padma norbu wrote:
Yeah, these are people with absolutely no affinity for it at all and you know how you can tell what people are thinking if you know them well by the look on their face, tone of voice, etc. This is the same general crowd and mindset of people in which several years ago during a political debate (where they were mostly pro-Bush), someone asked if I was a "Demon-crat" and I said "not really, but I'm more left-leaning than right-leaning on most issues." So, the follow-up question was "so you're a socialist?" and I said "I'm more of a Buddhist" as a joke, but the response was actually — get this — "uh oh, watch out, are you going to blow up some buildings or what?" My wife and I exchanged a glance of "holy crap, these people are oblivious." So, yeah, they equate Buddhism with terrorism (or at least one of them did) and generally like mainstream everything and have a very small-town mentality, USA is the greatest country in the world, adults who actually are interested in Kim Kardashian and Taylor Swift... I think you get the idea.
They are also gossipy so pretty much any faults I have would be lumped in with Buddhism. That's really why I figured best not to bother.
I think it's best in these circumstances to go the "hidden-yogi" route. Even ChNN recommends being very discreet about your practice and beliefs.. which is one of the reasons he recommends just having a white AH in tigle print framed on the wall as art, which most people won't have a clue what it is and could just as well be modern art, as opposed to a full shrine, tangkhas, etc. I have all the typical Vajrayana trappings in my little place, but for when I have any guests that would be confused, or judgmental, I have a shrine that has windowless doors that can close and conceal the interior, and a japanese screen I can put up over the other stuff. I think one Guru R tangkha would still be visible but it's framed western style, not with the silk surround, and because I have other Asian art and furniture around I could chalk it up to me being an asianphile. Anyway, I would be more of a hidden yogi in general except that I have a very social gossipy sibling that tells everyone I am a Buddhist.. so I've been outed against my will! But I think it's great if you can pull off the hidden-yogi thing. Personally, I think it's ideal if you don't lie in the process though.. just dance around the truth as much as possible.. change the subject discreetly if a direct question is aimed at you, like that.