Spreading Buddhism

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Spreading Buddhism

Postby Thaibebop » Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:48 pm

I am not crusading here, but I do wonder about this topic from time to time. I see on campus when people set up stalls and TV, heck even on my my phone I can downloads apps that is nothing more than having the Bible or the Koran on my phone. I never see Buddhism though.

So, are people who practice not wanting to spread the Dhamma? I could understand this as I would be fearfull of being lumped into the same group as the pushy Bible beaters on street corners. Why else would someone not want to spread it?

If you were going to try and spread the Dhamma what would be the best ways and why? I do realize that a lot of us here will say being a living example, or perhaps answering questions only when asked, great answers by the way. However, I am interested in more active aproaches. Should Buddhist wisdom be downloadable apps for people's cell phones? Should people be mailed Buddhist information? We got in the mail last week an invitation to a church presentation. They didn't know us, just mailed it out! Out of the tatics to spread a faith would any work for Buddhism? Should Buddhism have it's own methods?
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Sep 23, 2009 10:56 pm

Nothing wrong with missionary work, but probably should be done in a gentle way.

"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

Posting flyers to introductory Buddhist meditation retreats, Goenka retreats, etc. at natural foods stores and other places where there might be interest sounds like a good way to go. Of course there is the internet and all of the information that can be found there. But some will not search for it, so flyers and pamphlets are not a bad idea, if done in a gentle way.

I always liked this site, which seems to promote Buddhism very well:

http://www.justbegood.net/
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Sep 23, 2009 11:00 pm

I suppose the closest I have witnesed to street corner Bible bashers would be a poster in the suppermarket, local shop, or newspaper advertising a begginners course in Buddhist Meditation, either free or for a price which depended on which group it was, the original group back home had a web site but were quite hard to find infomation on as they didn't advertise they were just there waiting to be found and the only cost was a suggested £1 donation to buy tea coffee, milk & buscuites. people know my general belief designation (to put it one way) and if they are interested and ask I will talk about it, but I don't talk about it unless asked as I don't think it would be appropriate to force my beliefs on peoples ears as this could cause colegues to not want to converse with me on any matter, even if they were interested.

Thaibebop wrote:I am not crusading here, but I do wonder about this topic from time to time. I see on campus when people set up stalls and TV, heck even on my my phone I can downloads apps that is nothing more than having the Bible or the Koran on my phone. I never see Buddhism though.

So, are people who practice not wanting to spread the Dhamma? I could understand this as I would be fearfull of being lumped into the same group as the pushy Bible beaters on street corners. Why else would someone not want to spread it?

If you were going to try and spread the Dhamma what would be the best ways and why? I do realize that a lot of us here will say being a living example, or perhaps answering questions only when asked, great answers by the way. However, I am interested in more active aproaches. Should Buddhist wisdom be downloadable apps for people's cell phones? Should people be mailed Buddhist information? We got in the mail last week an invitation to a church presentation. They didn't know us, just mailed it out! Out of the tatics to spread a faith would any work for Buddhism? Should Buddhism have it's own methods?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby Rui Sousa » Wed Sep 23, 2009 11:32 pm

I work as an IT Architect and we use the word Evangelism when referring to our task of making new technologies known to others, and a few days ago someone asked me "what name do you have, in Buddhism, for the notion of evangelism?". My answer was that the notion of evangelism, as know in Christianity and IT was not that evident in Buddhism, and if there was such a word I had no knowledge of it.

I told that person that the Buddhist attitude was a bit more reactive than proactive, that we were, in general, willing to talk about Buddhism and answer questions, but there was not a strong movement to spread Buddhism in the same way other religious/philosophical groups do.

This person was a little surprised by this, not sure why...
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby pink_trike » Thu Sep 24, 2009 12:25 am

Street corner evangelism is so judgmental. I think the most effective way for the Dharma to be evangelized is by living according to it's recommendations and practicing...in doing so we model calmness, decreased reactivity, and the spontaneous effective compassion that naturally arises as clarity grows - all within the context of our daily lives. In my experience this causes people to ask about the Dharma and we can then talk about our personal experience of it. This approach helps us avoid the "we've got something you need" poison.
Vision is Mind
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby Thaibebop » Thu Sep 24, 2009 1:05 am

TheDhamma wrote:Nothing wrong with missionary work, but probably should be done in a gentle way.

"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

Posting flyers to introductory Buddhist meditation retreats, Goenka retreats, etc. at natural foods stores and other places where there might be interest sounds like a good way to go. Of course there is the internet and all of the information that can be found there. But some will not search for it, so flyers and pamphlets are not a bad idea, if done in a gentle way.

I always liked this site, which seems to promote Buddhism very well:

http://www.justbegood.net/

Great site, thank you.
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby Thaibebop » Thu Sep 24, 2009 1:08 am

Manapa wrote:I suppose the closest I have witnesed to street corner Bible bashers would be a poster in the suppermarket, local shop, or newspaper advertising a begginners course in Buddhist Meditation, either free or for a price which depended on which group it was, the original group back home had a web site but were quite hard to find infomation on as they didn't advertise they were just there waiting to be found and the only cost was a suggested £1 donation to buy tea coffee, milk & buscuites. people know my general belief designation (to put it one way) and if they are interested and ask I will talk about it, but I don't talk about it unless asked as I don't think it would be appropriate to force my beliefs on peoples ears as this could cause colegues to not want to converse with me on any matter, even if they were interested.

Thaibebop wrote:I am not crusading here, but I do wonder about this topic from time to time. I see on campus when people set up stalls and TV, heck even on my my phone I can downloads apps that is nothing more than having the Bible or the Koran on my phone. I never see Buddhism though.

So, are people who practice not wanting to spread the Dhamma? I could understand this as I would be fearfull of being lumped into the same group as the pushy Bible beaters on street corners. Why else would someone not want to spread it?

If you were going to try and spread the Dhamma what would be the best ways and why? I do realize that a lot of us here will say being a living example, or perhaps answering questions only when asked, great answers by the way. However, I am interested in more active aproaches. Should Buddhist wisdom be downloadable apps for people's cell phones? Should people be mailed Buddhist information? We got in the mail last week an invitation to a church presentation. They didn't know us, just mailed it out! Out of the tatics to spread a faith would any work for Buddhism? Should Buddhism have it's own methods?

This is a very typical view of most Buddhists and a respectable one I might add. I agree with waiting until someone comes to you and asks a qustion, yet I wonder sometimes how is Buddhism spreading if we all seem to be waiting to answer question instead of putting information out there?
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby Thaibebop » Thu Sep 24, 2009 1:14 am

Rui Sousa wrote:I work as an IT Architect and we use the word Evangelism when referring to our task of making new technologies known to others, and a few days ago someone asked me "what name do you have, in Buddhism, for the notion of evangelism?". My answer was that the notion of evangelism, as know in Christianity and IT was not that evident in Buddhism, and if there was such a word I had no knowledge of it.

I told that person that the Buddhist attitude was a bit more reactive than proactive, that we were, in general, willing to talk about Buddhism and answer questions, but there was not a strong movement to spread Buddhism in the same way other religious/philosophical groups do.

This person was a little surprised by this, not sure why...

Most likely because so many of the major religions out there do and people have a tendency to want to share what they believe in. I have had many people wonder at my 'unwillingness' to talk unless asked. I have known many evangelical Christians who wondered at why they have never seen Buddhist on street corners preaching or handing out pamphlets like they do.
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby Thaibebop » Thu Sep 24, 2009 1:23 am

pink_trike wrote:Street corner evangelism is so judgmental. I think the most effective way for the Dharma to be evangelized is by living according to it's recommendations and practicing...in doing so we model calmness, decreased reactivity, and the spontaneous effective compassion that naturally arises as clarity grows - all within the context of our daily lives. In my experience this causes people to ask about the Dharma and we can then talk about our personal experience of it. This approach helps us avoid the "we've got something you need" poison.

Yes, I agree and I figured that many here would say just that. However, what would be exceptable to Buddhists as a form of spreading the information? I see that many places in America that have large or growing Buddhist populations are places that Buddists have immigrated to. This leads to a temple opening and then others get to know about this and start learning. Does this mean that places that don't have strong Buddhist populations have to wait until more Thais and Burmese move next door?

I have always lived in a place devoid of Buddhism. I think a few years ago a Tibetan temple, or just a group of monks showed up, at the request of a local group and are still living here, but that is about it. I learned about Buddhism by reading history and philosophy. There was a time in my life when I was abusing myself and could have used some Buddhist teaching then. I am by no means suggesting a campagin to help endangered teens through Buddhism, but I felt one day that I would have been one of those poeple who would've stopped and talked to the monk with the pamphlet, or gone to a temple if there was one. So, it seems easy for people living in L.A. to find Buddhist monks and information to help them, but what about people living in the Midwest, in Chirstian strong holds? Is sorting through books in the library or Book stores our only answer until we have gained enough knowledge and differing view point to make up our minds? That takes a long time by the way.
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby genkaku » Thu Sep 24, 2009 1:41 am

A line that popped into my mind one day was this: "Just because you are indispensable to the universe does not mean that the universe needs your help."

If asked, answer.
If unasked ... well, don't you have something useful to do?

Buddhism would have died out a long time ago if the best it could do was to rely on a fawning, leaflet lifestyle.
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby Thaibebop » Thu Sep 24, 2009 1:50 am

genkaku wrote:A line that popped into my mind one day was this: "Just because you are indispensable to the universe does not mean that the universe needs your help."

If asked, answer.
If unasked ... well, don't you have something useful to do?

Buddhism would have died out a long time ago if the best it could do was to rely on a fawning, leaflet lifestyle.

I am not suggesting leaflets, though. I've seen other places people always asking 'how did you find out about Buddhism?' That's a good quesiton. If no one is talking about, how did it spread? Someone talked at some point. So, yes perhaps just answering quesiton is best, I know that is what I have been doing and will keep doing, yet I wonder........
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby pink_trike » Thu Sep 24, 2009 2:07 am

Thaibebop wrote:
pink_trike wrote:Street corner evangelism is so judgmental. I think the most effective way for the Dharma to be evangelized is by living according to it's recommendations and practicing...in doing so we model calmness, decreased reactivity, and the spontaneous effective compassion that naturally arises as clarity grows - all within the context of our daily lives. In my experience this causes people to ask about the Dharma and we can then talk about our personal experience of it. This approach helps us avoid the "we've got something you need" poison.

Yes, I agree and I figured that many here would say just that. However, what would be exceptable to Buddhists as a form of spreading the information?


I think we're doing it right here. The web is community. Forums, blogs, youtube vids, etc...talking about our own experience with practice and the Dharma - sharing our understanding of it and hearing other's understanding.
Last edited by pink_trike on Thu Sep 24, 2009 3:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
Vision is Mind
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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: Spreading Buddhism

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Sep 24, 2009 2:37 am

Thaibebop wrote:This is a very typical view of most Buddhists and a respectable one I might add. I agree with waiting until someone comes to you and asks a qustion, yet I wonder sometimes how is Buddhism spreading if we all seem to be waiting to answer question instead of putting information out there?

You answered your own question in your OP, do the practice and live as an example
EDIT
I would add the Buddha did challange peoples actions and the worth of them but only the enlightened do not need to look after their own welbeing as they would not act in a manner to put themselves or others in harms way, us unenlightened folk on the other hand need to get there first before real help can be given.
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"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby zavk » Thu Sep 24, 2009 3:48 am

Hi Thaibebop

Interesting questions! :thumbsup:

As I was reading your initial post, I noticed something that got me thinking. In your OP, you couched your question in terms of 'spreading the Dhamma' rather than spreading Buddhism'. I think that can actually present a different perspective on the issue.

The Dhamma as I'm sure you are aware is not strictly 'Buddhism'. In this sense, 'Buddhism' is really a label for particular sets of ways of thinking and acting that, over the course of history, has proven to be very effective for engaging with the Dhamma.

I am not qualified to give a nuanced explanation of what the word Dhamma entails. But from what little I know, some of the qualities of the Dhamma include:

sanditthiko -- to be experienced in the here and now

akaliko -- timeless or unconditioned

ehipassiko -- which can be examined or investigated

Dhamma can also be used in a very general sense to refer to the 'way things really are'. This means that we can 'spread the Dhamma' without necessarily spreading 'Buddhism'. According to the specific circumstances that we find ourselves in, I think we can encourage people to better understand the reality of their present experience. In this sense, people who are working in, for example, healthcare, social work, counselling, education--anyone really--can 'spread the Dhamma' without necessarily evangelizing 'Buddhism'.
With metta,
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Sep 24, 2009 5:40 am

zavk wrote:Hi
The Dhamma as I'm sure you are aware is not strictly 'Buddhism'. In this sense, 'Buddhism' is really a label for particular sets of ways of thinking and acting that, over the course of history, has proven to be very effective for engaging with the Dhamma.


I'm guessing Thaibebop meant Buddhism, but you sort of bring up the point and example of S. N. Goenka. Goenka-ji has been very successful at spreading 'Dhamma' without calling it 'Buddhism' and in fact goes out of his way not to call it Buddhism and to say it is non-sectarian.

My thinking is that many Goenka retreat participants will learn of Buddhism later after the retreat (books and other sources) and see that there really is not much difference from Goenka's teachings and mainstream Buddhism (none really, just a matter of emphasis).
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Sep 24, 2009 6:18 am

TheDhamma wrote:Hi
My thinking is that many Goenka retreat participants will learn of Buddhism later after the retreat (books and other sources) and see that there really is not much difference from Goenka's teachings and mainstream Buddhism (none really, just a matter of emphasis).

Actually, they learn a lot of Theravada Buddhism from his Retreat Dhamma talks. I personally found it first irritating, then merely amusing, that he claimed to not be teaching Buddhism. There's nothing I recall hearing in his Dhamma talks that would be out of place at any other Theravada retreat. Of course, it's difficult to find a balance in these matters.

Metta
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Last edited by retrofuturist on Thu Sep 24, 2009 7:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: corrected attribution of quote
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby pink_trike » Thu Sep 24, 2009 6:58 am

The Dharma stands on it's own just fine without the container and institution of Buddhism.
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: Spreading Buddhism

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Sep 24, 2009 8:06 am

pink_trike wrote:The Dharma stands on it's own just fine without the container and institution of Buddhism.


So you would prefer " Dhammaism " ? Its got to be called something. Just calling it the Dhamma, which is essentially what the Buddha did, has no resonance in our culture as it did in his. We cant just talk about " that thing we do " like we are members of the Cosa Nostra.. :smile: I think the attempt not to call Buddhism Buddhism is a bigger waste of energy than any possible danger of instutionalism. As to spreading it, I think example is both the most effective and the most challenging.
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Sep 24, 2009 8:35 am

Well said, Sanghamitta.

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Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Sep 24, 2009 8:40 am

:anjali:
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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