Grigoris wrote: ↑
Fri Jun 15, 2018 2:01 pm
I think this post is the first one to actually start to approach the core problem. The problem with funding is easily circumvented by focusing on lay clergy, whether in the Japanese or Tibetan style, but this does nothing to overcome the hurdle associated with the relevance of lay or monastic priests and clergy to the general community.
"Ethnic" monastics and lay practitioners have a role in their respective societies, but what role do western monastics and lay clergy have in western society?
Would it make any difference to funding if the monastic knew why certain things were placed on the shrine in a certain way? Somehow I don't think so.
Yes, this relevance
is a key issue for all flavours of Buddhism in the west, from Tibetan to the "insight" groups that are more Theravada based and, of course, follow a lay model. [Whether those should be called "Buddhist" could be debated, but I'm trying to be inclusive here, and they do have some relevance in that they are a "safe" option for people who are put off by "religious trappings" - and see below...].
In some cases, such as the Western Ajahn Chah Theravada monasteries it has been possible to support monasteries with primarily western monastics, but, in a large part, because they are (a) part of a large organisation, and (b) have support from Thai and Sri Lankan immigrants. Due to relative numbers of immigrants, support is much more difficult for aspiring Tibetan-Buddhism monastics, as has been noted.
Though it is Theravada-oriented this set of articles/book might be of interest:
American Folk Buddhism bu Bhikkhu Cintita:
https://bhikkhucintita.wordpress.com/ho ... -buddhism/
His argument is that a large number of "Folk Buddhists" are required to support "Essential Buddhism", and the latter is required to keep the former reasonably on track. The preservation of the Dharma has always involved such a symbiosis.
From the Conclusion:
A Western Folk Buddhism is wholesome or beneficial to the extent that it is friendly and not inimical toward Essential Buddhism. It is not necessary or desirable to preserve any particular Asian Folk Buddhism, which would be largely incomprehensible in a Western context in any case. It should be recognized that a pure Essential Buddhism goes “against the stream” in any cultural context and that the function of a Folk Buddhism is to carry the challenge of Buddhism into its cultural context, that is that it should make a real difference is people’s lives and attitudes in spite of the cultural context.
One could speculate that the current popularity of "mindfulness" is a form of Folk Buddhism. Unfortunately, contact with Essential Buddhists is rather tenuous in that case, and it's commodification means that we're not going to see thousands of mindfulness practitioners queing up to support monastics...
Even my "insight" friends (some of whom do identify as Buddhist) have little clue about and/or an aversion to monastics. Astonishingly, a couple of months ago the committee of my local insight group had a meeting in the cafe of our local Fo Guang Shan [Taiwan-based Humanistic Buddhism] temple on the very day of a major celebration ("Buddha's birthday"), not realising that (a) There was a celebration that day, and (b) that their passion for community engagement is exactly what FGS is about, and that a chat with the New Zealand Abess (all FGS monastics in NZ are female, but they didn't realise that either...) might actually be extremely interesting.