This article examines the lay meditation movement occurring in contemporary Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The lay meditation movement represents a different perspective from the nationalistic Sinhala Buddhism that has dominated the discourse in the wake of the intractable ethnic conflict in the country. The lay meditation movement reflects the contemporary ferment in Buddhist discourse among the laity. One of the key themes in this movement is the privileging of experience because it gives the lay groups authority to challenge contemporary orthodoxy and it has empowered a new class of spiritual leaders, the lay gurus. Paraphrasing Stirrat, we can say that these lay gurus are leading the lay meditation movement towards 'a series of different interpretations of what it means' to be a Buddhist today. In its overall effect the lay meditation movement not only reconstructs what it means to be a Buddhist today but also points in the direction of establishing new forms of sectarianism that could be considered to be 'new religious movements' under the umbrella of Buddhism.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science