NSW: Buddha Bowls

Australasian Association for Buddhist Studies notifies that Studies in Religion at the University of Sydney is hosting an online seminar on the topic of Buddha Bowls on Tuesday 13 September at 4pm.

Buddha Bowls: Enchanting a Secular Skinny

Appearing on the food landscape in the 2010s, ‘Buddha bowls’ are a meal consisting of healthy food elements artfully arranged. This name carries with it a notable spiritual significance, allowing buyers to feel as though they are consuming something more elevated than an average meal. The kind of Buddhism that is consumed here is related to exotic choices and health secrets from the Orient. Discourse around Buddha bowls shows a limited grasp of the religion’s actual history or practices, including frequent confusion between Gautama Buddha and the Chan figure Budai. What is more important in the spiritual dimension of this meal is the sense of elevation and the power of the ascetic choice in an obesogenic consumer environment. Buddha bowls also feed into a ‘healthist’ society where neo-liberal self-governance places responsibility for health on the individual and their own choices. By making a healthy choice, a person can feel safe and protect against harm and pollution to the body. In this way, Buddha bowls also perform a common religious role by warding off danger like a talisman. While they offer little towards an exploration of Buddhist history and global praxis, the Buddha bowl has much to reveal about neoliberal spiritual landscapes.

Dr Zoe Alderton is a lecturer in the School of Economics at the University of Sydney, where she teaches the communications program. Her PhD is in Studies in Religion and her research interests include self-harm, disordered eating, and online community formation.


When:Tuesday 13 September at 4pm
Zoom Link: https://uni-sydney.zoom.us/j/81318574292


Gold leaf covered schist reliquary in the form of a stupa. Kusana period, North Western India. National Museum, Karachi, Pakistan. Copyright: Huntington, John C. and Susan L.Huntington Archive