Are Western Buddhists Perfectionistic Overachievers?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

As Compared with the Average Eastern Buddhist, are Western Buddhists Perfectionistic Overachievers?

Absolutely not
2
25%
Some are, but not most
3
38%
Most are
3
38%
Yeah, definitely
0
No votes
 
Total votes : 8

Are Western Buddhists Perfectionistic Overachievers?

Postby christopher::: » Tue May 04, 2010 2:17 am

I've asked this question before, over at the Grey Forum, though not in poll form. And i don't mean to sound judgmental by asking this. High goals and perfectionistic attitudes can be extremely helpful in dhamma practice.
"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: Are Western Buddhists Perfectionistic Overachievers?

Postby m0rl0ck » Tue May 04, 2010 2:22 am

I fail to see how one could take it too seriously :)

The thing is i dont think we have the buddhist equivalent of the easter and xmas christian here in the west, the way they might in the east.
"Even if you've read the whole Canon and can remember lots of teachings; even if you can explain them in poignant ways, with lots of people to respect you; even if you build a lot of monastery buildings, or can explain inconstancy, stress, and not-self in the most detailed fashion ... The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering.

"And you'll be able to gain release from suffering only when you know the one mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: Are Western Buddhists Perfectionistic Overachievers?

Postby retrofuturist » Tue May 04, 2010 2:23 am

Greetings Chris:::,

Do you think "perfectionistic" infers "overarchiever" and vice versa?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
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: Are Western Buddhists Perfectionistic Overachievers?

Postby christopher::: » Tue May 04, 2010 2:42 am

m0rl0ck wrote:I fail to see how one could take it too seriously :)



Really? Buddhism is much more then holidays. Many Westerners seem to take their dhamma practice very seriously, like the Whos in Whoville...


retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Chris:::,

Do you think "perfectionistic" infers "overarchiever" and vice versa?




:tongue:
"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: Are Western Buddhists Perfectionistic Overachievers?

Postby Goofaholix » Tue May 04, 2010 3:36 am

I'm not sure how to answer as there are several ways this question could be interpreted (as is usual with polls), here's a few;

Are western Buddhists perfectionistic overachievers compared with western non-Buddhists?

Are western Buddhists perfectionistic overachievers compared with non-western Buddhists?

Are western Buddhists perfectionistic overachievers when they come to Buddhism, and presumably grow out of it when they realise they can't overachieve their way to nibbana?

Are western Buddhists perfectionistic overachievers in attitude despite underachieving and failing to achieve perfection?

Do western Buddhists achieve, and overachieve, perfection and the other objectives of Buddhism?

Are western Buddhists perfectionistic overachievers in regards to how they approach Buddhism?

Are western Buddhists perfectionistic overachievers in all aspects of their lives?
"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: Are Western Buddhists Perfectionistic Overachievers?

Postby Ben » Tue May 04, 2010 4:24 am

Sorry Chris, I'm still trying to get over "Theravadins are grim killjoys"
I'll have to get back to you on this one.
In perpetual cheerlessness,

Ben
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Re: Are Western Buddhists Perfectionistic Overachievers?

Postby christopher::: » Tue May 04, 2010 4:27 am

Sorry Ben...

Goofaholix wrote:I'm not sure how to answer as there are several ways this question could be interpreted (as is usual with polls), here's a few...


Well, i was thinking in terms of as compared with the Average Eastern Buddhist, are [most] Western Buddhists [that you've come into contact with] more Perfectionistic and (as compared to the Eastern Buddhists) more focused on (and/or desiring of) achieving complete liberation?

Is that helpful?

BTW, i know this is difficult to answer, and that my initial question sounds a bit "loaded" to begin with... the purpose was less to get a definitive "correct" view but to see the range of perceptions people may hold about this....

:heart:
"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: Are Western Buddhists Perfectionistic Overachievers?

Postby retrofuturist » Tue May 04, 2010 4:38 am

Greetings Christopher:::,

The extent to which your theory may be true, may actually have more to do with whether one is "born Buddhist" or makes a conscious decision to "choose Buddhism" amidst an array of competing options.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Are Western Buddhists Perfectionistic Overachievers?

Postby Ben » Tue May 04, 2010 4:39 am

christopher::: wrote:Sorry Ben...


I was joking, Chris!!!

christopher::: wrote:Well, i was thinking in terms of as compared with the Average Eastern Buddhist, are [most] Western Buddhists [that you've come into contact with] more Perfectionistic and (as compared to the Eastern Buddhists) more focused on (and/or desiring of) achieving complete liberation?"


I have to admit that I don't currently know any asian Buddhists except for those who visit us here on DW. What I do remember is something Ven Pesala said a couple of years ago. I think he was bemoaning that some members of the ex-pat Burmese community that provide dana to him didn't take to meditation with the zeal that he would have liked.
When I was living in Melbourne two of my colleagues were asian Buddhists and I couldn't believe the quiet sincerity that they approached their practice. It was inspiring.
kind regards

Ben
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Re: Are Western Buddhists Perfectionistic Overachievers?

Postby appicchato » Tue May 04, 2010 4:40 am

Ben wrote:In perpetual cheerlessness,

I'm leaning this way too Ben...especially when I see some of the topics that appear here at DhammaWheel...
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Re: Are Western Buddhists Perfectionistic Overachievers?

Postby Goofaholix » Tue May 04, 2010 5:10 am

christopher::: wrote:Well, i was thinking in terms of as compared with the Average Eastern Buddhist, are [most] Western Buddhists [that you've come into contact with] more Perfectionistic and (as compared to the Eastern Buddhists) more focused on (and/or desiring of) achieving complete liberation?


I figured that was one of the likely candidates. The trouble is if we are talking about the average religious or merit making or superstitious or cultural eastern Buddhist I think there is no comparison as the practice and the goals are very different, so not a fair question.

However you could compare western and eastern practice or path oriented Buddhists with each other, then that would be a fair question assuming there are enough people on the board who have practiced both in the west and in the east to get a feeling on this.

As retro mentioned the difference is often to do with whether you were born into Buddhism or made a concious decision to become a Buddhist, but remember a lot of the most famous teachers were born as Buddhists.
"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: Are Western Buddhists Perfectionistic Overachievers?

Postby christopher::: » Tue May 04, 2010 5:27 am

appicchato wrote:
Ben wrote:In perpetual cheerlessness,

I'm leaning this way too Ben...especially when I see some of the topics that appear here at DhammaWheel...


Venerable, i apologize for contributing to your shift of mood. The topic title, poll question and responses can all be changed.

Do others here have suggestions for a more "skillful" wording of this topic and poll question, that might prompt insight and reflection, rather then cheerlessness and/or a reduction of equanimity?

: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: Are Western Buddhists Perfectionistic Overachievers?

Postby appicchato » Tue May 04, 2010 6:04 am

Not to worry friend...I'm not singling you out here, not at all...and please don't change anything on my account...possibly it's my well worn feeling that I've expressed here many times that Caucasians (Westerners, of which I am one) tend to have a need to dissect everything, I do mean everything, to a fare-thee-well...and not necessarily (it seems to me) in the interest of knowledge, or insight...

Please don't mind me...sometimes I let slip and start typing when I should hold my mud...

Be well... :smile:
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Re: Are Western Buddhists Perfectionistic Overachievers?

Postby Ben » Tue May 04, 2010 6:44 am

Dear Bhante

appicchato wrote:Not to worry friend...I'm not singling you out here, not at all...and please don't change anything on my account...possibly it's my well worn feeling that I've expressed here many times that Caucasians (Westerners, of which I am one) tend to have a need to dissect everything, I do mean everything, to a fare-thee-well...and not necessarily (it seems to me) in the interest of knowledge, or insight...

Please don't mind me...sometimes I let slip and start typing when I should hold my mud...

Be well... :smile:


Your insights are valuable and give us all pause for thought.
metta

Ben
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Re: Are Western Buddhists Perfectionistic Overachievers?

Postby Goofaholix » Tue May 04, 2010 6:53 am

appicchato wrote:
Possibly it's my well worn feeling that I've expressed here many times that Caucasians (Westerners, of which I am one) tend to have a need to dissect everything, I do mean everything, to a fare-thee-well...and not necessarily (it seems to me) in the interest of knowledge, or insight...


I think this is very true, but please nobody setup a poll on this one.
"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: Are Western Buddhists Perfectionistic Overachievers?

Postby Aloka » Tue May 04, 2010 7:53 am

.

This is a rather puzzling question. Since I have no way of knowing the true aspirations or intentions of either 'the average eastern buddhist' or of all the other Buddhists in the west, I can't answer it. :shrug:


.
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Re: Are Western Buddhists Perfectionistic Overachievers?

Postby christopher::: » Tue May 04, 2010 7:59 am

My inner perfectionist wishes i'd never started this discussion...

:computerproblem:
"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: Are Western Buddhists Perfectionistic Overachievers?

Postby Aloka » Tue May 04, 2010 10:13 am

christopher::: wrote:My inner perfectionist wishes i'd never started this discussion...


Who ?


Image
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Re: Are Western Buddhists Perfectionistic Overachievers?

Postby m0rl0ck » Tue May 04, 2010 1:13 pm

christopher::: wrote:
Really? Buddhism is much more then holidays. Many Westerners seem to take their dhamma practice very seriously, like the Whos in Whoville...




:tongue:


You misread my comment.
"Even if you've read the whole Canon and can remember lots of teachings; even if you can explain them in poignant ways, with lots of people to respect you; even if you build a lot of monastery buildings, or can explain inconstancy, stress, and not-self in the most detailed fashion ... The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering.

"And you'll be able to gain release from suffering only when you know the one mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: Are Western Buddhists Perfectionistic Overachievers?

Postby Nibbida » Tue May 04, 2010 1:45 pm

It may be safe to say that Westerners in general tend to be perfectionistic overachievers. It seems to be a consequence of our cultural ideals, the More, More, Better, Better philosophy that seems to underlie Western goals. So obviously that doesn't apply to all Western Buddhists, but it's my impression that it exists more among them compared to traditional Eastern Buddhists. It's inevitable that we will carry over ideas like the Protestant Work Ethic into our practice. Even if we aren't Protestants, it's an attitude that pervades our culture.

This is what Thanissaro Bhikkhu had to say along these lines: "Several years ago, when Ajaan Suwat was teaching a retreat at IMS, I was his interpreter. After the second or third day of the retreat he turned to me and said, "I notice that when these people meditate they're awfully grim." You'd look out across the room and all the people were sitting there very seriously, their faces tense, their eyes closed tight. It was almost as if they had Nirvana or Bust written across their foreheads."

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