Buddhism and Culture - East and West

No holds barred discussion on the Buddhadharma. Argue about rebirth, karma, commentarial interpretations etc. Be nice to each other.

Re: Buddhism and Culture - East and West

Postby anjali » Mon May 06, 2013 10:31 pm

Indrajala wrote:Chinese Buddhist organizations attract few foreigners and I hear of a lot of them leaving sooner or later. It isn't just westerners, either. I've met people who broke down and had difficulties finding the funds to escape. They clearly suffered a lot and couldn't even run away because of a lack of money. They were like prisoners.


Yes, I've heard of such things happening, even here in the US. For example at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.

If you are interested in a doctoral program, have you considered University of the West in Los Angeles? It has a doctoral program in religious studies and, from what I hear, has monastics in the program. I had some conversations with the previous chair, who, unfortunately, passed away from cancer. To attend though, you would probably need a sponsoring organization? I don't know.
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Re: Buddhism and Culture - East and West

Postby Indrajala » Tue May 07, 2013 3:00 am

Ben Yuan wrote:We just see things in different ways. I won't try to convince you, but in the end you must admit that Buddhism fundamentally is the abandonment of views - critical or not.


I don't see how bringing the MMK into this discussion is relevant.

As far as conventional reality is concerned I reserve the right to be critical and forward in my opinions.

I can imagine someone telling their underlings that they need to abandon all thought and just do as they're told as a means to liberation. That's a recipe for a cult.

No, my friend, we should be critical and ask a lot of questions, otherwise we end up with drone followers and not free thinking autonomous Buddhists.
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Re: Buddhism and Culture - East and West

Postby Indrajala » Tue May 07, 2013 3:39 am

Luke wrote:For some people, even this could be an amazing experience!


For a few weeks perhaps, but then the exotic factor wears off and it becomes daily life.



Is that so bad? I mean if you're planning to live in China, shouldn't you be interested in Chinese language and culture??


That's just it: how many people, say, born and raised in the US would want to spend six or more years in Taiwan, more or less completely detached from their native culture and language? A year might be fine, but how about six or seven years, or longer? They don't even have the benefit of having a small community of fellow native English speakers to rely on for support and fellowship. The locals will not understand their problems and concerns. Even if they speak decent Chinese, their concerns will probably sound alien to most of their fellow monks or nuns. As a junior monk your life will be decided for you and as a mature adult this might prove intolerable in the long-term.

Consider the fact that diet might likewise prove problematic in the long-term. If you've lived your life eating a lot of animal protein, bread and garlic, switching to a Chinese Buddhist diet (vegetarian without any garlic or onions) might cause problems in the long-term. Your counterparts might have the bright idea of having (Chinese) pizza once a week, but that won't cut it, and they probably won't understand why unless they've lived overseas in a completely foreign environment.

Likewise I've heard from a Chinese monastic who went to Europe that he couldn't tolerate all the bread and cheese. It wasn't to his liking, but I think his body wasn't used to it either.

There's a difference, too, between Buddhism as it was developed in China and Chinese culture. I think you could very happily have intense study of Huineng and Chan practice without ever learning Chinese. You might lose something, but you'd gain a lot in the process.


You raise legitimate issues, but some people might not be so put off by the fact that they can't be "top dog" at the monastery. Some might be grateful just to have the opportunity to study and practice the dharma full-time with Chinese monks!


I never suggested anything about "top dogs".

In any case, you suggest that some might be grateful, and this might be true, but clearly their programs don't attract so many foreign applicants and the majority of foreigners leave sooner or later.

So, it is either that the foreigners are incapable and problematic, or the system doesn't really accommodate a more international way of doing things.

The fact that Taiwanese Buddhism severely lacks monks is also instructive in this respect. One big problem, I think, is that junior monks are treated like little novices, when in fact they're already mature adult men. If you had a ten year old and treated them as a kid for seven years, it wouldn't be an issue, but what about a twenty-six year old man with an advanced degree and plenty of experience working in the real world?

I think for international monastic programs they could run them as true colleges. You show up to a few hours of classes a day and for the rest of the day it is up to you to plan your study schedule (just like in university). Meditation and prayers in the evening are fine, but adults need to be treated as adults.



That sounds pretty terrible, but I don't know the details. Had these westerners who quit travelled much before? Culture shock can be rough for the 1st couple years anywhere, and especially in such an intense religious environment.


Like I said it isn't just westerners. In Taiwan there are monks/nuns from Africa, India and elsewhere. As you might imagine, if your family back home makes $200/month, it would be difficult to ask them for a plane ticket home.
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Re: Buddhism and Culture - East and West

Postby Jnana » Tue May 07, 2013 4:14 am

Ben Yuan wrote:I won't try to convince you, but in the end you must admit that Buddhism fundamentally is the abandonment of views - critical or not.

Emptiness doesn't entail dismissing conventional designations as useless, or the dynamics of social relations, or the development of the noble path. Without conventional designations communication of the teachings is hampered (even Chan shouts and blows are means of communication -- conventions understood within a certain training context). MMK 24:

    The Buddha's teaching of the Dharma
    Is based on two truths:
    A truth of worldly convention
    And an ultimate truth.

    Those who do not understand
    The distinction drawn between these two truths
    Do not understand
    The Buddha's profound truth.

    Without a foundation in the conventional truth,
    The significance of the ultimate cannot be taught.
    Without understanding the significance of the ultimate,
    Liberation is not achieved.
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Re: Buddhism and Culture - East and West

Postby Zhen Li » Tue May 07, 2013 4:57 am

I nowhere stated that one should abandon the conventional. But the idea that doing so in the circumstances being discussed gives rise to a cult, even when fully and completely understood in the way intended, would only mean that one's opinion of said organisations is of such a low level as to be utterly irreconcilable with those of any who take them seriously. The negative and cynical isn't the only important thing the world, surely you must agree to that at least.

And the paradox of such a view is simple - can you truly believe that one who has a proper and correct understanding and realisation of the Dharma as discussed by Nagarjuna could really be drawn into a cult as you suggest? And if they were present in such an organisation, would they really be affected in the same way as we usually think of those in cults? Please consider the practicalities of possessing Right View.

And in the end, the point is liberation. If you are suggesting that Taiwanese traditions are not privy to any of the 84,000 doors to the Dharma (Theragatha 1024), and that such doors are no problem to one who properly understands the Dharma, then I think you are definitely overstating your critique!
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Re: Buddhism and Culture - East and West

Postby Indrajala » Tue May 07, 2013 5:41 am

I don't have a low opinion. I just think over emphasis on dining etiquette and polite society are a waste of time.
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Re: Buddhism and Culture - East and West

Postby JKhedrup » Tue May 07, 2013 6:05 am

And the paradox of such a view is simple - can you truly believe that one who has a proper and correct understanding and realisation of the Dharma as discussed by Nagarjuna could really be drawn into a cult as you suggest?


How many people have a proper and correct understanding of the dharma as discussed by Nagarjuna? Even to have a thorough understanding of emptiness and the two truths as expressed by Nagarjuna is a very tall order. Many Lharampa Geshes I have spoken to tell me they still struggle to understand the subtle import of Nagarjuna's teachings, and they are the top scholars produced by a system that takes nearly 20 years of thorough study and contemplation.

As for the critique of monastic systems, although ven. Indrajala's views might sound extreme, they are in fact based on a profound understanding of Chinese language and culture, and a long period spent living in Taiwan, including as part of a large Taiwanese Buddhist organization.

I am reticent to speak about Chinese Buddhism as a whole in this respect though because, for example, I found my stay at City of Ten Thousand Buddhas very different from the stay in Taiwan. Although CTTB is an extremely strict monastery the attitude is much more relaxed somehow. There is less of an emphasis on form and regulations- no one checks how your blanket is folded or shoes arranged. As long as your room is not a disaster zone no one will bother you. Group activities are less, there is more personal space.

While this might sound like a harsh critique you will find most Westerners who were part of seminary programs in Taiwan express the same things. I know a few, including a man who was a Theravada bhikkhu for some years and went to Taiwan to experience things and found the lack of space and acceptance of his "'Western-ness" hard to take. I spoke to former students from Indian and Nepalese backgrounds as well and they expressed the lack of acceptance they felt, and that it was not just the precepts of Buddhism that were enforced, but completely foreign cultural norms that were imposed. Because the Nepali and Indian students came from poor families, unlike the Westerners they often end up staying for years, but unfortunately upon return to their home countries they do not continue their pursuit of Buddhism (though the Chinese they learn is a useful and marketable skill)

The sad thing is of course that any such discussion will never be heard because of it will be seen as "lack of gratitude"-how can you eat at our monastery and then criticize etc.

I want to clarify though that this system is not enforced out of cruelty. Its proponents see the monastic formation work for some of the Taiwanese kids that make it through, and think that if the foreigners would just submit they would get the same benefits. Taiwan is an island culture and as such is rather insular. It is also pretty racially homogenous with two ethnic groups that are closely related-Chinese and Taiwanese, with a tiny native population. So the people are not as exposed to different cultures, which I also think leads to a misunderstanding.

The Tibetan monasteries are also extremely difficult places in many ways, but as the Tibetans in India by now are rather exposed to foreigners, and many of the Geshes in the administration have spent time in the West or have relatives who have, there is a bit more of an acceptance for the quircks of Westerners. They might find us weird and say so, but they tolerate it. Sera Jey, for example, understood that due to adapting to the culture it was harder for Westerners to focus on their studies. So they allowed some FPMT students to build a separate house for the Westerners to live. As they have to learn the language and study harder for the same results, Westerners are also excused from some ritual and service requirements of the monastery. As they acclimatize, some Westerners naturally choose to do these things any way.

For those who don't want to submit to a traditional monastic system, the Tibetans don't insist on that either (though behind your back they might say it was better if you had). Places like Tsongkhapa Institute, Nalanda Monastery for the Gelugs and Samye Ling for the Kagyus along with non denominational Institutes like Thosamling nunnery insist on a level of discipline but in a Western context, separated from Tibetan cultural norms. Teachings are translated into Western languages by trained translators.. So for those who don't want to learn Tibetan, or even know Tibetan but cannot or don't want to live in India, there are options. (Sadly, there is the huge problem of lack of financial support for Sangha- something we need to emulate the Chinese monasteries in, but that is the topic for another thread).

In the Theravada Forest Tradition, Ajahn Chah let his Western disciples build their own monastery in Thailand where things were done in English, and left the running of it up to the discretion of Western abbots. The system has produced present luminaries like Ajahn Brahm.



I am not saying that the Taiwanese system cannot produce Westerners who are a huge benefit to the dharma- ven. Hui Feng is a living example. But how many such examples do we have? Don't you think it is a shame that there are not more Westerners well-versed in Chinese Buddhism? Imagine if every Chinese Buddhist organization had even 5 monks like Ven. Hui Feng, or 5 monks like Ven. Heng Sure. What do you think that would do for the dharma? It would take Chinese Buddhism out of the Sinosphere and into the broader worlds.

Sadly, if no accomodations are made this will never happen.

My two cents. :namaste:
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Re: Buddhism and Culture - East and West

Postby Indrajala » Tue May 07, 2013 6:34 am

JKhedrup wrote:As for the critique of monastic systems, although ven. Indrajala's views might sound extreme, they are in fact based on a profound understanding of Chinese language and culture, and a long period spent living in Taiwan, including as part of a large Taiwanese Buddhist organization.


In all fairness it wasn't that long. A year plus some other bits of experience here and there beforehand, plus a lot of deep discussions with Chinese monastics from Taiwan and elsewhere like Singapore, and some modern readings compared against the older model on the continent before the PRC.

I like the idea of internationalization of Buddhist traditions, but it won't happen with the new Buddhist movements out of Taiwan unless they make accommodations.

After several decades these organizations, despite making the attempt, don't seem to be succeeding in recruiting and retaining foreigners (not just folks from western countries). They might get some people signing up, but then they don't stay.


Because the Nepali and Indian students came from poor families, unlike the Westerners they often end up staying for years, but unfortunately upon return to their home countries they do not continue their pursuit of Buddhism (though the Chinese they learn is a useful and marketable skill)


Yeah, I heard similar stories. They couldn't leave because they didn't have the money to get home, and their families likewise didn't have the money. They wanted to run away, but were trapped.


The sad thing is of course that any such discussion will never be heard because of it will be seen as "lack of gratitude"-how can you eat at our monastery and then criticize etc.


In Taiwan criticism is really considered insulting, both internally and externally. Outright disagreement is offensive and people don't generally forget it.

Also, unless you have seniority it is unlikely anyone will take you seriously. Obedience to authority is a virtue.
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Re: Buddhism and Culture - East and West

Postby Zhen Li » Tue May 07, 2013 6:43 am

I am not saying that the Taiwanese system cannot produce Westerners who are a huge benefit to the dharma- ven. Hui Feng is a living example. But how many such examples do we have? Don't you think it is a shame that there are not more Westerners well-versed in Chinese Buddhism? Imagine if every Chinese Buddhist organization had even 5 monks like Ven. Hui Feng, or 5 monks like Ven. Heng Sure. What do you think that would do for the dharma? It would take Chinese Buddhism out of the Sinosphere and into the broader worlds.

I certainly agree. I was more or less engaging with the idea that etiquette cannot itself be a meditative practice, arguing that it is more skillful to use it as such, rather than projecting ideologies and western grudges onto it, thinking that it is some kind of tyrannical Marxist class conflict.
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Re: Buddhism and Culture - East and West

Postby JKhedrup » Tue May 07, 2013 6:45 am

Yes the criticism point it tough.

This is part of what brought things to a head for me. I felt trapped between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

From the side of the management I know they tried to accomodate me, in their own way according to their cultural norms. But the thought was accomodation as a means of having me eventually go through the same system as the Taiwanese, a terrifying thought.

If I voiced my concerns, it would hurt the sentiments of my hosts,who despite all the cultural problems from their side wanted Westerners to stay with a good intention. If I said nothing, the frustration I felt could turn into resentment and rather than the growth and education I joined monastic life to experience, I could become jaded and embittered like others foreigners who went through the Taiwanese system.

If there had been one person at the monastery with a position of authority who I could have been completely open with it would have made all the difference.

rather than projecting ideologies and western grudges onto it


Just Western grudges? Are you sure? Why do you think the seminaries in Taiwan are having such problems attracting and keeping the younger Taiwanese as well? I think the modern Taiwanese youngsters in many cases are also not willing to submit to such an authoritarian system. It isn't just a case of East vs. West, it is a case of shifting norms and paradigms in a modern, globalized world.
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Re: Buddhism and Culture - East and West

Postby LastLegend » Tue May 07, 2013 7:05 am

What is the fuss here? If you are just attending a retreat, then there is a place for that. If you are joining a Buddhist organization, you should know what to expect. Otherwise, you can build a shack somewhere and practice by yourself. Nothing is wrong with that by the way.

You enter Rome, do as the Roman do.
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Re: Buddhism and Culture - East and West

Postby Indrajala » Tue May 07, 2013 7:07 am

LastLegend wrote:What is the fuss here? If you are just attending a retreat, then there is a place for that. If you are joining a Buddhist organization, you should know what to expect. Otherwise, you build a shack somewhere and practice by yourself. Nothing is wrong with that.


We're thinking of ways of making Buddhism, particularly monastic programs, viable for folks in the west.

Your idea doesn't help so much.
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Re: Buddhism and Culture - East and West

Postby Indrajala » Tue May 07, 2013 7:13 am

Ben Yuan wrote:...rather than projecting ideologies and western grudges onto it, thinking that it is some kind of tyrannical Marxist class conflict.


Class struggle actually exists though. A lot of Buddhists tend to emulate the aristocracy and understandably so when their funds come from that segment of society. Chinese Buddhism is heavily tied in with literati culture, and of course this entails siding with the middle and upper classes, and adapting to their values in many respects.

If you look down on working class behaviour and values, then you're already establishing class differences and dividing people. Such inequality, while inevitable, leads to unfair acquisition of resources. This needs to be recognized, especially if you're a bodhisattva who aspires to be of benefit to all beings including the poor under-class which may not have much interest or fluency in posh culture.
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Re: Buddhism and Culture - East and West

Postby Zhen Li » Tue May 07, 2013 7:16 am

I still think this is too subjective and relative to be definitely one way or another. One person views it as an act of evil and malign mental aggression, and the other views it as a skillful means conducive to enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. So isn't Madhyamaka applicable afterall?

As for what to do to actually improve attraction to youngsters and foreigners, sure there are plenty of things to do. And I agree that they should be done sooner rather than later. However, I am addressing the question of whether guilt should be associated with etiquette. Not whether it's a good marketing strategy.
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Re: Buddhism and Culture - East and West

Postby Indrajala » Tue May 07, 2013 7:58 am

Ben Yuan wrote:I still think this is too subjective and relative to be definitely one way or another. One person views it as an act of evil and malign mental aggression, and the other views it as a skillful means conducive to enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. So isn't Madhyamaka applicable afterall?


Not really. The Madhyamaka school is one of philosophy, not social ethics and political science. The emptiness of inherent existence isn't readily applicable to the discussion here. It would be counter-productive to assume that since everything is empty of inherent existence we shouldn't discuss such matters as related above.

We're really discussing conventional reality, i.e., the illusory "real world" which we as ordinary beings have to live in and work with. There's no point in introducing refutations of metaphysical constructs. It doesn't serve a purpose here.


However, I am addressing the question of whether guilt should be associated with etiquette. Not whether it's a good marketing strategy.


Etiquette should best be implemented using the golden rule of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you". That means there's no point in getting offended over plate licking and stained robes. On the other hand, if someone is talking on the phone late at night disturbing others, this should be addressed as problematic to the community. On the other hand, if someone is hunched over their bowl and chowing down it shouldn't be of concern to anyone else. That's their business and it doesn't really disturb others in any physical way.
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Re: Buddhism and Culture - East and West

Postby LastLegend » Tue May 07, 2013 8:11 am

I don't see anything wrong with having some etiquette. Sure you can request to have a place near the temple and do your own things. But then the question is why bother with being near the temple at all?
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Re: Buddhism and Culture - East and West

Postby plwk » Tue May 07, 2013 8:15 am

Class struggle actually exists though. A lot of Buddhists tend to emulate the aristocracy and understandably so when their funds come from that segment of society. Chinese Buddhism is heavily tied in with literati culture, and of course this entails siding with the middle and upper classes, and adapting to their values in many respects.
I guess it takes a lot of courage and ground for many places to keep the various sponsors from all walks of life away from arm twisting huh? One that comes to mind almost immediately would be the valiant spirit of CTTB and their Founder's hard stance of...
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

If you look down on working class behaviour and values, then you're already establishing class differences and dividing people. Such inequality, while inevitable, leads to unfair acquisition of resources. This needs to be recognized, especially if you're a bodhisattva who aspires to be of benefit to all beings including the poor under-class which may not have much interest or fluency in posh culture.
Equally, there's always that group of people who will keep their to their mantra of 'Religion is only for the rich. Only those with lots of spare time can conjecture. The only reality is putting food on the table'. So it has nothing to do with looking down or inequality. It's a mindset by some of self perpetuated bondage and engaging in witty wordy back and forth of 'whose reality matters' whilst reversing one's own responsibility and have expectation for others to keep providing them favourable conditions like a freeloader whilst they get to keep whining and use their pity me stories for their fan club. I recall an article on Ajahn Mun who asks if the Path and Fruit are obtained through mumbling and grumbling and moaning and groaning...or is it through what the Buddha laid down in the Dhamma & Vinaya...
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Re: Buddhism and Culture - East and West

Postby Luke » Tue May 07, 2013 8:39 am

Indrajala wrote:That's just it: how many people, say, born and raised in the US would want to spend six or more years in Taiwan, more or less completely detached from their native culture and language?

Not many, but maybe if Chinese Buddhist organizations want to accommodate westerners, then they should build monasteries in the US or Europe and have programs for more sensitive westerners there.

I feel the situation is different if you are going to a foreign country. People should have to adapt somewhat in a foreign country.

Indrajala wrote:They don't even have the benefit of having a small community of fellow native English speakers to rely on for support and fellowship. The locals will not understand their problems and concerns.

But not everyone is so mainstream and not all westerners enjoy hanging out with other westerners. Personally, I avoid other Americans and Brits while I'm overseas. I usually have no interest in talking to them. That's a big a reason of why I moved overseas. Most westerners aren't think like this, but some are, and for them, they might enjoy being away from mainstream people from their home countries.

Indrajala wrote:There's a difference, too, between Buddhism as it was developed in China and Chinese culture. I think you could very happily have intense study of Huineng and Chan practice without ever learning Chinese. You might lose something, but you'd gain a lot in the process.

Yes, but then people might as well do such programs in the US or in the UK. Why should people who are determined NOT to learn Chinese bother going all the way to China and Taiwan?

Indrajala wrote:Like I said it isn't just westerners. In Taiwan there are monks/nuns from Africa, India and elsewhere. As you might imagine, if your family back home makes $200/month, it would be difficult to ask them for a plane ticket home.

Okay, but have these foreigners traveled much? Since you are saying that they are from extremely poor backgrounds, I am guessing that they have not.
If one is in a many-year monastic program and it's one's first time in China/Taiwan, then yeah, that has to be quite rough. It would be more reasonable for the prospective students to visit China/Taiwan for a few months first to see if it's the right place for them. Perhaps if there were some summer program there which could later lead into the full program, this could make the transition smoother.
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Re: Buddhism and Culture - East and West

Postby Zhen Li » Tue May 07, 2013 8:49 am

Not really. The Madhyamaka school is one of philosophy, not social ethics and political science.

Madhyamaka is the abandonment of views, the Dharma, crossing over, liberation - philosophy is the construction of views, in the big picture of liberation, philosophy is little different from social ethics and political science and all three are a koti from Dharma. So are those more important to you than the Dharma?
The emptiness of inherent existence isn't readily applicable to the discussion here. It would be counter-productive to assume that since everything is empty of inherent existence we shouldn't discuss such matters as related above.

Who said we shouldn't discuss it? What I did say was an alternative viewpoint to your own. I suggested that your understanding of the situation, as you have presented it thus far, does not in any way discredit or annihilate any possible alternative viewpoints. Clinging to views is what Madhyamaka remedies, it's more than applicable here.
Etiquette should best be implemented using the golden rule of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you". That means there's no point in getting offended over plate licking and stained robes.

Why do you think a discipline master in a Taiwanese monastery would take offense at a violation of etiquette? Do you think a sports umpire is offended when someone breaks the rules of the game?

Usually when we are pointing out flaws in others, it is a flaw in ourselves. Who is more offended? The discipline master who is doing his job or the student who doesn't like the rule because it conflicts with the views of "social ethics and political science" they are clinging to?
On the other hand, if someone is talking on the phone late at night disturbing others, this should be addressed as problematic to the community. On the other hand, if someone is hunched over their bowl and chowing down it shouldn't be of concern to anyone else. That's their business and it doesn't really disturb others in any physical way.

Since when was it suggested that the matter of concern is how problem free the community was, or how concerned and undisturbed of you they should be? The reason for etiquette can be construed in a completely different and more skillful fashion - but you don't seem to be open to the idea that there are more than one paths to liberation, your own.

If the matter comes down to having to feel comfortable that you're not making others think poorly of you, rather than whether or not you are understanding the situation and why you are being asked to do such things, then the question is one of the belief in a self.

Thus, for the purpose of encouraging one to abandon one's self-views, one probably should not be accommodated for like a pampered prince in foreign countries. I agree with Luke, you should not expect people in foreign countries to adapt to your own way of life, you should adapt to theirs - who cares if you "identify" as a westerner?! That's just more self-view, more opportunity to watch the movement and agitation of one's mind. There's a lot of reasons why the tradition has developed the way it has, and radical philosophical notions should take a backseat to prudence in evaluating whether or not we should be encouraging tradition to jump into the dustbin of history. Things often work best when they have been tried and tested for hundreds of years and the negative changes which occur when alternative courses of action are taken, however subtle, often are all but noticed too late.
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Re: Buddhism and Culture - East and West

Postby JKhedrup » Tue May 07, 2013 9:08 am

I have gladly submitted to the norms of Thai, Chinese and especially Tibetan culture for the past nine years.

Adapration has to work both ways.

I find your state about adaptation when living in another country very ironic in the context if this discussion. Why? Because these organizations based in Taiwan also run their overseas temples according to exactly the same system. One has a feeling Taiwan has been transplanted to Australia, Canada, USA etc. It is a bit short sighted, because the second generation after they are married usually decrease their participation. This means that the generation born in the west is no longer interested once it is their choice whether to go or not....

Localization means not only relying on people who strongly identify as Chinese to support overseas temples. In the long run it will prove self defeating if even people of chinese ancestry but conditioned by western culture do not want to commit.

To illustrate this point, a leading monastic at a large chinese temple in the west told me 'we are not attracting foreigners, and even the children of our devotees become foreigners'. It was really funny, living in the west for many years but still thinking the chinese culture was normative, and the majority non-chinese in her chosen adopted country as foreigners.

This was a very kind and capable person, but the statement speaks to the world view. It has to work both ways.
Last edited by JKhedrup on Tue May 07, 2013 9:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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