Indrajala wrote:Ladakhi nuns I met reported the same cruelty at Foguang Shan (maybe we're talking about the same people?). One told me how they went into her room unannounced and took photographs of a thangka and then proceeded to tell her Tibetan Buddhism is heretical.
You know, individuals in such a massive organisation each will have their own views. One can't speak of such things as policy. Perhaps expectedly, I've heard far worse things towards Mahayana Buddhism in general from individual Theravadans, that doesn't mean everyone who practices Theravada is like that. Such behaviour will come as a surprise and appear rude to many people within such massive organisations also - the staff also rotates, and not everyone may stick around forever. Obviously, you'll find some Tibetan looking stuff at FGS, either on sale or display. Incidentally, the place where I was staying there had a lovely framed Kalacakra tenfold powerful symbol.
JKhedrup wrote:As long as one follows the rules and is not belligerent, I don't see how one can be considered a burden. Are ESL students a burden? No, they simply have different needs.
Well, having different needs can be a burden if the resources or skills to meet it are not present at hand. In fact, based upon what I have heard and seen, it wasn't always successful, so it is probably a burden at times. But interpretations of what burden is differs from culture to culture, as below.
JKhedrup wrote:In terms of the issue of cultural accomodation, when localization is a stated primary goal of several of the organizations, one could be forgiven for thinking there might be some level of cultural accomodation.
The definition of localization that I've heard first-hand is pretty far from a notion of cultural accommodation - more like localizing to the needs of the immigrant community. Certainly there seems to have been a very ambitious goal in the past. Perhaps it became too onerous. I think we should try to be understanding with regards to what is deemed easy or difficult by people of different cultures. In some cultures, what seems to be common sense or just a simple task, is just so troublesome to the mind that one can't even consider it. I have a friend who lived in Japan who said that one of the issues he had with working there was that he couldn't get anything changed when it was difficult. In fact, the issue he was referring to was an unpathed path from the school he was teaching at to the road, which dipped down in the middle. When it rained the middle of the path would get muddy and everyone would walk around the school with mud on their shoes and socks. My friend decided to mention his idea of building a small bridge over this tiny dip in the path to another teacher, who was Japanese. The response he got was one that you simply wouldn't find in the west, the task was just incomprehensible because it would cause too much trouble and take time and disrupt people's routine. He said something like "no no no, that would just be too hard, we just can't do that." Regardless, my friend brought this up at a meeting, at which the other Japanese teacher had a look on his face of extreme shock, he could not believe he would make such a laborious request of his principle. The principle said the same thing, "that would just be too hard, we don't mind mopping the floor." My friend knew enough about Japanese culture at that point to know that he couldn't argue once his superior had made up his mind - it was final and you couldn't negotiate any further. This is simply the way westerners approach the question of CSL and localization - "Oh it's just so easy, all you need to do is ... ABC." But, it doesn't work that way, and we mustn't expect it to. They won't change or u-turn what has been decided upon and established - but if a new initiative is set up, it may get something new done. For instance, if at the construction of that school, the architect included a bridge, then there would be no problem. As far as FGS goes, they manage to initiate and accomplish massive tasks. But as far as localization goes, this was just a byword: there was never built a monastery for western monastics, and IBPS is really just for laity. So fundamentally, there's little reason to expect accomplishment.
JKhedrup wrote:Your points would hold true if promises were not made to such people.
Obviously I can't address specific issues, I only know what you've told me. I'm as offended by such rudeness as you are. I also don't know what promises were made and broken. As for westerners, which is what this is about, in 2014, we have every opportunity to inform ourselves, and no excuse to go into such situations completely duped, insulted, and betrayed.
JKhedrup wrote:The fundamental problem is overseas people are still being actively recruited, while their is sn entrenched attitude that any discussion of these issues is ungrateful criticism. It is tragic because the resources are there to allow the efforts to be successful, and I think Chinese Buddhism is a fascinating and rich tradition.
I don't know anything about recruits or recruiting - at least from the western side, which is what this is about, I've never seen or heard of it done. I've only been given the advice of caution, prudence, preparation, and to spend years developing viable alternative options. Never have I seen enthusiastic recruitment - if anything, the furthest from - dissuasion and caution, to be careful what one is getting into. Ladhaki nuns aren't westerners, and whatever they experienced at whatever time in the past with regards to recruitment seems to be non-existent in the west. As far as Africans go, I have no idea what the situation is in Africa, except that there are at least 4 Congolese monks currently at FGS Taiwan and one in Congo-Brazzaville, the company of whom I enjoyed very much and with whom I was able to practice a bit of French. Yes, I agree there is great potential as far as resources go but.. you know it is all "very hard." I really don't think we should expect too much out of Chinese Buddhist organisations as far as westerners go, and I know for certain that by and large they really are not making irresponsible promises to westerners in 2014 - individual experiences may vary.