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

Discuss the application of the Dharma to situations of social, political, environmental and economic suffering and injustice.
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Cause_and_Effect
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Young Asian American Buddhists are reclaiming narrative after decades of white dominance (continued)

Post by Cause_and_Effect »

Split from previous topic by narhwal90 because of its age

https://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.p ... 13#p600713

FiveSkandhas wrote: Sun Jul 11, 2021 6:25 pm One of the teeth-grindingly annoying cliches I often hear tossed about by more "casual" Western practitioners who may identify as Buddhist is "Buddhism is not a religion, it's a philosophy." Or sometimes "a way of life", whatever that means.

Nope nope nope, sorry Dharma-lite folks, it's a religion. There are millions and millions of devout Asian Buddhists who have not a clue about Madyamaka versus Yogacara tenet systems or what have you, but who devoutly chant in front of the family alter each morning, venerate their ancestors and the Buddhas/Bodhisattvas from the heart rather than the cerebral cortex.
Perhaps 'Buddhism' in its myriad cultural forms is a religion. But is the Dhamma in its essence a 'religion?', especially in the sense Westerners are most familiar?
Yes and no. Many in the West are not 'joining Buddhism', they are embracing the Dhamma.

Its a religion because it does address ultimate questions of salvation and deliverance. However unlike the monotheistic faiths its not based on blind faith to a deity and the criteria of being an adherent is not reciting some phrase and pledging allegiance or belief in some messiah or prophet figure.

So the Dhamma is much closer to being a system of ethics and psychology in practice, and a 'way of life'. If people want to distance themselves and Dharma practice from associations of religion based on what the term most commonly conjures up in the West that is fine.
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Re: Young Asian American Buddhists are reclaiming narrative after decades of white dominance (continued)

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Cause_and_Effect wrote: Tue Dec 26, 2023 5:55 pm It’s a religion because it does address ultimate questions of salvation and deliverance. However unlike the monotheistic faiths it’s not based on blind faith to a deity and the criteria of being an adherent is not reciting some phrase and pledging allegiance or belief in some messiah or prophet figure.
Generally, your point is well taken.

But be careful not to say ‘it’s not religion in the sense that it doesn’t resemble monotheistic religions’ as though that’s what defines religion.

What we can say is that Buddhism is non theistic.

Buddhism in China resembles Taoism. In the Himalayas it resembles Hinduism. In the west, it resembles Greek logic and western psychology.
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Re: Young Asian American Buddhists are reclaiming narrative after decades of white dominance (continued)

Post by PeterC »

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Thu Dec 28, 2023 1:39 am
Cause_and_Effect wrote: Tue Dec 26, 2023 5:55 pm It’s a religion because it does address ultimate questions of salvation and deliverance. However unlike the monotheistic faiths it’s not based on blind faith to a deity and the criteria of being an adherent is not reciting some phrase and pledging allegiance or belief in some messiah or prophet figure.
Generally, your point is well taken.

But be careful not to say ‘it’s not religion in the sense that it doesn’t resemble monotheistic religions’ as though that’s what defines religion.

What we can say is that Buddhism is non theistic.

Buddhism in China resembles Taoism. In the Himalayas it resembles Hinduism. In the west, it resembles Greek logic and western psychology.
This is largely a question of definitions.

I don't really know what the functional definition of religion is. Wikipedia's first paragraph on this is "Religion is a range of social-cultural systems, including designated behaviors and practices, morals, beliefs, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that generally relate humanity to supernatural, transcendental, and spiritual elements—although there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion. Different religions may or may not contain various elements ranging from the divine, sacredness, faith, and a supernatural being or beings". This is broadly consistent with lexical definitions from other sources.

That definition is so hopelessly broad and vague that there's no way to determine whether any system of belief or practice is or is not a religion. The whole discussion is therefore somewhat pointless.
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Re: Young Asian American Buddhists are reclaiming narrative after decades of white dominance (continued)

Post by heartagramadios »

It seems to me that part of the reason westerners are often reticent to accept labeling Buddhism as a religion is that, here in the west, the term is so heavily loaded with connotations related to Abrahamic monotheism - so much so that Buddhism is less recognizable as religion under this lens of preconceived notions than even Hinduism (which at least chiefly involves the worship/petitioning of deities, albeit not one deity exclusively). On the other hand, westerners are often quick to compare the more devotional schools of Buddhism (including Pure Land) to Christianity - which, though misguided, is also understandable given that Christianity, for most westerners, is the most aptly available point of reference for a religious disposition chiefly involving devotion and worship unto a power greater than oneself.

Plus, many find the label of religion to be so heavily fraught with connotations of hypocrisy and authoritarianism that even many Evangelicals insist that Christianity is "not a religion, but a personal relationship with Christ." (This cliché is a familiar one to me, given my own religious upbringing and my surroundings as a person living in rural America.)
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Re: Young Asian American Buddhists are reclaiming narrative after decades of white dominance (continued)

Post by Charles Jones »

I taught a theories and methods course for graduate students in religious studies for many years. Topic number one was always the definition of "religion." The issues are many and complex.
First, no word, whether "religion" or "chair" has a set definition that by its own nature excludes others. This is called a "real definition," and presumes a natural link between the word and its referent. Real definitions are usually deployed in a polemical context (e.g., "are you a real American"?)
A "stipulative definition" simply informs others what you are going to mean by a word within a limited context. (e.g., "For purposes of this study, 'religion' will be taken to mean..."). It is judged by its ability to clarify.
A "lexical definition" is a historical description of how people have actually used a word in the past. This is what dictionaries do, and these definitions are judged by whether or not they are historically accurate.
In addition, within those categories definitions do particular jobs within particular contexts. You might need one definition of "religion" if you are an expert witness in a case wherein a group is claiming to be a religion for tax purposes. In early Republican China, you needed to show your group was a "religion" and not a "superstition" because the first category was legally protected while the second was not. When I published a book on interreligious dialogue, I provided a definition of "religion" just to explain why I was including some dialogues in the category "interreligious" while excluding others such as Marxist-Christian dialogue.
Bottom line: it's fruitless to discuss what "religion" *really* means. You need to decide what kind of definition you need and what purpose it will serve within a specific context.
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Re: Young Asian American Buddhists are reclaiming narrative after decades of white dominance (continued)

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When I started an MA in religion, the first week reading in the critical theory class was a series of books and articles defining religion. I walked away less sure of what religion is, and that I suppose was the point. Maybe its the famous quip about identifying pornography as distinguished from art - "I know it when I see it." There are plenty of secular communities that I'd say resemble religion - many corporate work places, for instance.

I recently heard an explanation of the difference between "Eastern" and "Western" religions that made sense to me. East and West, humans search for the divine. In the West, the divine is identified as external. In the East, the underlying world view is generally holistic and therefore the divine is identified as omnipresent, including within ourselves. It follows that one should be able to look within to find the divine, and so that's apparently what they did in India for millennia. It also explains why science developed in the West (and might also explain why the West took a hard turn into materialism) - if the divine is external, then its marks should be identifiable in the material world. Eastern traditions can be described as consciousness religions while Western can be described as revealed religions.

Buddhism is in this sense a consciousness religion in which the divine has been disassociated with the source. What we have instead is the result of Gautama's inquiry into himself, as well as the observations of many others who followed in his footsteps down this path of internal inquiry where the divine is not posited from the start. Instead, we find emptiness.

Buddhism certainly resembles religion because many of the methods involve ritual, and often include invocation of gods and spirits. The inquiry into the mind is treated with the comparable religious reverence that others seek communion with the divine. The teachings are revered with the comparable religious reverence of the revealed words of the divine. IME this sort of approach prepares the mind for the inquiry and also frames the practices and insights with the sense that this activity and its effects are sacred. I think this is important in Buddhist practice to do that. There are of course the iconoclasts who react against this sense of Dharma as sacred, but they're reactionaries defined in relation to the sacred. Without the sacred, iconoclasts are just slobs.

Anyways, I think Buddhism qualifies as a religion in conventional terms because it looks like a religion. Of course, when you get into the practice, those labels don't matter.
There is no suffering to be severed. Ignorance and klesas are indivisible from bodhi. There is no cause of suffering to be abandoned. Since extremes and the false are the Middle and genuine, there is no path to be practiced. Samsara is nirvana. No severance achieved. No suffering nor its cause. No path, no end. There is no transcendent realm; there is only the one true aspect. There is nothing separate from the true aspect.
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Re: Young Asian American Buddhists are reclaiming narrative after decades of white dominance (continued)

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Queequeg wrote: Mon Jan 08, 2024 1:36 pm Anyways, I think Buddhism qualifies as a religion in conventional terms because it looks like a religion.
I think you've illustrated the absurdity of this debate quite nicely.

One thing that's quite hard for us to understand is how people in previous millenia would have viewed this discussion with complete incomprehension. A majority of people a thousand years ago would have lived their lives with only one option offered to them, the local religion they grew up with, and it would have absolutely dominated their lives and their thinking. The idea that other religions might be equally valid, or that perhaps all religions were just psychological aberrations, would have been inconceivable to them. Whatever we think "religion" means, it meant something very different to them.
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Re: Young Asian American Buddhists are reclaiming narrative after decades of white dominance (continued)

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PeterC wrote: Mon Jan 08, 2024 3:02 pm
Queequeg wrote: Mon Jan 08, 2024 1:36 pm Anyways, I think Buddhism qualifies as a religion in conventional terms because it looks like a religion.
I think you've illustrated the absurdity of this debate quite nicely.
Arguing over definitions can seem purely academic, abstract, or absurd until it matters, like when you are trying to argue that your temple should be tax-exempt.

There's also a historical dimension to this thread. When Buddhist missionaries came to America after the World's Parliament of Religions in 1893, they noted that potential converts were against "superstition," "priestcraft," and "ritualism." Thus, they purged their presentation of Buddhism of all those elements. If you read Walpola Rahula's "What the Buddha Taught" as a college textbook, you would think that Buddhism was entirely rational and scientific in the modern sense. You would never know that the Buddha performed miracles and spent significant time preaching to devas, gandharvas, nagas, and other spirits. It also led to western hubris in denigrating the practices and rituals of Asian Buddhism as a debasement of the Dharma. Once this happens, then it becomes much harder to see Buddhism as a religion.
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Re: Young Asian American Buddhists are reclaiming narrative after decades of white dominance (continued)

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Charles Jones wrote: Thu Jan 11, 2024 1:12 pm
PeterC wrote: Mon Jan 08, 2024 3:02 pm
Queequeg wrote: Mon Jan 08, 2024 1:36 pm Anyways, I think Buddhism qualifies as a religion in conventional terms because it looks like a religion.
I think you've illustrated the absurdity of this debate quite nicely.
Arguing over definitions can seem purely academic, abstract, or absurd until it matters, like when you are trying to argue that your temple should be tax-exempt.

There's also a historical dimension to this thread. When Buddhist missionaries came to America after the World's Parliament of Religions in 1893, they noted that potential converts were against "superstition," "priestcraft," and "ritualism." Thus, they purged their presentation of Buddhism of all those elements. If you read Walpola Rahula's "What the Buddha Taught" as a college textbook, you would think that Buddhism was entirely rational and scientific in the modern sense. You would never know that the Buddha performed miracles and spent significant time preaching to devas, gandharvas, nagas, and other spirits. It also led to western hubris in denigrating the practices and rituals of Asian Buddhism as a debasement of the Dharma. Once this happens, then it becomes much harder to see Buddhism as a religion.
Thank you for your insight.
I find it also interesting that for many people (particularly from the Far East when compared to Western converts, in my experience) it’s these various ‘miracles’ which qualify the Buddha and thus validate his teachings, in somewhat the same way that the ‘miracle of the resurrection’ is what provides the basis of Christianity and thus validates Jesus’ teachings (as though feeding the poor and judging-not would otherwise be bullshit if Christ hadn’t risen from the dead).

I’ve always taken the ‘test it as a gold-buyer tests gold’ approach, meaning to practice the teachings to see if they are valid or not. This surprised someone I had been chatting with, whose devotion to Buddhism was based on the miraculous stories found in the sutras, almost to the point of offending him. It was as if he’d told me his father was a great surgeon who’d saved many lives, and rather than simply believing him, my response had been “Oh yeah? Prove it!”

If one looks for images of the Buddha on the web, or on Instagram, most of the Mahayana-sourced images portray the Buddha as a larger-than-reality-itself, god-like celestial being. The Theravada-sourced images still show him glowing, but roughly the same as his followers, except that he has hair and an aura and they don’t.

Likewise, many of the Mahayana sutras (perhaps composed under the royal patronage of King Ashoka) are over-the-top with grandeur, often taking many pages at the beginning just to get through the celestial guest-list.

While this is obviously meant to be inspiring, it makes me wonder whether or not this plants a suggestion in the mind of the average person that Buddhahood is not really attainable, that it will take countless more lifetimes, and that perhaps all one can really do for now is to pray for a better rebirth and donate money. But is that really the message that the Buddha was trying to convey?
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Re: Young Asian American Buddhists are reclaiming narrative after decades of white dominance (continued)

Post by Queequeg »

Charles Jones wrote: Thu Jan 11, 2024 1:12 pm Arguing over definitions can seem purely academic, abstract, or absurd until it matters, like when you are trying to argue that your temple should be tax-exempt.
At least in the US, you can get tax exempt status as a variety of other types of organizations. I find religious corporation law at the state level might be the easiest set of laws to work with so maybe there's an advantage there.

There's also a historical dimension to this thread. When Buddhist missionaries came to America after the World's Parliament of Religions in 1893, they noted that potential converts were against "superstition," "priestcraft," and "ritualism." Thus, they purged their presentation of Buddhism of all those elements. If you read Walpola Rahula's "What the Buddha Taught" as a college textbook, you would think that Buddhism was entirely rational and scientific in the modern sense. You would never know that the Buddha performed miracles and spent significant time preaching to devas, gandharvas, nagas, and other spirits. It also led to western hubris in denigrating the practices and rituals of Asian Buddhism as a debasement of the Dharma. Once this happens, then it becomes much harder to see Buddhism as a religion.
Many Asians have internalized scientific materialism and that has influenced many modern iterations of Buddhism in Asia, many in the name of modernization. In many ways they've stuffed Buddhism into the same cubby hole churches have been stuffed into under the banner of separation of church and state. In many cases that's probably a good thing. It also has a way of sucking the life out of religions. That may be good or bad depending on one's perspective.
PadmaVonSamba wrote: Thu Jan 11, 2024 4:13 pm I find it also interesting that for many people (particularly from the Far East when compared to Western converts, in my experience) it’s these various ‘miracles’ which qualify the Buddha and thus validate his teachings, in somewhat the same way that the ‘miracle of the resurrection’ is what provides the basis of Christianity and thus validates Jesus’ teachings (as though feeding the poor and judging-not would otherwise be bullshit if Christ hadn’t risen from the dead).
If it leads people to live morally and generally leads them toward awakening, then the stories serve their purpose. There is that one sutta where the Buddha floated into the air and turned into a lawn sprinkler shooting Technicolor water and fire out of his body specifically to impress people who were impervious to his teachings.
I’ve always taken the ‘test it as a gold-buyer tests gold’ approach, meaning to practice the teachings to see if they are valid or not. This surprised someone I had been chatting with, whose devotion to Buddhism was based on the miraculous stories found in the sutras, almost to the point of offending him. It was as if he’d told me his father was a great surgeon who’d saved many lives, and rather than simply believing him, my response had been “Oh yeah? Prove it!”
That kind of faith is called prasada. It's compared to a fellow who has only one eye - that fellows kin and friends will endeavor to protect that one eye.
If one looks for images of the Buddha on the web, or on Instagram, most of the Mahayana-sourced images portray the Buddha as a larger-than-reality-itself, god-like celestial being. The Theravada-sourced images still show him glowing, but roughly the same as his followers, except that he has hair and an aura and they don’t.
Yes. Mahayana sources I read were well aware of the differences in the Buddha's appearance depending on whether the teachings were Sravakayana or Mahayana. The Sravakayana Buddha was an ordinary looking man attended by Sariputra and Maudgalyayana. The Mahayana Buddha is 12 feet tall and has the 32 major and 80 minor characteristics, and is attended by Manjusri and Samantabhadra. This is to make clear that the Mahayana teachings are of a different, transcendent quality while the Sravakayana is taught to people of limited capacities.
Likewise, many of the Mahayana sutras (perhaps composed under the royal patronage of King Ashoka) are over-the-top with grandeur, often taking many pages at the beginning just to get through the celestial guest-list.
Dune could not be told if it was set in Paul Muadib's roach infested studio apartment on E 8th St. In Manhattan. Sometimes to tell big stories you need a bigger scene. I'm grateful there were people willing to use their imagination to tell stories of a scale far beyond the limits of my experience, let alone someone who lived 2000 years ago and probably never went more than 25 miles from where they were born.
While this is obviously meant to be inspiring, it makes me wonder whether or not this plants a suggestion in the mind of the average person that Buddhahood is not really attainable, that it will take countless more lifetimes, and that perhaps all one can really do for now is to pray for a better rebirth and donate money. But is that really the message that the Buddha was trying to convey?
It probably discouraged some, but it probably also expanded the world view of many others, caused them to have a big, expansive consciousness that allowed them to extend trust and love beyond their immediate clan. Encouraged some to be so audacious that they actually aim to become Buddhas and save all beings. The ones who turned away discouraged probably were never going to seek something so audacious anyway. But they were opened to the possibility that others could.
There is no suffering to be severed. Ignorance and klesas are indivisible from bodhi. There is no cause of suffering to be abandoned. Since extremes and the false are the Middle and genuine, there is no path to be practiced. Samsara is nirvana. No severance achieved. No suffering nor its cause. No path, no end. There is no transcendent realm; there is only the one true aspect. There is nothing separate from the true aspect.
-Guanding, Perfect and Sudden Contemplation,
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Re: Young Asian American Buddhists are reclaiming narrative after decades of white dominance (continued)

Post by PeterC »

Charles Jones wrote: Thu Jan 11, 2024 1:12 pm
PeterC wrote: Mon Jan 08, 2024 3:02 pm
Queequeg wrote: Mon Jan 08, 2024 1:36 pm Anyways, I think Buddhism qualifies as a religion in conventional terms because it looks like a religion.
I think you've illustrated the absurdity of this debate quite nicely.
Arguing over definitions can seem purely academic, abstract, or absurd until it matters, like when you are trying to argue that your temple should be tax-exempt.
That’s easy, as the church of satan has demonstrated. US legal definitions of religion are nonsensical and excessively broad.
There's also a historical dimension to this thread. When Buddhist missionaries came to America after the World's Parliament of Religions in 1893, they noted that potential converts were against "superstition," "priestcraft," and "ritualism." Thus, they purged their presentation of Buddhism of all those elements. If you read Walpola Rahula's "What the Buddha Taught" as a college textbook, you would think that Buddhism was entirely rational and scientific in the modern sense. You would never know that the Buddha performed miracles and spent significant time preaching to devas, gandharvas, nagas, and other spirits. It also led to western hubris in denigrating the practices and rituals of Asian Buddhism as a debasement of the Dharma. Once this happens, then it becomes much harder to see Buddhism as a religion.
The dharma has shown a remarkable ability to adapt to different cultural contexts over the centuries. Whether that is a good or bad thing is at times debatable.

But your last sentence is a revealing one. My entire point is that it is vaguely absurd to want to see Buddhism as a religion when there’s no definition of religion that anyone can agree on. So why would it matter if someone personally finds it harder or easier to see Buddhism as such?
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Re: Young Asian American Buddhists are reclaiming narrative after decades of white dominance (continued)

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FiveSkandhas wrote: Sun Jul 11, 2021 6:25 pm There are millions and millions of devout Asian Buddhists who have not a clue about Madyamaka versus Yogacara tenet systems or what have you, but who devoutly chant in front of the family alter each morning, venerate their ancestors and the Buddhas/Bodhisattvas from the heart rather than the cerebral cortex.
There are many non-Asians who do the same thing. Admittedly they do not usually have a family altar unless they grew up partly or learned Dharma at least partly in a Japanese, Chinese or Korean cultural context (which can happen - there were non-Asians in Los Angeles for example who did have family altars since at least the beginning of the 20th century) but they make offerings for the fortunate rebirth of their family members and ancestors daily or often and also venerate the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas from their heart. Just how common this is is unclear but it has become much more common esp. in the later half of the 20th century.
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Re: Young Asian American Buddhists are reclaiming narrative after decades of white dominance (continued)

Post by Charles Jones »

PeterC wrote: Thu Jan 11, 2024 11:13 pm ...
But your last sentence is a revealing one. My entire point is that it is vaguely absurd to want to see Buddhism as a religion when there’s no definition of religion that anyone can agree on. So why would it matter if someone personally finds it harder or easier to see Buddhism as such?
I would have a hard time accepting the proposition that we should only use words when their definition commands universal assent. I've been in Religious Studies for several decades, and after all the scholarly debate over the definition of the word "religion," we continue to use it.

My point is that there are situations in which the definition matters, and while you might think the current legal definition of "religion" is unhelpful, it is nevertheless real and has real-world effects. If you're in the witness stand, the last thing the situation demands is that you "problematize" the issue. If you are trying to spread the Dharma among people who say they are against religion, then you need to take their understanding of the word into account.
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Re: Young Asian American Buddhists are reclaiming narrative after decades of white dominance (continued)

Post by PeterC »

Charles Jones wrote: Mon Jan 15, 2024 4:41 pm
PeterC wrote: Thu Jan 11, 2024 11:13 pm ...
But your last sentence is a revealing one. My entire point is that it is vaguely absurd to want to see Buddhism as a religion when there’s no definition of religion that anyone can agree on. So why would it matter if someone personally finds it harder or easier to see Buddhism as such?
I would have a hard time accepting the proposition that we should only use words when their definition commands universal assent. I've been in Religious Studies for several decades, and after all the scholarly debate over the definition of the word "religion," we continue to use it.

My point is that there are situations in which the definition matters, and while you might think the current legal definition of "religion" is unhelpful, it is nevertheless real and has real-world effects. If you're in the witness stand, the last thing the situation demands is that you "problematize" the issue. If you are trying to spread the Dharma among people who say they are against religion, then you need to take their understanding of the word into account.
Fortunately for us, we don’t proselytize, so there is no need for us to tailor our language to anyone’s semantics.
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Re: Young Asian American Buddhists are reclaiming narrative after decades of white dominance (continued)

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Charles Jones wrote: Mon Jan 15, 2024 4:41 pm
PeterC wrote: Thu Jan 11, 2024 11:13 pm If you are trying to spread the Dharma among people who say they are against religion, then you need to take their understanding of the word into account.
Fortunately for us, we don’t proselytize, so there is no need for us to tailor our language to anyone’s semantics.
At least. Most sangha organizations strive to make the teachings available.
Most people perceive the way they want to anyway.
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Re: Young Asian American Buddhists are reclaiming narrative after decades of white dominance (continued)

Post by PeterC »

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Tue Jan 16, 2024 4:49 am
Charles Jones wrote: Mon Jan 15, 2024 4:41 pm
PeterC wrote: Thu Jan 11, 2024 11:13 pm If you are trying to spread the Dharma among people who say they are against religion, then you need to take their understanding of the word into account.
Fortunately for us, we don’t proselytize, so there is no need for us to tailor our language to anyone’s semantics.
At least. Most sangha organizations strive to make the teachings available.
Most people perceive the way they want to anyway.
True. Though this discussion has illustrated nicely why making them available does not and should not involve trying to establish a definition of “religion”
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Re: Young Asian American Buddhists are reclaiming narrative after decades of white dominance (continued)

Post by TOS »

To be sure, whether Buddhism is to be classified as a religion or not depends entirely on how the word "religion" is defined. Having always associated the word as implying belief, I had leaned toward not categorizing Buddhism as being inherently religious. This view was both questioned and modestly affirmed by one of my teachers, who maintained that belief in Buddhism is in the efficacy of meditation and thus diminishes in necessity as practice yields results.

An entirely different perspective offered by a different teacher, an eminent lama of a Tibetan lineage but born in Nepal, upended this approach to some degree. According to him, Buddhism is not a religion because the word is born from the Latin "religare", which means "to bind fast". Since in Buddhism we are seeking freedom rather than bondage, he said, it is not a religion.

:tongue:
Last edited by TOS on Tue Jan 30, 2024 10:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Young Asian American Buddhists are reclaiming narrative after decades of white dominance (continued)

Post by tingdzin »

Well, there isn't really even a word for "religion", as the West understands it, in Tibetan, so this wordplay by the Nepali teacher has some justification. The Nepali word dharma mostly means what we would call religion, but it retains some flavor of the Sanskrit, which includes a whole lot of connotations that a single word cannot encompass. Chinese also has words that distinguish between a "way" and a "doctrine".

The problem is that we set up categories so that we can compare things, but these categories sooner or later always break down on close examination. As Professor Jones says, sometimes the categories matter, and sometimes they don't. We just have to be aware that all our categories are artificial, and there is no point in either regarding them as solid or doing away with them altogether..
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Re: Young Asian American Buddhists are reclaiming narrative after decades of white dominance (continued)

Post by Karma Dorje »

The problem arises because in the West we get our philosophy from Greece and our religion from the Middle East. The two have always been strange bedfellows in our discourse, whereas the idea of separating them is pretty much unthinkable in Asian contexts.
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