"Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

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"Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby DGA » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:29 pm


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Re: "Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:38 pm

From what I could find of his writings Justin Chin is a satirist, but he is making a sound point about eastern spirituality as a commodity being marketed to the white people with disposable income. But his chronology is off, I think Buddhism is less popular and it is now Kirtan and yuppy yoga that are growing.

As for his lamenting the popularity of HHDL, many young Chinese-Americans I have met don't like white people commenting on the oppression of the Tibetans by China because tgey feel we still benefit from our privileges in a White society. I actually feel this is a narrow attitude because Tibetan culture is on the verge of extinction and everyone needs to speak out. Sometimes urgency precludes other consideration.

Some people do not like HHDL merely because of his popularity.

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Re: "Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby Namgyal » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:54 pm

In Chinese restaurants waiters sometimes comment 'Oh! my goodness you can actually use chopsticks' or 'I cannot believe that you understand Cantonese!'. I am tempted to reply 'Oh! my goodness you are wearing a suit and tie!!!'.
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Re: "Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby Indrajala » Fri Mar 08, 2013 2:40 pm

This sort of violent speech only facilitates hostility and even hatred. It serves no useful purposeful whatsoever and at first glance sounds like an inferiority complex.
tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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Re: "Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby Grigoris » Fri Mar 08, 2013 3:20 pm

It was published in 1998. I wonder what he thinks of the whole scene now, a decade and a half later?
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: "Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby Adamantine » Fri Mar 08, 2013 3:34 pm

Well 1998 was the height of all things Tibetan's flash fire in mainstream culture and media in the USA.
The Beastie Boys had launched their Tibetan Freedom concert tour, which perhaps
could be nicknamed lama palooza.. The movies Kudun, Seven Years in Tibet and Little Buddha
all came out around the same time, etc etc. but it burned to bright and thus too fast.
Youth culture's ADD did not sustain it for long. Looking at the general age breakdowns
of white Buddhists, especially Tibetan Buddhists in the US today, it would seem the
1960's and 70's produced a hell of a lot of devoted white practitioners but the late
90's not so much. But it certainly was a zeitgeist thing for a few years. Certainly not something
beyond critique, but I'm no fan of that guys writing or his tone.
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha

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Re: "Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby DGA » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:01 pm


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Re: "Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby Namgyal » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:38 pm

Why is it that the entire world adopts aspects of Western culture, but when Westerners learn from the East they are pilloried as faddish hippies and freaks? Apart from anything else most young Orientals aren't really interested in their own culture, and they are only interested in Western culture. In due course their societies will be as messed up as ours, so it is up to us to pick up the baton of Buddhism. Perhaps we can pass it back to Asia when they finally realise that they have been sold a defective product.
:namaste:

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Re: "Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby Simon E. » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:39 pm

To borrow a concept from Alan Watts,..it seems to me that what was happening in the '60's was characterised by being "Square Zen " .( for Zen substitute any school of your choice )...then there was a long period of " Beat Zen "...Now there is reason to think that we might be seeing the era of " Zen Zen ".
I think that Chin may have seen the fallout from the " Beat Zen " period.
Which had positives and negatives...but could be beyond satire at times.
" My heart's in the Highlands
my heart is not here.
My heart's in the Highlands
chasing the deer."

Robert V.C. Burns.

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Re: "Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby Yudron » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:41 pm

Author of Buddhist young adult fiction. Vlogger at Wisdom and Compassion: Grandma Yudron's Totally Chill Vlog on Meditation and Tibetan Wisdom Blogger at Very active on Twitter.

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Re: "Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby Pero » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:49 pm

Although many individuals in this age appear to be merely indulging their worldly desires, one does not have the capacity to judge them, so it is best to train in pure vision.
- Shabkar

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Re: "Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Mar 08, 2013 5:34 pm

The commodification of spirituality is an issue for sure, but none of this stuff is specific to Buddhism. Modern people, especially westerners it seems grope around for something other than the "Spend, Buy, Hump something, Acquire more, Die" mentality that is the real ideology of our times. It's true that plenty of people drop it in favor of the next big thing..but that's samsara for ya. Would be even worse if the interest simply wasn't there in the first place, even if it's shallow and caricature-like to "real Buddhists" (whatever that means :thinking: ), at least there is a break in the continuity of the status quo, however limp the effort ends up being.
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Re: "Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby shaunc » Fri Mar 08, 2013 9:59 pm

There's good & bad in all cultures/societys/religions. How to take only the good from all these things & combine them to make one I don't know, it's going to take people that are a lot smarter than me. In a way I suppose that's what buddhism teaches, the middle path is always the best way.

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Re: "Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby Sherlock » Sat Mar 09, 2013 5:02 am


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Re: "Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby JKhedrup » Sat Mar 09, 2013 9:03 am

My experience of this was during my university studies and the students holding this view were 2nd generation, with parents from either Taiwan or Hong Kong. I think the identity politics paradigm of our university during those years had some effect in terms of the development of these views. Of course, none of them had spoken to Tibetans or Tibetan-Canadians for their ideas.

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Re: "Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby Indrajala » Sat Mar 09, 2013 3:25 pm

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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Re: "Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby uan » Sat Mar 09, 2013 6:22 pm


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Re: "Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby uan » Sat Mar 09, 2013 6:31 pm


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Re: "Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby Grigoris » Sat Mar 09, 2013 7:03 pm

I cannot speak on behalf of "Asians" but I will address it from the angle of my own "ethnic" background as a Greek born in New Zealand (and having lived in Australia).

When the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" came out it was received with interest by Greeks here in Greece. I was asked if the situation being depicted in the movie had any relation to the reality of the specific situation (wedding) amongst the members of the Greek diaspora (much like the degree to which the character and circumstances portrayed in "Kung Fu" had any relation to the reality of Chinese emigrants to the US). Truth is that there were many (embarassingly) true references in the movie. Thing is though, that any attempt to portray an ethinc minority through the eyes of the majority (American culture, in this instance) is going to involve a degree of stereotyping and a lack of depth. No matter how honest the attempt may be.

When, for example, the whole economic debacle that is currently destroying Greece started, there were a number of videos produced by US born Americans in support of Greece and Greek culture. The attempts were (again) honest and well intentioned, but frankly they were embarrassing. Why? Because they lacked any real concrete knowledge about the actual reality of modern Greece. This is to be expected, because the people producing the videos normally have no real (ongoing) contact with Greece past a once-in-a-lifetime visit to the homeland for summer vacations and/or their contact with Greek culture via their emigrant relatives (and again within the cultural context of the country they are living in).

I imagine that Chinese/Japanese/Vietnamese etc... born Americans would suffer from the same myopic view of what it means to be Chinese/Japanese etc... So when they see honkys trying to emulate/understand/experience something that "Asians" consider theirs by birthright, well then you have a distortion of a distortion taking place.

Another example:

Somebody here at Dharma Wheel once said that they attempted to practice Greek Orthodox Christianity (before becoming a Buddhist). I was stunned. I thought to myself: How the f*ck can somebody who is not Greek practice Greek Orthodox Christianity? I mean, given the liturgies are in Byzantine Greek, it is near impossible for a Greek to understand what is going on anyway. Given the amount of specific cultural influences within Greek Orthodoxy, cultural references and influences that are nearly impossible for me as the offspring of Greeks to understand, well, how could they possibly even begin to grasp what is happening? Why would they want to try to practice a religion that is so closely tied to a racial/national identity that they are not a part of? Why would they not just practice a form of Christianity that is indigenous to their culture? etc...

I imagine our friend Chin would be asking themselves the same questions.

The difference is that as Westerners, trying to practice Buddhism, we do not have an indigenous form to practice, so we are "forced" to adapt "foreign" forms.

Just like Greece is not philosophy and souvlaki, but is considered such, in the same way "Asia" is not martial arts and stir fry, even if it is considered as such. At the end of the day though, ethnic minorities (and this is a weird one because in the US the American Indians are an ethnic minority, like in Australia the Aborigines are an ethinc minority) and especially their offspring in the countries they emigrated to never have a full picture of what is going on in their homelands and always tenaciously grasp to the final snapshot that they have of their homeland. Many time grasping so tightly that they do not wish to share it.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: "Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby uan » Sat Mar 09, 2013 7:36 pm



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