Critiques of the concept of “Protestant Buddhism” claim to tell a different story about the relation between religion and modernity (“Protestantism”) in South Asia. They seek to reconstruct the temporal relation between the past and the present, contesting postcolonial conceptions of history, time, and religious practice. This story of temporality is staked on the question of “influence,” which has a genealogy that includes not just colonial, missionary, liberal politics but also contemporary legal-political questions about foreign influence on democracy and sovereignty. This article argues that preoccupation with influence inscribes an a priori ontology that already separates the past from the present. This makes it difficult to understand the relation between temporality and a form of life in a discursive tradition, as the question of influence grounds the ostensive plurality of religions in some preexisting ontological difference. Once religion as such is understood as an object of influence, the temporality of the form, which is encountered within power—that is, the formations of particular sensibilities and dispositions within the coherence of a tradition—is rendered marginal if not irrelevant to the embodied life of religion. The article calls for renewed attention to the temporality of sensibilities to think about the temporality of a form of life within the limits of a tradition.

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