"Zen is Going to Hell and It’s the Boomers’ Fault!"

Re: "Zen is Going to Hell and It’s the Boomers’ Fault!"

Postby Ukigumo » Sun Jan 06, 2013 5:55 am

Jinzang wrote:Somehow you have the misapprehension that Zen Buddhists are running the country and making the decisions you so rightfully abhor. And, no, I won't apologize for the policies of Clinton/Bush/Obama, though I will join you if you plan a protest..

It's not "Zen Boomers" who are running the country, but "boomers" in general - that includes Clinton, Bush, Obama. I think Sarah's point is that the generational gap in Western Zen must be seen against the backdrop of a larger intergenerational friction. Frankly, a lot of what she said resonated with me, and I think it would resonate with other millennial as well.

While we owe your generation a great deal, my perception is that the majority of hippies wound up selling out, transitioning into "yuppies", and did indeed wind up squandering a great deal of time and resources. None of this is meant as a personal indictment against you, but it is an observation of how many people in your generation did and do in fact behave.

As Sarah said, it is indeed a communication problem, and by that I don't simply mean posting things on the internet, as if that is the only or the best place to reach millenials...such stereotyping is perhaps emblematic of the broader problems in communication. And no, this has nothing to do with age or race; it has to do largely with attitude. The library analogy is quite apt; the attitudes I have encountered among many Zen Boomers is that the dharma is basically something for them to make themselves feel better. It is not necessarily something to be passed on, or to be transmitted to newer generations. The result is a largely insular set of communities without much connection to the broader culture or to a younger demographic.

In contrast, the more traditional temples I mentioned have in my experience made outreach efforts, and have a very open, welcoming attitude. There is a strong sense of how important it is to pass the dharma on. It is this - not the age of teachers, or their race - that makes such places more attractive to me than the often narcissistic atmosphere I have encountered in Zen Boomer dharma centers.
All compound phenomena are like a dream;
a phantom, a drop of dew, a flash of lightning
That is how to meditate on them
That is how to observe them
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Re: "Zen is Going to Hell and It’s the Boomers’ Fault!"

Postby desertman001 » Sun Jan 06, 2013 6:20 am

Combining a baby boom generation with an increased interest in Zen made for a lot of teachers. So the next generation would have to see more older teachers in the mix.
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Re: "Zen is Going to Hell and It’s the Boomers’ Fault!"

Postby floating_abu » Sun Feb 10, 2013 6:33 pm

Jinzang wrote:I haven't found the trick to make myself thirty years younger, or to change my race. So I guess I'll have to continue being one of those old, white Boomer Buddhists. I'd like to think I have something to say. Maybe I should write more on my blog, develop an audience of Internet savvy millenials, who don't the awful truth about me. (Will have to get rid of my picture.)

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Re: "Zen is Going to Hell and It’s the Boomers’ Fault!"

Postby kirtu » Sun Feb 10, 2013 6:56 pm

Sara H wrote:There's a lot here.

Most of what you wrote is pure nonsense. Americans (of course I don't know if you are American or not but the invocation of the generational icons without critical regard points strongly in that direction) tend to be very rigid in their thinking and are not prone to reevaluate information based on later data.

Of course I'm neither a Boomer nor a Millennial and I was born and partly raised outside the US.

That total nonsense about not being able to evaluate information from the Internet - where do people get such ideas? The Internet has been around a long time (much longer than people realize) and we had parallel networks before they mostly died. People have had to critically evaluate information for at least 40 years and should have been doing so for a much longer period of time.

But I do think that a basic lack of ability to relate is the cause of the age imbalance.

I haven't practiced in a zendo for some time now. In the early 90's most people where I went were in their 20's (on the young side) - 40's. So you may have a point that the Zen experience, for lack of a better term, was inadvertently tailored to a particular age group. I was surprised to hear a well-known Zen teacher after a retreat in the mid-90's tell of her initial excursions into Zen as a continuation of a 60's quest. She also used some terms from that time on me and I really found that to be archaic. Perhaps in some places it was codified to some degree.

I must admit that the Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgender and friends zendo in DC seemed to get much older although I hadn't been there for a decade and now it is unfortunately gone. There was not a means of continuation once it's founder became much older.

Personally if zendos have overwhelmingly gone in for some kind of touchy-feely emotional communal silliness than that's not so positive (except it might have been what people needed to keep them practicing). The entire world has gone to hell, suffering has been willfully ignored and perhaps some Zen people, people with the means to begin a transformation of this woeful state, are sitting around trying to feel good (another version of Buddhist dress-up that I'm afraid is so prevalent).

As for transmission - in Zen this has seemed to reflect the teacher's personal style. Although transmission has been happening for a while, it appears that most transmission occurred in the 90's but that may just be my view focused on the White Plum Asanga and secondarily on Kwan Um (although their began in the 80's and even in the 70's wrt teaching). Has there been a development of younger Zen people -> potential teachers after 2000? That is a legitimate question.

As far as people not having the mojo - what mojo is there to have to begin with? Fundamentally it's keeping the precepts thus living the life of a Buddha and begin able to teach on a very basic level. We'd like to go well beyond that of course and the linage itself has different requirements but minimally that's it. So is this too difficult to cultivate?

Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: "Zen is Going to Hell and It’s the Boomers’ Fault!"

Postby kirtu » Sun Feb 10, 2013 7:44 pm

Ukigumo wrote:That said, at the end of the day I am just more drawn to more traditional institutions, such as the Chan temples which serve immigrants and "cradle Buddhist" communities as well as convert Westerners.

Me too but until quite recently many of them did not admit Westerners at all.

I am much more inspired by the writings of people like Ven. Sheng-Yen or Dae Haeng Sunim than I am by somebody like Brad Warner.

There you go - two pioneers of opening up Zen/Chan/Seon.

Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: "Zen is Going to Hell and It’s the Boomers’ Fault!"

Postby kirtu » Sun Feb 10, 2013 8:20 pm

Sara H wrote:I'm not sure who this was addressed at specifically, but the problem is not that we (Millenials) want younger teachers.

It's not an age problem.

It's a communication problem.

Seems it. But' it's also a problem with rigidly identifying with cherished conceptuality.

Old people all throughout time, when coming into their dotage,

The use of that term betrays your extreme prejudice.

Your parents generation learned how to communicate with you.

Wait - what? In America (or Holland or Germany) - no generally they did not.

You need to learn how to do the same with us.

People need to learn how to communicate with each other and well beyond using icons or labels. The US for one is highly balkanized at the moment and getting worse.

This is not a ladder that people climb. it's a two way street.
It's not a one-way ladder that people are perpetually climbing upwards.

It's like a library. You check a book out, have it for a period of time, and then give it back. But the book does not belong to you.

You don't hold the book, and then wait for other people who might be interested in reading it to come track you down and ask you to give it to them.
It's not your book. You need to return it, and give it back actively.

That's seems pretty obtuse. What is the that, etc?

People attain some degree of realization all the time. Esp. in our world, rejecting harming others is a form of realization. When is this Millenial thing anyway? People born ~ 1980? Are 32'ish yr old people being kept from the zendo? This is part of your point - there isn't an outreach, etc. That is a problem but I think if you look you'll find that people earlier had some contact with teachers that they would regard as charasmatic in some way and they had a spiritual questing. If we take your Millenial thing seriously we find that Millenials are defined as not interested in spiritual quest and are more "pragmatic" - let me see if I can find a generational hucsker for you to confirm that:

Generational Pseudoscience from Wikipedia: blah blah blah ...
"Developing a meaningful philosophy of life" decreased the most, across generations, from 73% for Boomers to 45% for Millennials. "Becoming involved in programs to clean up the environment" dropped from 33% for Boomers to 21% for Millennials.[37]

oh- looky that, straight from our Wikipedia - not a slam dunk but demographically Millennials aren't really interested in spiritual questing more or less. And you like pollution too! :woohoo:

Oh course I personally don't cleave to the social pseudo-scientists - unless they happen to have real data, which few have.

Anyway - developing spiritual teachers < 40. It's happening to some extent in Tibetan Buddhism (even with westerners). Why isn't it happening in Zen Buddhism? Oh wait - Brad Warner is in his 40's (hiss, boo). Is he Gen X or Millennial? He's not a Boomer or what? Noah Levin and his group. Aren't there others (our own Jikan, perhaps? - although he is Tendai).

All beings are born, suffer (although they may not realize it) and face uncontrollable death. This is the Great Matter. Are Millenials exempt from this? If not, how is it that and entire generational cohort are themselves ignorning Zen? Because we can't go onto the street and drag them in. Hmmmm .... "Millenials are more community oriented" - so says that psuedo-science I referenced. And American Zen has by and large NOT developed a social response to suffering (few homeless shelters even as homelessness and poverty has skyrocketed, few resources to aid families in need, rare visits by Zen teachers to the elderly, few job training resources, etc. - some ecological outreach , some hospice activity [mostly originally because of a Zen teacher who died of AIDS], some prison outreach [and for > 20 yrs],etc.). Why has Zen not developed a social response? People are narcissistic *AND* because there aren't that many Zen people around. Zen Buddhism is not nearly as mainstream as you claim although Zen is no longer totally foreign either. But Sarah, you would paint a situation similar to that faced in Hawaii and maybe on the West Coast when Pure Land temples only see old people in services except for Obon. I'm not saying that that's not true, BTW, because I haven't been to the zendo in quite a while. Unlike Pure Land temples, there are few Zen families though and this kind of Buddhist socialization may play a role (you imply that with the idea that many people became familiar with Buddhism in college - really, is that the case? I was exposed to Buddhism at home and in school in Hawaii even though my family wasn't Buddhist - we now have more Buddhist films available than at any time in history and when I grew up we had two or so [and one was a Tarzan film where Tarzan saves a tulku [really] , the other was the great Harp of Burma and then several travel shows showing Buddhism] - people are not being exposed to Buddhism in media, esp. film media?).

Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
Hevajra Tantra
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Re: "Zen is Going to Hell and It’s the Boomers’ Fault!"

Postby Jikan » Sun Feb 10, 2013 9:49 pm

Kirt, I agree with the overall thrust of your post, but I have to say you give me way too much credit!


Much of this thread, it seems to me, is an exercise in overhasty generalization:

Hasty Generalization: This is a conclusion based on insufficient or biased evidence. In other words, you are rushing to a conclusion before you have all the relevant facts. Example:

Even though it's only the first day, I can tell this is going to be a boring course.

In this example, the author is basing his evaluation of the entire course on only the first day, which is notoriously boring and full of housekeeping tasks for most courses. To make a fair and reasonable evaluation the author must attend not one but several classes, and possibly even examine the textbook, talk to the professor, or talk to others who have previously finished the course in order to have sufficient evidence to base a conclusion on.

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