This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

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Motova
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Re: Latest report on Shambala abuse just released.

Post by Motova » Sat Oct 13, 2018 5:21 pm

Nemo wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 10:41 pm
You think being at mass events will teach you what you need to know? Do they live here? Did they even learn proper English? I can see this is getting people very defensive. That is good. This glide path is very obvious and should be talked about.
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anjali
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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by anjali » Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:21 pm

As far as the Shambhala experiment goes, it probably has failed. But if the Rajneesh/Osho mess back in the day is any indication, Shambhala will reinvent itself and continue to survive in some form. Whether one considers that a success of the Dharma is another matter.

As far as Dharma in general, one measure of success is self-sustainability of local sanghas without any funding from outside sources. By that measure, I believe the Dharma is doing ok. Sustainability of monastic sanghas (at least in the US) seems to be more tenuous. At least there is a toe-hold. It's unclear to me to what extent monastic sanghas are locally self-sustaining.

Perhaps others can chime in with more knowledge and experience with their local sanghas (both monastic and lay) about how self-sustaining they are.

As one recent example of an apparently self-sustaining and growing sangha that folks here on DW may be familiar with, is Meido Roshi's Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery. If he reads this, perhaps he could speak to his experiences of what it has been like for him to get the Dharma to take root in the US.
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Re: Latest report on Shambala abuse just released.

Post by Karma Dorje » Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:33 pm

Nemo wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 10:41 pm
You think being at mass events will teach you what you need to know? Do they live here? Did they even learn proper English? I can see this is getting people very defensive. That is good. This glide path is very obvious and should be talked about.
The way it is successful is for those of us with transmission to realize according to instructions. Individuals are liberated, not institutions. There are many excellent Tibetan teachers that live here, Tulku Sang-ngak for example, who give wang, lung and tri. Jetsun Kushok-la for another. There are excellent Western teachers in greater and greater numbers, such as Sangye Khandro, Lama Tsultrim, Lama Jampa Thaye, Acharya Malcolm Smith, etc.

There is also nothing stopping one from learning Tibetan and flying to India, Nepal or Bhutan to receive full instruction and then coming back to practice. It's much, much simpler to do that than it was for the Sarma translators to travel to India on foot and learn the Indian colloquial languages well enough to receive the teachings they realized and transmitted. Padmakara, 84000, Wisdom's Library of Tibetan Classics, etc. have done tremendous work in translating the source texts into English.

This leaves completely aside the growing use of technology for transmission and instruction. This will only grow more and more, connecting dharma students with teachers without even needing to leave home. How is this not a tremendous success (see Dzogchen Community)?

I think we should rejoice in the numerous successes rather than dwell on the notable failures.
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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by Mantrik » Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:05 pm

Very few cultures arriving in the 'West' (pretty loose in itself) have an easy integration, let alone those bringing a challenge to a host religion. This is, of course, compounded by the newcomers' reactions to western culture and maybe also the freedoms presented. Is an Imam less likely to fall from grace than a Lama?

It is way to early to assess whether Vajrayana has failed to plant a seed which will bear fruit, I feel.

Maybe it is my narrow focus, but it does seem to have rooted itself more successfully than Theravada in the UK, and maybe elsewhere? Does anyone have any stats?

I live somewhere maybe atypical but we have a Theravadan monastery run by a western monk, a Thai Forest centre with residential monks, and a Gelug sangha, all in my tiny town of just over 9,000 people in the UK. :)
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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by TharpaChodron » Sun Oct 14, 2018 2:09 am

I'm going to be a real Pollyanna and say something like what I heard a US journalist say one time in regards to there being lots of discovery of mistakes and untruths in journalism. Rather than being a sign of failure, it's a sign of success to see truth is revealed. It shows the "system" is working, as opposed to a monolithic show of absolute perfection, which is really a lie, such as one would find in a heavily moderated and controlled society.

A coworker of mine who is a devout Christian recently went to Nepal on a missionary trip to convert and save Nepalis. I watched videos he posted of their tent revivals and healings which they did and plenty of people showed up. It was interesting.

If sanghas in the West aren't the same as they were 50 years ago, like Passel said, the whole mindfulness thing (and yoga) is introducing ordinary people to concepts which are inherent to Buddhist practice and without even calling themselves Buddhist, they may be incorporating core values of Dharma. So should we be concerned if they don't start wearing malas and red robes, if they are resonating with ideas of karma, bodhicitta, samsara etc?

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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by MiphamFan » Sun Oct 14, 2018 2:52 am

TharpaChodron wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 2:09 am
I'm going to be a real Pollyanna and say something like what I heard a US journalist say one time in regards to there being lots of discovery of mistakes and untruths in journalism. Rather than being a sign of failure, it's a sign of success to see truth is revealed. It shows the "system" is working, as opposed to a monolithic show of absolute perfection, which is really a lie, such as one would find in a heavily moderated and controlled society.

A coworker of mine who is a devout Christian recently went to Nepal on a missionary trip to convert and save Nepalis. I watched videos he posted of their tent revivals and healings which they did and plenty of people showed up. It was interesting.

If sanghas in the West aren't the same as they were 50 years ago, like Passel said, the whole mindfulness thing (and yoga) is introducing ordinary people to concepts which are inherent to Buddhist practice and without even calling themselves Buddhist, they may be incorporating core values of Dharma. So should we be concerned if they don't start wearing malas and red robes, if they are resonating with ideas of karma, bodhicitta, samsara etc?
The thing is are they really resonating with these ideas?

It seems to me that the "mindfulness" movement is really about becoming more effective workers and not particularly concerned with teaching the "metaphysical" stuff.

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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by PeterC » Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:45 am

MiphamFan wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 2:52 am
It seems to me that the "mindfulness" movement is really about becoming more effective workers and not particularly concerned with teaching the "metaphysical" stuff.
That is exactly what it is. It repurposes those techniques to allow people to gratify their egos and enjoy samsara. But: it’s still better that it exists than not. It helps people somewhat. And it will for some be a gateway to the real dharma.

More broadly I think there’s a misconception when we talk about the ‘failure’ of ‘western’ dharma. Success or failure isn’t about the creation of locally-assimilated sanghas. The only measure of success or failure is practitioners coming closer to liberation and, as a support for that, the dharma being preserved and made available in the world.

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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by smcj » Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:59 am

The only measure of success or failure is practitioners coming closer to liberation and, as a support for that, the dharma being preserved and made available in the world.
:namaste:
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Sun Oct 14, 2018 4:38 am

PeterC wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:45 am
MiphamFan wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 2:52 am
It seems to me that the "mindfulness" movement is really about becoming more effective workers and not particularly concerned with teaching the "metaphysical" stuff.
That is exactly what it is. It repurposes those techniques to allow people to gratify their egos and enjoy samsara. But: it’s still better that it exists than not. It helps people somewhat. And it will for some be a gateway to the real dharma.

More broadly I think there’s a misconception when we talk about the ‘failure’ of ‘western’ dharma. Success or failure isn’t about the creation of locally-assimilated sanghas. The only measure of success or failure is practitioners coming closer to liberation and, as a support for that, the dharma being preserved and made available in the world.

It's also used quite legitimately to treat chemical dependency and mental health issues, clinical mindfulness-derived therapies are very limited compared to Dharma practice, but it is a huge improvement in what existed prior to it's inclusion. Now that I've seen clinical mindfulness seriously reduce people's suffering and return them to functioning firsthand, I am not as dismissive of it, though I recognize it's limitations. Additionally it's inclusion signals a shift in the way Western Psychology, and hopefully eventually Western Culture more generally views the mind, and IMO it's a positive one, again especially considering the ideas about the mind that preceded it.
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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by Miroku » Sun Oct 14, 2018 8:54 am

Mantrik wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:05 pm
Very few cultures arriving in the 'West' (pretty loose in itself) have an easy integration, let alone those bringing a challenge to a host religion. This is, of course, compounded by the newcomers' reactions to western culture and maybe also the freedoms presented. Is an Imam less likely to fall from grace than a Lama?

It is way to early to assess whether Vajrayana has failed to plant a seed which will bear fruit, I feel.

Maybe it is my narrow focus, but it does seem to have rooted itself more successfully than Theravada in the UK, and maybe elsewhere? Does anyone have any stats?

I live somewhere maybe atypical but we have a Theravadan monastery run by a western monk, a Thai Forest centre with residential monks, and a Gelug sangha, all in my tiny town of just over 9,000 people in the UK. :)
I believe that vajrayana will need more time, however it seems that zen is doing just fine. In zen there start to be so many western teachers, which is sth that vajrayana has produced, but so far in a small number. But you are right hinayana or theravada are quite less visible. It might be because of the emphasis on monks.
A boat delivers you to the other riverbank.
A needle stitches up your clothes.
A horse takes you where you want to go.
Bodhicitta will bring you to Buddhahood.

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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by Mantrik » Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:12 am

Miroku wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 8:54 am
Mantrik wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:05 pm
Very few cultures arriving in the 'West' (pretty loose in itself) have an easy integration, let alone those bringing a challenge to a host religion. This is, of course, compounded by the newcomers' reactions to western culture and maybe also the freedoms presented. Is an Imam less likely to fall from grace than a Lama?

It is way to early to assess whether Vajrayana has failed to plant a seed which will bear fruit, I feel.

Maybe it is my narrow focus, but it does seem to have rooted itself more successfully than Theravada in the UK, and maybe elsewhere? Does anyone have any stats?

I live somewhere maybe atypical but we have a Theravadan monastery run by a western monk, a Thai Forest centre with residential monks, and a Gelug sangha, all in my tiny town of just over 9,000 people in the UK. :)
I believe that vajrayana will need more time, however it seems that zen is doing just fine. In zen there start to be so many western teachers, which is sth that vajrayana has produced, but so far in a small number. But you are right hinayana or theravada are quite less visible. It might be because of the emphasis on monks.
I wonder if Zen is doing well because it was popularised back in the hippy days and has had more time to establish. I was maybe more typical in finding it through martial arts - we created a Dojo with a Zendo above it back in the 1990's. I didn't have time to get into it properly though as work took me elsewhere.

There have been issues with the odd Roshi though - I recall a western one who ended up disrobing.
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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by Miroku » Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:42 am

Mantrik wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:12 am

I wonder if Zen is doing well because it was popularised back in the hippy days and has had more time to establish. I was maybe more typical in finding it through martial arts - we created a Dojo with a Zendo above it back in the 1990's. I didn't have time to get into it properly though as work took me elsewhere.

There have been issues with the odd Roshi though - I recall a western one who ended up disrobing.
Hm, makes me wonder too. I'd say it definetly is part of it, plus the zen aesthetics are quite popular too. Maybe it might be also because zen does not carry as much cultural baggage as vajrayana does, or if it carries we can see what is important and what is not. However, sometimes my problem with zen is that some teachers of it seem to have gotten rid of so many things it is just about sitting and more secular than buddhist, tbh. But dunno not a zennie. :)
A boat delivers you to the other riverbank.
A needle stitches up your clothes.
A horse takes you where you want to go.
Bodhicitta will bring you to Buddhahood.

~ Khunu Lama Rinpoche

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Re: Latest report on Shambala abuse just released.

Post by Crazywisdom » Sun Oct 14, 2018 1:23 pm

Karma Dorje wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:33 pm
Nemo wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 10:41 pm
You think being at mass events will teach you what you need to know? Do they live here? Did they even learn proper English? I can see this is getting people very defensive. That is good. This glide path is very obvious and should be talked about.
The way it is successful is for those of us with transmission to realize according to instructions. Individuals are liberated, not institutions. There are many excellent Tibetan teachers that live here, Tulku Sang-ngak for example, who give wang, lung and tri. Jetsun Kushok-la for another. There are excellent Western teachers in greater and greater numbers, such as Sangye Khandro, Lama Tsultrim, Lama Jampa Thaye, Acharya Malcolm Smith, etc.

There is also nothing stopping one from learning Tibetan and flying to India, Nepal or Bhutan to receive full instruction and then coming back to practice. It's much, much simpler to do that than it was for the Sarma translators to travel to India on foot and learn the Indian colloquial languages well enough to receive the teachings they realized and transmitted. Padmakara, 84000, Wisdom's Library of Tibetan Classics, etc. have done tremendous work in translating the source texts into English.

This leaves completely aside the growing use of technology for transmission and instruction. This will only grow more and more, connecting dharma students with teachers without even needing to leave home. How is this not a tremendous success (see Dzogchen Community)?

I think we should rejoice in the numerous successes rather than dwell on the notable failures.
+1
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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by Crazywisdom » Sun Oct 14, 2018 1:29 pm

We need a strong subculture of Western Buddhist nomads.
I got my Chili Chilaya.

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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by Nemo » Sun Oct 14, 2018 2:34 pm

Wow, what an interesting and informative talk. I'm glad I voiced my misgivings about our uncertain future.

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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by Queequeg » Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:05 pm

PeterC wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:45 am
The only measure of success or failure is practitioners coming closer to liberation and, as a support for that, the dharma being preserved and made available in the world.
Can't measure awakening.

You can measure financial health. Bob Thurman has opined Dharma has not yet taken in the West, and the indication that it has will be the financial support of Dharma teachers, institutions, etc.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Nemo
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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by Nemo » Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:26 pm

This all gets very complicated and needs a finer lens. I am Tibetan Buddhist and that form is drying up among Caucasians. Asian Buddhism is doing OK in NA and among Hispanics it's exploding. The same explosion it saw in Caucasian communities 35 years ago. Those were very exciting times, but it was a bubble. Tibetan Buddhism is consolidating and many challenges are arising. Facing them with fearless honesty and not trying to preserve face is the Western way. Many Tibetan teachers never had much faith in Westerners in private and let's just say some Tibetan's were sent to the other side of the world for a reason as the current scandals prove.

Asia is generally much less romantic and this pragmatism made us big supporters of the Dharma. As our economies dwindle and Asia rises we have less pull. Taiwan is where you go to fund your monastery now. Some have complained in private to me that maybe America was the wrong choice but at least the food is safe and there is nature here.

I am retired now. I made some choices 18 years ago to get a career and pension. It was exhausting and I feel old. Many who had more faith than I are living very precarious painful lives today. Being in poverty in your old age causes much suffering. So much so I am giving up a painful amount of monthly income to make sure they can eat and keep the lights on. With scandals piling on top of this and constant emails asking for money I feel disheartened. Lamas giving scripted phone conversations like telemarketers breaks my heart.

So where does this leave us? Talking about it gives us a road map. Guru Rinpoche's so called demons of materialism are strangling the Dharma. I would have happily been a caretaker on some forgotten monastery if not for the 2000 economic crash. With greater macroeconomic suffering coming soon how should we prepare?

ie, Perhaps moving the Tibetan diaspora out of India would be a good strategy. They have floundered in poverty there compared to coming to North America or Europe. My city does this occasionally by sponsoring refugees and then offering support personnel to integrate faster.

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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by Queequeg » Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:33 pm

Mantrik wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:12 am
I wonder if Zen is doing well because it was popularised back in the hippy days and has had more time to establish. I was maybe more typical in finding it through martial arts - we created a Dojo with a Zendo above it back in the 1990's. I didn't have time to get into it properly though as work took me elsewhere.
May also have something to do with the stripped down teachings and aesthetics. Not everyone takes to Boho chic explosions of color. Apple, and tech companies in general, have been tending to clean lines and simplicity... might be an indication of what contemporary minds tend toward.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Queequeg
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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by Queequeg » Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:37 pm

Crazywisdom wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 1:29 pm
We need a strong subculture of Western Buddhist nomads.
You're talking about tumbleweed yogis. They depend on the settled communities for their support. They've always been a counter-culture. You need the community householders to support that. Horse before the cart.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Nemo
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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by Nemo » Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:41 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:37 pm
Crazywisdom wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 1:29 pm
We need a strong subculture of Western Buddhist nomads.
You're talking about tumbleweed yogis. They depend on the settled communities for their support. They've always been a counter-culture. You need the community householders to support that. Horse before the cart.
#vanlife #yogini
Last edited by Nemo on Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:44 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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