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Challenges facing Buddhism in the Modern World - Dhamma Wheel

Challenges facing Buddhism in the Modern World

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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David N. Snyder
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Challenges facing Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Mar 18, 2009 8:35 pm

As an off-shoot of the Asian Buddhism thread, here we can discuss any challenges to Buddhism in the modern world and here Buddhism can mean in the "West" or in Asia.

Wander forth, O bhikkhus, for the welfare of the multitude, for the happiness of the multitude, out of compassion for the world, for the good, welfare, and happiness of devas and humans. Let not two go the same way. Teach, O bhikkhus, the Dhamma that is good in the beginning, good in the middle, good in the end, with the right meaning and phrasing.” Samyutta Nikaya 4.453

In the modern world there seems to be two schools of thought: some who say let people come to the Dhamma on their own, when the time is right and another camp that would like to help others come to the Path of the Dhamma in ways that might be seen as missionary. I am of the latter and feel that this can be done in the spirit of the teachings, in a gentle and compassionate way. For example, offering 'Introduction to Buddhist meditation' workshops at Dhamma centers and temples and placing fliers and advertising such events.

Hedonism seems to be the religion of the modern world and there is not much Buddhism can offer those who are attracted to hedonism. But another 'religion' of the modern world is science and scientific method. In my opinion, this is an area where Buddhism can really shine and attract those inclined to science. Buddhism is at least compatible to the sciences and scientific method (in at least the use of empiricism, observation, and analysis). Astronomy, biological evolution, and others are at least compatible with the teachings of Buddhism.

The arts are another area that remains popular from ancient times through modern times. The Mahayana has probably had better luck with the use of the arts as a Skilful means for expressing the Dhamma and perhaps this is an area where Buddhism or Buddhists could focus some efforts on.

Well, this is an opening post, but it looks more like some possible 'solutions.' Feel free to offer more possible solutions, thoughts, or challenges Buddhism faces in modern times.
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retrofuturist
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Re: Challenges facing Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Mar 22, 2009 7:41 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Challenges facing Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby christopher::: » Sun Mar 22, 2009 9:12 am

"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 Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Mar 23, 2009 6:10 am

Retro makes a good point about people being "sold" Buddhism as being "scientific", "having no beliefs", and, in particular "you don't need to worry about this talk of other lives and so on".

The potential problem with this approach is that it can lead to a view that "Buddhism is about living this life as well as possible". Of course, that, in itself, is not a bad idea, since developing generosity, selflessness (in the mundane sense), and compassion are important aspects of the path.

However, my impression from observing some western "insight meditators" (in person and via recordings and books) is that they have marginalised the idea that the Dhamma is about liberation from Samsara.

Metta
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Re: Challenges facing Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby pink_trike » Mon Mar 23, 2009 7:56 am

Last edited by pink_trike on Mon Mar 23, 2009 8:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

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Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

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Re: Challenges facing Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Mar 23, 2009 8:00 am


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Re: Challenges facing Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Mar 23, 2009 8:27 am


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Re: Challenges facing Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby Fede » Mon Mar 23, 2009 8:38 am

Yes, but when you think about how people like Timothy Leary took classic, traditional sacred Tibetan writings and distorted them to suit his own bizarre ideologies, it is a little bit scary to think about how influential - and gullible - some sectors are.....
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: Challenges facing Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby christopher::: » Mon Mar 23, 2009 8:46 am

"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 Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby pink_trike » Mon Mar 23, 2009 10:40 am

Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

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pink_trike
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Re: Challenges facing Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby pink_trike » Mon Mar 23, 2009 11:26 am

Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

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David N. Snyder
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Re: Challenges facing Buddhism in the Modern World

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:10 pm

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