Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religion & Culture / Religious Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Kay Koppedrayer

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


This paper considers the relationship between ordinary life and religious commitment among twelve convert Buddhist practitioners who were members of the Zen Buddhist Temple in Toronto, Canada. Their experiences are investigated from the perspective of Charles Taylor's theories on the affirmation of ordinary life. Taylor argues that a tension exists between ordinary life and religious values in North American society. The paper's objective is to discover how interview participants balanced the demands of ordinary life (i.e. those aspects of life relating to family and vocation) and their commitment to a religious tradition that emphasizes renunciation, contemplation and monasticism. The study demonstrates that interview participants were engaged in a two-way process of transformation. They were informing and transforming their everyday lives as a result of their commitment to Buddhism. This is a process which involved the adoption and adaptation of certain Buddhist practices and principles. In so doing, they were creating a form of lay Buddhism that was influenced by the tradition, by their religious institution, and by their North American worldviews and lifestyles.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season