Based on twenty months of ethnographic research from 2016 to 2019 at Buddhist educational programs for youth in Hồ Chí Minh City, this article investigates the emergence of urban therapeutic Buddhism. Responding to the heightened public concerns over youth’s well-being and mental health, urban monastics are adapting Theravada vipassanā meditation and Thích Nhất Hạnh’s mindfulness teachings to help youth address their social-emotional concerns. The article argues that by promoting a lifestyle based on Buddhist mindfulness and meditation practices, Buddhist monastics and youth are fashioning a framework of ethical personhood and moral community that challenges, but also reinforces, market-socialist morality.
Unburdening the Heart: Urban Therapeutic Buddhism and Youth Well-Being in Hồ Chí Minh City
Dat Manh Nguyen is a postdoctoral researcher at the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies. He owes a debt of gratitude to the Dharma teachers and his interlocutors in Hồ Chí Minh City for their guidance, generosity, and patience during research. He is grateful to the two anonymous reviewers for the Journal of Vietnamese Studies, Christina Schwenkel, Robert Weller, Merav Shohet, Ann Marie Leshkowich, and Annika Schmeding for their insightful comments on this article at different stages of development. This research received support from the Boston University Graduate Research Abroad Fellowship, the University of Notre Dame Global Religion Research Initiative, the Boston University Pardee Center, and the Boston University Center for the Humanities. All errors are the author’s.
This article received the 2018 best graduate student paper prize from the Vietnamese Studies Group.
- Views Icon Views
- Share Icon Share
- Search Site
Dat Manh Nguyen; Unburdening the Heart: Urban Therapeutic Buddhism and Youth Well-Being in Hồ Chí Minh City. Journal of Vietnamese Studies 30 October 2020; 15 (4): 63–98. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/vs.2020.15.4.63
Download citation file: