2,555 years ago Buddha passed away leaving the disciples and the rest of the Sangha to remember his teachings and pass them along to the next generations. Very little has changed in the Sangha who carefully follows the Vinaya which are his guidelines of monastic conduct and instructed in his last bequest. They carried Buddha’s teachings (the Dharma) to various countries teaching and forming practice places for generations with a great deal of sacrifice and effort.
Recently in media by Buddhist orientated sites online and in print through Tricycle, Buddhadharma, and Shambala Sun much has been made about the national form that Buddhist followers should or as they assume will eventually take in the USA.
Their Protestantism of Buddhism or rather a sanitizing or erasing/rewriting of Buddha’s history and rejection of what they identify as irrelevant to modern Americans today. This means all the ethnic Buddhists from Thailand, Sri Lanka, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Korea, India, Tibet, Nepal, Indonesia, Phillipines, Malaysia or other American countries or Europe are to be cleansed and shunned from Americans or American Buddhists as it starts with white men who are protestants who already rejected the catholics because they have monks and nuns… or maybe they are jewish who didn’t like christians at all and or even those who prefer to embrace every oddball newly created religion and market it.
They are trying to dummy-down traditional Buddhism because they couldn’t figure out how to make it work for themselves. Now they are trying to keep it elite and promoting a new version or a rather a odd form of Japanese Buddhism; Wow, even to do that is to disparage the efforts of the Japanese Buddhists in our American history. But a recent picture in a news article features Japanese robed zen married clergy, a couple (women are nuns only in Japanese Buddhist tradition and not to hold priest roles like the men can opt for marriage or monk’s life) in a zendo. The writer asks “What’s an American Buddhist? http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-voices/post/whats-an-american-buddhist/2012/06/17/gJQAJCQrjV_blog.html
Well, it’s a circular article first stripping away the Triple Jewel. No Sangha, no ethnic trappings as they are not considered true or authentic enough to be Buddhist or relevant. Then at the very end it says careful least 900 years later the adherents reject the efforts of the fabled American Buddhists who magically created a new world order of Buddhists here.
One way to look at this question is through the example of practice. When done correctly, what Buddhist meditators refer to as “sitting”–whether following the vipassana or zazen (or other) approaches to sitting meditation–does not rely on ceremonial chanting and recitations and actions that typically surround collective meditation sessions. This is not to say such ceremonial activities normally performed in an ancient or modern Eastern language are not useful or helpful. This is only to say they are not a necessity for the gradual expansion of consciousness that is the result of regular meditation. If one accepts this basic premise, which can be supported by the sutras attributed to the Buddha, then the conclusion that North Americans could conceivably develop their own Buddhist tradition some day is perfectly rational, if not probable.
This is based on opinion and not on reality, meditation has always been taught as a method but not the exclusive one, the first thing Buddhists do worldwide is to take the Triple Refuge and 5 Precepts. The next thing they do is join in services that always recite sutras and repeat the Triple Jewel in refuge and action, join in volunteer work in the community and when it’s time and there is an opportunity they choose or not to sit on a cushion with the goal of being enlightened eventually. This provides the stable framework necessary before one sits on the cushions.
2,555 years the core of Buddhist practice has always been formed from the Triple Jewel, being carried and protected by the Sangha who observes the Vinaya. Also because people who come to Buddhism from new countries took the time to study Buddhism in it’s traditional form and upheld it, so the Buddhist culture developed as the Buddha instructed us Sangha who traveled to adapt to the countries conditions and culture with lots of variations in languages, practices and kept the core that is the Triple Jewel. The problem in the USA and in many parts of the world is that there is no one identified unified culture. We are a global society in the USA in reality, much of the myth the elitist create is not real and not reflecting the reality of the people in the USA. There is no one culture. There can be no one form of Buddhism defining the United States and that is really ok. The myth is there must be one form of Buddhism for each country, that’s the fakery being created by these elitists.
North American Buddhists are likely to create their own traditions and schools of thought, but they should do so with the awareness that they are forging a new Buddhist culture, not the ‘true’ Buddhist culture.
This is so strange that it is very insulting to North American Buddhists anywhere. There is no need to forge a new Buddhist culture at all. It does not work. People in history have tried and when they diverge from the Triple Jewel they are not Buddhist at all, their movements become perverted and vanish.
The worst kind of approach a Westerner would take is to accept wholeheartedly without question any practice offered from any teacher without investigating and studying the history and knowing the standard teachings of Buddha and his disciples. So ‘wholesale acceptance’ of Buddhism from the East is not likely the problem here. It is lack of acceptance and adaptability. Just the last two.
Also they seem to have a need to make their own piss in the snow, a male pre-occupation. That last bit is sadly the reason there is an effort by rags that call themselves the voice of American Buddhists or rather trying right now to lead the Buddhist movement with their money and media forming a horrific laughable council of teachers that fell on it’s face and nobody paid attention to it other than to point them out. Led by the protestant versions of Japanese Buddhism and fringe trend setting teachers and all their writers who make them money… virtually ignoring the Sangha “”(they had one show Bhikkhu Bodhi who got rightfully upset with them and whom they posted as somehow he misunderstood..or he mis-heard them and gee wasn’t that embarrassing for him to explode on them during the conference type post on their blog) on whose back they cruelly stepped on to reach their goal as King of the Mountain, they virtually stood and pissed on the the living Jewels, all the while laughing in the faces of those who donate and sacrifice to make Buddhist temples and monasteries in the Americas. This is soooo christian and not worthy of what is American today.
This sanitizing of Buddhism is wrong. It is a symptom of lack of effort and study of Buddha dharma. It’s rote repetition of wrong teachings based on fear of loss of their own leadership due to aging and somehow they must keep their flame alive and make a historical memory so their efforts don’t seem wasted to others. The fact of the matter is the hippies are old and their start into Buddhism was filled with false intentions, most are failed monks and they are damn mad that people did not support them when they were innocents in robes, so they formed their careers by damning the robes and those that wear them. All of them… look up the writers for yourself in the rags, tricycle, shambala sun, buddha dharma, the big 3 have featured all white… and all secular people claiming to be experts and leaders of Americans ‘cuz they failed to be monks.
They said they failed to be monks because they failed to get enough dana to do as they want to do (and become hits in their homelands). Instead they were ignored perhaps bored in their robes, fearing poverty and they lacked the balls to stick it out they left their robes because there is no money in them. Then these ex-monks damned repeatedly the very people who had virtuous roots that helped them succeed and go forth and being accepted.
Playing king of the mountain pushing off their competitors. They promoted themselves as experts saying they have really represented Americans cuz they can have sex and create families… and they want their kids to be able to participate fully in their activities in the zendo cuz they don’t feel welcome anyplace but where they want to go and meditate while they ignore how bored their kids are waiting for them and let their kids run around doing things unsupervised while they zone out in hippie bliss or their mental version of it.
I’m sorry this is not how Americans do things, they do things by hard work, patience and sticking things out enduring because they know what really works. This fad by elitists is misleading and harmful and it does NOT meet the needs of common folk and it’s common folk that need proper Triple Jewels not fads. They aren’t looking for trends while they work on the line or pack boxes into a truck, they are looking for a community that is stable, intelligent, active in the town, around the corner or even in the grocery…. but not at the expense of their own minds. That’s where traditional Vinaya Buddhism excels, it’s stable it has lots of variety and enough well trained Sangha of monks and nuns to be able to endure and offer Buddha dharma as requested without all the bangs and whistles of slick rags or media blitz… and we will be long enduring whether the elites want to come to us while we are busy meeting the needs of the community where we live and reside in the Americas in and out of temples. At my estimate we are well over 10,000 Sangha living in the USA alone and not all of us are ethnic imports from overseas but created, born and raised right here from every ethnic group that can be thought of here. Here are some Iowas some Califnornians, some Nova Scotians, some Germans, some Chinese, a few Texans, some Burmese, and a majority of whom are Midwestern people as common as you can get and their shenanigans while enjoying traditional Buddhist offerings.