"On White Women and Buddhism"

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"On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby Luke » Sat Jun 18, 2011 1:13 pm

Here's an interesting blog post I found recently:
http://www.angryasianbuddhist.com/2010/ ... dhism.html

A bit more background about the author's views can be found here:
http://www.angryasianbuddhist.com/2010/ ... angry.html

Do you agree with her points that major Buddhist publications like Tricycle, Shambala Sun, and Buddhadharma systematically ignore the Asian-American Buddhist community?

I don't read those publications regularly, so I can't say.
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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby Indrajala » Sat Jun 18, 2011 2:09 pm

Luke wrote:Here's an interesting blog post I found recently:
http://www.angryasianbuddhist.com/2010/ ... dhism.html

A bit more background about the author's views can be found here:
http://www.angryasianbuddhist.com/2010/ ... angry.html

Do you agree with her points that major Buddhist publications like Tricycle, Shambala Sun, and Buddhadharma systematically ignore the Asian-American Buddhist community?

I don't read those publications regularly, so I can't say.


I don't think they intentionally do it. But being that their magazines cater to white middle-class Buddhists, is it so surprising?
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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby LastLegend » Sat Jun 18, 2011 2:39 pm

Appropriation is nothing new people...don't be offended but look at it objectively it has been a trend in the West.
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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby Kunga Lhadzom » Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:06 pm

Jeffrey Kotyk said...
On the reverse, I imagine if you look at Chinese language periodicals on Buddhism you'll hardly find a photo of non-Asians.

You complain that Asians are excluded from Buddhism in the west, but there are plenty of temples in western countries that cater specifically to a certain demographic and exclude everybody else. They operate in a foreign language and print their materials almost entirely in non-English languages.

I read Chinese and Japanese and I've seldom if ever seen in Buddhist publications much interest taken in what white Buddhists are up to.

Discrimination goes both ways unfortunately.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


My gut feelings(from my own experince)....I don't think discrimination has anything to do with it. It's just that the Asian community tends not to get involved in the Western Buddhist movement...they stick within their own communities....rarely do you even see Tibetans gathered together at your local Dharma center....unless it's a Tibetan-American facility.

As far as why only white women were chosen to represent the magazine articles....whatever it was.. I wouldn't even think/consider it had anything to do with race.......


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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby Quiet Heart » Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:16 pm

:thinking:
I simply don't know.
I don't read those publications regularly...but I can see where it is entirely possible that what she says has sime basis in fact.
Just a thought....would it be a good idea on this forum to have a sub-forum called Buddhist Women Today...or something like that?
If so, should we suggest it to the forum management?
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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby Jikan » Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:18 pm

It's just a matter of selling magazines. Those magazines are to be sold to convert Buddhists, who are overwhelmingly white and mostly female and (judging by the content) mostly new to Buddhism.
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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby Indrajala » Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:31 pm

Kunga Lhadzom wrote:My gut feelings(from my own experince)....I don't think discrimination has anything to do with it. It's just that the Asian community tends not to get involved in the Western Buddhist movement...they stick within their own communities....rarely do you even see Tibetans gathered together at your local Dharma center....unless it's a Tibetan-American facility.

As far as why only white women were chosen to represent the magazine articles....whatever it was.. I wouldn't even think/consider it had anything to do with race.......


:anjali:


Ethnic temples are usually attached to ethnic enclaves and cater to specific demographic. They're not really in the business of spreading the dharma.

Tricycle's readers will relate more to middle-aged and above white dharma teachers. On the reverse I doubt in an organization like Taiwan's Foguangshan the majority of members would relate well to a foreign non-Chinese dharma teacher from the USA no matter what his or her qualifications...
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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby Kunga Lhadzom » Sat Jun 18, 2011 4:11 pm

@ Huseng

Yes.
And I can attest to being white/woman/middle-aged/middle-class/newbie...and former subscriber to Tricyle Magazine.


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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby Stephie » Sat Jun 18, 2011 8:49 pm

I don't really think you can apply political correctness to Buddhism. The people who are drawn to Buddhism are the people with the karma developed through lifetimes of prayers and connections. The fact that in this lifetime I happen to be a white women with a Scandinavian/English background living in Switzerland is to do with my own karma. When you look at the whole cyclical existence (Samsara) I will have been a man, a coloured man, various animals, and various other life forms countless times over and over again. Due to some merit created through my various existences I came into contact with the Dharma in this life. Perhaps taking a white female form in this life is a contributing factor to having the circumstances to come into contact with the Dharma in my particular case.

There are some people of colour in the Dharma - I know some, but yes, they are in a minority.

The thing is - the label "man" "woman" "Asian" "African" "European" is so transitory - it's a fleeting moment, one birth out of a myriad of births, so actually it's quite a narrow view to fixate on these things.

The Dharma is not like "equal employment opportunities" or "equality in education" - you can't transplant it onto a an entire race or population. People have to have the karma and the connection to come to the dharma - and if that is there, they will eventually find the dharma.
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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby Paul » Sat Jun 18, 2011 9:25 pm

Luke wrote:Do you agree with her points that major Buddhist publications like Tricycle, Shambala Sun, and Buddhadharma systematically ignore the Asian-American Buddhist community?

I don't read those publications regularly, so I can't say.


Me neither, but I believe that the interests of white Buddhists and Buddhists from traditionally Buddhist cultures might be quite different.

This ties into the fact that advertisers for the two audiences might be quite different too, and given that they're so important for the successful running of a magazine, a pan-cultural Buddhist publication might be not be possible from a financial point of view.
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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby daelm » Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:32 pm

Huseng wrote:On the reverse I doubt in an organization like Taiwan's Foguangshan the majority of members would relate well to a foreign non-Chinese dharma teacher from the USA no matter what his or her qualifications...


on that topic, Fo Guang Shan in South Africa has - over the last five years - systematically (if informally) closed their doors to non-Chinese, by dropping their seminary programme, outreach activities and most of their white staff. The temple direction previously included missionary work to the non-Chinese South African and sub-Saharan African population. That's now reverted, in practice, to a less ambitious goal of serving the expatriate Chinese community.

I wouldn't be surprised if that were the case all over the world, and not just FGS. If so, then the link in the original post is moot.


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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby Astus » Mon Jul 04, 2011 3:14 pm

daelm,

That is news to me. Is there a policy change in FGS?
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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jul 04, 2011 3:23 pm

daelm wrote:
Huseng wrote:On the reverse I doubt in an organization like Taiwan's Foguangshan the majority of members would relate well to a foreign non-Chinese dharma teacher from the USA no matter what his or her qualifications...


on that topic, Fo Guang Shan in South Africa has - over the last five years - systematically (if informally) closed their doors to non-Chinese, by dropping their seminary programme, outreach activities and most of their white staff. The temple direction previously included missionary work to the non-Chinese South African and sub-Saharan African population. That's now reverted, in practice, to a less ambitious goal of serving the expatriate Chinese community.

I wouldn't be surprised if that were the case all over the world, and not just FGS. If so, then the link in the original post is moot.


d


I was aware they closed their seminary. I didn't know they fired their white staff. If this is true then maybe we can conjecture they gave up.

FGS' seminary includes training in English. They do an annual program called Woodenfish where they get college age kids from around the world (mostly America, but also Europe) and give them a month of monastic life including a retreat. I did it in 2010. Interesting experience, though some people walked away commenting on how they thought FGS seems like a cult. I think the whole personality cult around the "Grand Master" Xingyun is a bit of a turn off for a lot of people. He is the perfect unquestionable leader. Nobody within the organization can criticize him and his weird ideas. A lot of people might take an interest in FGS, but seeing that kind of thing would turn off most curious westerners.

In the case of FGS overseas, as I understand it, it really depends on the local leadership whether they do more than just serving the Chinese community.
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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jul 04, 2011 3:24 pm

Astus wrote:daelm,

That is news to me. Is there a policy change in FGS?


http://www.nanhua.co.za/index.php?optio ... &Itemid=81

We regret to inform you that due to redesigning & restructuring the African Buddhist Seminary's direction, syllabus & recruitment strategy, we decided to stop recruiting students and accepting any applications for the 3-year Buddhist Monastic Training Course (and also for our 7-day Live-as-a-Monk Retreats) until further notice.
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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby kirtu » Mon Jul 04, 2011 4:19 pm

Luke wrote:Do you agree with her points that major Buddhist publications like Tricycle, Shambala Sun, and Buddhadharma systematically ignore the Asian-American Buddhist community?


No, it's nonsense.

However it's not as if she doesn't have a point but it is untrue that these publications systematically ignore the Asian-American Buddhist community. I do feel that these publications may tend to overlook women in general though.

Unfortunately we are still not far from where we were when I was a teenager in Hawai'i : "you can't be Buddhist because you're not Asian".

Many Asian groups, including many Tibetans still, find non-Asian's to be a curiosity at best. This creates a stark division amongst the laity and possibly amongst Buddhist leaders. OTOH, many Asian's/Asian-Americans coming to primarily non-Asian events/groups find the experience to be unsatisfying or jarring. We are all caught in rigid ethnic "divisions" all the way around mostly based on unspoken expectations and feelings. We have to overcome this or else in the West we will continue to be divided along mostly ethnic lines (Asian groups are also similarly divided along ethnic/cultural/linguistic and financial/class lines).

Since this came up (again) in terms of ethnic Asian women being excluded they should have a conference/debate about this. Hopefully they can unit against the imaginary patriarchy.

On some of this I can't help but feel people are nursing anger stoked by in part by post-blah-blah intellectual considerations and feelings of power (Americans, people born and raised in the US, are almost all obsessed by power issues on multiple levels and with multiple intricacies).

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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby kirtu » Mon Jul 04, 2011 4:26 pm

Kunga Lhadzom wrote:I read Chinese and Japanese and I've seldom if ever seen in Buddhist publications much interest taken in what white Buddhists are up to.


Last year I was trying to get some homeless people help through Tsu Chi. When I called them up they presented themselves as a Chinese charity rather than a Buddhist or even Chinese Buddhist charity. On the side of the homeless people I was trying to help they had difficulty understanding the Tsu Chi people also.

Lots of rigidities get in our way.

....rarely do you even see Tibetans gathered together at your local Dharma center....unless it's a Tibetan-American facility.


Well in many Sakya and all Palyul events you see Chinese, Tibetans and non-Asian laypeople together. You do see this at major events in all the lineages too. Of course this is in DC and NYC but I also saw it at the Kalachakra in Germany and Austria although Kalachakra is a bit of an exception).


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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby kirtu » Mon Jul 04, 2011 4:28 pm

Quiet Heart wrote:Just a thought....would it be a good idea on this forum to have a sub-forum called Buddhist Women Today...or something like that?


If the women want it and feel a need then certainly.

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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby kirtu » Mon Jul 04, 2011 4:30 pm

daelm wrote:
Huseng wrote:On the reverse I doubt in an organization like Taiwan's Foguangshan the majority of members would relate well to a foreign non-Chinese dharma teacher from the USA no matter what his or her qualifications...


on that topic, Fo Guang Shan in South Africa has - over the last five years - systematically (if informally) closed their doors to non-Chinese, by dropping their seminary programme, outreach activities and most of their white staff. The temple direction previously included missionary work to the non-Chinese South African and sub-Saharan African population. That's now reverted, in practice, to a less ambitious goal of serving the expatriate Chinese community.

I wouldn't be surprised if that were the case all over the world, and not just FGS. If so, then the link in the original post is moot.


This is not good. :tantrum: :crying:

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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jul 04, 2011 5:23 pm

Have you noticed that in immigrant countries like the US or Canada you have a lot of ethnic churches? Italian, Polish, Hungarian and even Chinese and Korean churches.

Pehaps it is inescapable with Buddhist institutions as well.
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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby kirtu » Mon Jul 04, 2011 5:34 pm

Huseng wrote:Have you noticed that in immigrant countries like the US or Canada you have a lot of ethnic churches? Italian, Polish, Hungarian and even Chinese and Korean churches.


Sure, in MYC I pass Serbian Orthodox and Hungarian Catholic churches downtown (the Hungarian Catholic church with a Hungarian k-12 school next door to it). In the DC area there are Vietnamese Churches and a Lutheran church for German speaking embassy personnel. We have wonderful Greek, Byzantine and Russian Orthodox churches as well.

Pehaps it is inescapable with Buddhist institutions as well.


.... but we should not let our ethnicities divide us. Doesn't means that we should all become one organization but we need more of an emphasis on being one people just with different facets.

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