Do you keep your buddhism private?

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Do you keep your buddhism private?

Postby catlady2112 » Tue May 14, 2013 8:14 am

Do people ever feel conflicted about people knowing you are a Buddhist?

I'm thinking of situations like joining a Facebook Buddhist Group newsfeed (and facebook doesn't allow you to hide that info). I've actually had people think I'm in a cult because they are uneducated about traditional eastern culture or meditation. And what about if you run a business with customers who are really conservative? I feel like I go out of my way to keep this part of my life private, and yet that restricts me from fully participating in online groups I'd like to be involved in.

Thx
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Re: Do you keep your buddhism private?

Postby Kim O'Hara » Tue May 14, 2013 8:55 am

catlady2112 wrote:Do people ever feel conflicted about people knowing you are a Buddhist?

I'm thinking of situations like joining a Facebook Buddhist Group newsfeed (and facebook doesn't allow you to hide that info). I've actually had people think I'm in a cult because they are uneducated about traditional eastern culture or meditation. And what about if you run a business with customers who are really conservative? I feel like I go out of my way to keep this part of my life private, and yet that restricts me from fully participating in online groups I'd like to be involved in.

Thx

Never conflicted but often cautious - I guess that's the best word, anyway - about sharing the information with the whole world. But the same applies to my politics and to trivial stuff like whether I use dental floss or not. I tell people when/if it's relevant to them and let them assume what they like until then.

As for FB and the like ... there are workarounds :spy: For instance, anyone searching for my stuff online will not find any of my DW stuff because Kim is not my real name. :shrug:

As for people thinking you're in a cult, is it possible to educate them - just a bit - about Buddhism?

:namaste:
Kim

P.S. This thread - http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=34&t=12720&start=0 - is on almost the same topic. Check it out.
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Re: Do you keep your buddhism private?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue May 14, 2013 1:15 pm

What's sort of funny here in a web forum is that people usually keep their true identities private (or maybe your name really is Catlady? :tongue: ) ...but are open about Buddhism.

Personally, I have always felt a little self-conscious in non-buddhist situations about openly being Buddhist. So, I guess even if there is no self, one can still feel self-conscious. But this really has more to do with the fear that others will really not understand what (my) Buddhism is, and will misinterpret it, and will assume a lot of things about me or what i do which are not really true.

So then, this brings up the issue of why that even matters.
Of course, as you mention, in business it might matter. If you run a business in an area where people are rather closed-minded or where they themselves feel threatened by what they don't understand, and they thought all sorts of negative things about Buddhists, then keeping things to yourself would not be a bad idea.

I make a distinction between being untruthful and guarding the truth. Because, the word "Buddhism" is just a label and people can stick that label on anything they imagine it fits on.

So, for example, if a person thinks Buddhists are cannibals, and you tell that person you are a buddhist, then, from their point of view you are telling them that you are a cannibal. To me, this is almost like lying to the person because you may be reinforcing some misinformation that they have. On the other hand, when they see that you are not going to cook and eat them, this opens up the opportunity to get rid of bad assumptions.

A couple of years ago, some carpenters came to my house to do some renovation work. One of them noticed my (Tibetan style) Buddhist shrine, with offering bowls filled with water in front. He said, "Are you a buddhist? I know a Vietnamese guy who is a Buddhist . He feeds his Buddha a plate of food every day. "What do you feed your Buddha?" "

I was completely knocked for a loop. Speechless.
"uhhhhh....ummmmm....mine just drinks water." I told him.

To this day, I regard "What do you feed your Buddha?" as a great teaching.
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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
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Re: Do you keep your buddhism private?

Postby KeithBC » Tue May 14, 2013 1:28 pm

I make no effort to hide my beliefs. On the other hand, I make no effort to announce them either. If they are relevant in a particular situation, then I have no problem in discussing them.

If someone has a problem with it, that is their problem. If they make it my problem, then it is their problem.

In my previous location, I had the luxury of living in a community where non-Christian religions were considered mainstream. Buddhism was in the number 2 position, after Wicca, so it was never an issue. Here, the community is heavily Catholic, so the situation may be different. On the other hand, the people are very neighbourly. I have always believed that you can win people over (to acceptance; not talking about conversion) by living your values.

Our first visitors to the new house, on our very first day of unpacking, were a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses. It's a good thing I don't believe in omens!

Om mani padme hum
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Re: Do you keep your buddhism private?

Postby Simon E. » Tue May 14, 2013 2:10 pm

I spent three years being a pain in the arse about Buddhism...and the next twenty five years repenting at leisure.
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Re: Do you keep your buddhism private?

Postby mandala » Tue May 14, 2013 3:50 pm

I really don't care about what anyone else might think about me being Buddhist, on social networking sites or at work.
Having said that, I don't go around looking for an opportunity to talk about Buddhism but if it's appropriate - if someone's interested - I'm happy to chat.

I used to be less likely to discuss it within my family - I recall one Christmas dinner that included a Buddhist, a couple of Jevoha Witnesses, a couple of Christians and a Wiccan. Good times. Actually all of us could amicably chat about religion, except for the Jehovas.

In my line of work, people are more confronted by the fact that I don't drink, rather than the reason of holding Buddhist vows. :tongue:

I can't see how participating in online groups/forums could affect or be known by your business clientele ... in a similar fashion, if you're concerned about how your 'friends' on FB react to your involvement with Buddhist groups then perhaps they aren't really your friends?

I agree with Keith - I think you can gain acceptance from people by leaving Buddhism off the table and just having them see you as a person with good moral ethics and a kind heart.
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Re: Do you keep your buddhism private?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue May 14, 2013 5:02 pm

Other than sanghas i've been at, I don't have Buddhist friends or family. My wife is supportive, the rest of my family just thinks it's weird I think, I imagine that their opinion would be negative at least to a degree, so I don't bring it up alot. I don't worry about hiding it though, so i'm on facebook groups and whatnot.

Personally I really try to avoid anything at all that could be construed as proselytizing or telling people about things they don't want to know. One thing that makes it easier if you do talk about it is just to talk about the benefits of meditation by itself, alot of people associate that with simply being therapeutic, but balk at anything that they see as "religious".

I manned a table at an event for our Dharma center for a short time a while back, and the most common question I got was people who were interested in meditation, but were scared of religion..which is telling if we are looking for non-confrontational ways to present Buddhist practice...Westerners have a whole category of what is "religion" that Buddhism doesn't neatly fit in.

That was a great story Padma!
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Do you keep your buddhism private?

Postby Son of Buddha » Wed May 15, 2013 12:37 am

No I don't keep it private I let my freak flag fly.
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Re: Do you keep your buddhism private?

Postby LastLegend » Wed May 15, 2013 12:45 am

My I have not met a non-Asian Buddhist. My feeling is they are reluctant to tell me that they are a Buddhist.
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Re: Do you keep your buddhism private?

Postby Hickersonia » Wed May 15, 2013 12:52 am

I'm not particularly conflicted... I have Buddhist "paraphernalia" all over my work space, but I do have a few bosses at work with whom I won't talk religion. I've had very few occasions come up where anyone has given me any grief about it, but I do remember once a person telling me about how Buddhism isn't really a religion at all. His demeanor was definitely one that suggested he was trying to "pick a fight" with me on the matter, so I laughed at him, gave him the "wave off," and walked away. Most people I have talked to at work or elsewhere have been cautiously curious and respectful.

If you find me online, it will be plain as day that I'm Buddhist unless you are completely clueless of the iconography. My Facebook page has a picture of a shrine at the top of it and every email I send has a quote from the Dhammapada and a link to my blog where I write mostly about my practice and family life.

I do get some flak from some of my wife's family because of my not being Christian... but they all seem to understand that it is something they don't get to vote on.

I hope that helps a little... and I hope that you can get to a point where you don't to feel like you're holding back.
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Re: Do you keep your buddhism private?

Postby Son of Buddha » Wed May 15, 2013 1:40 am

LastLegend wrote:My I have not met a non-Asian Buddhist. My feeling is they are reluctant to tell me that they are a Buddhist.


yea I kinda get the same vibe
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Re: Do you keep your buddhism private?

Postby randomseb » Wed May 15, 2013 4:50 am

I live at a buddhist dharma center, so everyone I meet is pretty much involved in some way :rolling:

But seriously, just create a new facebook account under a pseudonym if you are concerned about privacy.. Actually anyone who is rightfully concerned about privacy should just avoid using facebook, as that place will sell your data in order to make ends meet, due to being accountable to stockholders, you know?
Disclaimer: If I have posted about something, then I obviously have no idea what I am talking about!
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Re: Do you keep your buddhism private?

Postby Ayu » Wed May 15, 2013 11:53 am

I don't advertise that i'm a buddhist and i don't hide it.
On facebook i am only as a buddhist and i gave only my buddhist name there. For to keep contact with my worldly aquaintances i don't need facebook.

If i had to, i would keep it separate: one buddhist account with buddhist name and one account with my real name. I would not like to been advertised as Buddhist for everyone, whom i cannot look into the eyes.
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From beginningless time, are suffering,
What can we do with (just) our own happiness?
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Re: Do you keep your buddhism private?

Postby Simon E. » Wed May 15, 2013 12:37 pm

LastLegend wrote:My I have not met a non-Asian Buddhist. My feeling is they are reluctant to tell me that they are a Buddhist.

Are your views often shaped by feelings about things you have no direct experience of ?
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Re: Do you keep your buddhism private?

Postby dyanaprajna2011 » Wed May 15, 2013 1:10 pm

I don't announce to everyone that I'm a Buddhist, but I don't generally hide the fact, either. There are times when I'm a bit cautious, and even attempt to hide the fact that I'm a Buddhist. My wife is a Christian, and while she's fine with my religion, her fundamentalist parents, not so much. So I don't generally talk about it, unless someone asks a question, then I'm happy to answer.
"If you want to travel the Way of Buddhas and Zen masters, then expect nothing, seek nothing, and grasp nothing." -Dogen
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Re: Do you keep your buddhism private?

Postby lobster » Wed May 15, 2013 2:26 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:To this day, I regard "What do you feed your Buddha?" as a great teaching


:twothumbsup:

I remember being at a Lama shrine whilst a tea offering was made. 'Did the lama prefer lemon or milk and sugar? Green tea?' were my questions. So even when I am with Buddhists I am not much of a Buddhist . . . :spy:
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Re: Do you keep your buddhism private?

Postby LastLegend » Wed May 15, 2013 9:18 pm

Simon E. wrote:
LastLegend wrote:My I have not met a non-Asian Buddhist. My feeling is they are reluctant to tell me that they are a Buddhist.

Are your views often shaped by feelings about things you have no direct experience of ?


Yes. Do you have a problem with that? If you do, I mean we can get in the ring. It's not that I don't respect you as an older person. But if an old man wants to dance, who can deny him?
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Re: Do you keep your buddhism private?

Postby Ramon1920 » Wed May 15, 2013 11:30 pm

Keep it secret, even from other Buddhists.
That's my general view.
Not many people have correct understanding of Buddhism, not many people have compunction when they misrepresent the Buddha's teaching: it's a dangerous combination.

So I recommend you take great precaution to avoid the wackos that think they're Buddhist masters because they own a copy of The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead by Timothy Leary or went to some stress workshop. This may offend some, but avoid 99% of Trungpa's followers. Consistently no matter where in the USA I have encountered them they have been pulling people away from genuine practice by encouraging disrespect for the triple gem and promoting their warped drug fueled revelations as Buddha Dharma.
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Re: Do you keep your buddhism private?

Postby Son of Buddha » Thu May 16, 2013 1:35 am

Ramon1920 wrote:Keep it secret, even from other Buddhists.
That's my general view.
Not many people have correct understanding of Buddhism, not many people have compunction when they misrepresent the Buddha's teaching: it's a dangerous combination.

So I recommend you take great precaution to avoid the wackos that think they're Buddhist masters because they own a copy of The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead by Timothy Leary or went to some stress workshop. This may offend some, but avoid 99% of Trungpa's followers. Consistently no matter where in the USA I have encountered them they have been pulling people away from genuine practice by encouraging disrespect for the triple gem and promoting their warped drug fueled revelations as Buddha Dharma.


the part in pink seems to be a little off topic,might want to start a separate thread on the subject.

Peace and Love
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Re: Do you keep your buddhism private?

Postby Son of Buddha » Thu May 16, 2013 1:40 am

LastLegend wrote:
Simon E. wrote:
LastLegend wrote:My I have not met a non-Asian Buddhist. My feeling is they are reluctant to tell me that they are a Buddhist.

Are your views often shaped by feelings about things you have no direct experience of ?


Yes. Do you have a problem with that? If you do, I mean we can get in the ring. It's not that I don't respect you as an older person. But if an old man wants to dance, who can deny him?



seems like you fellows got some karma from another thread and then brought it to this thread.

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