Nemo wrote: ↑
Sun Oct 14, 2018 4:43 pm
It's not about hand wringing. It's about developing strategy. I know very painfully you can win every single engagement and still lose a war. Preventative maintenance requires inspection. These scandals require a certain amount of introspection and restructuring. The original rate of growth has not been maintained and the entire global economy has changed. We need to change to meet the new environment. If a monk with no money stood out in front of somebodies house silent begging in my town he would be arrested. We need to identify our strengths and weaknesses and then plan a strategy to make Dharma stronger. Then work on smaller tactical engagements that help our strategy. Someone much smarter than me should make a list like this one to put things in perspective.
What are our strengths:
Karma is true.
Highly educated Sanghas.
Good currency exchange rates.
A decent amount of Dharma has come here and been translated into English.
Many NA monasteries paired with Asian teaching institutions.
What are our weaknesses:
Upper middle class snobbery.
An aging Sangha.
Coming economic problems.
Competition from Asia for teachers.
The criminalization of poverty in our society.(try being a nomad here and you will quickly meet the boot of the cops)
Just to be clear - I'm not trying to be confrontational. Just a little friendly ribbing. We're on the same side.
I think you're bringing us around to a practical approach.
A couple comments and some further suggestions.
High education and upper middle class snobbery might fundamentally be aspects of the same thing. Consider the joke about parlor room liberals: They're all for helping the disadvantaged, until you propose building affordable housing in their neighborhood. And then you hear NIMBY! To be educated and affluent in the West makes for a nice complacent bubble. The sharp edges of life are held at length. That also probably contributes to the graying sangha - its nice and comfortable - bringing in new people is work and stressful. It requires being accommodating and extending yourself, and lessening attachment to comfort zones, maybe even emphasizing aspects of dharma that one has personally worked past. DW as an example - look at the questions newbies ask compared to the conversations the usual suspects have. I imagine newbies look at discussions on the finer points of the formless heavens and have no idea what to make of it, except maybe being intimidated. They're at at different point in life and practice. If you want to open dharma to young people, you have to present aspects that are relevant to them, not expect them to just tune into advanced stuff. There has to be an intentional and sustained effort to appeal to young people.
It does not seem that young people now have fewer questions about the meaning of life than previous generations. What is different is the mode of interaction. So, as people above noted, the online stuff is promising. But teachers face the same problems podcasters face - tens of thousands tuning in to listen but never thinking to contribute. What you end up with is NPR type fund drives and all kinds of other marketing angles. So that doesn't solve it.
How do we get young people out of their caves and into dharma centers?
Last night I was watching a show about O-Bon, which is the Japanese holiday for the dead. On the last night of obon, communities mark it with dancing and festivities. They had the translation of the songs and they were racy... it turns out, back when everyone lived in relative isolation on their farms, obon was a chance for young people to come and meet... Maybe there is a social angle. But its kind of chicken and egg... young people don't want to come and socialize with old people.
Still looking for that hook.