An American Buddhist Tradition

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

Re: An American Buddhist Tradition

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:31 pm

It's already been tried with the FWBO, and I find the results pretty uninspiring (Though it's not specifically American but then why would you want to limit it one country anyway).

In the West I think we have the freedom to look at the tradition objectively and seperate cultural baggage from the essential living tradition, then centres have the option of keeping or ditching some or all of the cultural baggage as they please. It's already happening and it's already working I think.

Wheras establishing an official tradition would be all about confortmity and institutionlisation and adding new cultural baggage, where did that ever enhance a religion.

So are we wanting to add American cultural baggage in it's place? No thank you, I don't want fries with that and you can't tell me to have a nice day as I'll have whatever kind of day I please.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: An American Buddhist Tradition

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:40 pm

:goodpost: ...but do you seriously want us to believe you don't want to have a nice day? :tongue:
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Re: An American Buddhist Tradition

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:58 pm

Khalil Bodhi wrote::goodpost: ...but do you seriously want us to believe you don't want to have a nice day? :tongue:


Yes, better to suffer and learn from it than to blindly follow fast food philosophy.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: An American Buddhist Tradition

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:14 am

Goofaholix wrote:Wheras establishing an official tradition would be all about confortmity and institutionlisation ...

One of the nice organisational, structural, aspects of Buddhism (IMO) is precisely that it is not centralised the way (e.g.) Catholicism is. We manage very well, thanks very much, without too many rules and regulations and authoritarian hierarchies. Admittedly, there is a downside: individual groups going off and doing their own thing can sometimes get things seriously wrong. But there is enough guidance from tradition to keep most groups pretty well on track, so it's a small price to pay.
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Re: An American Buddhist Tradition

Postby Jack » Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:19 am

I am not clear about those who want to adhere to a certain eastern Buddhist tradition and denigrate Western Buddhism. Didn't each of those eastern Buddhist traditions develop their own traditions, new cultural trappings, different ceremonies? Buddhism of Tibet, China, Sri Lanka and so on, all are different on the surface. Is Western Buddhism the only one that has to adopt from another culture?
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Re: An American Buddhist Tradition

Postby Goofaholix » Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:31 am

Jack wrote:I am not clear about those who want to adhere to a certain eastern Buddhist tradition and denigrate Western Buddhism. Didn't each of those eastern Buddhist traditions develop their own traditions, new cultural trappings, different ceremonies? Buddhism of Tibet, China, Sri Lanka and so on, all are different on the surface. Is Western Buddhism the only one that has to adopt from another culture?


The eastern traditions developed hundreds or thousands of years ago, it was a different world then and I think most people at the time would have had little or no knowledge about cultures outside of their borders, Buddhism would have had to adapt to their limited view of the world to gain acceptance.

Nowadays people have much more knowledge about different cultures, and of science, so we don't have to be just locked into our own culture. Buddhism doesn't have to adapt so much to a new culture to gain acceptance, people can distinguish between Buddhism and the cultural trappings that surround it. I think now we have the opportunity for a more culture neutral Buddhism.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: An American Buddhist Tradition

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:16 am

Goofaholix wrote:
I think now we have the opportunity for a more culture neutral Buddhism.


Yes, I think so and hope so. We don't need cultural trappings from East or West, just the Dhamma.

The third hindrance is 'Attachment to rites, rituals, and ceremonies' and all culture is steeped in rites, rituals, and ceremonies, so perhaps the less culture infused with the Dhamma, the more closer the practice is to the Buddha-Dhamma.
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Re: An American Buddhist Tradition

Postby Hanzze » Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:34 pm

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Tue Feb 01, 2011 9:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: An American Buddhist Tradition

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:57 pm

Hanzze wrote:Dear friends,

do you really think that to mark ones Nation in "Buddhism" is a good step according to the Buddha Dhamma and its motivation? Didn't the west had conquered enough with its ignorance and believe to understand?
If so, it would do good to call it USA tradition. But well one should look into the future.

Ayu vanno sokha balam

_/\_
You are really missing the point here.
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Re: An American Buddhist Tradition

Postby Viscid » Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:55 pm

Is it even possible to create a tradition that is free from the culture in which it is established?

Would denying any influence of culture create an institution that is alien to those that express that culture?

Buddhism has survived by adapting itself from culture to culture, offering itself in varieties which the people in its proximity demand. Given time, I believe Western Buddhism will adapt, survive and evolve in such a way to represent the Dhamma while incorporating the beliefs and attitudes of the West.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: An American Buddhist Tradition

Postby Hanzze » Fri Jan 14, 2011 2:32 am

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Tue Feb 01, 2011 9:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: An American Buddhist Tradition

Postby theravada_guy » Fri Jan 14, 2011 2:40 am

In America, we have Theravada, Vajrayana and all the other Mahayana traditions represented pretty well, as far as I'm aware. My two cents is to leave it at that. Personally, I like how there's a choice here. If you want Theravada, it's here. You don't have to go to Sri Lanka or Thailand anymore. If you want Mahayana, you don't have to go to those countries. It's all here. Maybe that IS the American Buddhism - having a choice of which tradition the individual wants to follow.
With metta,

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Re: An American Buddhist Tradition

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Jan 14, 2011 6:15 am

Viscid wrote:Is it even possible to create a tradition that is free from the culture in which it is established?

No.
If it doesn't have - at least - some points of contact with the culture, it can't possibly be said to be established in the culture.
Those - minimal - points of contact are firstly translations of the key concepts into local terms. (And please don't ask why people 'can't use Pali': Pali (or any other foreign/old language) without translation at some point might as well be Martian.)
As we know, Buddhist concepts were translated into Chinese via the nearest equivalent terms in contemporary Chinese thought. We are not any different. (See also the Buddhism/Romanticism thread: Germany around 1900 was no different either.)

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Re: An American Buddhist Tradition

Postby Paññāsikhara » Fri Jan 14, 2011 6:51 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
Goofaholix wrote:
I think now we have the opportunity for a more culture neutral Buddhism.


Yes, I think so and hope so. We don't need cultural trappings from East or West, just the Dhamma.

The third hindrance is 'Attachment to rites, rituals, and ceremonies' and all culture is steeped in rites, rituals, and ceremonies, so perhaps the less culture infused with the Dhamma, the more closer the practice is to the Buddha-Dhamma.


Where there are human beings, there is culture.
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Re: An American Buddhist Tradition

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Jan 14, 2011 8:33 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:Where there are human beings, there is culture.


Yoghurt philosophy.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: An American Buddhist Tradition

Postby PeterB » Fri Jan 14, 2011 8:58 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:
Viscid wrote:Is it even possible to create a tradition that is free from the culture in which it is established?

No.
If it doesn't have - at least - some points of contact with the culture, it can't possibly be said to be established in the culture.
Those - minimal - points of contact are firstly translations of the key concepts into local terms. (And please don't ask why people 'can't use Pali': Pali (or any other foreign/old language) without translation at some point might as well be Martian.)
As we know, Buddhist concepts were translated into Chinese via the nearest equivalent terms in contemporary Chinese thought. We are not any different. (See also the Buddhism/Romanticism thread: Germany around 1900 was no different either.)

:namaste:
Kim

There is in fact a substantial difference in attempting to adapt Buddhist teachings to a modern european language compared to Chinese. Tibetan, Japanese etc. By nature euopean languges are less suited to the job . In part this is due to the concretisation of language which is part of the european heritage. Those asiatic languages do not have the equivilent of nouns, or the adjectives that describes those nouns, or the verbs which see them as actions. Instead those languages describe a world in flux and becoming.
Alan Watts pointed out Chinese does not describe a cat as a static object, discrete from its environment, rather it describes an process of " catting".....A characteristic that Chinese shares with Pali, and which makes adaption from the latter to the former a very different prospect to adapting Pali to a modern european language.
Which is the reason why to translate a term like dukkha or tanha requires at least a paragraph in English, and why it is easier and quicker in the long run to internalise the key concepts of Dhamma ( another word that requires a lengthy para in English to convey its nuances ) in Pali.
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Re: An American Buddhist Tradition

Postby Paññāsikhara » Fri Jan 14, 2011 9:24 am

PeterB wrote:There is in fact a substantial difference in attempting to adapt Buddhist teachings to a modern european language compared to Chinese. Tibetan, Japanese etc. By nature euopean languges are less suited to the job . In part this is due to the concretisation of language which is part of the european heritage. Those asiatic languages do not have the equivilent of nouns, or the adjectives that describes those nouns, or the verbs which see them as actions. Instead those languages describe a world in flux and becoming.
Alan Watts pointed out Chinese does not describe a cat as a static object, discrete from its environment, rather it describes an process of " catting".....A characteristic that Chinese shares with Pali, and which makes adaption from the latter to the former a very different prospect to adapting Pali to a modern european language.
Which is the reason why to translate a term like dukkha or tanha requires at least a paragraph in English, and why it is easier and quicker in the long run to internalise the key concepts of Dhamma ( another word that requires a lengthy para in English to convey its nuances ) in Pali.


While I'd be amongst the first to agree that the difference in languages is great, and this is very significant, much of the above descriptions of Chinese and Pali at least, simply do not match my experiences.

Chinese ... "catting"!? What does that even mean? How about: 你家有沒有貓? Subject (with adjective), verb (in question form) and object. Pretty straightforward. The cat is obviously not a verb. 有一隻黑貓從屋頂上跳下去了。 Hmmm, still looks like a noun. I really don't know how one could make a cat into a verb in Chinese.

And the grammatical separation in Pali is even stronger. Due to the Indo-European roots, Pali, Prakrits and Sanskrit to most European languages is actually rather straightforward, just have to be aware of things like the sentence order, obviously, and passive vs active structures.

I really wonder where Watts gets these ideas from. Have you studied Chinese and Pali, PeterB?

Internalization is definitely the way to go, though, that is definitely correct in my view. Another major issue in my eyes is simply that of vocab, particularly of mental states, and states of non-usual consciousness. We've largely pathologized these in English, it seems.
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Re: An American Buddhist Tradition

Postby Paññāsikhara » Fri Jan 14, 2011 9:25 am

Goofaholix wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:Where there are human beings, there is culture.


Yoghurt philosophy.


:tongue:
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Re: An American Buddhist Tradition

Postby PeterB » Fri Jan 14, 2011 9:40 am

I have studied Pali Sankrit and Mandarin Ven Huifeng. And was taught early on not to attempt to impose grammatical structures derived from the Romano-Hellenic world view on to those languages which have evolved from a very different world view.

We can certainly agree about internalisation, and that european languages simply do not have a vocabulary for states and experiences that it has not encountered apart perhaps from atypically and randomly . Martin Lings in his " Ancient Beliefs And Modern Superstitions " points out that the reverse is also true. He gives examples of what it would take to translate a simple engineering concept. like that of a gear lever for example and render that into Pali or Sanskrit...the result would be a series of multi syllabic compound words which would take up half page of A4 text..it ( Pali ) was not built for that use. Anymore than English evolved to transmit to subtleties of the meditative experience.
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Re: An American Buddhist Tradition

Postby Hanzze » Fri Jan 14, 2011 9:48 am

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Tue Feb 01, 2011 1:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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