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 BuddhaSoup » Wed May 08, 2013 8:40 pm

Sometimes bringing up these elephants in the room, and having it out a bit can help clear the air. Even when we might take offense at a statement or comment,or misinterpret someone's statement, it is an opportunity for fellowship and understanding. One of the things that I have liked and appreciated about DW is that we can sometimes wield a sharp knife here, we can be open and blunt, but the interactions between the ordained Sangha and the lay Sangha is one of community and mutual growth.

My hope is that the end result of any disputes or raw discourse is that we move the Dharma ball further ahead, and work toward building a Sangha in the west that is traditional, authentic yet appropriate and welcoming for the time and place.

One of my side jobs is as a pro martial arts judge. I like watching two guys beat the crap out of each other, then when the final bell rings, there are hugs and invites for a beer after the event is over. So, let's knock the crap out of each other if we have to, and then retire for a :cheers: or coffee. This way, we move the Dharma forward with every blow.
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Re: Buddhism and Culture - East and West

Postby kirtu » Wed May 08, 2013 11:10 pm

JKhedrup wrote:
But the onus is also on westerners who complain to learn Chinese and help to adapt the Sangha appropriately from the inside out.


I mean my complaints are made because I would actually like to see Chinese Buddhism be more successful in the West. I think it has a lot to offer. I'd also be sad if temples have to start closing because the second generation isn't interested and there is no support.


This is basically the case with Japanese-American Pure Land temples, unfortunately.

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“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
Hevajra Tantra
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Re: Buddhism and Culture - East and West

Postby Zhen Li » Thu May 09, 2013 1:25 am

Speaking from personal experience, a certain temple I know of had issues such as the ones discussed here for some time, perhaps even a decade. Then for a number of years, with the roots of good organisation and admirable friendship within the English speaking community for a number of years, the numbers rose to come near to matching the non-English speaking community. Aiding this was the guidance of a monastic with genuine compassion and patience.

One must remember, that the key isn't policy, it's ensuring you have the right teacher present (which may itself be policy). There are some criteria which you can use to evaluate in the Sutras,
The teacher of the Dharma should be clean, have gentle behaviour, be neat, and well dressed.
Sagaramati-Requested Sutra

Concerning the generosity of giving the Dharma,
If someone requests it,
First you should respond this way,
“I have not studied that in detail.”
Do not relate it immediately.
You should start by examining the vessel.
Once you know the vessel well,
Then you should give teachings even without a request.
King of Meditative Absorption Sutra

One should understand that a bodhisattva who has eight qualities is a perfect spiritual master. What are the eight? One who:
1.possesses the moral ethics of a Bodhisattva,
2.is learned in the bodhisattva’s teachings,
3.possesses realization,
4.possesses compassion and kindness,
5.possesses fearlessness,
6.possesses patience,
7.possesses an indefatigable mind, and
8.is expert in verbal expression.
Ten Stages Sutra

Possessing great scholarship and dispelling doubt, Whatever he says is acceptable, distinguishing the two realities — This is a perfect bodhisattva spiritual master.
Ornament of Mahayana Sutra

A spiritual master is always
Expert in the Mahayana teachings.
He will not abandon the bodhisattva’s vow
Even at the risk of his own life
Engaging in Bodhisattva Behaviour - Santideva

A recent interval occurred, wherein a less experienced teacher was asked to lead the same group. Certainly this teacher had admirable qualities, but due to the lack of some other qualities, the attendance dwindled, and the condition of the class returned to the type which Jamyang Khedrup described earlier. This has since been remedied, and attendance has risen.

This often is an unavoidable feature of such establishments due to the frequent rotation of resident monastics, but I think it may give us some hints as to how to solve such issues.

I find more than not, that Chinese etiquette is not the issue for westerners. The issue is just accessibility and understanding, which really comes from an appropriate teacher. One of the adaptations which needs to be made for the west, is opening up to greater conversation and discussion about these matters within Dharma classes with a tolerant, patient and wise teacher. With understanding of etiquette, will come accessibility in the minds of those otherwise troubled by it - more than anything, it is just very beautiful and can bring tranquility to your mind. The conditions which need to be adapted for, are ever so slight, because in the end we are all more similar than different because we are all human. Therefore, I don't believe that removing etiquette is the solution.
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Re: Buddhism and Culture - East and West

Postby uan » Thu May 09, 2013 2:21 am

Huifeng wrote:All I can say is thank for your pointing out the problems. Barely a day goes by when I do not think of how much work we have to do, how many people need help, yet we are not able to provide it. I could easily forget about this, just do my own thing, but reminders are there. So, thank you for that. One who points out one's faults is a teacher. So, those are the people to whom I ask for guidance and direction. My faults are many, so fortunately I have many teachers. Thank you all for that.

My lack of skill in expression also lets me down. Some think that I am being sarcastic, passive aggressive. My words written on a page have no tone, no emotion, no feeling behind them. So, that may be hard to tell.

Seems I've let everyone down. Unfortunately, my best is simply not good enough. I do not know what else to say. Sorry.

~~ Huifeng


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Re: Buddhism and Culture - East and West

Postby Dan74 » Thu May 09, 2013 12:01 pm

Luke wrote:What about Korean Buddhism? Nobody has really talked about that yet...

Are westerners successfully living as monks and nuns in South Korea? Have Korean Buddhist sanghas successfully integrated with the local communities in the west?


I have only a small snippet of information on this topic.

During the time of Kusan Sunim, the master of Songwan-Sa, many Westerners came and ordained at his temple and he went to great lengths to make them welcome, eventually setting up Bul-il Internation Seon Centre. People like Stephen and Martine Batchelor and Professor Robert Buswell Jr of UCLA had been ordained monks at Songwansa.

After Kusan Sunim's parinirvana, I believe the new abbot was not as interested in putting the energy into the work with the foreigners. There was a Lotus Lantern International functioning in Seoul for some time, but both that and Bul-il International have since folded I believe.

One lovely Western monk I have come across who is in Korea, is Chong-go Sunim and he would be the person to ask about this and especially if one were to come and do some training there.

(on a personal note most of the little training I've had was through a Western nun ordained at Ssongwan-sa, the only Westerner from there still in robes, incidentally)
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