Reputable Buddhism scholars in America
Buddhist history in the United States traces to the mid-19th century, when early scholars and spiritual pioneers first introduced the subject to Americans.
During the past two decades, research on Buddhism in America has expanded tremendously.
Here comes some of the most reputable Buddhism scholars in America.
Table of Contents
- 1 - D. T. Suzuki
- 2 - Pema Chödrön
- 3 - John Daido Loori
- 4 - Bhikkhu Bodhi
- 5 - Robert Thurman
- 6 - Gil Fronsdal
- 7 - John Cage
- 8 - Alexander Berzin (scholar)
- 9 - Robert Baker Aitken
- 10 - Reginald Ray
- 11 - Ajahn Sumedho
- 12 - Jan Willis
- 13 - David Loy
- 14 - Mark Epstein
- 15 - Robert Magliola
- 16 - Shaila Catherine
- 17 - Steven Tainer
D. T. Suzuki
Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki was a Japanese author of books and essays on Buddhism, Zen (Chan) and Shin that were instrumental in spreading interest in both Zen and Shin to the West. Suzuki was also a prolific translator of Chinese, Japanese, and Sanskrit literature. Suzuki spent several lengthy stretches teaching or lecturing at Western universities, and devoted many years to a professorship at Ōtani University, a Japanese Buddhist school.
Pema Chödrön is an American Tibetan Buddhist.
She is an ordained nun, acharya and disciple of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.
Pema currently teaches in the United States and Canada and plans for an increased amount of time in solitary retreat under the guidance of Venerable Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche.
Pema is interested in helping establish the monastic tradition in the West, as well in continuing her work with Buddhists of all traditions, sharing ideas and teachings.
She has written several books: “The Wisdom of No Escape”, “Start Where You Are”, “When Things Fall Apart”, “The Places that Scare You”, “No Time to Lose” and “Practicing Peace in Times of War”, and most recently, “Smile at Fear”.
John Daido Loori
John Daido Loori was a Zen Buddhist rōshi who served as the abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery and was the founder of the Mountains and Rivers Order and CEO of Dharma Communications. Daido Loori received shiho from Taizan Maezumi in 1986 and also received a Dendo Kyoshi certificate formally from the Soto school of Japan in 1994. In 1997, he received dharma transmission in the Harada-Yasutani and Inzan lineages of Rinzai Zen as well. In 1996 he gave dharma transmission to his student Bonnie Myotai Treace, in 1997 to Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, and in 2009 to Konrad Ryushin Marchaj. In addition to his role as a Zen Buddhist priest, Loori was an exhibited photographer and author of more than twenty books and was an avid naturalist.
Bhikkhu Bodhi, born Jeffrey Block, is an American Theravada Buddhist monk, ordained in Sri Lanka and currently teaching in the New York and New Jersey area. He was appointed the second president of the Buddhist Publication Society and has edited and authored several publications grounded in the Theravada Buddhist tradition.
Robert Alexander Farrar Thurman is an American Buddhist author and academic who has written, edited, and translated several books on Tibetan Buddhism. He is the father of actress Uma Thurman. He is the Je Tsongkhapa Professor of Indo- Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University, holding the first endowed chair in this field of study in the United States. He also is the co-founder and president of the Tibet House New York. He translated the Vimalakirti Sutra from the Tibetan Kanjur into English.
Gil Fronsdal is a Norwegian-born, American Buddhist teacher, writer and scholar based in Redwood City, California. He has been practicing Buddhism of the Sōtō Zen and Vipassanā sects since 1975, and is currently teaching the practice of Buddhism in the San Francisco Bay Area. Having been taught by the Vipassanā practitioner Jack Kornfield, Fronsdal is part of the Vipassanā teachers’ collective at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. He was ordained as a Sōtō Zen priest at the San Francisco Zen Center in 1982, and was a Theravāda monk in Burma in 1985. In 1995, he received Dharma transmission from Mel Weitsman, the abbot of the Berkeley Zen Center.
John Milton Cage Jr. was an American composer and music theorist. A pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde. Critics have lauded him as one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. He was also instrumental in the development of modern dance, mostly through his association with choreographer Merce Cunningham, who was also Cage’s romantic partner for most of their lives.
Alexander Berzin (scholar)
Alexander Berzin is a scholar, translator, and teacher of Tibetan Buddhism.
Robert Baker Aitken
Robert Baker Dairyu Chotan Aitken Rōshi was a Zen teacher in the Harada-Yasutani lineage. He co-founded the Honolulu Diamond Sangha in 1959 together with his wife, Anne Hopkins Aitken. Aitken received Dharma transmission from Koun Yamada in 1985 but decided to live as a layperson. He was a socialist advocating social justice for gays, women and Native Hawaiians throughout his life, and was one of the original founders of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship.
Reginald “Reggie” Ray is an American Buddhist academic and teacher. He is the spiritual director of the Dharma Ocean Foundation, a non-profit organization that he co-founded in 2005 “dedicated to the practice, study and preservation of the teachings of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.” Ray, a student of Tibetan Buddhist teacher Trungpa Rinpoche, was a faculty member at Naropa University from 1974 until 2009 and teacher-in-residence at Shambhala Mountain Center from 1996–2004.
Luang Por Sumedho or Ajahn Sumedho is one of the senior Western representatives of the Thai forest tradition of Theravada Buddhism. He was abbot of Amaravati Buddhist Monastery, UK, from its consecration in 1984 until his retirement in 2010. Luang Por means Venerable Father (หลวงพ่อ), an honorific and term of affection in keeping with Thai custom; ajahn means teacher. A bhikkhu since 1967, Sumedho is considered a seminal figure in the transmission of the Buddha’s teachings to the West.
Janice Dean Willis, or Jan Willis is Professor of Religion at Wesleyan University, where she has taught since 1977; and the author of books on Tibetan Buddhism. She has been called influential by Time Magazine, Newsweek, and Ebony Magazine. Aetna Inc.’s 2011 African American History Calendar features professor Willis as one of thirteen distinguished leaders of faith-based health initiatives in the United States.
David Robert Loy is an American scholar, author and authorized teacher in the Sanbo Zen lineage of Japanese Zen Buddhism.
Mark Epstein is an American author and psychotherapist who integrates Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings with Sigmund Freud’s approaches to trauma. He often writes about the interface of Buddhism and psychotherapy.
Roberto Rino Magliola is an Italian-American academic specializing in European hermeneutics and deconstruction, in comparative philosophy, and in inter-religious dialogue. He is retired from National Taiwan University and from Assumption University of Thailand.
Shaila Catherine is an American Buddhist meditation teacher and author in the Theravādan tradition, known for her expertise in insight meditation (vipassanā) and jhāna practices. She has authored two books on jhāna practice, Focused and Fearless and Wisdom Wide and Deep, and has introduced many American practitioners to this concentration practice through her writings and focused retreats.
Steven A. Tainer is a respected scholar and instructor of contemplative traditions. He is a logician, philosopher, teacher and writer with an extensive background in philosophy of science, mathematical logic and Asian contemplative traditions. One of the central themes of his work involves how different ways of knowing can be compared, contrasted, and/or integrated.