I argue for a contemporary academic theological discipline of Buddhist empirical practical theology, wherein qualitative and quantitative contemplative research of the lived experience of Buddhist religion is systematically conducted from within the historical, cultural, and social contexts of religious practice. After briefly reviewing certain philosophical issues with respect to a specifically Buddhist practical theology, I demonstrate how traditionally Christian academic practical theology models can be generalized to enable empirical research and pragmatic reflection on praxis in a wide range of contexts of the lived experience of Buddhist practices. Buddhist meditators, congregations, clergy, teachers, leaders, and scholars can all benefit from increased scholarly discourse focused on issues of praxis. More generally, this argument extends beyond the contexts of Buddhism to any religion or spiritual tradition. The scope for scholarship within non-Christian religions, as well as inter-religious research, can thereby be expanded within the traditionally Christian discipline of academic practical theology.

Bhikshuni Trinlae

Practical Theology, Claremont School of Theology