JKhedrup wrote:Yes I agree with you. Because the Tibetans lost their country I think they had no choice but to adapt- they had to reach out not only to transmit the dharma but also to find some other ways of supporting their institutions.
I think part of it also has to do with the general Tibetan attitudes towards things. They're not so pedantic. For instance, you walk into the puja hall and seating is kinda chaotic, people prostrate in any which way and men and women all sit together. There is no gender segregation. Quite often monks, nuns and laypeople all sit together, too. As we discussed earlier Tibetan monastics are freer in terms of being able to goof around with kids and be quite down to earth. The Taiwanese-Chinese approach to Buddhism is so overly concerned with prescription, proscription and petty rules so as to make it simply unappealing to anyone but the most dedicated outsiders. In a Tibetan gonpa you just park your rear and listen, whereas in a Chinese temple you need to go through a lot of choreographed motions. This works for them, but not for anyone else.
Because this is not the case with Chinese Buddhism, and because in many cities in the West the Chinese population is large enough and well off enough to support the temple singlhandedly, perhaps there is not so much of an incentive to reach out to Westerners.
But it begs the question why, if they do have the resources, do they not do much? Is it lack of interest, or is that they lack the people to initiate such things successfully?
Part of the problem is cultural differences. Language barriers aside, westerners want transparency and democracy, which are not exactly widespread in Chinese Buddhism. Western Buddhists would want their voice heard and as a lowly layperson would still expect to have a say in the decision making process of a religious organization they belong to and support. In Taiwan I don't think that ever happens.
To really naturalize would mean losing both authority and power. Things would have to be transparent. Open door meetings. The accounting would have to be made public to the membership and subject to review and protest. None of this happens in Taiwan as far as I know.
So, in actuality, there are a lot of cultural incompatibilities. This is a big reason why Chinese Buddhism isn't really viable in the democratic west unless a lot of major changes are made, which can't happen when you have to answer and report to HQ in another cultural sphere.
Of course, this will become a challenge with the next generation, as the children of the parishioners may be more comfortable in English for example than Mandarin.
As I'm sure you know any number of long-standing Japanese temples have ceased being ethnic temples and opened up to the greater population.
One example is the Winnipeg Buddhist Church (I think the name says it all):http://www.manitobabuddhistchurch.org/
Hopefully the same process will occur with Chinese temples, though who knows. As you say if they send nuns from Taiwan to educate the kids who speak Chinese as a kind of second language at home, then the youth will simply feel alienated. I've already seen this before.
The other thing is that they need monks, but Taiwan has so few and they'll probably get fewer in due time. If a young man wants a male spiritual teacher, he'll have to seek it outside of the Chinese Buddhist community. I generally think that young men need guides who are male for various reasons.
Certainly discipline could be maintained but with less rigid forms. Chinese could be used for liturgy and conversation classes given, but philosophy could be taught in English or the language of the land.
They would need to run it like a college where as a student you had full autonomy and nobody was on your back about your bed sheets. However, that would entail sacrificing a lot of authority and expectations to accommodate a more international environment. I somehow don't sense that will happen.
I also remember spending hours and hours trying to learn how to fold the blanket the way it should be, and always being marked incorrect (which carried with it punishment after a few instances).
So you got treated like a child. Again, this is a characteristic of Taiwanese Buddhism where people are treated like kids in many cases rather than adults. This is again a huge cultural difference.
I mean if someone tried to punish me for not folding my blanket properly I'd tell them off. Either I get the respect and autonomy of an adult or I go my merry way. Forcing people through such childishness is cult-like. You can ask me to make my bed (though if it is a private room that's not your business), but getting out a ruler or attempting to punish me for it not being up to standard is an attempt at undermining someone psychologically. It does not benefit beings.