Re-examining the True Buddha School

A ‘New Religion’ or a New ‘Buddhist Movement’?


  • Wai Lun Tam Chinese University of Hong Kong



True Buddha School, NRM,


This essay is based on an on-going study and interview process of a “new religious group.” I would like to point out, however, using my experiences with this group, the True Buddha School [TBS], the ideological nature of the term ‘new religion’ in an East Asian context. When scholars use ‘new religion’ to describe a religious group and do so by taking on an assumed ‘neutral’ standpoint, there is nevertheless a chance that they will unintentionally marginalize that religious institution. When we describe a religion as “new” we may not only suggest that the institution is new in history, but by doing so also unintentionally take away the right of the faithful to claim to be part of an established religion. When we study a new religious group, we should pay attention to the complex power relationships within which we conduct our discussions

Author Biography

Wai Lun Tam, Chinese University of Hong Kong

Professor Tam is programme coordinator in the Department of Cultural and Religious Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He has a B.A. from this university and a Ph.D. from McMaster. He has written several books in Chinese and numerous articles and book chapters in English. He specialises in Chinese Tantric Buddhism, local religions and traditional Chinese society and Popular Buddhism in China. He has already written two articles on the True Buddha School.


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How to Cite

Tam, W. L. (2008). Re-examining the True Buddha School: A ‘New Religion’ or a New ‘Buddhist Movement’?. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 20(3), 303–316.