"Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

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Re: "Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby JKhedrup » Sat Mar 09, 2013 10:25 pm

Uan,

I met these students in my Mandarin class at university, so I do have a wish to learn about Chinese culture. I have spent 11 months total living in Chinese monasteries-both in Taiwan and USA (City of Ten Thousand Buddhas). So while I cannot say I am an expert on Chinese culture or even well informed as it is exceedingly rich, ancient and complex, I do have more exposure to it than your average White Canadian.

You misunderstand when I say other considerations. To work as a peer councillor at my school, I underwent an intensive exercise known as Blue Eyes Brown Eyes Pioneered by Jane Elliot. I linked to her in another thread. Part of what I learned was that as a White male I should not generally take the lead in talking about oppression outside my position of privilege. That is my general rule. And I usually take the role of listener in these conversations as I aknowledge I am part of the priveleged group in my country of origin. I can change out of my robes when I walk the street (though perhaps out of stubborness but also a sense of commitment I never do.) People cannot change their skin colour.

However, I speak Tibetan and have lived with Tibetans for nearly 10 years of my life, and been involved in TB for over 17. I have seen bullet scars, heard heart wrenching stories of torture and know the perilous precipice of obliteration which Tibetan language and culture are facing. So, though I normally wouldn't say anything, in this case I do.

When the lama I translate for daily cannot confirm whether members of his family are dead, alive or in prison I cannot remain silent in the face of terrible misinformation widely believed by some in the Chinese overseas community and consider myself loyal to the teachers who have opened the door of dharma for me.

Just as I as an upstanding white man must facd the music of the racist foundation upon which privilege is built, even if those students are uncomfortable the horrible misinformation if the Chinese government must be exposed for what it is. Because I can speak Tibetan and have Tibetan friends, at least I can share some of my knowledge.

As I said,normally I know as a White man it isn't my place, but Tibet is burning so there are extenuating circumstances.
Last edited by JKhedrup on Sat Mar 09, 2013 10:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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
JKhedrup
 
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Re: "Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby JKhedrup » Sat Mar 09, 2013 10:25 pm

As for the six perfections, they include compassion and wisdom. How can those students develop wisdom if I do not share with them vital information about a serious issue?

I am always gentle and careful to state clearly my issue is with the Chinese Govt and its atrocities, not any cultural group. I try to be skilful and sensitive, but knowing what I know it would be a crime to be silent when I hear misinformation about the Tibetan people.
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
JKhedrup
 
Posts: 2324
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

Re: "Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby uan » Sun Mar 10, 2013 4:21 am

JKhedrup wrote:Uan,

I met these students in my Mandarin class at university, so I do have a wish to learn about Chinese culture. I have spent 11 months total living in Chinese monasteries-both in Taiwan and USA (City of Ten Thousand Buddhas). So while I cannot say I am an expert on Chinese culture or even well informed as it is exceedingly rich, ancient and complex, I do have more exposure to it than your average White Canadian.

You misunderstand when I say other considerations. To work as a peer councillor at my school, I underwent an intensive exercise known as Blue Eyes Brown Eyes Pioneered by Jane Elliot. I linked to her in another thread. Part of what I learned was that as a White male I should not generally take the lead in talking about oppression outside my position of privilege. That is my general rule. And I usually take the role of listener in these conversations as I aknowledge I am part of the priveleged group in my country of origin. I can change out of my robes when I walk the street (though perhaps out of stubborness but also a sense of commitment I never do.) People cannot change their skin colour.

However, I speak Tibetan and have lived with Tibetans for nearly 10 years of my life, and been involved in TB for over 17. I have seen bullet scars, heard heart wrenching stories of torture and know the perilous precipice of obliteration which Tibetan language and culture are facing. So, though I normally wouldn't say anything, in this case I do.

When the lama I translate for daily cannot confirm whether members of his family are dead, alive or in prison I cannot remain silent in the face of terrible misinformation widely believed by some in the Chinese overseas community and consider myself loyal to the teachers who have opened the door of dharma for me.

Just as I as an upstanding white man must facd the music of the racist foundation upon which privilege is built, even if those students are uncomfortable the horrible misinformation if the Chinese government must be exposed for what it is. Because I can speak Tibetan and have Tibetan friends, at least I can share some of my knowledge.

As I said,normally I know as a White man it isn't my place, but Tibet is burning so there are extenuating circumstances.


Thank you for the additional background information. For myself, I was born and raised in Hawaii and was not in a privileged class (even though I am white). In Hawaii, being caucasian or "haole" means you are actually in the minority. One of my best friends was Chinese. Another half Japanese-half White. On any given day I'd be exposed to first, second and third generation Chinese or Japanese people. Each generation of each ethnicity had different cultural norms you had to navigate. My neighbors on one side growing up were an extended Hawaiian family living in 3 houses and on the other side a Japanese family of 3 generations whose grandparents were from Japan. I also had Samoan and Filipino friends. My undergraduate degree is in Anthropology. I had little to no exposure to Christianity growing up, but was very influenced by Zen. This by way of saying that my upbringing is far removed from the normal racial and Christian milieu many in the west, or at least in the US, grew up with.

I've also been married to my wife, who is from China, for 15 years and have know her for 22 years. We have a teenage son who is, obviously, mixed race. Before we got married, I lived in China for 8 months and helped my wife make a documentary on Iodine Deficiency Disorder, working with an all Chinese crew. In 2004, we made another documentary, just her and I, with our son in tow, on the healthcare crisis confronting Tibetan women in Eastern Tibetan/Qinghai Province. I also took my refuge vows in 1997 with a Tibetan lama in Wutaishan. My wife has been a practicing Buddhist most of her adult life and counts several Gelugpa lamas among her teachers and friends (including some who were in prison for 20 years). After I got married, one of my Chinese-American friends from Hawaii was actually very angry with me and asked "why did you marry one of 'our' women?"

I have made two documentaries against war and America's culture of war, so I understand what it means to be passionate about a cause. And I understand what it means to see a culture subsumed by another. You have an affinity for Tibet, I have an affinity for Hawaii. The Hawaiian culture in many ways has been obliterated beyond anything Tibet has faced. I also feel very passionate about what we, the US, have done and continue to do to Native Americans. One of the most mind boggling conversations I've had was with a Tibetan shop owner in Colorado after I came back from China. I had noted how inexpensive a book on Buddhism he had in his shop was compared to buying it in China. Based on that and nothing else, he went on to ask me why I would go there, about how Chinese were barbarians who used human feces for fertilizer, etc. I asked him, as an America, why I should have more concern for the Tibetan issue rather than working to improve the conditions of Native American? And this is the part that boggled me, he said "Native Americans are stupid and are happy just to sit at home on their reservations and watch cable tv" :jawdrop:

I had and have a great deal of sympathy and compassion for him, but I don't see the shop owner as being representative of all Tibetans. Only of himself. As are each of us. It's so easy to get caught in the trap of referring to people as a label, e.g., "Chinese overseas community", "White male", etc. What do these labels mean? I'm not asking from a mundane perspective, I know what they mean, but from an actual Buddhist or Vajrayana perspective? Are they real? Should they be reified? Each person is an individual, who comes to his/her station through a variety of causes that you can articulate much better than I. But even at a mundane level it's unclear. They are still your individual projections on a person. You're a white male. So am I. We have vastly different experiences and understanding of what that means. You talk of students in the Chinese overseas community. What does that mean to you? What does it mean to me? What does it mean to the people you are putting in that group? Etc. I mentioned it in another thread, but Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche gave an example of how we cannot see the same thing - he pointed to flowers on the table in front of him - and said we don't see the same flower, not just because we are not seeing it from the same perspective or distance, but because each of us comes from different causes and conditions. The meaning of that same flower is different for each person.

Though I love anthropology I moved into film/theatre and writing, including some poetry. My big focus is how do people make sense of themselves and the society around them, as well as how society does tremendous violence to the individual. That's why I can appreciate Justin Chin's book, even if I think he misses the mark in some ways. He's trying to figure out what it means to be himself in the world. And I have sympathies for those 2nd generation Chinese students (taking Chinese class because they are already separated from their culture, but not fully integrated into Canada's) who are/were trying to do the same thing too.

Maitri

(I'd be happy to PM links to some of the documentaries I've referred to if you're interested - cool if you're not as well)
uan
 
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Re: "Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby uan » Sun Mar 10, 2013 5:02 am

JKhedrup wrote:As for the six perfections, they include compassion and wisdom. How can those students develop wisdom if I do not share with them vital information about a serious issue?

I am always gentle and careful to state clearly my issue is with the Chinese Govt and its atrocities, not any cultural group. I try to be skilful and sensitive, but knowing what I know it would be a crime to be silent when I hear misinformation about the Tibetan people.


But is it your job to help them develop wisdom? Is wisdom developed from the things you need to teach or from what the student needs to learn? And is that what the six perfections are about - helping others develop each one whether they want to learn or not, or are even ready to learn? Can you teach the six perfections if you haven't master them yourself? While you may have tried to be skillful, from your telling of the responses you got, you apparently weren't. Yet instead of looking into why that is the case, you avert blame onto them for their inability to accept the vital, urgent information you needed to give them rather than looking toward yourself about what you could have done differently.

It's a lesson I learned from one of my own teachers - he was on a train where several men were drinking beer and getting drunk. They wanted him to join in and he refused (he's a monk). The men got very angry at his refusal and beat him. Did he get angry at the men? No. Does he hold any animosity towards them. No. He said he looked inward to see what was wrong with himself that the men responded the way they did. (It took me a long time to understand that - after all what could a monk have done differently? A lot actually. But I'm still getting deeper with it even many years later.)

If you want to plant a seed and watch it grow, first you must select the right seed for the specific land you have. Then you must wait for the right season and prepare the land - till the soil - then plant the seed, water and patiently nurture it, keep birds and pests away as it grows until it is ready to be harvested. The more vital the crop, the more important following each of the steps becomes.

As for how can those students learn wisdom without you there? Give them time, let them get older. Talk to them when they are ready to listen. Expose them to some of the teachings of the Buddha that might be immediately relevant to them. Teach them how assumptions we make are often wrong and things that we think are real are often illusory (in fact almost always are to some extent until we are enlightened).

:namaste:
Last edited by uan on Sun Mar 10, 2013 5:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
uan
 
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Re: "Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby Konchog1 » Sun Mar 10, 2013 5:03 am

Is your identity of you being White, Chinese, Black, Protoss etc. the same as or different from your aggregates?
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: "Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby JKhedrup » Sun Mar 10, 2013 8:50 am

The wisdom is something they will develop themselves, the information is something they need to develop it. I am sorry about the ignorance of that Tibetan man. I spent long periods of time living in majority Tibetan communities so I know they too have their prejudices.

In Canada too we have a sad history with our native people. My speaking about Tibet,though,does not deny that in any way. In all fairness, these were people I knew and went to class with. This was how I knew what they were taught and believed about Tibetans-that they were barbarians who were being civilized by the Chinese government. If my relating some stories from myconversations with Tibetans to dispel those prejudices makes them uncomfortable, while unfortunate, revealing prejudice for what it is will make people uncomfortable, because no one likes to admit they are prejudiced. But in diversity training we learned that discomfort will cause people to think.

As I stated, in the context of my diversity training I simply presented facts to my classmates. They were people I knew and drank coffee with,both before and after the conversation. They were not willing to confront the fact of atrocities in China, but at least I gave them information that they could think about later.
7
Another Chinese friend of mine,not from this class, was very open to learning about Tibet. He was suspicious of the information he'd been given because he saw with his own eyes the Chinese Consulate hand out $50 to members of our campus Chinese student association to protest against HHDL. So he knew very well there was misinformation being presented. Perhaps if those other kids are approached in the same way they will think bavk to what I said and think maybe there was some valuable information there.

I dated a Jamaican girl in high school so I know the flack interracial couples get sometimes,but this is another issue. Toronto is a vibrant multicultural city and people get along amazingly well. But just as I would confont aWhite racist, I feel because the situation in Tibet is so dire I must counter the lies propagated by the Chinese government, especially when young people believe them.
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
JKhedrup
 
Posts: 2324
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

Re: "Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby Sherlock » Sun Mar 10, 2013 9:42 am

:good:

I think the whole thing is much more simple than some of what has been discussed. Many people are misinformed about certain things and form biases due to that. We can try to provide them with more information and hope they resolve biases on their own.
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Re: "Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby muni » Sun Mar 10, 2013 11:30 am

Ah yes, prejudices.

In so many life times,
If I only had realized the great meaning of cherishing others, I certainly already had been awaken!
But alas! I remained in my deluded pain since I could only cherish my own ideas about others.

:namaste:
muni
 
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Re: "Attack of the White Buddhists" by Justin Chin

Postby uan » Mon Mar 11, 2013 3:47 am

JKhedrup wrote:The wisdom is something they will develop themselves, the information is something they need to develop it. I am sorry about the ignorance of that Tibetan man. I spent long periods of time living in majority Tibetan communities so I know they too have their prejudices.
...
I dated a Jamaican girl in high school so I know the flack interracial couples get sometimes,but this is another issue. Toronto is a vibrant multicultural city and people get along amazingly well. But just as I would confont aWhite racist, I feel because the situation in Tibet is so dire I must counter the lies propagated by the Chinese government, especially when young people believe them.


Maitri

_/\_
uan
 
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