Mass Buddhist wedding in Taiwan

Mass Buddhist wedding in Taiwan

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jan 24, 2013 9:40 am

DDM recently had a mass wedding ceremony where 64 couples "tied the lifelong knot and took oaths". See here:

http://www.dharmadrum.org/content/news/ ... px?sn=1118

As far as I know this is a relatively recent development. There are examples to be seen elsewhere in Christian Asia where this happens. In the Buddhist context, though, I was surprised to see this sort of thing.
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Re: Mass Buddhist wedding in Taiwan

Postby JKhedrup » Thu Jan 24, 2013 11:16 am

Not really to my taste, reminded me a bit of the Unification Church.

But, I think DDM is seeking a way to get families and young couples to continue to participate in dharma activities, so I am sure the intention was very good.

I very much would like to see the dharma continue in Taiwan and if these kinds of programs make that possible I guess I can't criticize too much.
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I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
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Re: Mass Buddhist wedding in Taiwan

Postby pueraeternus » Thu Jan 24, 2013 2:07 pm

I wonder if they will perform such rites here in the NYC Chan Meditation Center. It is probably too small for a mass wedding, maybe at their upstate DDRC. :)
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Re: Mass Buddhist wedding in Taiwan

Postby JKhedrup » Thu Jan 24, 2013 2:09 pm

I hope not. If the American press caught wind of it they'd equate it with the Unification Church for sure... It would create a lot of misunderstandings.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: Mass Buddhist wedding in Taiwan

Postby plwk » Thu Jan 24, 2013 2:34 pm

Social service. Good thing, I think....

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Re: Mass Buddhist wedding in Taiwan

Postby Alfredo » Thu Feb 21, 2013 12:41 pm

The difference is, at Dharma Drum you have to find your own wife.
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Re: Mass Buddhist wedding in Taiwan

Postby dzogchungpa » Thu Jan 30, 2014 3:06 am

JKhedrup wrote:I hope not. If the American press caught wind of it they'd equate it with the Unification Church for sure... It would create a lot of misunderstandings.

I think a mass Buddhist divorce would go over much better in the States.
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Re: Mass Buddhist wedding in Taiwan

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jan 30, 2014 1:48 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:
JKhedrup wrote:I hope not. If the American press caught wind of it they'd equate it with the Unification Church for sure... It would create a lot of misunderstandings.

I think a mass Buddhist divorce would go over much better in the States.
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Re: Mass Buddhist wedding in Taiwan

Postby rory » Mon Feb 03, 2014 2:30 am

I find this entire behavior creepy. If they want to attract people preach the dharma, well to do people find life dissatisfying and we all meet illness and death eventually. A better example to copy is the wonderful Imee Ooi! She's modern and has wonderful versions of dharanis, mantras and various Buddhist works...
gassho
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Re: Mass Buddhist wedding in Taiwan

Postby Luke.A » Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:45 pm

Hi Indrajala,

This is Luke. I think that the crux of the matter in all these discussions about Taiwanese Buddhism and its brand of modern Buddhism is that these masters are struggling to make Buddhism relevant to society outside of a large but quickly aging and mostly female segment of the population. I understand that from a purely traditional point of view, the notion of Buddhist weddings is perplexing.

But I want to argue that for the most part, people in Taiwan, the rest of East Asia and the West (with some exception of course) could not give less of a damn about traditional Buddhism, and (I would further argue) for legitimate reasons; most forms of traditional Buddhism are not primarily interested in or concerned with helping foster a happier, more harmonious society. As you put it yourself, Buddhism, in its traditional form, is not concerned with fixing Samsara (even if the byproduct of some of its activities might be of some help in a worldly sense). Well guess what, most people are not interested in adopting the worldview of traditional Buddhism and take it to its logical conclusion by renouncing aspects of existence they hold dear, and therefore you can't expect them to take any interest in that form of religiosity or support (financially) its institutions.

For the most part, the people of Asia have been a captive audience of Buddhism with no other options on the religious market. That's over now. Buddhism has to compete with religions that have far more appealing promises (believe in Jesus, be saved and join your family in paradise at death vs share sizable amounts of your financial or material wealth with monastics and maybe you (not really you) will be reborn on your own in heaven or the human realm for some time/renounce the world and maybe vanish from existence itself eventually) AND who take a far more proactive attitude about making the world a better place.

(This is NOT a critique of Buddhism, I'm just describing the situation.The narratives above reflect popular understanding of Buddhism in Asia through history)

Now, this wedding business and other similar innovations are exactly that; being proactive about trying to create a happier, more harmonious society where human flourishing is possible outside of monastic vows or a stringent upāsaka lifestyle. One can criticize these developments in Buddhism, but they make perfect sense in light of natural human inclinations. A more interesting criticism would be to object to some of these modern adaptations on the basis on the professed goals of their instigators (help build a happier society/world). For instance, I would agree that building ginormous stupas with starbucks in their entrance lobby is, in light of the above goals, a questionable allocation of (hard earned or acquired through human exploitation in the case of Taiwanese business men working in China) resources. But that of course is highly debatable and open to personal appreciation. I'm Just giving an example.

My 2 cents

Kindly,
Luke
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Re: Mass Buddhist wedding in Taiwan

Postby Indrajala » Thu Feb 20, 2014 3:15 pm

Luke.A wrote:I think that the crux of the matter in all these discussions about Taiwanese Buddhism and its brand of modern Buddhism is that these masters are struggling to make Buddhism relevant to society outside of a large but quickly aging and mostly female segment of the population. I understand that from a purely traditional point of view, the notion of Buddhist weddings is perplexing.


The Japanese in the late 19th and early 20th centuries did the same thing. There were no Buddhist weddings but they invented them as a result of western influences. I'm not really opposed to the idea of Buddhist weddings personally, especially in Mahāyāna traditions where renunciation is not so heavily stressed.




But I want to argue that for the most part, people in Taiwan, the rest of East Asia and the West (with some exception of course) could not give less of a damn about traditional Buddhism, and (I would further argue) for legitimate reasons; most forms of traditional Buddhism are not primarily interested in or concerned with helping foster a happier, more harmonious society.


But why did creating a better society become such a priority in modern times?

I think up until the ideals of socialist and "progressive thinking" (i.e., the belief in perpetual progress), the idea of religion helping foster a harmonious society might have been rather alien in Asia, especially with the prevailing ideas about kaliyuga or a degenerate age (mofa / mappō 末法). When the belief in progress was adopted, traditional ideas and their implications, like living in a degenerate era and thus it being in your best interests to direct your energies towards liberation, were largely lost. You still see such ideas amongst Tibetans, though they're losing ground with the younger generations it seems. They're taught about kaliyuga, for instance, but express hopes about creating a better society through building clinics and schools.
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Re: Mass Buddhist wedding in Taiwan

Postby Sherlock » Thu Feb 20, 2014 3:25 pm

I think there was always the use of religious rites directed towards prosperity in Asia both at the domestic and state level. Buddhists were also involved in social initiatives such as providing healthcare, drinking water and other services to the community.

The main difference perhaps is that all these are seen as either asking for the favour of devas and yakshas or merit-making -- the ability to have control over devas itself was a side-effect of advanced meditative development, something which might be neglected in e.g. Humanistic Buddhism.
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Re: Mass Buddhist wedding in Taiwan

Postby plwk » Thu Feb 20, 2014 3:36 pm

But why did creating a better society become such a priority in modern times?
Image
And the Venerable had to ask huh...
When was the last time anyone heard/known of a hungry and homeless person who will listen to a Dharma discourse?
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Re: Mass Buddhist wedding in Taiwan

Postby Indrajala » Thu Feb 20, 2014 5:12 pm

Arguably famine was a much more pressing concern and widespread in premodern times. Even the wealthiest of countries suffered it at least once a decade.
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Re: Mass Buddhist wedding in Taiwan

Postby Kunga » Thu Feb 20, 2014 5:53 pm

I think the problem is that they are not really making it relevant to people's lives, they are just perpetuating some kind of groupthink.

I have looked at a number of Asian Buddhist groups who sport grand masters claiming to be modern, progressive and scientific (as if those are necessarily virtues) yet in most cases it's the same old thing when you get past the flannel: ding ding, kerching kerching and lots of irrelevancies which fly in the face of those claims -the minutiae of pure lands, or obscurities from certain sutras, for example, whilst sweet, are the kind of theoretical stuff which I personally can't see the relevance of when it comes to real life situations. Oh, and you must accept and be subservient.

Better that things are taught which can change people's lives and attitudes: meditation, how to realise selflessless and overcome suffering. How to deal with psychological ailments, how to overcome fear, guilt, bereavement, obsession, neurosis. Practical methods. But that might be a little bit too radical.

Purely my own 2 c as on outsider, no offence intended. Btw, the same can be said for the Tibetan tradition - at least in Asia - too. I am not partisan.
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Re: Mass Buddhist wedding in Taiwan

Postby plwk » Fri Feb 21, 2014 7:45 am

I think the problem is that they are not really making it relevant to people's lives, they are just perpetuating some kind of groupthink.

I have looked at a number of Asian Buddhist groups who sport grand masters claiming to be modern, progressive and scientific (as if those are necessarily virtues) yet in most cases it's the same old thing when you get past the flannel: ding ding, kerching kerching and lots of irrelevancies which fly in the face of those claims -the minutiae of pure lands, or obscurities from certain sutras, for example, whilst sweet, are the kind of theoretical stuff which I personally can't see the relevance of when it comes to real life situations. Oh, and you must accept and be subservient.

Better that things are taught which can change people's lives and attitudes: meditation, how to realise selflessless and overcome suffering. How to deal with psychological ailments, how to overcome fear, guilt, bereavement, obsession, neurosis. Practical methods. But that might be a little bit too radical.

Purely my own 2 c as on outsider, no offence intended. Btw, the same can be said for the Tibetan tradition - at least in Asia - too. I am not partisan.
It's an open secret that thou shouldst market what the masses want to see and hear, no?
Otherwise, the only kerching kerching one hears is an empty rice bin with rats in it... Something also that the old prophet Ezekiel was told...
"Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people.
They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people.


How many dare thunder and move on like the late Ven Master Xuan Hua...
Freezing to death, we do not scheme.
Starving to death, we do not beg.
Dying of poverty, we ask for nothing.
According with conditions, we do not change.
Not changing, we accord with conditions.
We adhere firmly to our three great principles.

We renounce our lives to do the Buddha's work.
We take the responsibility to mold our own destinies.
We rectify our lives as the Sangha's work.
Encountering specific matters,
we understand the principles.
Understanding the principles,
we apply them in specific matters.
We carry on the single pulse of the Patriarchs' mind-transmission
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Re: Mass Buddhist wedding in Taiwan

Postby rory » Fri Feb 21, 2014 9:33 am

Great post Ven. Kunga; when it comes to religion I'm such a pragmatist - help me deal with this life, the issues you mentioned, now.....

I guess that's why I wind up in lay Buddhism particularly Nichiren (Tiantai) type (though the personality cult also exists whether Ikeda or Niwanos of Rissho Kosei Kai). At least the emphasis is on personal practice, belief in Mappo, and importance of change within the person.You can do it anywhere (no far-away mountain peaks or special equipment necessary). And just about any idiot can read the Lotus Sutra with it's copious and obvious parables.

I'm one of them;-)
with gassho
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Re: Mass Buddhist wedding in Taiwan

Postby Qianxi » Fri Feb 21, 2014 12:15 pm

Indrajala wrote:As far as I know this is a relatively recent development.

Looking at the news articles this has been running every year since 1995. I don't know the history of weddings in Chinese Buddhism more generally, but I don't see anything surprising in the idea that modern Buddhist organisations might have something to say about the institution of marriage.

Here is the official blog of the Dharma Drum Mountain Joint Buddhist Wedding http://ddmwedding.blogspot.co.uk
There is a detailed handbook on the site in pdf explaining the purpose of the ceremony, and a rundown of the ceremony. One thing I like about Dharma Drum mountain is that they like to make sure that the participants in their ceremonies actually know what is going on and what everything means (as opposed to more traditional Chinese Buddhism where you just bow a bit and light some incense based on a vague idea that it's 'lucky').

One important context for the ceremony is that a traditional Chinese wedding involves a huge feast with tonnes of meat and alcohol that mostly wasted. In this joint wedding ceremony the couples have a vegetarian meal on the day, and the idea is that this vegetarian meal is their wedding feast, and they will not then arrange a separate meat and alcohol orgy on another weekend (the couples have to agree to that on the application form). So in the video attached to the news story a couple of the participants say they chose to get married in this way because it is 'environmentally friendly' - this comment doesn't really make sense unless you know what a Chinese wedding is usually like!

As for this just being a money making exercise, I'm not sure. I couldn't find any reference to payment (admittedly, if there is payment you would expect it to be low key), but the application form does seem to be trying to weed out applicants who want to get married in the joint marriage ceremony just to save money. So even if you are expected to make a contribution, it's still less than what a typical wedding would cost. Looking at the application form they seem to want people with some honest affinity with Buddhism and the concepts of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

In return for getting a cheap or free wedding service at at a beautiful location presided over by local dignitaries and the abbot of one of Taiwan's most famous Buddhist organisations, a service whose Buddhist content the participants presumably find very meaningful, the participants just have to agree to be used in publicity footage for the values of Dharma Drum Mountain. If you agree with those values and are willing to publicise your wedding, then it seems like a good deal all round.
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Re: Mass Buddhist wedding in Taiwan

Postby Qianxi » Fri Feb 21, 2014 2:38 pm

Luke.A wrote: Now, this wedding business and other similar innovations are exactly that; being proactive about trying to create a happier, more harmonious society where human flourishing is possible outside of monastic vows or a stringent upāsaka lifestyle.

I think the hope is that the couples taking part in this marriage ceremony will live the life of an upāsaka lay follower. In the ceremony itself the couples take the three refuges, and in the additional material in the brochure and probably in the speeches on the day they are encouraged to follow the five lay precepts. They don't vow to keep the five precepts on the day of the wedding, I think that would be to confuse two different ceremonies, but presumably lots of them do take that vow at some point.

On the subject of fixing Samsara and whether or not progress is a Western idea, there's the discourse on the Wheel Turning King in various versions in the Nikayas and Agamas, and probably stand alone sutras too.
( http://suttacentral.net/dn26 also EA 48.3 http://www.cbeta.org/cgi-bin/goto.pl?li ... 5_p0787c02 see chapter three of http://www.buddhismuskunde.uni-hamburg. ... sattva.pdf for translations )
Basically the Buddha predicts that after he is gone people will forget how to live according to the dharma and the world will decline. Then, when the world is at its lowest ebb, people will gradually learn how to live according to the dharma again and the world will improve. It will improve to a state where everyone is a happy superhuman, at which point a wheel turning king will come to the throne and the future Buddha Maitreya will arrive.

This story is partly what influenced the 'Humanistic Buddhist' idea of 'a pure land in this world' 人間淨土. The story does seem to portray the positive effects of the Buddhist Dharma on society as a whole, and suggest that Samsara can be greatly improved if not fixed. Admittedly, if you take it literally you might still think we're on the downward rather than the upward phase of the story.
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