Indrajala wrote:Tansen Sen convincingly argues that by the mid-Tang the Chinese sangha had started seeing themselves as an authentic "Buddhist realm". This is why native schools like Chan and Tiantai really developed and took root while imported models from India increasingly became less popular, like Vajrayāna.
Curiously, I sometimes hear around Asia the belief that perhaps Buddhadharma will thrive in the west in the future while it declines and becomes increasingly irrelevant in Asian countries.
Yes, I can certainly see how that perception might change. Whereas in India, most Buddhists either had to adjust to increasing persecution or become irrelevant, in China, you could maintain a rather straightforward Mahayana (or Vinaya and Ch'an) approach without much difficulty.
This view is something that I found present even in modern Taiwan, e.g. "Tibetan Buddhists don't do it properly, they just do mindless rituals," sort of opinion. Ironically something a westerner who doesn't speak Chinese or have any adaptation to Chinese Buddhist practices would likely think about many Chinese Mahayana practices also.
Indrajala wrote:That remains to be seen. In any case, in the English language we have so much material cataloged and a good amount of it translated. In a century most of the materials in the canons will probably be fully translated into English. As to whether a long-term clergy will be established and maintained, I doubt it will happen in the foreseeable future, but there are nevertheless presently many practitioners and scholars of Buddhism.
As far as translation and resources go, I think we more or less have what we'd need right now. Obviously it would be nice to get more Tibetan and Chinese texts into English, but the cornerstones of the canon are more or less covered. The question is indeed one of establishing clergy or not.
It may be entirely possible that western Buddhism may take on a form very apparent to all of us here, i.e. something like this. The kinds of discussions that occur on Dharma Wheel are often what English Dharma classes are all about, although generally on a more practical level. I also think that as regards lay Buddhist organisations, there can be more optimism and more possibilities in Mahayana, which is a lot more flexible and has that lay groundwork, than in Theravada--where it's often either Vipassana (practically secular) or a traditional "patriarchal" setting with the resident Bhante.
Also, as you're likely familiar with, Indrajala, many academic fora for Buddhist Studies often end up being just as fruitful in terms of genuinely useful information for practice and understanding. I personally find classroom discussions often deeper and more fundamentally helpful than top-down lectures at a temple. In addition, you're talking to a group of ten or so other people who will know Sanskrit, Pali and a number of any other languages, whereas in a temple, you're almost always working from secondary resources, and you'd be lucky if the monastic present can read the Buddhist texts in a meaningful way, e.g. know the language, or know the classical form of their own, such as Tibetan or Chinese. So, the academic discussions can often get further unto the substance of matters, which is very helpful.
uan wrote:I can see where social justice can grow out of one's practice as an expression of Buddhadarma. But the key question is what is the real foundation? Dharma or Social Justice. If one makes the Dharma an expression, or extension, of their social justice goals and objectives, are they practicing Dharma? I was listening to a Buddhist Geeks podcast on this topic. It felt wrong on several levels, including defining a buddhist in terms of their activism, or lack of.
Yeah, I don't mean to be so cynical about it. I definitely can see it being of use. I think the meaning of "social justice" that I was using was more of a usage that has become more common in the past years, where it is jumping on the bandwagon of a "cause" just because it makes you feel good, rather than because you can clearly do something. Think "Kony 2012." If one is sincere, and doing what one thinks is right, then I can't be cynical, and can only think highly of such a thing.