What needs to be done to create new Nalandas in the west?

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Re: What needs to be done to create new Nalandas in the west?

Postby Huifeng » Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:26 am

Will wrote:What was the purpose(s) of the old Buddhist Universities - to educate laymen and/or monastics in general knowledge, in philosophy, Buddhism exclusively or to create sages from lay and monastics? Was it study mainly or were there resident gurus who taught practice also? I am asking, I do not know.

To Ven. Huifeng - How free of Chinese Govt. interference or control are the newly built temples & monasteries?


Well, let's put it this way: All monastics and monasteries are part of the local Buddhist Association, this has a province level Buddhist Association, and in turn is part of the national level Chinese Buddhist Association. This is under the State Authority for Religious Affairs (SARA), which is under the Culture Department, which is itself under the United Front Department.

But pretty much everything has a parallel state authority involved, from the time of having party secretaries in every factory and office, etc.

And this in turn merely echoes the pre-modern situation, whereby one requires state authority for ordination and similar such things. A whole system was present for over 1400 yrs between state and religion, which just varied in its involvement from time to time.
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Re: What needs to be done to create new Nalandas in the west?

Postby ronnewmexico » Tue Oct 19, 2010 4:37 am

As I express in another thread... so it is firstly on my mind...

To address the iniital. We in the west are inclined to think and believe due to circumstance the sangha was entirely of monastic nature in Tibet. Due to the greatness of one particular monk..HHDl this has been firmly reinforced not by his intention but solely by his great efforts and spiritual attainment. And that in contrast to some appointed Talku of the nagakpa kind such as Steven Sigal who lead some to compare the two on such basis. Ngakpas a counterbalance to the monastic existed in somewhat equal context. At times they were supreme in influence of the spiritual and at times the monastic were. The spiritual cannot be confused with the politic, or govenmental control. Hence we have a realized householder becoming a teacher to one who becomes a monastic and all variance of that thing. Excess of the ngakpas replaced by the monastic in the spiritual forefront in Tibet at times and excess of the monastic replaced by the ngakpas in the spiritual forfront in Tibet at times.A balance to prevent the solidity of the dharma the developement of a strict dogma.

Now the buddha did not abscribe his teachings to writing. Was this due to deficinecy? The buddha was a buddha and written words did exist at the time of his living, We can reasonably assume he if desired could have had means employed to do so.
What can we conclude....he did not want to.
His sanga the community of monks and nuns at the time did also not establish monasteries at his time even though the buddha had very many householders and peoples of kingly lineage who certainly could do so
What can we conclude...he did not want to.

So perhaps buddhism was intentionally a religion of the heart. Not transmittable normally by monastic institution of formal presence such as monasteries of stone and in books of writings.
Perhaps then buddhism was corrupted or degenerated into a dogma if a excess of these things did exist.
Perhaps the threat to buddhism was inherant to the solidity of the dharma considered in the context of the presence of such things and the political alligances and abscripiton to the politic that became necessary by such presence of such edifices external and internal.

My personal conclusion is that there existed various means to prevent buddhism from extending into spiritual degeneracy with varying degree of success. Hence in tibet/mongolia the contrast and two extreams of consideration of sangha, monastic and nagkpa at any time. In Japan perhaps the introduction of the varying reformations which occured at times. All in a spiritual sense allowing the heart of buddhism to extend as opposed to the mechanism of buddhism, which in many cases was the monastic aligned with degree to the politic as exemplified by the chinese experience of this thing.

So if that contention is true, due to unnatural presence of the monastic and the lack of a counterbalance, tibetan buddhism I would assume is doomed to dogmatism eventually. Eventually all dogmatic institutions leading directly to theism by my take.

So if that is true....to create new nalandas in the west..is needed first to find either monastic that reflects monastism of the early buddhist days or to counterbalance this thing of present monasticism with some equilivent of the ngakpa of tibet or reform moverments of japan.
A counterbalance of some form as monasticism with solid structures and the thinking that that implies and necessitates seems to actively work against the heart transmission that seems to be intended, and lead directly to dogmatic thought and hence theism. A final corruption.

Since this is dharma free for all..I thought I would introduce that variance.
I suspect it will not be agreed to however. :smile:

Essentially the necessity for the money, beyond that of the common practice of the day the daily receiving of alms that the buddha himself engaged in....would be inspiring a corruption. If not so..why I would ask..... did the buddha not found his religion or church if it be so called upon a rock, as others did, but on the establishment nothing..... of no permenant homes and no almgiving other than of the daily sort. Though I do believe a certain park was entertained I do not recall any structures being built of solid nature in that park...was that unintentional...I would state...firmly not.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: What needs to be done to create new Nalandas in the west?

Postby Will » Tue Oct 19, 2010 5:26 am

Huifeng wrote:
Will wrote:What was the purpose(s) of the old Buddhist Universities - to educate laymen and/or monastics in general knowledge, in philosophy, Buddhism exclusively or to create sages from lay and monastics? Was it study mainly or were there resident gurus who taught practice also? I am asking, I do not know.

To Ven. Huifeng - How free of Chinese Govt. interference or control are the newly built temples & monasteries?


Well, let's put it this way: All monastics and monasteries are part of the local Buddhist Association, this has a province level Buddhist Association, and in turn is part of the national level Chinese Buddhist Association. This is under the State Authority for Religious Affairs (SARA), which is under the Culture Department, which is itself under the United Front Department.

But pretty much everything has a parallel state authority involved, from the time of having party secretaries in every factory and office, etc.

And this in turn merely echoes the pre-modern situation, whereby one requires state authority for ordination and similar such things. A whole system was present for over 1400 yrs between state and religion, which just varied in its involvement from time to time.


So you do not see major differences between control by a feudal state, a royalist state & a communist state?
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Re: What needs to be done to create new Nalandas in the west?

Postby Astus » Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:44 am

"But still, I think the ongoing dialogue between scientists and Buddhists which the Dalai Lama and others have promoted is an important one and is something which should be continued at a world-class Buddhist university. By discontinuing it, I think modern Buddhists would lose more than they would gain."

It's fine to do and continue the dialogue. It's like the dialogue between religions. It's not with the purpose of "integrating Jesus into the Noble Eightfold Path" but just sharing ideas. My main point is that simply using natural science to analyse certain Buddhist phenomena doesn't make Buddhism modern but only the subject of some researchers.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: What needs to be done to create new Nalandas in the west?

Postby Huifeng » Tue Oct 19, 2010 9:22 am

Will wrote:So you do not see major differences between control by a feudal state, a royalist state & a communist state?


I'm not sure, Will, I don't know much about politics, or the history of political involvement in Buddhism.
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Re: What needs to be done to create new Nalandas in the west?

Postby muni » Tue Oct 19, 2010 11:26 am

http://www.spaceandmotion.com/albert-ei ... eology.htm

"The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description. If there is any religion that could cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism." (Albert Einstein)

Buddhism itself: nothing to add. Buddhism can opening, widening knowledge in co-operation. That ball is yet rolling for the benefit of all, the environment.
Buddhism offers light in the interactive chemistry of our obscurations which can by scientific investigations be proved.
Science cannot harm Buddhism but obscurations whitin.
I sign for team spirit.
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Re: What needs to be done to create new Nalandas in the west?

Postby Luke » Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:10 pm

Astus wrote:"But still, I think the ongoing dialogue between scientists and Buddhists which the Dalai Lama and others have promoted is an important one and is something which should be continued at a world-class Buddhist university."

It's fine to do and continue the dialogue. It's like the dialogue between religions. It's not with the purpose of "integrating Jesus into the Noble Eightfold Path" but just sharing ideas. My main point is that simply using natural science to analyse certain Buddhist phenomena doesn't make Buddhism modern but only the subject of some researchers.


No, I think having a dialogue between Buddhist and scientists and having a dialogue between Buddhists and Christians are two radically different things.

Science proves things which are empirically verifiable (although some theoretical scientists make speculations which can be neither proved nor disproved at the present time); Christianity does not.

To be fair, one might be able to also say that Buddhism posits things which can't be proven or disproven by science, but since we are Buddhists and appreciate the logic and effectiveness of Buddhist teachings, we hold Buddhist teachings in a higher regard than the teachings of other religions.

If science has clearly proven something, such as gravity, then a modern Buddhist has to accept that. A modern Buddhist doesn't have to accept any of the teachings of Christianiy, although he or she can find common ground with Christians in the areas of ethics and compassion.

The Dalai Lama once said that if science could disprove some part of Buddhism, that Buddhists would have to accept that fact.

Science has a special status because it is as close as a person who is a materialist can ever get to absolute truth.
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Re: What needs to be done to create new Nalandas in the west?

Postby Astus » Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:31 pm

"Science proves things which are empirically verifiable"

A very questionable statement, both from a Western philosophical and a Buddhist point of view. But this is not the main issue. Rather it is that science includes no morality, it's rather a technology, a skill, like architecture and shoemaking.

"we hold Buddhist teachings in a higher regard than the teachings of other religions"

Just as it should be done with every other philosophies too, including science.

"If science has clearly proven something, such as gravity, then a modern Buddhist has to accept that."

It is a whole area of problems what constitutes "clear proof". The closest to that kind of investigation is Buddhist epistemology started by Dignaga and Dharmakirti and studied mainly within Tibetan Buddhism. However, when teachings talk about a mind (karma) created world, the basis for objective observation becomes quite unstable.

"Science has a special status because it is as close as a person who is a materialist can ever get to absolute truth."

Science is not the only way to be materialist. Why is it the best then?

More importantly, why should science be the main/sole representative of modernity? It was not just science that made its impact, or rather, not just the scientific way of investigation, since science itself is quite diverse and in constant change. Modernity includes many other things, like social changes and art movements. And by modernity I simply mean the time after WW2, or perhaps we should count it from the invention of the Internet.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: What needs to be done to create new Nalandas in the west?

Postby muni » Tue Oct 19, 2010 5:24 pm

Buddhist university and Science faculties must not be mingled but interact in research.

http://ccare.stanford.edu/

http://thecenter.mit.edu/about/mission/

http://www.mindandlife.org/

together with:
http://www.socialbehavior.uzh.ch/singer.html
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Re: What needs to be done to create new Nalandas in the west?

Postby Luke » Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:20 pm

Astus wrote:"Science proves things which are empirically verifiable"

A very questionable statement, both from a Western philosophical and a Buddhist point of view. But this is not the main issue.

From the standpoint of everyday experience, the predictive power of science is undeniable. If you place the same poles of two bar magnets together, they will repel each other. There is nothing to discuss about things like this. It's just a fact. Whether your philosophy views the magnets as ultimately real or ultimately unreal doesn't effect the outcome.

Astus wrote:Science is not the only way to be materialist. Why is it the best then?

It's the best because it allows us to predict more events successfully and build more things successfully than any other western philosophy. Existentialism alone wouldn't give one enough information to build a laptop. Reading Kierkegaard won't allow one to create a new flu vaccine. Science reigns supreme in these practical matters.

Astus wrote:More importantly, why should science be the main/sole representative of modernity? It was not just science that made its impact, or rather, not just the scientific way of investigation, since science itself is quite diverse and in constant change. Modernity includes many other things, like social changes and art movements. And by modernity I simply mean the time after WW2, or perhaps we should count it from the invention of the Internet.

Sure, people can study other aspects of modernity if they wish, but I would argue that science is one of the most powerful forces of modernity. For example, I would say that quantum physics has had a greater impact on people's lives than Cubism or atonal music.
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Re: What needs to be done to create new Nalandas in the west?

Postby ground » Wed Oct 20, 2010 2:38 am

Luke wrote:There are so many of us westerners who yearn to study Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and/or meditation at a very high level like the Tibetan masters did in the old days.

My question is "What would it take to create new Buddhist centers of learning in every continent of the world which are equivalent to the esteemed, ancient Nalanda University of Naropa and Nagarjuna"?


I think that there is enough opportunity already for those who want to deepen their studies. A vast amount of literature available off-the-shelf, in the internet or in university libraries. Many teachers available all over the world. Buddhist shedras.
It only depends on one's own will, initiative and economic situation. More learning centers will not affect one's own economic situation. For those who cannot afford time and money as a lay practitioner ordaining and entering a monastery to study there always has been an option. So the correct question might be "Are there enough monastic learning institutions?" The answer is that the number of these correlates with the number of buddhist practitioners and monasticism's esteem in a society. Considering the fact that monasticism seems not to be hold in high esteem by western societies in general and western buddhist practioners in particular and considering the fact that there are not many wealthy sponsors the number of monastic learning opportunities has to be considered "enough".


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Re: What needs to be done to create new Nalandas in the west?

Postby Astus » Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:35 am

Luke wrote:Sure, people can study other aspects of modernity if they wish, but I would argue that science is one of the most powerful forces of modernity. For example, I would say that quantum physics has had a greater impact on people's lives than Cubism or atonal music.


Definitely, through science we have now clear tap water (polluted rivers), internet (power plants) and plastic bags. Life has become a lot more convenient, at least for those living in the richer areas of the planet. For others, science gave them job at a factory, machine guns and trucks.

But that is just outer change, change in things we use. In case of Buddhism, I think we better look at the inner parts, the ruling mentality, like consumerism, idolisation of the body, feminism, relationship and family models, physicalism and scientism, new age and neopagan beliefs, etc.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: What needs to be done to create new Nalandas in the west?

Postby Indrajala » Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:51 am

Astus wrote:Definitely, through science we have now clear tap water (polluted rivers), internet (power plants) and plastic bags. Life has become a lot more convenient, at least for those living in the richer areas of the planet. For others, science gave them job at a factory, machine guns and trucks.


Mountain spring water tastes better than any kind of tap water. :smile:

And I don't mean the bottled kind.

In retrospect for all the advances we've had due to scientific development in the last two hundred years or so, they've allowed for and produced many many problems.

I think this is not so much a problem with science, but that science is often detached from appropriate moral and spiritual cultivation. The result is that people will actively use their body of objective knowledge for evil rather than for good. For example, GPS might make it harder to get lost in the wilderness or at sea, but GPS also allows for pin point targeted killings of people from the other side of the planet.

Robert Thurman's comments on this might be of interest. I think he sums up this problem well:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=py_420umlQs

The commercial application of technology likewise fuels its misuse in many cases. If there is a commercial incentive to produce something that while harmful still makes money, it will be produced. That's how society operates. The researcher of commercially non-applicable topics is probably less likely to receive good funding than the guy working on something big business can make use of.
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Re: What needs to be done to create new Nalandas in the west?

Postby Luke » Wed Oct 20, 2010 2:55 pm

TMingyur wrote:For those who cannot afford time and money as a lay practitioner ordaining and entering a monastery to study there always has been an option.

I thought I read that it was traditional for a person to give a rather large donation to the monastery before he or she became a monk or nun? Perhaps I am remembering incorrectly.

Is it really free for a westerner to become a monk/nun?

TMingyur wrote:So the correct question might be "Are there enough monastic learning institutions?" The answer is that the number of these correlates with the number of buddhist practitioners and monasticism's esteem in a society. Considering the fact that monasticism seems not to be hold in high esteem by western societies in general and western buddhist practioners in particular and considering the fact that there are not many wealthy sponsors the number of monastic learning opportunities has to be considered "enough".

That's a very interesting perspective! You're saying that it's more an issue of demand than of supply.

I don't know enough about the world situation to comment on this, but I'd be interested to see what other people think about that point.
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Re: What needs to be done to create new Nalandas in the west?

Postby Astus » Wed Oct 20, 2010 4:20 pm

I think TMingyur's argument is to the point. If somebody wants to study there are different options present. Even if someone is not rich enough to spend even three months in the mountains doing a retreat, there are teachers in the West and quite a lot of translations both online and offline, plus the teachings given by modern teachers. Also, one can choose to become a monk, and there are no application fees.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: What needs to be done to create new Nalandas in the west?

Postby Indrajala » Wed Oct 20, 2010 5:35 pm

Astus wrote:I think TMingyur's argument is to the point. If somebody wants to study there are different options present. Even if someone is not rich enough to spend even three months in the mountains doing a retreat, there are teachers in the West and quite a lot of translations both online and offline, plus the teachings given by modern teachers. Also, one can choose to become a monk, and there are no application fees.


You can be a monk, but it probably won't be in an institution where your native language is spoken (unless you speak Chinese, Thai, Tamil, Cambodian, Cantonese, etc... as your native tongue) and moreover it'll be a hugely different set of cultural norms you'll have to adapt to. Food, courtesy, hierarchy, etc... and of course by virtue of being a foreigner you'll be treated differently whether or not you're a monk in robes. In Asia generally speaking people don't think non-Asians can be Buddhists, let alone monks. So when they see a European or an African for example in robes it doesn't strike them as normal.

If you want to be a monk in a Tibetan lineage, you'll probably need sponsorship of some sort or already be independently wealthy and/or receiving a pension.

AND on top of all this because you'll probably have to go live in a foreign country for your seminary training at least, you'll need to worry about visa requirements. Plus you'll need to study a foreign language, etc...

So while being a monk is nominally free, if you're not Asian it isn't exactly easy. Paperwork issues aside, just by virtue of being a foreigner in Asia in a religious institution you'll be treated differently. One of my friends who is a monk has expressed at length all the nonsense he has has to tolerate living in Taiwan as a monk.

That isn't to say it isn't possible to ordain, but we have a long way to go in getting monasteries, let alone Nalandas, operational in western countries.

I look forward to the day when we can offer spaghetti, not rice, to the preta.
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Re: What needs to be done to create new Nalandas in the west?

Postby Luke » Wed Oct 20, 2010 5:51 pm

Huseng wrote:I look forward to the day when we can offer spaghetti, not rice, to the preta.

Lol. That's the best thing I've read in a long time. If you ever write a book, that should be the last sentence.

And how about a mandala offering of muffins?
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Re: What needs to be done to create new Nalandas in the west?

Postby Indrajala » Wed Oct 20, 2010 6:40 pm

Luke wrote:
Huseng wrote:I look forward to the day when we can offer spaghetti, not rice, to the preta.

Lol. That's the best thing I've read in a long time. If you ever write a book, that should be the last sentence.

And how about a mandala offering of muffins?
Image


Why not apple pie too!


Buddhism is readily adaptable. If you look at the artwork this is most readily apparently.

Here is a Buddha from Gandhara:

Image


Here is a Buddha from Korea:

Image


Notice that the latter looks a bit more Korean than North Indian...

I'm fine with offering kimchi to the Buddhas of the ten directions, but spaghetti, muffins, apple pie or even Icelandic prune cake would just as well be suitable.

It will happen, though, the adaptation to new cultures. It already is. Ajahm Brahm in his dharma talks has spoken of this change. He said he wanted his temple to be suitable for Aussies and not just a reproduction of a temple in Thailand.

The immigrant communities in western nations tend to reproduce their version of Buddhism from home in their new countries. You also get kind of ethnic lines unconsciously drawn. The biggest factor is language. If a Buddhist temple operates entirely in Cambodian or Chinese, then it excludes everyone who doesn't know those languages (unfortunately including the kids of immigrants who might not speak their parents' language well or might not even know it).

And the truth is those kind of temples I imagine don't really want to be cosmopolitan. They serve a function of a community center as much as a religious institution. Religion comes second. I've seen this in both a Vietnamese temple as well as in a Chinese temple back in Canada. They nominally make an effort to include the average canuck with an interest in Buddhism, but not really -that- much effort.

I mean for example the first time I walked into a Foguangshan temple in Canada I was approached by this lady who more or less asked what I wanted. Not even a hello. I asked what kind of activities they have going on. Well, she handed me a pamphlet. They got meditation class once every two weeks Saturday morning and that's in English. The rest of the temple operates in Chinese. The second time I went to a Foguangshan temple was here in Tokyo where one nun told me I probably shouldn't attend the Sunday service because it might be troublesome. Another one was later mocking me and the other white guy asking which of us spoke better Chinese. Haha so funny that the bairen know a bit of Mandarin. :applause: I was kind of surprised that a nun of all people would be so racist.

Incidentally even in Tokyo, another Asian country, that temple doesn't really attract many Japanese. It is for Taiwanese expats. The locals are kind of sort of welcome, but like in Canada, not really...

Foguangshan is an interesting case in that it is a huge international organization with branch temples the world over, but at the end of the day it is a Chinese Buddhist organization for Chinese people. That isn't bad or sinister, but just reveals something about their approach and organization. On the western side there might be a lot of people interested in Buddhism, but from their angle they either don't know how to work out a positive interaction (or maybe just don't want to).

In any case, in such an environment do you expect the locals to really want to settle down in a temple where you're not entirely accepted? I mean be honest -- you're not accepted as "one of them" and they don't really want you there. They won't chase you away, but you won't want to devote long years of your life to such an organization. You might show up for the occasional event and bake sale, but serving on the board of directors or attending regular dharma talks in a language you don't understand?

That's why temples in the west are either known as "ethnic" or for predominately middle-class educated natives. There's little in-between.

It'd be nice if we could have cosmopolitan temples, but the language and cultural divide is quite clearly there.

Odd thing is that in the English speaking world a lot of the most well read and knowledgeable people on Buddhism are not Buddhist. They're researchers at universities who know heaps more than the average Buddhist. They don't practice, but they know a lot about the philosophy, rituals, history, etc... they're also the ones who write the quality books on Buddhism. It isn't necessarily monastics or even devoted lay Buddhists writing the quality books on Buddhism -- it is the non-Buddhist researchers.

Personally I think Buddhist thought should be done by actual Buddhists and not a bunch of armchair intellectuals who coin phrases like "Philosophical Buddhism" and claim to do that sans all the distasteful "Buddhist Religion". You see that kind of nonsense in academia all over the place.

So if you're going to make a Nalanda in the west, you'll first need temples where muffins and spaghetti are on the altar and THEN have properly educated and intelligent Buddhist scholars and meditation masters running a Buddhist university.
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Re: What needs to be done to create new Nalandas in the west?

Postby Astus » Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:58 am

Good post Huseng!

I think there are things to learn from our Christian brethren we live among. They actually know how to spread a religion and do it quite effectively in countries where Jesus is as foreign as Buddha in the West. And even in a mainly Buddhist country like Thailand (0.8% Christian according to the latest (2000) census) there are four Christian universities of different churches. But unlike with the Christian teaching, Buddhism's core teachings are not propagated, or even described by many teachers. I find that mainly Theravada teachers, like Walpola Rahula and K. Sri Dhammananda, published books with the attempt to sum the teachings up in an easily accessible form for a Western audience. I think that is because when teaching Mahayana (Chinese or Tibetan) it is either simplified into a specific teaching and practice (eg. Zen, Dzogchen, Pure Land, Chod) or it gets very complicated, trying to present the whole thing from Abhidharma to Prasangika Madhyamaka. And even if "general Mahayana" is explained - mainly from the Tibetan tradition - it is taught as something actually inferior to Vajrayana which they don't talk about there. So a primary issue - to actually make Buddhism something consumable by a larger audience - is to develop the appropriate presentation of it accepted by the majority of Western Buddhists and not get lost in the differences and varieties of lineages. Again, such thing was attempted only by Theravadin teachers, like Joseph Goldstein, Ajahn Sujato and Ajahn Amaro.
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Mind is this mind carefree;
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Re: What needs to be done to create new Nalandas in the west?

Postby Indrajala » Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:22 am

Astus wrote:Good post Huseng!

I think there are things to learn from our Christian brethren we live among. They actually know how to spread a religion and do it quite effectively in countries where Jesus is as foreign as Buddha in the West. And even in a mainly Buddhist country like Thailand (0.8% Christian according to the latest (2000) census) there are four Christian universities of different churches. But unlike with the Christian teaching, Buddhism's core teachings are not propagated, or even described by many teachers. I find that mainly Theravada teachers, like Walpola Rahula and K. Sri Dhammananda, published books with the attempt to sum the teachings up in an easily accessible form for a Western audience. I think that is because when teaching Mahayana (Chinese or Tibetan) it is either simplified into a specific teaching and practice (eg. Zen, Dzogchen, Pure Land, Chod) or it gets very complicated, trying to present the whole thing from Abhidharma to Prasangika Madhyamaka. And even if "general Mahayana" is explained - mainly from the Tibetan tradition - it is taught as something actually inferior to Vajrayana which they don't talk about there. So a primary issue - to actually make Buddhism something consumable by a larger audience - is to develop the appropriate presentation of it accepted by the majority of Western Buddhists and not get lost in the differences and varieties of lineages. Again, such thing was attempted only by Theravadin teachers, like Joseph Goldstein, Ajahn Sujato and Ajahn Amaro.


Churches, like Mosques too, grow because they foster community spirit. You can belong there, feel welcome, devote your time to it and treat it like a second family.

Buddhist temples serve the same function too, but with the so-called "ethnic" temples they serve a certain demographic of the population.

And that's why for example if you're a native English speaker Buddhist in Canada trying to get involved in a temple where you're not really welcome or accepted might be training in patience and tolerance, but you won't want to raise your kids in such a place or devote years of your life to it.

On the other hand, immigrants generally probably won't take much interest in dharma centers made up predominately of a middle-class natives whose interests are different.

How do you get the two sides together? That's really tough. I've seen one attempt at a Vietnamese temple, but what it amounts to is a segregated temple community where on Friday night all the native canucks, at most twenty, show up for meditation and maybe one or two Vietnamese, but then on Sunday when regular services in Vietnamese are conducted the temple overflows with kids, adults, grandparents and a few token canucks who need translation.

One observation to made though there is that the younger generation, even the novices, speak English to one another. So when they're in charge the temple will presumably drop Vietnamese as the standard language and operate in English which is more natural for those born and raised in Canada.
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