Dharma or Ethnic Buddhism?

No holds barred discussion on the Buddhadharma. Argue about rebirth, karma, commentarial interpretations etc. Be nice to each other.

Re: Dharma or Ethnic Buddhism?

Postby MalaBeads » Mon Jul 01, 2013 10:21 am

:popcorn:

Interesting thread
MalaBeads
 
Posts: 455
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2011 12:47 am

Re: Dharma or Ethnic Buddhism?

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jul 01, 2013 12:07 pm

Here in India I constantly interact with people of different traditions, so the usage of honorific titles can be jumbled. Just yesterday in Bodhgaya I sat down to breakfast with a Ladakhi bhikkhu, two Tibetan monks and a Vietnamese nun (and I'm Canadian). Generally speaking in English the term "Venerable" is used around monastics in a multicultural setting. That's generally what I've heard used in India and Nepal when people are speaking English.

Still, even in such a setting I don't know how much crossover between the traditions there are. In Bodhgaya you have a lot of ethnic-specific monasteries, though besides organizing things at a logistic level, I don't see a lot of crossover. Tibetans as far as I know don't go to the Vietnamese temple for teachings for instance. That's to be expected though.

I think the degree to which one's Buddhism is sanitized of cultural elements is a personal choice. If you want to go all in and "go native" then by all means, but on the other hand if you'd rather have just the teachings and practices, then that's fine, too. Titles of address should be personal, too. If someone calls a monk "buddy" that's their choice. We don't need Dharma policing.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5561
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

Re: Dharma or Ethnic Buddhism?

Postby seeker242 » Mon Jul 01, 2013 12:15 pm

Astus wrote:
What do you think?


If a person does not attach to culture, then why would there be any issue expressing any culture? Chanting in another language is just chanting in another language. It's doesn't really matter. The thing that "tie yourself to a particular culture or country and involve yourself in people’s minds with that culture or country" is of your own making, inside your own mind. If you don't make that idea to begin with, then you can chant any language or call yourself any title and it's not an issue. If you don't make that idea, then there is no "dharma" vs "ethnic" Buddhism to begin with. It's appears different because there a different language and different color robes, but that is just superficial differences that really mean nothing. On a deeper level, it all "dharma" Buddhism. Ahjan or gelong, saydaw, roshi or sensei, it's all just "Buddhism".
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!
User avatar
seeker242
 
Posts: 644
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2012 2:50 pm
Location: South Florida, USA

Re: Dharma or Ethnic Buddhism?

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jul 01, 2013 12:16 pm

Simon E. wrote:Pretending to be Thais or Tibetans or Chinese when we are from Sydney or Manchester or Milwaukee creates more problems than it solves.


I agree, but unfortunately some said communities either unconsciously or consciously want us to conform to their ways as a precondition for participation. Uniform dress codes, undemocratic obedience to sangha authorities and enforced dining etiquette are part of the deal if you want to sign up in a lot of institutions.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5561
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

Re: Dharma or Ethnic Buddhism?

Postby Simon E. » Mon Jul 01, 2013 12:27 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Simon E. wrote:Pretending to be Thais or Tibetans or Chinese when we are from Sydney or Manchester or Milwaukee creates more problems than it solves.


I agree, but unfortunately some said communities either unconsciously or consciously want us to conform to their ways as a precondition for participation. Uniform dress codes, undemocratic obedience to sangha authorities and enforced dining etiquette are part of the deal if you want to sign up in a lot of institutions.

Surely.
And there is in many of us ( there certainly was in me when in my late teens/early twenties ) the apparent need to establish an identity separate from the one in which one is nurtured.
Of course the new identity then has eventually to be let go of...
Simon E.
 
Posts: 2129
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

Re: Dharma or Ethnic Buddhism?

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jul 01, 2013 12:39 pm

Simon E. wrote:And there is in many of us ( there certainly was in me when in my late teens/early twenties ) the apparent need to establish an identity separate from the one in which one is nurtured.
Of course the new identity then has eventually to be let go of...


I see this a lot with younger folks who get into Asian Studies. I've known a lot of youth, especially during my undergrad, who wanted to become Japanese so bad, but then went there, saw the daily grind reality of the place and then maybe decided otherwise. I wasn't interested in that so much as becoming a Buddhist and having that as my identity.

I think a part of me also wanted somewhere to belong since I had at the time long-standing family issues and I never felt quite at home with my urban Canadian homeland.

The principle monastic organizations have with respect to training young recruits is similar: install a new identity. In Taiwan, for example, ordinands are discouraged from having a lot of contact with their family. They wear the uniform outfit, follow a scheduled lifestyle (their superiors decide on what they'll be doing and they generally have minimal autonomy) and are encouraged to conform outwardly and inwardly to the new order they find themselves in. The dropout rates are incredibly high for males (maybe you start with 30 and get 6 coming out as full monks in the end), which maybe says something about unyielding demands on personal freedoms. For adult males who have done military service and already established themselves in the world somewhat as men this is soul crushing. The model works maybe better with 12 year old novices, but this doesn't seem to be addressed by the powers that be. It is just assumed, or so it seems, that the dropouts are unsuitable as monks. Is obedience and conformity really a component of Dharma, or even renunciation? I would say no, but then they would say it is tied in with their ideas of filial piety. Ordination becomes a privilege rather than a right.

But that's their way of doing things. We don't need to work like that. The only problem is that these organizations have a lot of resources at their disposal and sometimes they seem more legitimate for whatever reason than up and coming western sanghas.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5561
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

Re: Dharma or Ethnic Buddhism?

Postby PorkChop » Mon Jul 01, 2013 4:41 pm

Indrajala wrote:.... In Taiwan, for example, ordinands are discouraged from having a lot of contact with their family. They wear the uniform outfit, follow a scheduled lifestyle (their superiors decide on what they'll be doing and they generally have minimal autonomy) and are encouraged to conform outwardly and inwardly to the new order they find themselves in.
...
For adult males who have done military service and already established themselves in the world somewhat as men this is soul crushing.


Not to be argumentative, but these 2 statements together make no sense...
The first statement describes military service exactly, so how could that be soul crushing if that's where they already came from?

Indrajala wrote:...I've known a lot of youth, especially during my undergrad, who wanted to become Japanese so bad, but then went there, saw the daily grind reality of the place and then maybe decided otherwise...

This wasn't so prevalent when was growing up. In fact, when I moved over there it was considered "uncool" to hang out with Japanese by most of the kids living on base. Over the last decade or so I've really noticed this attitude here in the states with the anime crowd. I've encountered many who think of Japan as some magical, kawaii, anime wonderland. Interesting how things have changed.
User avatar
PorkChop
 
Posts: 662
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm
Location: Marietta, GA

Re: Dharma or Ethnic Buddhism?

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jul 01, 2013 5:04 pm

PorkChop wrote:Not to be argumentative, but these 2 statements together make no sense...
The first statement describes military service exactly, so how could that be soul crushing if that's where they already came from?


They went through military service and emerged from it. Now they are expected to go through similar experiences as a twenty-something year old man, sometimes older. A lot of ordinands in Taiwan already have MA degrees in fields like engineering and lived a mundane life before deciding on renunciation.

If you're 17 or 18, that kind of heavily disciplined and obedient lifestyle is fine, but for men later on I can't see it being anything but soul crushing unless you really want to get into it.


This wasn't so prevalent when was growing up. In fact, when I moved over there it was considered "uncool" to hang out with Japanese by most of the kids living on base. Over the last decade or so I've really noticed this attitude here in the states with the anime crowd. I've encountered many who think of Japan as some magical, kawaii, anime wonderland. Interesting how things have changed.


People see a fantasy land in their manga and anime. The Japan sold in their pop culture is splendid, whereas in Japan it is mostly just a daily grind for most people, not unlike anywhere else.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5561
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

Re: Dharma or Ethnic Buddhism?

Postby PorkChop » Mon Jul 01, 2013 6:20 pm

Indrajala wrote:They went through military service and emerged from it. Now they are expected to go through similar experiences as a twenty-something year old man, sometimes older. A lot of ordinands in Taiwan already have MA degrees in fields like engineering and lived a mundane life before deciding on renunciation.

If you're 17 or 18, that kind of heavily disciplined and obedient lifestyle is fine, but for men later on I can't see it being anything but soul crushing unless you really want to get into it.

That makes a little more sense... I could see that as contradictory to the statement about how the householder life is stuffy & renunciation is freedom. Still, AFAIK they did have mandated haircuts & specific instructions for how clothing was to be made from very early on.

Indrajala wrote:People see a fantasy land in their manga and anime. The Japan sold in their pop culture is splendid, whereas in Japan it is mostly just a daily grind for most people, not unlike anywhere else.

As with the US (don't know much about Canada), it does kind of depend on the environment in where you live. Not every place is going to be as fast-paced & high-stress as New York City or Tokyo, for example. But yeah, if you're expecting Japan to be an episode out of Pokemon, DragonBallZ, or OnePiece, you're probably in for a healthy dose of disappointment.
User avatar
PorkChop
 
Posts: 662
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm
Location: Marietta, GA

Re: Dharma or Ethnic Buddhism?

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jul 02, 2013 2:58 am

PorkChop wrote:That makes a little more sense... I could see that as contradictory to the statement about how the householder life is stuffy & renunciation is freedom. Still, AFAIK they did have mandated haircuts & specific instructions for how clothing was to be made from very early on.


The whole haircutting business is actually culture-specific, too. I don't think it is strictly Dharma. It is ritual disfigurement. In the Buddha's time it was quite remarkable to cut off your hair and beard. An adult male or female without any hair was instantly recognizable as a renunciate.

Nowadays having a buzzcut and clean shave is nothing remarkable. On the other hand, having a long beard and tangled mass of hair on the top of your head is actually more illustrative of renunciation, at least symbolically, in my mind because contemporary culture in much of the world expects you to keep your hair trimmed and tidy.

However, part of the monastic profession is keeping your hair and beard to a minimum length. That goes without saying. However, that's just culture, not Dharma. I don't think a lack of haircuts would hamper your ability to achieve liberation. In fact, the spirit of the hair cutting is non-attachment to one's form, so being overly attached to the practice might actually be the eight worldly dharmas more than renunciation. The strict uniform policy likewise.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5561
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

Re: Dharma or Ethnic Buddhism?

Postby PorkChop » Tue Jul 02, 2013 3:03 am

Indrajala wrote:... On the other hand, having a long beard and tangled mass of hair on the top of your head is actually more illustrative of renunciation, at least symbolically, in my mind because contemporary culture in much of the world expects you to keep your hair trimmed and tidy.


Reminded of those Tibetan yogis that don't cut their hair...
User avatar
PorkChop
 
Posts: 662
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm
Location: Marietta, GA

Re: Dharma or Ethnic Buddhism?

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jul 02, 2013 3:19 am

PorkChop wrote:
Indrajala wrote:... On the other hand, having a long beard and tangled mass of hair on the top of your head is actually more illustrative of renunciation, at least symbolically, in my mind because contemporary culture in much of the world expects you to keep your hair trimmed and tidy.


Reminded of those Tibetan yogis that don't cut their hair...


There is the outward display of renunciation and then there is the internal process of renunciation.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5561
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

Re: Dharma or Ethnic Buddhism?

Postby muni » Tue Jul 02, 2013 8:07 am

Astus wrote:Here is a recent article by Shravasti Dhammika that raises some very interesting questions: Dhamma Or Ethnic Buddhism

He writes there:

"When a western monk in the west asks to be addressed as ahjan or gelong, saydaw, roshi or sensei rather than their English equivalent he is identifying himself, not just as a Buddhist, but with a particular ethnic expression of Buddhism. When they chant in the Tibetan or the Burmese or the Chinese way the same impression can be created. ... Dhamma is universal, it transcends culture and ethnicity. The practice of the Dhamma is not the special preserve of any particular ethnic group. Let us practice the Buddha’s teaching, not Thai Buddhism, not Tibetan Buddhism, not Burmese Buddhism or any other culturally-specific expression of the Dhamma."

What do you think?


There are no walls in the sky. :namaste: It depends all of own mind what tool is need to unlock its not existing door.
Now traditions are spreading, each tradition has its tools. We need probably not all tools like we need no 5 spoons to eat our soup. Still all awaken are pointing to the same nature, like all rivers run to the ocean.
muni
 
Posts: 2735
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 6:59 am

Re: Dharma or Ethnic Buddhism?

Postby Sönam » Tue Jul 02, 2013 8:34 am

Astus wrote:Here is a recent article by Shravasti Dhammika that raises some very interesting questions: Dhamma Or Ethnic Buddhism

He writes there:

"When a western monk in the west asks to be addressed as ahjan or gelong, saydaw, roshi or sensei rather than their English equivalent he is identifying himself, not just as a Buddhist, but with a particular ethnic expression of Buddhism. When they chant in the Tibetan or the Burmese or the Chinese way the same impression can be created. ... Dhamma is universal, it transcends culture and ethnicity. The practice of the Dhamma is not the special preserve of any particular ethnic group. Let us practice the Buddha’s teaching, not Thai Buddhism, not Tibetan Buddhism, not Burmese Buddhism or any other culturally-specific expression of the Dhamma."

What do you think?


When a western monk, or anyone other, wants to be adressed in such or such way, it is paying respect to adress him this way ... everyone has his own limitations, it's not up to us to change it. Chanting in a specific language is something else, it is related to transmission and has nothing to do with preferences.
But never forget that the practice of dharma is to transcend all our limitations ... not to be assimilited to any kind of fabricated culture, even Buddhist.

Sönam
By understanding everything you perceive from the perspective of the view, you are freed from the constraints of philosophical beliefs.
By understanding that any and all mental activity is meditation, you are freed from arbitrary divisions between formal sessions and postmeditation activity.
- Longchen Rabjam -
Sönam
 
Posts: 1866
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 2:11 pm
Location: France

Re: Dharma or Ethnic Buddhism?

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Jul 02, 2013 9:13 am

How many Western monks and nuns actually ask to be addressed by a specific title? I honestly haven't met that many. Most of us just give our names.

Once I heard a Western nun introduce herself as Venerable so-and-so and it sounded really weird to me, because I had never heard it before.
A foolish man proclaims his qualifications,
A wise man keeps them secret within.
A straw floats on the surface of water,
But a precious gem placed upon it sinks to the depths
-Sakya Pandita
JKhedrup
Former staff member
 
Posts: 1936
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

Re: Dharma or Ethnic Buddhism?

Postby Zhen Li » Tue Jul 02, 2013 9:35 am

In a sense I feel a similar way towards the practice of taking on "dharma names." It's possible for this to become a bit of "spiritual materialism." It's worthwhile noting that in the Sutras, those who take refuge in the Buddha, or even become monastics, keep their birth names.
Image
User avatar
Zhen Li
 
Posts: 800
Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:15 am

Re: Dharma or Ethnic Buddhism?

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jul 02, 2013 9:47 am

JKhedrup wrote:How many Western monks and nuns actually ask to be addressed by a specific title? I honestly haven't met that many. Most of us just give our names.

Once I heard a Western nun introduce herself as Venerable so-and-so and it sounded really weird to me, because I had never heard it before.


I'm thinking of demanding that people call me "Triumphant Conqueror of Mara".

In fact, I might get that put on my next batch of name cards.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5561
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

Re: Dharma or Ethnic Buddhism?

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jul 02, 2013 9:49 am

Ben Yuan wrote:In a sense I feel a similar way towards the practice of taking on "dharma names." It's possible for this to become a bit of "spiritual materialism." It's worthwhile noting that in the Sutras, those who take refuge in the Buddha, or even become monastics, keep their birth names.


Yeah, I'm unsure when the Dharma name practice started.

I think it is useful, but not entirely necessary.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5561
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

Re: Dharma or Ethnic Buddhism?

Postby Simon E. » Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:11 am

Ben Yuan wrote:In a sense I feel a similar way towards the practice of taking on "dharma names." It's possible for this to become a bit of "spiritual materialism." It's worthwhile noting that in the Sutras, those who take refuge in the Buddha, or even become monastics, keep their birth names.

I think that for some a dharma name is a skillful way to remind themselves of their direction of travel.
For me it was a means of constructing a ' Buddhist ' persona..so I quietly laid mine aside.


But horses for courses...
Simon E.
 
Posts: 2129
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

Re: Dharma or Ethnic Buddhism?

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:14 am

I'm thinking of demanding that people call me "Triumphant Conqueror of Mara".


:rolling:
A foolish man proclaims his qualifications,
A wise man keeps them secret within.
A straw floats on the surface of water,
But a precious gem placed upon it sinks to the depths
-Sakya Pandita
JKhedrup
Former staff member
 
Posts: 1936
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

PreviousNext

Return to Open Dharma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Dan74, MSNbot Media, Nosta, palchi, Simon E. and 11 guests

>