Prejudice against Buddhists in the West

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

Re: Prejudice against Buddhists in the West

Postby Nighthawk » Sat Apr 28, 2012 3:46 am

I don't go around advertising that I'm a Buddhist nor do I take weeks off from work in order to do a retreat, therefore have never faced any prejudice.
User avatar
Nighthawk
 
Posts: 756
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 8:04 am

Re: Prejudice against Buddhists in the West

Postby Indrajala » Sat Apr 28, 2012 3:56 am

There are occasionally people who insist that white people can't be Buddhist.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5565
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

Re: Prejudice against Buddhists in the West

Postby odysseus » Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:00 am

I´ve had some fools come on to me with bad comments and attempts of ridicule. But after some talk the comments subsided. I try to be patient when these kind of things happen and realise it`s due to their ignorance and therefore they can`t help it.
It´s our duty as sentient beings to fight evil!

-- Mr. Obama
User avatar
odysseus
 
Posts: 267
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2012 11:50 pm

Re: Prejudice against Buddhists in the West

Postby AlexanderS » Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:11 pm

No, I havn't received any. People have been incredibly interested in Buddhism when talking to me. Unfortunately I now know that my understanding has wrong and limited when I have explained my own understanding.
AlexanderS
 
Posts: 284
Joined: Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:58 am

Re: Prejudice against Buddhists in the West

Postby Jikan » Sat Apr 28, 2012 5:04 pm

Huseng wrote:There are occasionally people who insist that white people can't be Buddhist.


I understand that black folk get that too from time to time, from more than one direction (at least in the US)
Jikan
Site Admin
 
Posts: 4290
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm

Re: Prejudice against Buddhists in the West

Postby Jnana » Sun Apr 29, 2012 1:50 am

Knotty Veneer wrote:This is a question for Buddhists in the West. Have you ever encountered prejudice? Whether from people of other religions or from official sources. Do people consider you flaky, unserious or possibly a member of a cult?

I don't know if this counts but I've met some Western Buddhists who I've found to be flaky, unserious, or possibly a member of a cult.

:tongue:
Jnana
 
Posts: 1106
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:58 pm

Re: Prejudice against Buddhists in the West

Postby Adamantine » Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:04 am

Well, mostly from certain family members ironically... especially sarcastic remarks like "that's not very Buddhist of you" while trying to manipulate a particular course of action.. or belittling me for being half-assed about it because I have not become a monk. I don't know if this truly qualifies as prejudice, but it certainly seems tainted by it. Certainly the source is the same, --ignorance and negative emotion.
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
User avatar
Adamantine
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 2680
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 7:09 am

Re: Prejudice against Buddhists in the West

Postby Luke » Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:12 am

I've never had much of a problem in Hungary beyond getting a few awkward silences. People have generally been quite respectful to me about it.

Also, I find that the more I practice ngondro, the more peaceful and joyful my mind becomes and the fewer enemies I have!
I hope that all of you who wish to practice ngondro will be able to do so without obstacles! Om Benza Sato Hung
User avatar
Luke
 
Posts: 1561
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 9:04 pm

Re: Prejudice against Buddhists in the West

Postby gyougan » Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:17 am

Adamantine wrote:Well, mostly from certain family members ironically... especially sarcastic remarks like "that's not very Buddhist of you" while trying to manipulate a particular course of action


^^^ THIS!
gyougan
 
Posts: 79
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2011 3:37 pm
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Re: Prejudice against Buddhists in the West

Postby Knotty Veneer » Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:38 am

Jikan wrote:
Huseng wrote:There are occasionally people who insist that white people can't be Buddhist.


I understand that black folk get that too from time to time, from more than one direction (at least in the US)


That is interesting. Buddhism in the West is also criticised for being very white and middle class . While this is certainly true I don't think any group I have ever visited would ever exclude anybody from membership. However, the number of black Buddhists I have met in twenty years I could count on the fingers of one hand.

Just to be clear, I am not accusing black people of being prejudiced against Buddhism. Rather, I am asking what is it about Buddhism in the West that is unattractive to black people. Is there a subtle racism there - perceived or otherwise? Is there some other reason? I'd be interested in what people think.

Also, one could also extend this to examine why Western Buddhists tend to come from Christian, Jewish or non-religious back grounds. I don't think I've ever met a Western Buddhist from a Muslim or Sikh background.

It should also not be forgotten that a lot of Western Buddhists are of Asian origin too.
You cannot polish a turd - however a pleasing effect can be attained by rolling one in glitter.
Knotty Veneer
 
Posts: 340
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:50 pm

Re: Prejudice against Buddhists in the West

Postby Adamantine » Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:54 am

Knotty Veneer wrote: However, the number of black Buddhists I have met in twenty years I could count on the fingers of one hand.



Well, off the top of my head I instantly can think of more than 10 that I know personally.. and that's without trying very hard to jog the memory. Certainly, black Buddhists are in the minority in the USA, but proportionally that may just mirror the population differential: let's not forget, black people are a minority in the USA, making up only about 13% of the overall population-- and whites making up about 72%.
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
User avatar
Adamantine
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 2680
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 7:09 am

Re: Prejudice against Buddhists in the West

Postby steveb1 » Sun Apr 29, 2012 10:38 am

There's a fundamentalist attitude sort of floating around that Buddha is a "pagan god" or that he existed and didn't mean any harm, but he was still a sinner who needs to be redeemed by Jesus. For them, the only sinless person was Jesus - everyone else, including Buddha, is a Hell-bound sinner. So Buddhists, like Buddha, need Jesus or they'll go to Hell...
steveb1
 
Posts: 244
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 9:37 am

Re: Prejudice against Buddhists in the West

Postby Knotty Veneer » Sun Apr 29, 2012 11:48 am

steveb1 wrote:There's a fundamentalist attitude sort of floating around that Buddha is a "pagan god" or that he existed and didn't mean any harm, but he was still a sinner who needs to be redeemed by Jesus. For them, the only sinless person was Jesus - everyone else, including Buddha, is a Hell-bound sinner. So Buddhists, like Buddha, need Jesus or they'll go to Hell...


I have never been that worried about prejudice from religous fundamentalists. It is what fundamentalists "do".

I remember a story told by a friend of mine who was with his teacher Lama Yeshe Losal of Samye Ling. They were in a Glasgow street one day, when a middle-aged Christian fundamentalist rushed up to Lama Yeshe and began berating him and shouting that he would go to hell. Lama Yeshe is said to have replied that he was very sorry but she appeared to have gotten there before him. :)
You cannot polish a turd - however a pleasing effect can be attained by rolling one in glitter.
Knotty Veneer
 
Posts: 340
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:50 pm

Re: Prejudice against Buddhists in the West

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:29 pm

I've been predjudiced against for being too Buddhist rather than too flaky. I was warned, by the president of non-profit company that I helped found, against making references to Buddhism or Buddhist theory when making public appearances. I was constantly making public appearances due to my role as a group therapy counsellor (using mindfullness meditation as a part of the therapy process). It got to the point where I quit the company since I got sick of listening to the bitching and because they became too involved with members of the Christian Orthodox Church hierarchy. I imagine that they thought that my public stated belief in Buddhism belief put the companies business ventures at risk.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
User avatar
Sherab Dorje
Former staff member
 
Posts: 7905
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Prejudice against Buddhists in the West

Postby NIRMAL2 » Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:57 pm

Our fierce looking protectors are called devils by them.
NIRMAL2
 
Posts: 124
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:48 am

Re: Prejudice against Buddhists in the West

Postby Nemo » Sun Apr 29, 2012 4:02 pm

Didn't Jehovah kill all the babies in Egypt that didn't have some sort of sigil in blood over the door one night? Isn't Sunday a day tradtionally good for worshipping demons?

:stirthepot:
User avatar
Nemo
 
Posts: 586
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2010 3:23 am
Location: Canada

Re: Prejudice against Buddhists in the West

Postby Ogyen » Sun Apr 29, 2012 11:13 pm

people don't ask me, I don't tell. I don't tend to advertise it or reveal I'm Buddhist. I mean when religion comes up, and I'm asked about god, I simply state that I don't believe in a creator god, and if anything I might be close to an atheist. That tends to stop most conversations about religion about "what do you believe?" I talk about buddhism all the time, without using buddhist language. Cause-effect, kindness and compassion, just being good to those you might have rely on yourself (others) - all the human stuff. They usually think I'm some humanitarian chick. The most overt prejudice I've encountered had more to do with my brown skin, being of mixed ethnicity, or female gender..
Image Made from 100% recycled karma

The Heart Drive Word Press
Mud to Lotus

"To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget." –Arundhati Roy
User avatar
Ogyen
 
Posts: 446
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2009 5:36 pm

Re: Prejudice against Buddhists in the West

Postby MuMun » Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:01 am

Interesting responses.

I live in a city with a small-town feel, with Christian churches on seemingly on every corner and where it is considered normal and expected to profess one's faith in Jesus in everyday conversation. Like most tight-knit communities, people talk about each other. It's not all negative gossip. People are naturally curious about people who move into town. I don't "advertise" or "wear a placard" about being a Buddhist (I don't even wear beads), but people know anyway, the same way they know that my wife is a Christian. Because people talk and ask questions and we have nothing to hide. Since I started a zen center in the city, more people know now than before.

I don't get asked about it very much. A lot of people don't care, and people who have a problem with it don't want to talk about it. The questions and comments I have heard have reflected a simple lack of knowledge or misinformation. I've never been accused of being part of a cult. Mostly, people ask me what my beliefs are about God, when they ask anything at all; and one lay leader of a local church had a lot of questions about what kind of social work or charity work Buddhists do. (He didn't ask any questions about God.) And still others are genuinely open-minded and curious, asking questions almost apologetically, as if sorry for bothering me.

Behind my back, there is some talk. Members of my wife's family even asked her to reconsider marrying me as little as two weeks before our wedding. After a couple of years, these fears eased a great deal because they would come over to the house and see me doing "normal" things like mowing the lawn, hanging our son upside down, and kissing my wife on top of her head. They didn't care about me being Buddhist as much as they cared about whether I'd be a good husband for their daughter.
MuMun
 
Posts: 28
Joined: Fri Apr 13, 2012 4:17 pm
Location: Deming, New Mexico

Re: Prejudice against Buddhists in the West

Postby MuMun » Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:09 am

One more response, if I may, regarding employers and retreats. I have two stories I will keep short.

1. I worked an office job at the American Jewish Committee in Los Angeles, a non-profit organization that involved itself in community dialogue locally. My boss was a rabbi. During my time at this organization, an opportunity came up to go off and do a 90-day zen retreat. There was no way I was getting that kind of time off, but it was time to do it, and so I went into the rabbi's office and told him I was giving my notice. He was stunned, and I explained why. He nodded sadly and said, "That's important to do. We're going to be very sorry to lose you."

Later that day, he called me into his office again. "I have been talking to the national office," he said, "And they have approved unpaid leave. Have a wonderful retreat, and get back here when you can. Your job will be waiting for you."



2. At a different time, I was interviewing for jobs and had an interview with the L.A. chapter of the ACLU for an administrative position. The ACLU is, of course, the American Civil Liberties Union, an organization that defends individual rights and fights various kinds of oppression including religious intolerance in the workplace.

It was very ironic that at this organization -- and ONLY this organization -- I was asked point blank about my past employment with Buddhist organizations, asked about my personal meditation practice, and asked to explain how someone who meditates could keep up with the pace of a busy office. I was stunned; almost wondered if they were testing my mettle. I responded by explaining that meditation *helped* me retain focus and center in busy work environments.

Never got a second interview for that job. ACLU, how about that.
MuMun
 
Posts: 28
Joined: Fri Apr 13, 2012 4:17 pm
Location: Deming, New Mexico

Re: Prejudice against Buddhists in the West

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Apr 30, 2012 9:14 am

Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury!
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
User avatar
Sherab Dorje
Former staff member
 
Posts: 7905
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

PreviousNext

Return to Open Dharma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: hop.pala, Kim O'Hara, mikenz66 and 11 guests

>