PadmaVonSamba wrote:Identity and Dharma.
To what extent do you think affiliations of identity that people usually have or don't have, cling to or avoid, (religious, national, gender, familial, ethnic etc.) conflict with, or are intertwined with their understanding and practice of dharma?
Cultural affiliations are extremely influential in Buddhism.
For example, the only reason Buddhism in Japan still exists is simply because people feel a cultural affinity for it and cling to archaic rituals which, while they don't really believe in or understand anymore, still feel are necessary just because it is tradition.
Do they get in the way?
Are they important for preserving cultural uniqueness,
or does the notion of "no self" make them useless labels which should be abandoned?
Cultures all dissolve under analysis. It is a relative term. Even if the party in question self-identifies as a certain ethic group, there will still be a lot of diversity within and things being impermanent there will be constant changes at hand.
Do you cling to the label "Buddhist" as a kind of badge of identity for yourself?
You make it sound like something negative. There is no shame in taking refuge in the Triple Gem and identifying with it as a Buddhaputra.
Here in Taiwan I would reckon that it is beneficial for people to self-identify as Buddhist. It fosters morality and perhaps a sense of dignity connected to one's sangha. If you're a prominent member in a Buddhist organization and all your colleagues know this, you might otherwise avoid questionable (or dangerous) behaviour as it would reflect poorly on your sangha.