Western Buddhism

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Western Buddhism

Postby Knotty Veneer » Fri May 18, 2012 11:06 am

Western Buddhism (as opposed to Buddhism in the West) – it’s all stress reduction and McMindfulness or a platform for unqualified Westerners to get into the guru business. Not worth considering? Right?
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Re: Western Buddhism

Postby mindyourmind » Fri May 18, 2012 11:12 am

Which sweeping generalization would you want us to address first?
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Re: Western Buddhism

Postby Knotty Veneer » Fri May 18, 2012 11:24 am

mindyourmind wrote:Which sweeping generalization would you want us to address first?

The post is being provocative. These are not necessarily my views but indeed sweeping generalizations that are not uncommon among followers of “orthodox” Buddhist traditions. I am interested in seeing what people’s views are on the phenomenon of “Western Buddhism”.
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Re: Western Buddhism

Postby mindyourmind » Fri May 18, 2012 11:31 am

Knotty Veneer wrote:
mindyourmind wrote:Which sweeping generalization would you want us to address first?

The post is being provocative. These are not necessarily my views but indeed sweeping generalizations that are not uncommon among followers of “orthodox” Buddhist traditions. I am interested in seeing what people’s views are on the phenomenon of “Western Buddhism”.


It's always difficult to communicate effectively when dealing with generalizations. But, as a sweeping generalization, I suppose that one day soon we will see a "Western Buddhism", and I have all faith that it will be ok.

I am not all that interested in the conventional wisdoms abounding in these discussions on WB though, mainly because a lot of people always forget that Tibetan Buddhism wasn't the same as the Indian Buddhism it received, Chinese Buddhism was different and so on. So expecting WB to be Tibetan, or Chinese, or Japanese is really just a non-starter.

The Dharma is a powerful message, it gets colored and changed and adapted to the society(ies) it evolves into. Hopefully we don't mess it up too badly. So far I think we are doing ok.
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Re: Western Buddhism

Postby gyougan » Fri May 18, 2012 11:51 am

mindyourmind wrote:The Dharma is a powerful message, it gets colored and changed and adapted to the society(ies) it evolves into. Hopefully we don't mess it up too badly. So far I think we are doing ok.


The Chinese never watered down Buddhism like Westerners do these days.

My opinion is that we are living the Dharma Ending Age and proper Buddhism will never prosper in the West (in a big scale).
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Re: Western Buddhism

Postby Simon E. » Fri May 18, 2012 1:08 pm

gyougan wrote:
mindyourmind wrote:The Dharma is a powerful message, it gets colored and changed and adapted to the society(ies) it evolves into. Hopefully we don't mess it up too badly. So far I think we are doing ok.


The Chinese never watered down Buddhism like Westerners do these days.

My opinion is that we are living the Dharma Ending Age and proper Buddhism will never prosper in the West (in a big scale).

I believe that is an example of what is called Projection.
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Re: Western Buddhism

Postby Lobsang Damchoi » Fri May 18, 2012 4:17 pm

Dear Knotty Veneer,

Geetings and top o' the mornin' to you!

If you want a considered answer (at least from me) you need to explain the distinction between "Western Buddhism" as opposed to Buddhism in the West (perhaps even consider using different terms :thinking: ). Sorry to be a stickler for definitions, but it would certainly help me to understand what you're getting at and might us to avoid some confusion later, esp if the thread "takes wing."

Cautiously interested,

Patrick
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Re: Western Buddhism

Postby kirtu » Fri May 18, 2012 5:00 pm

gyougan wrote:The Chinese never watered down Buddhism like Westerners do these days.

My opinion is that we are living the Dharma Ending Age and proper Buddhism will never prosper in the West (in a big scale).



Unfortunately so. I'm thinking that in general the Sharmapa was right about his view on Dharma in the West. Most Westerners are not interested in universal lovingkindness and compassion or moral disciple. Westerners attracted to the Dharma aren't so much as well but adding to that they aren't much interested in alleviating suffering. A great Western Mahasiddha might be able to change this, maybe. However Buddhism has been in the West for 150 years although mostly confined to Asian ethnic communities. There have been Pure Land Westerners since around 1920 though.

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Re: Western Buddhism

Postby mindyourmind » Fri May 18, 2012 5:02 pm

kirtu wrote:
gyougan wrote:The Chinese never watered down Buddhism like Westerners do these days.

My opinion is that we are living the Dharma Ending Age and proper Buddhism will never prosper in the West (in a big scale).



Unfortunately so. I'm thinking that in general the Sharmapa was right about his view on Dharma in the West. Most Westerners are not interested in universal lovingkindness and compassion or moral disciple. Westerners attracted to the Dharma aren't so much as well but adding to that they aren't much interested in alleviating suffering. A great Western Mahasiddha might be able to change this, maybe. However Buddhism has been in the West for 150 years although mostly confined to Asian ethnic communities. There have been Pure Land Westerners since around 1920 though.

Kirt


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Re: Western Buddhism

Postby LastLegend » Fri May 18, 2012 5:25 pm

Knotty Veneer wrote:Western Buddhism (as opposed to Buddhism in the West) – it’s all stress reduction and McMindfulness or a platform for unqualified Westerners to get into the guru business. Not worth considering? Right?


McMindfulness lol
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Re: Western Buddhism

Postby Knotty Veneer » Fri May 18, 2012 7:03 pm

Lobsang Damchoi wrote:Dear Knotty Veneer,

Geetings and top o' the mornin' to you!

If you want a considered answer (at least from me) you need to explain the distinction between "Western Buddhism" as opposed to Buddhism in the West (perhaps even consider using different terms :thinking: ). Sorry to be a stickler for definitions, but it would certainly help me to understand what you're getting at and might us to avoid some confusion later, esp if the thread "takes wing."

Cautiously interested,

Patrick


I was moved to start this thread when I noticed that DharmaWheel doesn't have a dedicated sub-forum for Western Buddhism. By Western Buddhism, I mean those groups/people in Europe and the US (and other places not traditionally considered Buddhist countries) who:

    identify as Buddhist but don't wish to associate themselves with a tradtional lineage or school

    or those people/groups which promote traditional Buddhist meditative techniques but prefer to do it in a non-culturally specific or non-religious context.

There are a a significant numbers of people who identify with either of those groups above.

For example, in the first category are the Triratna Community whose project is to create a a "Buddhism for the West" drawing on several of the major Eastern tradition or the New Atheists like Stephen Batchelor or Sam Harris who are interested in Buddhist thought/contemplative techniques but reject any traditional aspects that do not conform to scientific materialism.

In the second category might be groups like the Insight Meditation Society who teach traditional techniques but prefer not to put them in a traditionally Buddhist context.

Prominent Buddhist publications like Tricycle and Shambhala Sun seem to target this type of Buddhist/Buddhist sympathizers - their numbers are not small. I wonder what others' experience of Western Buddhism is and what they think of the phenomenon generally.
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Re: Western Buddhism

Postby Nemo » Fri May 18, 2012 9:58 pm

Other than perhaps Southern California there is nowhere in North America with sufficient concentrations of Buddhists to make it in the long term. As immigration from Buddhist countries slows and future generations turn away from traditional family values Sanghas will shrink. Pockets of Dharma will exist. Small niche temples in major cities and a few retreat centres. As Asia gets richer and world economies realign great teachers will no longer need us for funds. Tibetan Dharma is now also beset with scandals and charlatans as Padmasambhava predicted. If the rest of his prophecies come true Dharma does not have much of a future in our realm. The chances of getting proper instruction in future lives are insignificant.

There are other realms where Dharma will survive. With diligent practice we may be able to be born there. Eventually the earth will be so bad that those with the good Karma from as little as feeding a dog will not have the misfortune of being born here. Then Maitreya will come.
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Re: Western Buddhism

Postby Jnana » Sat May 19, 2012 12:42 am

kirtu wrote:Most Westerners are not interested in universal lovingkindness and compassion or moral disciple. Westerners attracted to the Dharma aren't so much as well but adding to that they aren't much interested in alleviating suffering.

Kirt, do you think the majority of people from contemporary Asian populations are much more interested in universal loving-kindness, compassion, or actually alleviating suffering through attaining the path? How about in the past?
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Re: Western Buddhism

Postby Wesley1982 » Sat May 19, 2012 2:01 am

As a -geographical delineation- its what most Westerners are stuck with in terms of Buddhism. :shrug:
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Re: Western Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Sat May 19, 2012 3:35 am

Knotty Veneer wrote:Western Buddhism (as opposed to Buddhism in the West) – it’s all stress reduction and McMindfulness or a platform for unqualified Westerners to get into the guru business. Not worth considering? Right?


There are attempts in various locations to domesticate Buddhist institutions without dropping Buddhadharma along the way.

For example, there are small but healthy temples and monasteries across North America that speak English or even operate in multiple languages.

Very low-key and unassuming. You have to meet them to ever know know about them.

Historically when Buddhism entered new lands it was either medicine or occult practices that initially enthralled individuals. This was the case in China for example when during the Han Dynasty the image of the Buddha was used in popular occult practices, but over time the Dharma came as well allowing the roots to settle.

In our present society people are attracted to the ideas of therapeutic "stress reduction" and "mindfulness", but hopefully along the way the Dharma actually comes, too, which I do believe is happening. After all, there are people translating 80,000 Tibetan works, the Pali canon and a myriad of Chinese works in readable English. There are also numerous western monastics training in Asia under legitimate teachers.
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Re: Western Buddhism

Postby kirtu » Sat May 19, 2012 3:43 am

Jnana wrote:
kirtu wrote:Most Westerners are not interested in universal lovingkindness and compassion or moral disciple. Westerners attracted to the Dharma aren't so much as well but adding to that they aren't much interested in alleviating suffering.

Kirt, do you think the majority of people from contemporary Asian populations are much more interested in universal loving-kindness, compassion, or actually alleviating suffering through attaining the path? How about in the past?


Well, unfortunately no. Many, but by no means all, Asians in American have essentially treated the Dharma like a lucky rabbits foot. But the structure is there. And at least now we have Vietnamese and Chinese of all ages opening to Tibetan Dharma and they are quite serious.

My issue is that the structure for even the thought of universal lovingkindness and compassion is generally lacking in the West.

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Re: Western Buddhism

Postby Huifeng » Sat May 19, 2012 4:33 am

kirtu wrote:And at least now we have ... Chinese of all ages opening to Tibetan Dharma and they are quite serious.



Got to chuckle a little. We've had "Chinese ... opening to Tibetan Dharma" for maybe 1000 years already!
Emperor Qian Long told me so. He was kind of serious, being Manjusri and all.... :tongue:

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Re: Western Buddhism

Postby Jnana » Sat May 19, 2012 5:00 am

kirtu wrote:Many, but by no means all, Asians in American have essentially treated the Dharma like a lucky rabbits foot.

I'd suggest that many Asians throughout Buddhist history have essentially treated the dharma like a lucky rabbits foot.
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Re: Western Buddhism

Postby Lhug-Pa » Sat May 19, 2012 5:13 am

Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche sometimes says that Tibetans have many times come to him to receive blessings, because he is a well known of Reincarnation; but when he asks them to sit down and receive some teachings, they often end up chatting with one another while he is talking, and don't even listen to the teachings.
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Re: Western Buddhism

Postby maybay » Sat May 19, 2012 6:52 am

Jnana wrote:
kirtu wrote:Many, but by no means all, Asians in American have essentially treated the Dharma like a lucky rabbits foot.

I'd suggest that many Asians throughout Buddhist history have essentially treated the dharma like a lucky rabbits foot.

So to hold something precious like tamagotchi. Then the opposite is to be the pet. Just be - very popular. Be a pawn for something bigger more like. Immerse me in theatre-like atmosphere and let me forget myself more like. If it's not convincing enough we nose up and trot off. Because we damn puritan can. We can also die, unlike Asians. Here the Hero or Zero attitude. You have total commitment to get anywhere. Unlike for the Asian, if its not working they just through out the rabbit foot. Easy come easy go, but progress is gradual.
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