Young Asian American Buddhists are reclaiming narrative after decades of white dominance

Discuss the application of the Dharma to situations of social, political, environmental and economic suffering and injustice.
SilenceMonkey
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Re: Young Asian American Buddhists are reclaiming narrative after decades of white dominance

Post by SilenceMonkey »

Johnny Dangerous wrote: Tue Jul 13, 2021 8:43 am
It’s maybe not as cut and dry as we’d like to make it... I’m just saying that forces of modernity tend to push out traditional practices. Modern people often aren’t interested in making offerings, pujas for the dead, etc... People tend to want to learn meditation and find relief from their mental health issues.

Even Mingyur Rinpoche and Tsoknyi Rinpoche modernized their traditions a great deal to deliver a meditation focused Buddhism for westerners. Even HH the Dalai Lama changed with modernity, though maybe his changes didn’t lead to the Tibet Houses around the world ignoring as many of the traditional practices as Mingyur and Tsoknyi’s groups might have.

I’m talking about a cultural trend, which is hard to pinpoint with specifics. And it has to do with the preferences of people in the sanghas. So many places I’ve seen in the west don’t even take the five precepts seriously. People choose what aspect of tradition speaks to them and tend to disregard the rest.

So as the culture changes, traditional forms of Buddhism fall more and more into the shadows.
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Young Asian American Buddhists are reclaiming narrative after decades of white dominance

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

I read an interesting statement recently:
“Everybody’s suffering is different, but nobody’s suffering is unique” which means that while the specifics may vary from person to person, it’s all basically the same anguish. This topic reminds me of that quote, because, while I won’t even begin to assume to know to have a Buddhist upbringing in an Asian-American context, I think I understand the sentiment being expressed in the article, because when you grow up with something, it belongs to you, and it will always belong to you.
I grew up celebrating Christmas every December. The tree, the stockings, Santa, all that. And my family still gets into it every year. In that sense, it belongs to me. It’s something I know how to do. It has lots of memories associated with it, and so on.
So, I can appreciate the viewpoint of someone who, for example, as a child went to the temple every week with their grandmother and learned to light incense and pray to Kuan Yin, and to live with values associated with that. Now, I can do that, just as someone raised Buddhist can leave out cookies and milk for santa. But it won’t have the same internal associations or personal meanings. In that sense, I would say that “Everybody’s reality is different, but nobody’s reality is unique”. It may just be that inherited-Buddhism and converted-to Buddhism are the same in form, but very different in content.
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PeterC
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Re: Young Asian American Buddhists are reclaiming narrative after decades of white dominance

Post by PeterC »

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Tue Jul 13, 2021 4:35 pm “Everybody’s suffering is different, but nobody’s suffering is unique”
"All happy families are alike: each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way"
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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Young Asian American Buddhists are reclaiming narrative after decades of white dominance

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

SilenceMonkey wrote: Tue Jul 13, 2021 3:35 pm
Johnny Dangerous wrote: Tue Jul 13, 2021 8:43 am
It’s maybe not as cut and dry as we’d like to make it... I’m just saying that forces of modernity tend to push out traditional practices. Modern people often aren’t interested in making offerings, pujas for the dead, etc... People tend to want to learn meditation and find relief from their mental health issues.
1) Not all traditions emphasize things like making offerings or pujas for the dead, or at least, they do so to greatly varying degrees. In fact, there have always been areas of Buddhist practice more focused on other things - philosophy and meditation for instance, even if prior to modernity no one made a clear, identity-based distinction between them.

2) Buddhism has always been used for "mental health" in some sense as well, so the issue is how it is being used there, and what it presents itself as.. it's not some new thing to do that, it is the formalization of "mental health" as a discrete and sometimes category that is new. Having a healthy, strong and resilient mind has always been an integral part of Buddhism, though (like all these pieces) was emphasized to greater or lesser degrees in different times and places.
Even Mingyur Rinpoche and Tsoknyi Rinpoche modernized their traditions a great deal to deliver a meditation focused Buddhism for westerners. Even HH the Dalai Lama changed with modernity, though maybe his changes didn’t lead to the Tibet Houses around the world ignoring as many of the traditional practices as Mingyur and Tsoknyi’s groups might have.
Yes, what is relevant to people changes with culture, there are pitfalls there, but it is to be expected. It is also completely unstoppable, so the smart money to my mind is on being critical about how it changes and really doing our best in our own practice and to prioritize a sense of self-honesty, so that that honesty effects whatever changes come over time. In other words, internalizing the teachings as best we can.
I’m talking about a cultural trend, which is hard to pinpoint with specifics. And it has to do with the preferences of people in the sanghas. So many places I’ve seen in the west don’t even take the five precepts seriously. People choose what aspect of tradition speaks to them and tend to disregard the rest.
That has always been the case, and when it is not the case it can be due to cultural norms, not necessarily due to people taking practice or study seriously. Seriously though, Buddhists not taking the precepts seriously is hardly a ‘Western’ invention.
So as the culture changes, traditional forms of Buddhism fall more and more into the shadows.
Again, I think you are taking one particular expression (it sounds like focus on social and ritual aspects maybe?) and calling it "traditional Buddhism", when in fact traditional Buddhism is quite a wide range of overlapping things. - even within specific traditions, hell, even withing specific lineages within specific traditions. Buddhism is pretty anarchic across the board, compared to religions which have a big drive towards standardization.

We could spend all day trying to find "traditional Buddhism", I think we would likely get further trying to seek what is Dharma with a capital D, which sometimes might have a ultra-traditional Orthodox package, and other times might be on the opposite end of the spectrum.
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PeterC
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Re: Young Asian American Buddhists are reclaiming narrative after decades of white dominance

Post by PeterC »

SilenceMonkey wrote: Tue Jul 13, 2021 3:35 pm
Johnny Dangerous wrote: Tue Jul 13, 2021 8:43 am
It’s maybe not as cut and dry as we’d like to make it... I’m just saying that forces of modernity tend to push out traditional practices. Modern people often aren’t interested in making offerings, pujas for the dead, etc... People tend to want to learn meditation and find relief from their mental health issues.
Perhaps older rituals for death, sickness, luck etc are less in favor. But the ‘modern’ or ‘western’ audiences absolutely do engage in ritualistic/therapeutic behavior, and a lot of it. I suspect that modern people actually spend more time on getting over events in life than we did a few centuries ago.
Giovanni
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Re: Young Asian American Buddhists are reclaiming narrative after decades of white dominance

Post by Giovanni »

PeterC wrote: Sun Jul 18, 2021 5:34 am
SilenceMonkey wrote: Tue Jul 13, 2021 3:35 pm
Johnny Dangerous wrote: Tue Jul 13, 2021 8:43 am
It’s maybe not as cut and dry as we’d like to make it... I’m just saying that forces of modernity tend to push out traditional practices. Modern people often aren’t interested in making offerings, pujas for the dead, etc... People tend to want to learn meditation and find relief from their mental health issues.
Perhaps older rituals for death, sickness, luck etc are less in favor. But the ‘modern’ or ‘western’ audiences absolutely do engage in ritualistic/therapeutic behavior, and a lot of it. I suspect that modern people actually spend more time on getting over events in life than we did a few centuries ago.
I think this is both true and important. The main difference between eastern and western ways of processing loss or affirming wisdom is that the west reduced its options sooner. The east will catch up. And it gets complicated..Situ Rinpoche once said that Dharma had to come west to lose accretions, and what would follow would be of great benefit to both east and west because Dharma is of neither.
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