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Andrew Olendzki on Protestant Buddhism - Dhamma Wheel

Andrew Olendzki on Protestant Buddhism

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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mikenz66
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Andrew Olendzki on Protestant Buddhism

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Mar 01, 2012 9:07 am


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mikenz66
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Re: Andrew Olendzki on Protestant Buddhism

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Mar 02, 2012 6:09 am

Insight Journal is available here:
http://www.dharma.org/bcbs/Pages/insight_journal.html

:anjali:
Mike

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Ben
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Re: Andrew Olendzki on Protestant Buddhism

Postby Ben » Fri Mar 02, 2012 6:19 am

Thank you Mike, that looks excellent.
kind regards,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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ground
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Re: Andrew Olendzki on Protestant Buddhism

Postby ground » Tue Mar 06, 2012 3:59 am

Nice products but which one to choose? or protestant buddhism? Perhaps assortment of buddhisms is still too small for demanding consumers? :thinking:

Kind regards

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Re: Andrew Olendzki on Protestant Buddhism

Postby kirk5a » Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:25 am

The attitude there sounds good. Attempts to deny what maybe could be called the "traditional understanding," that it was all metaphor for psychological states, that it was all in the terms of the culture of the day, and so forth... really start to hurt my brain after awhile.

“Here is an interesting new way of understanding things that I
find particularly meaningful.”

Yes that helps avoid antagonizing others with a different perspective.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Re: Andrew Olendzki on Protestant Buddhism

Postby zavk » Fri Mar 09, 2012 1:37 pm

Thanks for posting this Mike. As you know, this is a topic which I'm very interested in and concerned about. I'd like to extrapolate on what Olendzki suggests. I've written a long post as this is touches on what I've been coming to terms with both personally and professionally. So I thank anyone in advance if you stay with me.

I've raised questions about Protestant Buddhism several times in past discussions. I don't really see it as a necessarily negative term though—it simply points to a HISTORICALLY SITUATED interpretation of Buddhism, and there's nothing inherently 'good' or 'bad' about that. If anything, it affirms what we learn in Buddhism about the conditioned nature of reality. However, as Olendzki alludes to somewhat obliquely, problems may arise when such a historically situated interpretation is not recognised as such, when conditionality is not recognised as conditionality (isn't this ignorance what we're all striving to overcome?). The modern, textualised, rationalistic approach to Buddhism which foregrounds meditation over other communal, ritual, and/or devotional practices IS one such historically situated interpretation.

Yet, if we simply survey discourses on Buddhism today (especially those circulating in Western cultures), we find that they tend to present themselves as Buddhism stripped bare of the 'cultural trappings' of Asian societies. Accordingly, these discourses tend to also present themselves, sometimes explicitly and sometimes implicitly, as how Buddhism was 'originally' meant to be. Now, it is certainly important that the approaches to Buddhism we adopt should not simply take on the cultural habits of other societies which are not conditioned for our own environments and settings; we have to approach the Dhamma in ways that address the needs of our own environments and settings. But if this is the case, then, the modern approaches to Buddhism we follow are far from being free of cultural trappings—they are in fact thoroughly cultural, shaped by historically specific conditions, arising out of a particular time and place. And while it is important to be careful that we do not misunderstand the teachings—hence, the need for ongoing clarification and exchange of views—to attempt to legitimise one's interpretation of Buddhism on the basis of 'originality' becomes unhelpful as it obscures the historically situatedness of one's own understanding, the conditonality enabling one's own interpretation in the first place—not to mention that it leads to conflict and sectarianism.

A key problem, I believe, is that the idea of 'modern' is widely assumed as neutral and universal. But it is not. It developed out of a specific European history. And part of this European history involves colonialism. The domination of colonialism was secured by projecting a Eurocentric worldview as a kind of neutral, universal standard for evaluating the progress of civilizations. When judged against such a supposedly neutral and universal standard, the worldviews, customs, beliefs, and practices of non-Western civilizations are then at best regarded as 'cultural trappings' which would be naturally discarded as they 'progress' towards modernity, or at worse indicative of moral and/or intellectual deficiencies.

We of course now live in a so-called postcolonial era, but the effects of Western imperialism still reverberates on in many ways. As I'm sure you are aware, critics of globalisation have pointed out how the international monetary system and the powerful influence of Western-owned multinational corporations reflect some of the more concrete after-effects of Western imperialism. But there are other more subtle ways in which these after-effects persist. What Olenzki suggests—i.e. being mindful of how our understanding and practice of the Dhamma developed out of a historically situated process of 'Protestantism'; being circumspect about how we talk about 'modern Buddhism' vis-a-vis 'traditional Buddhism'—is one way to be aware of the subtle reverberations of these after-effects, a way to be heedful so that we do not perpetuate the unskilfulness of prior historical moments that still cast a long shadow over us.

Being someone who straddles cultures—someone who grew up learning his 'mother tongue' as a second language in school (yet, still being totally incompetent in the language because of my preference for the entertainment genres of the West); someone for whom his ancestral inheritance of Buddhism made no sense until it was re-presented and made intelligible in Western ways of thinking—the tensions arising out of these after-effects are especially acute for me. So I'm very glad and thankful that a prominent lay, Western teacher like Olendzki is making the effort to raise awareness about this issue. And thanks again Mike for posting this!

:anjali:
With metta,
zavk

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Re: Andrew Olendzki on Protestant Buddhism

Postby Nyana » Fri Mar 09, 2012 4:59 pm

:goodpost:

Well said Zavk.

Here are a couple of aspects of Theravāda Buddhism that are worth keeping:

ImageImage

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mikenz66
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Re: Andrew Olendzki on Protestant Buddhism

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Mar 09, 2012 6:56 pm

Thanks Zavk for your interesting analysis, both in this thread and elsewhere.

Thankfully, I've found that extremely polarized attitudes seldom arise when interacting out in the "real world". It would just be so ridiculous as to be laughable to go to a gathering of some of the most like-minded people one can locate within 100 km and complain about technicalities of interpretation, rather than try to learn from their experience.

In fact, I'm going to a day-long session with a visiting Insight teacher today. Listening to her talks off the internet I tend to fund myself focusing on picky technicalities like "where did the Buddha say that?", but she led a free-form discussion a few days ago that clearly demonstrated that she is worth paying some attention to. So, in fact, I think that these encounters with people of different views is a very useful way of examining one's own prejudices.

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Andrew Olendzki on Protestant Buddhism

Postby Moth » Thu Mar 22, 2012 6:30 am

Hey Nana, those are very nice pictures. What monastery is that?
May you be happy. May you be a peace. May you be free from suffering.
http://www.everythingspirals.com

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Re: Andrew Olendzki on Protestant Buddhism

Postby Nyana » Thu Mar 22, 2012 6:44 am


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Re: Andrew Olendzki on Protestant Buddhism

Postby Buckwheat » Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:32 pm

I quite fancy this perspective. Especially the fact that it recognizes its own "perspectiveness".

I tried for the last several months to embrace letting go of my views that trend toward secular, and I am coming to the realization that I just can't do it. I'm not going to believe rebirth until it hits me in the face, and even then I might be too stubborn to acknowledge it. So I really do fall into one of the more secular, modern approaches, but I also can't stand when a modernist stands up and proclaims insight into "what the Buddha really taught" as if they are the next prophet. This approach seems to be a middle way: this is how Buddhism fits into our current world view, but we have to also recognize the consequences of cramming dhamma into the small box of our current world view. Of course, I think the very enlightened individuals can move past this whole non-sense, but I for one am still struggling with very basic matters.

Thanks Mike, zavk, and Nana for your posts.

:anjali:
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

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Re: Andrew Olendzki on Protestant Buddhism

Postby Zom » Thu Mar 22, 2012 5:01 pm


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Re: Andrew Olendzki on Protestant Buddhism

Postby Goofaholix » Thu Mar 22, 2012 6:22 pm


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Re: Andrew Olendzki on Protestant Buddhism

Postby Ferox » Thu Mar 22, 2012 7:21 pm

-just one more being treading the ancient path of Dhamma-

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Re: Andrew Olendzki on Protestant Buddhism

Postby Buckwheat » Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:52 pm

Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

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Re: Andrew Olendzki on Protestant Buddhism

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:06 am



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