Buddhism in the West

Casual conversation between friends. Anything goes (almost).
User avatar
Luke
Posts: 2000
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 9:04 pm
Location: Europe

Buddhism in the West

Postby Luke » Tue Jun 23, 2009 7:25 pm

Here's an article by Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche called "Buddhism in the West."
http://mindrollinginternational.org/dha ... heWest.cfm

In it, he talks about what needs to happen in order for Buddhism to be established in the West.

Here are some quotes from the article:
...Devotion is challenging to modern people, who are very individually oriented to preserving their own sense of identity and pride. It is challenging to people who want to learn but have no real sense of surrendering ego.

It is going to be important, therefore, to have a culture that really supports devotion—not just a shallow or pop-culture devotion, but something that actually comes to us from the time of the Buddha. In the noble land of India itself, in the vinaya and in all the teachings of the Buddha, there is a tradition of devotion. In all the lands where buddhism spread and practice was genuinely established, there is a culture of devotion and many individual stories of devotion. When there are many individuals who—by being close to the teacher and following the guidance of the teacher with heartfelt devotion—have benefited and transformed their lives, they are an inspiration to others. There is a sense of actual “evidence” that it works!

...Dharma is not a hobby or part-time practice; it is not like going to school or university and getting a degree at the end. Dharma is a lifelong passion that requires a lifelong intention. We need to dedicate our lives to the dharma, and, through practice, seek the meaning of that which we admire as a worthy way of life. Regardless of the challenges that confront us, we must rise to the occasion and face each challenge and go beyond it. Only in this way will there be benefit in the end. If we do retreats and really practice dharma as it was practiced in the past, the fruition will be the same as it was in the past...



What do you think needs to happen so that Buddhism continues to flourish in the West?

User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
Posts: 2818
Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2009 4:23 pm
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Contact:

Re: Buddhism in the West

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Jun 23, 2009 11:41 pm

I like the family programs, such as those by Shambhala Mountain in Colorado. That is a good way for the whole family to practice.

Typically in Western nations, Buddhist centers are attended by single people between the ages of 25-45; nothing wrong with that, but if it is to flourish there needs to be a sense of community and not something to just go to for a retreat fix.

There probably needs to be some ordained Sangha members who are born in the country of the Dharma center and not just visiting teachers from far off lands.

More chanting in the country's language (i.e., English in the U.S., UK, etc).

These are just a few ideas I and some others have had.
Image




sraddha
Posts: 302
Joined: Sun May 24, 2009 11:54 pm

Re: Buddhism in the West

Postby sraddha » Wed Jun 24, 2009 1:53 am


thornbush
Posts: 609
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 6:21 am

Re: Buddhism in the West

Postby thornbush » Wed Jun 24, 2009 3:32 am


User avatar
dumb bonbu
Posts: 93
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2009 7:29 pm
Location: East Yorkshire, UK

Re: Buddhism in the West

Postby dumb bonbu » Wed Jun 24, 2009 6:36 pm

Although I too am within Amida's grasp,
Passions obstruct my eyes and I cannot see him;
Nevertheless, great compassion is untiring and
illumines me always.
- Shinran



User avatar
Luke
Posts: 2000
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 9:04 pm
Location: Europe

Re: Buddhism in the West

Postby Luke » Wed Jun 24, 2009 7:31 pm


sraddha
Posts: 302
Joined: Sun May 24, 2009 11:54 pm

Re: Buddhism in the West

Postby sraddha » Thu Jun 25, 2009 1:08 am


User avatar
Luke
Posts: 2000
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 9:04 pm
Location: Europe

Re: Buddhism in the West

Postby Luke » Fri Jun 26, 2009 8:42 pm

I wasn't sure whether I should start a new thread or not, but here's another excellent article about Buddhism in America titled "Buddhism Comes to Main Street." The article divides Buddhism in America into three categories: import ("elite"), export ("evangelical"), and baggage ("ethnic).

http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma/mainstreet.html

Here are some excerpts:
To begin with the import type, consider a hypothetical example: a college student living in the Midwest in the 1950s finds a book on Zen Buddhism in the public library and thinks it's the greatest thing he's ever heard of. So he buys a plane ticket, heads off to Japan, and begins to study meditation in a Zen temple. After several years of practice and some firsthand experience of Buddhist "awakening," he returns to the United States and establishes a Zen center, where he begins to teach this form of Buddhism to other Americans.

The important point to note here is that the importer (in this case, the college student) deliberately seeks out the product and takes the initiative to bring it home. But for this to happen, two crucial resources are required: money and leisure time. Buddhist groups of the import variety, in other words, can be launched only by those who have a certain degree of economic privilege. And not surprisingly, in these groups (as in other voluntary associations), like attracts like. Thus, the upper-middle-class status of the founders tends to be reflected in their followers, with such communities drawing a mostly well-educated, financially comfortable, and overwhelmingly European-American constituency.
...A convenient label for the groups formed by the import process, then, would be "Elite Buddhism." ...On the level of practice, then, the most striking feature of Elite Buddhism in America is its emphasis on meditation.
**********************
The "export" process of transmission has produced American Buddhist groups of a strikingly different type. Because the transmission itself is underwritten by the home church, the potential convert does not need money, power, or time to come into contact with Buddhism of this sort, only a willingness to listen. Encounters with a missionary may take place on a street corner, in the subway, or even in one's home. Export religion is thus something of a wild card: it can attract a wide range of adherents, or it may appeal to no one at all.
...Since what fuels the formation of Buddhist groups of this type is energetic proseletyzing, an appropriate label for such groups is "Evangelical Buddhism."

Both the simplicity of the practice and the fact that this form of Buddhism addresses economic as well as spiritual needs has meant that the Soka Gakkai, from the time of its arrival in the United States during the 1950s, has had the potential to appeal to a very different, and far less privileged, audience than the Elite Buddhist traditions. Unlike the latter--most of whose members are college educated, with many holding graduate degrees--only about half of Soka Gakkai members have attended college, and barely a quarter hold bachelor's degrees. Statistics compiled by the Soka Gakkai itself show a wide range of educational levels and occupations; my own observations suggest a center of gravity in the lower-middle class.
...But it is in the ethnicity of its members that the distinctiveness of the Soka Gakkai is most obvious, for it has attracted a following that includes large numbers of Latinos, African Americans, and Asian Americans...
*********
Ironically, it is the Buddhists we hear the most about in the American media--the Elite Buddhists--who have so far attracted the least diverse membership, and thus have the greatest challenges to overcome if they are to survive into the next generation. Yet each of the main branches of American Buddhism clearly has much to learn from the others if all three hope to continue to flourish on American soil.


User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
Posts: 2818
Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2009 4:23 pm
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Contact:

Re: Buddhism in the West

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:01 pm

Image




User avatar
clw_uk
Posts: 57
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 9:38 am

Re: Buddhism in the West

Postby clw_uk » Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:18 pm

Those who are lust-infatuated fall back to the swirling current (of samsara) like a spider on its self-spun web. This too the wise cut off. Without any longing, they abandon all dukkha and renounce the world

Dhammapada - Verse 347

sraddha
Posts: 302
Joined: Sun May 24, 2009 11:54 pm

Re: Buddhism in the West

Postby sraddha » Sat Jun 27, 2009 1:09 am

I think the most popular Buddhism with African Americans is the Nichiren school.

http://www.proudblackbuddhist.org/

User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
Posts: 2818
Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2009 4:23 pm
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Contact:

Re: Buddhism in the West

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Jun 27, 2009 2:08 am

Image




User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
Posts: 2818
Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2009 4:23 pm
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Contact:

Re: Buddhism in the West

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Jun 27, 2009 2:11 am

Image




User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
Posts: 2818
Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2009 4:23 pm
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Contact:

Re: Buddhism in the West

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Jun 27, 2009 2:15 am

Here is an example of an African-American who became a successful monastic:

http://dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=B ... _Pannavati

but unfortunately, the examples like this are rare and notice even she came from a Christian pastor background.
Image




User avatar
Luke
Posts: 2000
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 9:04 pm
Location: Europe

Re: Buddhism in the West

Postby Luke » Sat Jun 27, 2009 6:00 pm

And let's not forget that there are other races besides white and black Americans. I think Buddhists should also make an effort to spread the Dharma to Latino communities. A Buddhist teacher who speaks both English and Spanish could have a big impact on the future of Buddhism in America. I have the feeling that most Latinos are Catholic, but some of them might be looking for something new. I have also read about some Native Americans taking an interest in Tibetan Buddhism.

Refering to the second article I posted a link to above, I have some of the stereotypical characteristics of "Elite Buddhists": I'm only really interested meditation-intensive styles of Buddhism, I'm educated, and I'm a nerdy white guy. However, in some ways I'm not so stereotypical: I've basically always been poor and I have been homeless at times. I'm not a yuppie or an aristocrat by any means, although I've met many of those types.

I think one of the reasons I never joined a Buddhist sangha in America was that I was so disgusted by the elitism in Buddhism there. I found my lama across the Atlantic in Europe. I think my sangha here is very special because we have many ordinary people as our members, and our members are truly kind people who are not snobs. It doesn't simply feel like some Ivy League after school club. Our members are extremely dedicated to their practices and do not care about shallow things like trying to impress people with how many empowerments they have received.

Of course, the exception to this elitism in Buddism in America seems to be the devotional styles of Buddhism like Nichiren. I think we "Elite Buddhists" can learn a great deal about kindness and inclusiveness from these sanghas.

sraddha
Posts: 302
Joined: Sun May 24, 2009 11:54 pm

Re: Buddhism in the West

Postby sraddha » Mon Jun 29, 2009 12:04 am


User avatar
Dodatsu
Posts: 104
Joined: Mon May 04, 2009 3:49 pm
Location: Kyoto, Japan

Re: Buddhism in the West

Postby Dodatsu » Sat Jul 11, 2009 5:00 pm

Soka Gakkai, by the way, is NOT Japanese Pure Land Buddhism, as errorly reported in the last post.
Buddhist Churches of America (BCA) is, and there is one Hispanic priest at Los Angeles Betsuin, and a few white/hispanic/black Minister Assistants at various BCA temples and churches.
Contemplating the power of Tathagata's Primal Vow,
One sees that no foolish being who encounters it passes by in vain.
When a person single-heartedly practices the saying of the Name alone,
It brings quickly to fullness and perfection [in that person] the great treasure ocean of true and real virtues.
- Shinran Shonin

sraddha
Posts: 302
Joined: Sun May 24, 2009 11:54 pm

Re: Buddhism in the West

Postby sraddha » Sun Jul 12, 2009 1:34 am



Return to “Lounge”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests