Challenges Facing Asian Buddhism in the Modern World

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Challenges Facing Asian Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby christopher::: » Wed Mar 18, 2009 2:39 am

Pink Trike just posted this in another discussion...

pink_trike wrote:I have many Thai Buddhist friends living all over Thailand in the 25-45 age range, in all economic brackets...from rural farmer to BKK urban sophisticate. About half of them identify as Buddhist simply as a matter of habit and social expectation, and the other half don't identify with any "religion". Nearly all of them laugh at my interest in the Dharma, and call me "monk man"...in humor, but not entirely. Because of my interest in the Dharma, I am regarded as odd to this demographic who are to Thailand what my generation (late 60s - 70s) was to the U.S. - questioning and rebelling against bloated self-serving institutions.

In Thailand, higher education is widespread (here's a bit of history):

http://education.stateuniversity.com/pa ... ATION.html

I think it is safe to say that education (and conspicuous consumption) is the new "religion"...the new "way of life"...more so for each new generation - especially with growing internet access.

The other half of my thai friends that do identify as "Buddhist" think that Buddhism means making donations to a temple or some other kind of occasional merit, or attending various Buddhist celebrations that often seem to have very little to do with Buddhism as many of us here may understand it.

Neither half seem to know very much about Buddhism or the Dharma. Both halves have contempt or indifference for Buddhism, referring to it as "country" or "old-fashioned" or "for old people" - and express scorn or indifference to a Buddhism that lives in fear of ghosts and other non-human beings harming them, practices amulet fetishism, blesses mercedes benzes, and the fairly obvious sexual, intellectual and financial/political corruption that is widespread and spreading fast through the Thai Buddhist institution. Many of them express Western ideas of individualism such as "finding myself", "being myself" and "finding my voice"...emphasis on the "myself".

In sum, in the 25-45 demographic (more so the younger we look), male and female, of all classes, Buddhism is widely perceived as having no meaning - other than a general belief in "be good". When I hear my Thai friend's speak dismissively or angrily of Buddhism I'm reminded of how my generation found nothing of interest in Christianity in the 70s, leading to a major decline in Christianity and Christian influence in much of the U.S.

Personally, I don't think this bodes well for Buddhism in Thailand. Corporatism planted some potent seeds in Thailand about 25 years ago, and the current yournger/middle generations are the flowers of that seeding. They want a Western lifestyle, and have no time for a "religion" that doesn't know how to speak to them (or that they can't hear over the roar of Capitalism).


I also have many Thai friends, and have noticed the same patterns. It's also something I've noticed with many young Japanese, Chinese and Koreans. Along with the corporate angle that PT points to, I'm concerned with the rise of pleasure seeking as a cultural norm around the world. Is this rooted in American individualism, with our ideas of freedom, independence and the individual's pursuit of happiness?

How deep are these problems, and how might Modern Asian cultures best respond?

:group:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Challenges Facing Asian Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby phil » Wed Mar 18, 2009 5:58 am

christopher::: wrote:Pink Trike just posted this in another discussion...

pink_trike wrote:I have many Thai Buddhist friends living all over Thailand in the 25-45 age range, in all economic brackets...from rural farmer to BKK urban sophisticate. About half of them identify as Buddhist simply as a matter of habit and social expectation, and the other half don't identify with any "religion". Nearly all of them laugh at my interest in the Dharma, and call me "monk man"...in humor, but not entirely. Because of my interest in the Dharma, I am regarded as odd to this demographic who are to Thailand what my generation (late 60s - 70s) was to the U.S. - questioning and rebelling against bloated self-serving institutions.

In Thailand, higher education is widespread (here's a bit of history):

http://education.stateuniversity.com/pa ... ATION.html

I think it is safe to say that education (and conspicuous consumption) is the new "religion"...the new "way of life"...more so for each new generation - especially with growing internet access.

The other half of my thai friends that do identify as "Buddhist" think that Buddhism means making donations to a temple or some other kind of occasional merit, or attending various Buddhist celebrations that often seem to have very little to do with Buddhism as many of us here may understand it.

Neither half seem to know very much about Buddhism or the Dharma. Both halves have contempt or indifference for Buddhism, referring to it as "country" or "old-fashioned" or "for old people" - and express scorn or indifference to a Buddhism that lives in fear of ghosts and other non-human beings harming them, practices amulet fetishism, blesses mercedes benzes, and the fairly obvious sexual, intellectual and financial/political corruption that is widespread and spreading fast through the Thai Buddhist institution. Many of them express Western ideas of individualism such as "finding myself", "being myself" and "finding my voice"...emphasis on the "myself".

In sum, in the 25-45 demographic (more so the younger we look), male and female, of all classes, Buddhism is widely perceived as having no meaning - other than a general belief in "be good". When I hear my Thai friend's speak dismissively or angrily of Buddhism I'm reminded of how my generation found nothing of interest in Christianity in the 70s, leading to a major decline in Christianity and Christian influence in much of the U.S.

Personally, I don't think this bodes well for Buddhism in Thailand. Corporatism planted some potent seeds in Thailand about 25 years ago, and the current yournger/middle generations are the flowers of that seeding. They want a Western lifestyle, and have no time for a "religion" that doesn't know how to speak to them (or that they can't hear over the roar of Capitalism).


I also have many Thai friends, and have noticed the same patterns. It's also something I've noticed with many young Japanese, Chinese and Koreans. Along with the corporate angle that PT points to, I'm concerned with the rise of pleasure seeking as a cultural norm around the world. Is this rooted in American individualism, with our ideas of freedom, independence and the individual's pursuit of happiness?

How deep are these problems, and how might Modern Asian cultures best respond?

:group:


Hi Christopher and all

I live in Japan (I think you do too, Christopher) and have often wished that the Dhamma was better known. It would help people so much. But the obstacle of the established views re Buddhism (i.e all about money and funerals) seems insurmountable. It would take the arrival of a charismatic teacher who could put thing in "katakana" terms to help break away from the corrupted influences involved in the homegrown Buddhism that is taught using Kanji. (i.e it'll have to be about "buddha" in katakana and lots of Pali words in katakana rather than "hotoke sama" and all the terms that are used in Kanji that leave people at best indifferent and at worst creeped out. )


I was interested in the thread about the American guy who put on something called "The Buddha Play" to get the Buddha's message across. It involves a kind of adulteration, but it'll take something like that. How's your Japanese? Maybe we can stand in front of Harajuku Station acting out various discourses. Japanese are always willing to pay attention to Westerners.


Seriously, I don't think much can be done about it. The forces that are sweeping the Buddha's teaching into oblivion (as he predicted would happen) are pretty powerful around the world. (Sorry if that's awfully pessimistic.) We can look after our own cittas and help individual friends appreciate the Dhamma one by one, maybe.

I don't know about the situation in other Asian countries.

Metta,

Phil

edit - a disclaimer re saying all forms of homegrown Buddhism are corrupt. Of course that's not true. Zen, for example, has maintained integrity. But there are a lot of extremely dubious teachings here in other sects that sound completely alien to the Buddha's teaching - a lot of ancestor worship and expensive ceremonies to appease the spirits of ancestors etc. That's why I think it will take teaching from the Pali Canon to break away from that. Something like the Barrie Center (?) in the States that has promotoed Theravada in an admittedly watered-down version over the last 20 years through its lay teachers such as Joseph Goldstein etc.
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Re: Challenges Facing Asian Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby Ben » Wed Mar 18, 2009 6:26 am

Hi Chris

I'm sorry I can't speak specifically in relation to Asian Buddhist culture, but...

christopher::: wrote:I'm concerned with the rise of pleasure seeking as a cultural norm around the world. Is this rooted in American individualism, with our ideas of freedom, independence and the individual's pursuit of happiness?



No, I don't think its uniquely american. Here in Australia, I've noticed that it appears more so of the younger generation that is brought up having no moral compass and who are firmly focused on self gratification and material acquisition as a path to happiness. Of course, another side, and not the only other side, of the coin is a the growing influence of charismatic pentacostal churches.

My apologies if my off-topic comment has taken the discussion in a direction that was unintended.
Metta

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Re: Challenges Facing Asian Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby pink_trike » Wed Mar 18, 2009 6:53 am

phil wrote:
christopher::: wrote:
pink_trike wrote:



Something like the Barrie Center (?) in the States that has promotoed Theravada in an admittedly watered-down version over the last 20 years through its lay teachers such as Joseph Goldstein etc.


Watered-down in the same way that babies are fed watered-down food (jars of baby food), that are no less beneficial than solid food. Jack and Joseph are bringing the Dharma to people in a way that they can absorb it. Many will move on to solid food.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

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Re: Challenges Facing Asian Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby zavk » Wed Mar 18, 2009 7:12 am

Hi Phil

phil wrote:a disclaimer re saying all forms of homegrown Buddhism are corrupt. Of course that's not true. Zen, for example, has maintained integrity.


I fully agree with you that we shouldn't generalise and say that all homegrown Buddhism are corrupt. But to play devil's advocate, in very recent history, we can see how Zen has been used to justify Imperial Japan's militaristic activities. There are several studies about this but this book is quite commonly cited, although there have been criticisms about the author's arguments about specific individuals: Zen at War by Brian Victoria.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zen_at_War

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Re: Challenges Facing Asian Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby christopher::: » Wed Mar 18, 2009 9:18 am

Hi everyone,

phil wrote: I was interested in the thread about the American guy who put on something called "The Buddha Play" to get the Buddha's message across. It involves a kind of adulteration, but it'll take something like that. How's your Japanese? Maybe we can stand in front of Harajuku Station acting out various discourses. Japanese are always willing to pay attention to Westerners.


Howdy Phil. That sounds like an interesting idea. Yes, I'm in Japan too, and I do what I can as a teacher. Most of my students start to fold their arms though, when Buddha is mentioned, probably as an American student would if a teacher starts to discuss Jesus. But dharma lessons can be found all over, so that's where I try to focus their attention, using movies, music and current event topics as tools for examining the nature of dukkha and samsara, as well as the natural wisdom humans have access to, aka dhamma.

Something like the Barrie Center (?) in the States that has promotoed Theravada in an admittedly watered-down version over the last 20 years through its lay teachers such as Joseph Goldstein etc.


I like Joseph Goldstein a lot, and in fact am presently downloading some of his free dhamma talks. I think he does what many good teachers do, he's aware of his audience and mixes in lots of real world examples to make ideas clear, showing their relationship to the dhamma. I guess you could call that a "watering down." I see it more as a skillful approach to teaching, but that is just my pov...

Ben wrote:Here in Australia, I've noticed that it appears more so of the younger generation that is brought up having no moral compass and who are firmly focused on self gratification and material acquisition as a path to happiness. Of course, another side, and not the only other side, of the coin is a the growing influence of charismatic pentacostal churches.

My apologies if my off-topic comment has taken the discussion in a direction that was unintended.


Hi Ben. I don't think you're off-topic at all. This trend is very much global. The modern media, technology, globalization- these probably have helped to spread this "dis-ease" to all corners of our world...


zavk wrote:... to play devil's advocate, in very recent history, we can see how Zen has been used to justify Imperial Japan's militaristic activities. There are several studies about this but this book is quite commonly cited, although there have been criticisms about the author's arguments about specific individuals: Zen at War by Brian Victoria.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zen_at_War



Hi zavk. Seems like throughout human history militaristic leaders have used whatever cultural tools they can, to twist in useful ways, imo. Religions inspire people. That makes them prime candidates for manipulation by those in positions of power, sadly...

:juggling:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
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Re: Challenges Facing Asian Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby phil » Wed Mar 18, 2009 9:36 am

Howdy Phil. That sounds like an interesting idea. Yes, I'm in Japan too, and I do what I can as a teacher. Most of my students start to fold their arms though, when Buddha is mentioned, probably as an American student would if a teacher starts to discuss Jesus. But dharma lessons can be found all over, so that's where I try to focus their attention, using movies, music and current event topics as tools for examining the nature of dukkha and samsara, as well as the natural wisdom humans have access to, aka dhamma.


Hi Christopher

Sounds great. Do you actually use terms such as dukkha and samsara when using the movies, or hope the message just gets through? Sorry if this is off topic, but I'm intrigued by a teacher trying to get Buddhist concepts across to Japanese students. Are you a high school teacher? I work at one of the conversation chains, so teach a wide range of students, mostly adults. I really, really tred lightly when broaching Buddhism, I guess I'm scared to come across as a religious freak! The benefits of meditation are easier to broach.

Metta,

Phil

p.s one of our members Robert K actually had a group of housewife students translate "Abhidhamma in Daily Life" into Japanese and said they were very responsive to the deep teachings. So I may be underestimating people's responsiveness.
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(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
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Re: Challenges Facing Asian Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby christopher::: » Wed Mar 18, 2009 9:51 am

phil wrote:Sounds great. Do you actually use terms such as dukkha and samsara when using the movies, or hope the message just gets through? Sorry if this is off topic, but I'm intrigued by a teacher trying to get Buddhist concepts across to Japanese students. Are you a high school teacher? I work at one of the conversation chains, so teach a wide range of students, mostly adults. I really, really tred lightly when broaching Buddhism, I guess I'm scared to come across as a religious freak! The benefits of meditation are easier to broach.


Hi Phil. No no no, I don't use any buddhist terms. I did a lesson recently that was very well received where I focused on the roots of hero archetypes in movies. I posted something about it in January, here. Students really found that interesting, seeing how Wizard movies have roots in the Arthurian legends, Superheroes are like Greek Gods, etc. I compared British and American movie heroes, then presented them with the "Asian teacher/student" archetype, using Star Wars, Kungfu Panda, Karate Kid and Matrix as examples.

I talked a bit about Bruce Lee, the Beatles going to India, the 50's Beat generation and Western interest in Asian religions, especially Taoism and Buddhism. That gave me a window to introduce the concepts of "Tao" and "Dhamma" to them, in a new way.

p.s one of our members Robert K actually had a group of housewife students translate "Abhidhamma in Daily Life" into Japanese and said they were very responsive to the deep teachings. So I may be underestimating people's responsiveness.


That's really cool. It can be quite surprising sometimes, how deeply people will go, if you open a doorway for them...

:buddha1:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
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Re: Challenges Facing Asian Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby phil » Wed Mar 18, 2009 10:36 am

christopher::: wrote:
phil wrote:Sounds great. Do you actually use terms such as dukkha and samsara when using the movies, or hope the message just gets through? Sorry if this is off topic, but I'm intrigued by a teacher trying to get Buddhist concepts across to Japanese students. Are you a high school teacher? I work at one of the conversation chains, so teach a wide range of students, mostly adults. I really, really tred lightly when broaching Buddhism, I guess I'm scared to come across as a religious freak! The benefits of meditation are easier to broach.


Hi Phil. No no no, I don't use any buddhist terms. I did a lesson recently that was very well received where I focused on the roots of hero archetypes in movies. I posted something about it in January, here. Students really found that interesting, seeing how Wizard movies have roots in the Arthurian legends, Superheroes are like Greek Gods, etc. I compared British and American movie heroes, then presented them with the "Asian teacher/student" archetype, using Star Wars, Kungfu Panda, Karate Kid and Matrix as examples.

I talked a bit about Bruce Lee, the Beatles going to India, the 50's Beat generation and Western interest in Asian religions, especially Taoism and Buddhism. That gave me a window to introduce the concepts of "Tao" and "Dhamma" to them, in a new way.



Interesting. And then those who are intriguted can go from there.

Thanks for telling us about it.

Metta,
Phil
p.s I'm thinking that brahma-viharas would be a good way to introduce the Dhamma to people here. A kind of enlightened common sense that people would respond to, I think. "metta," "mudita," karuna", "upekkha." I've never seen them in katakana, but I want to!
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(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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Re: Challenges Facing Asian Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby Rui Sousa » Wed Mar 18, 2009 11:55 am

christopher::: wrote:Is this rooted in American individualism, with our ideas of freedom, independence and the individual's pursuit of happiness?
How deep are these problems, and how might Modern Asian cultures best respond?


I don't think Individualism is an American thing :tongue:

What we are witnessing is similar, in my opinion, to the neighbours of the Roman empire who started dressing like Romans and speaking Latin, to get closer to the power centres, feeling powerful and successful. People want new cars, new cell phones, important meetings, responsibilities, teams to boss around, money, houses, friends, travels, and so on...

Europe, the US, Japan, China and the Middle East are inside this hedonistic vertigo, all others want to be in it.

But, since the time of the Buddha the world has never had so many people in it. That means that even if the number of Buddhists increases, so does the number of critics and the number of those dismissive of Buddhism.
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Re: Challenges Facing Asian Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby christopher::: » Thu Mar 19, 2009 4:49 am

phil wrote:
p.s I'm thinking that brahma-viharas would be a good way to introduce the Dhamma to people here. A kind of enlightened common sense that people would respond to, I think. "metta," "mudita," karuna", "upekkha." I've never seen them in katakana, but I want to!


If one could get some young people to help draw cartoon illustrations of the terms, that could be really helpful. In fact, a cartoon guidebook of Buddhism, grounded in the dharma but portrayed in modern ways, would probably be a HUGE hit here in Asia. If drawn by young Buddhist monks or priests in training, that would be even better...

Something to think about.

Rui Sousa wrote:
christopher::: wrote:Is this rooted in American individualism, with our ideas of freedom, independence and the individual's pursuit of happiness?
How deep are these problems, and how might Modern Asian cultures best respond?


I don't think Individualism is an American thing :tongue:

What we are witnessing is similar, in my opinion, to the neighbours of the Roman empire who started dressing like Romans and speaking Latin, to get closer to the power centres, feeling powerful and successful. People want new cars, new cell phones, important meetings, responsibilities, teams to boss around, money, houses, friends, travels, and so on...



Well, I am neither an historian or a certified scholar of such things, so I can't say my view is correct, but I think we can trace at least some aspects of current global "individualistic" trends back to 1776 and the birth of America's ideals of freedom, independence and the pursuit of happiness.

Check out the Transcendental poets, like Walt Whitman. Read Mark Twain's Huck Finn. Look at the explosion of youth culture, jazz music and such in the 1920s- right after women are given the right to vote. Next the Beat generation, roaming the roads of America, very much in the Whitman/Huck Finn tradition. Sexual exploration, drugs, total freedom. All this explodes in the 1960s with the counterculture, the hippies... sexual revolution, 1970s....

In my mind the roots are all there, leading up to Sex in the City, 24, Modern Tokyo, Bangkok and Dubai, the club scenes, materialism, the celebration of me, me, me...

Anyway, we might disagree about causes... bottom line, as you say.....


Europe, the US, Japan, China and the Middle East are inside this hedonistic vertigo, all others want to be in it.



:toilet:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Challenges Facing Asian Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Mar 19, 2009 4:56 am

Hmm, Americans always seem to think progress is their idea... :juggling:
christopher::: wrote:Look at the explosion of youth culture, jazz music and such in the 1920s- right after women are given the right to vote.

Which happened in 1893 in New Zealand...
http://www.archives.govt.nz/exhibitions ... ffrage.php
:focus:

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Re: Challenges Facing Asian Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby christopher::: » Thu Mar 19, 2009 5:12 am

True, American women were not the first to get the right to vote, but it was the way they responded to their new freedom that I was referring to...

The Roaring Twenties - Dance Craze

Clearly though, the expansion of individual rights and these joyful celebrations of hedonism have been happening all over, not just in America. In Europe, in the late 1800s, there were the bohemians, creative artists and poets living for the moment, engaging in pleasure seeking...

Image
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
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Re: Challenges Facing Asian Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby nathan » Thu Mar 19, 2009 5:53 am

Everywhere they go corporations replace everything. It takes a while to realize that, along with every other social structure, your own life is now also meaningless as well. No incompatibility with Dhamma in that.
:juggling:
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Re: Challenges Facing Asian Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby pink_trike » Thu Mar 19, 2009 6:58 am

christopher::: wrote:Clearly though, the expansion of individual rights and these joyful celebrations of hedonism have been happening all over, not just in America. In Europe, in the late 1800s, there were the bohemians, creative artists and poets living for the moment, engaging in pleasure seeking...


For me, pleasure-seeking was a very fine Dharma teacher. The more I indulged, the more clear the Dharma became.

"Sometimes we need to get things totally wrong, before we can understand how to do them right." - Christopher:::
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

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Re: Challenges Facing Asian Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby christopher::: » Thu Mar 19, 2009 9:10 am

pink_trike wrote:
For me, pleasure-seeking was a very fine Dharma teacher. The more I indulged, the more clear the Dharma became.

"Sometimes we need to get things totally wrong, before we can understand how to do them right." - Christopher:::


:buddha1: :anjali: :buddha1:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
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Re: Challenges Facing Asian Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby zavk » Thu Mar 19, 2009 10:37 am

Hi all,

On the question of the modern concept of individualism--there's no straightforward way to account for it but it really gained momentum in the 18th century, which saw the emergence of liberalism and the political philosophy of libertarianism, and which crystallised in events such as the American War of Independence and the French Revolution. So to an extent, it can be said that this supposed 'malady' of individualism is the price we pay for 'liberty' (as it has been conceived in the West).

In any case, philosophers, social commentators, and cultural critics of the 20th century have noted a marked 'subjective turn' in culture and society (they are referring to Western societies in most instances but in the present age of globalisation this can be extended to many non-Western contexts). As I understand it, there is something promising about this, for this process of 'subjectivization' isn't the same as 'individualism'. The growing interest in 'spirituality over religion' can be seen as a manifestation of this subjectivization process--indeed, the growing interest in the West in contemplative traditions like Buddhism can be seen as a manifestation of this 'subjective turn'. But the challenge, of course, is how this 'inward turn' might reach its fullest potential, for I do believe that it can undercut atomistic individualism.

Best wishes,
zavk
Last edited by zavk on Thu Mar 19, 2009 11:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Challenges Facing Asian Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby Rui Sousa » Thu Mar 19, 2009 11:17 am

christopher::: wrote: Well, I am neither an historian or a certified scholar of such things, so I can't say my view is correct, but I think we can trace at least some aspects of current global "individualistic" trends back to 1776 and the birth of America's ideals of freedom, independence and the pursuit of happiness.

Check out the Transcendental poets, like Walt Whitman. Read Mark Twain's Huck Finn. Look at the explosion of youth culture, jazz music and such in the 1920s- right after women are given the right to vote. Next the Beat generation, roaming the roads of America, very much in the Whitman/Huck Finn tradition. Sexual exploration, drugs, total freedom. All this explodes in the 1960s with the counterculture, the hippies... sexual revolution, 1970s....


I am aware that Americans see their own country in that way, but if you look at others countries' history you will be surprised to see that the ideas of individual freedom, independence and pursuit of happiness are not American innovations, as Mike as already pointed out for the women right to vote.

Individual freedom and independence can be traced back to ancient Greece, and they went even further on their idea of freedom, they would elect their military leaders while on campaign, and major decisions had to be defended on a global assembly where the general had to make his point in front of every soldier. Can you imagine that on an modern army? Did you know that the Athenians considered voting as an anti-democratic system for choosing citizens to play public administration roles?

I don't want to lessen American values, just pointing out that human history is not an upward curve since pre-historic times, there are ups and downs for every aspect on society, and in many aspects we are today on the down side.

My point is that what happens today happened many times before in history, and it has to do with greed.
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Re: Challenges Facing Asian Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby christopher::: » Sun Mar 22, 2009 9:32 am

Modern trends of individualism and democracy do indeed have deep roots, Rui, yes. They lead back to Greece and Rome, probably also to Moses, to the teachings of Jesus (with his emphasis on individuals all being equal in the eyes of God). The men who drew up the founding documents of the U.S. were also inspired by a number of American Indian tribes, especially the Confederacy of the Iroquois Indians.

Iroquois Confederacy

Forgotten Founders: Benjamin Franklin, the Iroquois and the Rationale for the American Revolution (excerpt)
Last edited by christopher::: on Sun Mar 22, 2009 12:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Challenges Facing Asian Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Mar 22, 2009 10:00 am

pink_trike wrote:
phil wrote:
Something like the Barrie Center (?) in the States that has promotoed Theravada in an admittedly watered-down version over the last 20 years through its lay teachers such as Joseph Goldstein etc.


Watered-down in the same way that babies are fed watered-down food (jars of baby food), that are no less beneficial than solid food. Jack and Joseph are bringing the Dharma to people in a way that they can absorb it. Many will move on to solid food.


There are a number of things that can be said about Jack Kornfield both good and bad, but Joseph Goldstein is a highly experienced teacher of considerable depth and skill.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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