maximum number of people would be able to absorb its messages at a level congruent with their conditioning, their stage of spiritual development and their aspirations. The Buddha taught that the conditioned reality of life-on-Earth is characterised by the impermanence of all things and the inevitability of suffering for sentient beings as their bodies undergo birthing, ageing, decaying and dying. Most secularists raise no objections to the Buddha's teachings on suffering and morality. The Buddhist view of suffering and its overcoming may be more contentious among Western social workers. Westerners who take up meditation in an educational or health care setting are exposed to a secular version of this practice.


Humphrey, C. (2017). Western Buddhism and social work. In B. R. Crisp (Ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Religion, Spirituality and Social Work (81-89). London: Routledge.

Online Publication Date Apr 11, 2017
Publication Date Mar 27, 2017
Deposit Date Oct 17, 2019
Publisher Routledge
Pages 81-89
Series Title Routledge international handbooks
Book Title The Routledge Handbook of Religion, Spirituality and Social Work
Chapter Number 9
ISBN 9781317395430; 9781138931220
Public URL
Publisher URL

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