Why is Buddhism so elitist and cliquey?

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Queequeg
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Re: Why is Buddhism so elitist and cliquey?

Post by Queequeg » Thu Jan 23, 2020 5:12 pm

Simon E. wrote:
Thu Jan 23, 2020 4:56 pm
I assumed rightly or wrongly from the phrasing of the observation that it was addressing Buddhism generally, but had been posted in the Nichiren forum?
Well, I think OP was speaking about both. Buddhism generally, and Nichiren specifically.
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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seeker242
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Re: Why is Buddhism so elitist and cliquey?

Post by seeker242 » Thu Jan 23, 2020 5:23 pm

dharmapdx wrote:
Thu Jan 23, 2020 4:57 am
Just something I’ve come to accept about Buddhism for the last few years: most Buddhists I’ve met have not at all been humble, loving, and non-judgmental. Quite the opposite actually. (Oh, and don’t forget all the anger and defensiveness.)
People you have met personally is not exactly an accurate gauge to go by. Is that is like 0.0000002% of total Buddhists? Or something like that? Such a small number to make generalizations with.
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!

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Re: Why is Buddhism so elitist and cliquey?

Post by Simon E. » Thu Jan 23, 2020 5:50 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Thu Jan 23, 2020 5:12 pm
Simon E. wrote:
Thu Jan 23, 2020 4:56 pm
I assumed rightly or wrongly from the phrasing of the observation that it was addressing Buddhism generally, but had been posted in the Nichiren forum?
Well, I think OP was speaking about both. Buddhism generally, and Nichiren specifically.
You may well be correct QQ.
“The difference between us and Tara is that she knows she doesn’t exist”.

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Queequeg
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Re: Why is Buddhism so elitist and cliquey?

Post by Queequeg » Thu Jan 23, 2020 6:18 pm

Folks, as OP has observed, this can be a touchy subject - let's be careful about making defamatory remarks. I would suggest that if this is going to be discussed, we ought to avoid general statements and instead cite specifics to ground the discussion. It might be appropriate to split out the discussion of Buddhism in general and Nichiren Buddhism in particular, but I'll reserve that decision after this thread plays out a little more, if it does.
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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Re: Why is Buddhism so elitist and cliquey?

Post by 明安 Myoan » Thu Jan 23, 2020 9:08 pm

Regarding triumphalism, I see it as an upward comparison.
If someone has affinity with that teaching, their confidence can be bolstered in difficult times through praises and hymns.
If someone uses the teachings as a way to disparage others, then as narwhal said, the point of the Mahayana is being missed.
Honen said we should refrain from criticizing the schools of Buddhism because our understanding of their teachings is shallow.

Regarding other Buddhists,
the first time I set foot in a Vajrayana temple, I disliked it immediately.
During the meditation session, I thought, "Wow, no one here is going to be enlightened any time soon. Why am I here?" so I left.
A few years later, I took refuge there and received precious teachings that serve me to this day.
So our perceptions of others can be faulty.

One of the Ten Pure Precepts is not to consider the faults of others. One of the lojong slogans is "Do not ponder others."
This protects your confidence in the potentials of other beings to attain buddhahood and overcome their faults, which is the way bodhisattvas help beings.

As Honen said, there are practitioners secluded in the mountains living private lives whose attainments far outstrip our own. We just don't know them.
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

The Fundamental Vow [of Amitabha Buddha] is just for such people as woodcutters and grassgatherers, vegetable pickers, drawers of water and the like, illiterate folk who merely recite the Buddha's name wholeheartedly, confident that as a result of saying "Namu Amida Butsu" they will be born into the western land. -- Master Hōnen

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Re: Why is Buddhism so elitist and cliquey?

Post by Malcolm » Thu Jan 23, 2020 9:12 pm

明安 Myoan wrote:
Thu Jan 23, 2020 9:08 pm
Regarding triumphalism...
Everyone who enters the Dharma will attain buddhahood eventually.

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Re: Why is Buddhism so elitist and cliquey?

Post by 明安 Myoan » Thu Jan 23, 2020 9:17 pm

:bow:

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Re: Why is Buddhism so elitist and cliquey?

Post by dharmapdx » Thu Jan 23, 2020 9:19 pm

Maybe I should have added this in my original post: I do practice Buddhism, particularly Nichiren Buddhism (which is why I posted this in the Nichiren forum). And I consider my practice highly successful and rewarding. So, I’m not saying Buddhism doesn’t work.

While my practice is rewarding and successful, it is also independent and solitary, for reasons mentioned in this thread. I suppose it confuses me that a practice that is so successful for me … has to remain solitary and independent. After blaming myself for some time, I’ve come to accept what I finally mentioned in this thread … a lot of Buddhists are simply elitist and cliquey and difficult to get along with. The interpersonal dysfunction interferes with my practice, and so I have to forgo it.

Maybe there are a couple issues here: 1. Asian Buddhists you meet in the US may be defensive about any aspect of their lives that seem “foreign” and may therefore possibly open them to discrimination, 2. Western converts obviously found something lacking in their own upbringing which is what led them to Buddhism, and maybe they are still coping with whatever they found lacking.

A therapist once said to me: “Churches are not collections of saints. They are hospitals for sinners.” In other words, oftentimes the people you find in religious settings are there because they have a lot of issues.
Me wrestling with Takashi Ikeda in Nagoya, Japan when I was a child: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File ... _Ikeda.jpg

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Re: Why is Buddhism so elitist and cliquey?

Post by Simon E. » Thu Jan 23, 2020 9:25 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Thu Jan 23, 2020 9:12 pm
明安 Myoan wrote:
Thu Jan 23, 2020 9:08 pm
Regarding triumphalism...
Everyone who enters the Dharma will attain buddhahood eventually.
“The difference between us and Tara is that she knows she doesn’t exist”.

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dharmapdx
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Re: Why is Buddhism so elitist and cliquey?

Post by dharmapdx » Thu Jan 23, 2020 9:48 pm

Another factor to take into account is that the political scene in this country is elitist and clique in all regards. I believe the term is “tribalism.” If it sounds odd that I, a white American male, basically have to keep my Buddhist practice to myself as a solitary and independent practitioner, keep in mind the draconianly-PC world we are living in now. I no longer wear my Buddhist beads — Juzu blessed by a Nichiren Shu priest — in public lest I be accused of “cultural appropriation” (I actually got dirty looks from an Asian woman for my beads), and the dirty/hostile look I got from a Hawaiian woman at an SGI meeting (when she saw that I have gongyo memorized, with correct accent to boot; she was trembling with rage) was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I simply don’t dare to try to participate in a Buddhist community anymore. Too traumatizing. My Buddhist practice is successful, but at this point it is virtually a secret practice.
Me wrestling with Takashi Ikeda in Nagoya, Japan when I was a child: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File ... _Ikeda.jpg

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Re: Why is Buddhism so elitist and cliquey?

Post by pemachophel » Thu Jan 23, 2020 9:56 pm

Bay-pai nal-jor, "hidden yogi." Way to go.

"May I be content in a remote hermitage with food and cloths,
Perfecting ultimate Realization without a moment of outer or inner obstacle,
Ripening and liberating all beings without exception
Through immeasurable Enlightened activity."
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ

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Re: Why is Buddhism so elitist and cliquey?

Post by tkp67 » Thu Jan 23, 2020 11:34 pm

Paths might be cliquey but I recon in the "Buddha field" the Buddhas don't seem to mind each other so much.

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Re: Why is Buddhism so elitist and cliquey?

Post by rory » Fri Jan 24, 2020 5:24 am

Buddhism is a missionary religion; nobody owns it. Also people have afflictions, read and chant Chapter 25 of the Lotus Sutra Kannon-sama's chapter and you will grow in compassion and want to help others.
gassho
Rory
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Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/

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Re: Why is Buddhism so elitist and cliquey?

Post by tobes » Fri Jan 24, 2020 5:56 am

If you look around at anyone and see x, y and z faults, then those on the bodhisattvayana should ask: have I developed sufficient compassion?

i.e. maybe the fault is in your own afflicted perceptions, your own lack of warmth, kindness and compassion towards others.

I say this as someone deeply prone to those faults. But on occasions when they are less present, it is so easy to see how all those judgements on others (including sanghas) basically boil down to a lack of good heart from my own side.

The Mahayana is very simple in this regard.

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Re: Why is Buddhism so elitist and cliquey?

Post by illarraza » Fri Jan 24, 2020 6:02 am

dharmapdx wrote:
Thu Jan 23, 2020 4:57 am
I know this is not going to be a popular question. But at least with Nichiren Buddhism it’s probably pretty self-explanatory: any school that teaches that it is the only true school is by definition elitist and cliquey. I think Nichiren Buddhism may be the best example of what I’m offering to, but I have actually seen it in all schools of Buddhism, and it has been very disappointing. I used to be surprised that the younger generation in Asia is apparently not that interested in Buddhism, but after looking into at least the institutional basis of Buddhist schools, it’s no surprise at all anymore. (Maybe the fact that Buddhism is still relatively fringe in the United States means that it is more likely to attract a certain type of hipster/elitist person.)

I swear that this is not an attempt to start a flame. Just something I’ve come to accept about Buddhism for the last few years: most Buddhists I’ve met have not at all been humble, loving, and non-judgmental. Quite the opposite actually. (Oh, and don’t forget all the anger and defensiveness.)
Nichiren teaches:

“Unless one can perceive the relative profundity of the various writings, one cannot judge the worth of the principles they reveal.” — The Opening of the Eyes

Mark

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Re: Why is Buddhism so elitist and cliquey?

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Fri Jan 24, 2020 6:19 am

Buddhist practices are meant to cut through the ego.
Attachment to ego is at the root of samsaric suffering.
So, it is only natural that people with big egos are attracted to Buddhism.
It’s like asking, if a hospital is supposed to make people better, why is it full with so many sick people?
People who are already humble and selfless don’t really need it very much, do they?
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Re: Why is Buddhism so elitist and cliquey?

Post by Shiva » Fri Jan 24, 2020 11:18 am

dharmapdx wrote:
Thu Jan 23, 2020 4:57 am
at least with Nichiren Buddhism it’s probably pretty self-explanatory: any school that teaches that it is the only true school is by definition elitist and cliquey. I think Nichiren Buddhism may be the best example of what I’m offering to, but I have actually seen it in all schools of Buddhism, and it has been very disappointing.
Nichiren Buddhism does not teach that it is the only true school. What it teaches is this:

1. The Mahayana Tradition is more complete than the Hinayana Tradition.
2. The Lotus Sutra is the first Sutra to reveal the most direct Buddha Way.

and:

3. Nichiren Buddhism is the better option, during the age of Mappo, for Japan.

Also, regarding the practice itself Nichiren Buddhism is meant for everybody as you just need three things for your practice:

1. The Honzon (Something that keeps your focus on the Eternal Buddha. e.g. A Statue of Shakyamuni)
2. The Kaidan (The place where you practice. e.g. Your room )
3. The Daimoku (The Sacred Title of the Lotus Sutra and Mantra: Namu Myoho Renge Kyo)

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dharmapdx
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Re: Why is Buddhism so elitist and cliquey?

Post by dharmapdx » Fri Jan 24, 2020 11:53 am

seeker242 wrote:
Thu Jan 23, 2020 5:23 pm
dharmapdx wrote:
Thu Jan 23, 2020 4:57 am
Just something I’ve come to accept about Buddhism for the last few years: most Buddhists I’ve met have not at all been humble, loving, and non-judgmental. Quite the opposite actually. (Oh, and don’t forget all the anger and defensiveness.)
People you have met personally is not exactly an accurate gauge to go by. Is that is like 0.0000002% of total Buddhists? Or something like that? Such a small number to make generalizations with.
From Tricycle magazine: “Most of our readers and contributors know Buddhism primarily in terms of the meditation traditions of Zen, Vipassana, or Vajrayana as they have been presented to a Western audience. Indeed, it is probably not an exaggeration to say that, for many of our readers, approaches to Buddhism, such as Nichiren, that are not based on a practice of quiet, focused sitting meditation are, other than in name, scarcely recognizable as Buddhist at all. Among Western convert Buddhists, there has always been a sharp division, exacerbated by prejudice and misunderstanding, between Nichiren Buddhists and those pursuing approaches based on quiet sitting. Meditation-oriented Buddhists often think of Nichiren Buddhists (if they think of them at all) with little real knowledge and even with condescension. The same is true in how they view Pure Land Buddhists. We can do better, and we should.” https://tricycle.org/trikedaily/underst ... -buddhism/

SGI literature is full of mean-spirited references to the seemingly diabolical Nichiren Shoshu priests: http://sokaspirit.org/home/newsletter/r ... ka-gakkai/

Shoshu is always complaining about SGI and encouraging/accommodating people leaving SGI: https://nstmyosenji.org/new-members/lea ... ren-shoshu

And some Buddhists say Nichiren Buddhism isn’t Buddhism at all.

So I am not basing this solely on my own personal interactions with people.
Me wrestling with Takashi Ikeda in Nagoya, Japan when I was a child: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File ... _Ikeda.jpg

I’m the little white boy: https://oregondigital.org/catalog/orego ... :df709p90w

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Re: Why is Buddhism so elitist and cliquey?

Post by narhwal90 » Fri Jan 24, 2020 12:52 pm

To be fair there is a lot of recent organizational history between SGI and N.Shoshu exaggerating such divisions, but beyond those folks it pretty much looks like a typical squabble between schools and personalities. From my experience going to zen and other centers, nobody really cares beyond curiosity about the new face in their midst which is also the typical SGI response to a newcomer. I have run into triumphalist SGI people, mostly I dont hang around them, and likewise a very few SGI people who are quite judgemental about other traditions they have never tried- but thats in no way unique to buddhsim or groups in general.

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Re: Why is Buddhism so elitist and cliquey?

Post by tkp67 » Fri Jan 24, 2020 1:40 pm

tobes wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 5:56 am
If you look around at anyone and see x, y and z faults, then those on the bodhisattvayana should ask: have I developed sufficient compassion?

i.e. maybe the fault is in your own afflicted perceptions, your own lack of warmth, kindness and compassion towards others.

I say this as someone deeply prone to those faults. But on occasions when they are less present, it is so easy to see how all those judgements on others (including sanghas) basically boil down to a lack of good heart from my own side.

The Mahayana is very simple in this regard.
Good point.

In regards to people steeped in fault. If we aren't feeling compassion for them how will they come to know it in such a way they can overcome that fault?

I found practicing true compassion for others is also a practice of true compassion for self.

Ego responds negatively to many things but it is hard to maintain in the face of true compassion.

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