Is Buddhism unsuited towards the average westerner?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Is Buddhism unsuited towards the average westerner?

Postby Awarewolf » Tue Aug 27, 2013 6:58 pm

I found this quote on a website as I searched the dangers of meditation and becoming addicte/attached to buddhism and its ideals. I have found through the last couple years that my viewpoints which have changed as I discovered peaceful states and ideologies has drastically hindered my ability to connect with the average person in my society and my friends. I have gained distance from them.

What do you all think of this quote?

"In the West, I do not think it advisable to follow Buddhism. Changing religions is not like changing professions. Excitement lessens over the years, and soon you are not excited, and then where are you? Homeless inside yourself."

– The Dalai Lama, quoted in Tibet, Tibet by Patrick French


This is from http://www.lorinroche.com/dangers/homeless.html

This person also mentions Dilation Syndrome...something they made up...and it terribly completely describes me! Please read about it. http://www.lorinroche.com/dangers/dangers/dilation.html
It's crazy because it describes me perfectly... deep peaceful states I discovered during university life, was super social and now am panicky anxious and have difficulties connecting. I just until a week or two ago have been investigating my ideas of dhamma in daily life almost nonstop... but while I can become peaceful like this I am left unable to really connect with others because everyone else just lives life the way any other non-meditating non-buddhist/religious type would. I would only really connect with others in a buddhist community or monastery but I'm not quite ready for that lifestyle switch yet. I just want to mesh here again.

So after reading this quote by an influencial understanding buddhist, and that syndrome which I most definitely have....would you recommend I stopped meditation and my studies of buddhism?

Possibly take up something more simple like yoga? So I'd get some basic level of body awareness and keep it daily like that? I really think I need it to get myself grounded with something simpler and not full of ideology and teachings.
Awarewolf
 
Posts: 43
Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2012 6:11 am

Re: Is Buddhism unsuited towards the average westerner?

Postby Aloka » Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:44 pm

Awarewolf wrote:I found this quote on a website as I searched the dangers of meditation and becoming addicte/attached to buddhism and its ideals. I have found through the last couple years that my viewpoints which have changed as I discovered peaceful states and ideologies has drastically hindered my ability to connect with the average person in my society and my friends. I have gained distance from them.

What do you all think of this quote?

"In the West, I do not think it advisable to follow Buddhism. Changing religions is not like changing professions. Excitement lessens over the years, and soon you are not excited, and then where are you? Homeless inside yourself."

– The Dalai Lama, quoted in Tibet, Tibet by Patrick French


This is from http://www.lorinroche.com/dangers/homeless.html

This person also mentions Dilation Syndrome...something they made up...and it terribly completely describes me! Please read about it. http://www.lorinroche.com/dangers/dangers/dilation.html
It's crazy because it describes me perfectly... deep peaceful states I discovered during university life, was super social and now am panicky anxious and have difficulties connecting. I just until a week or two ago have been investigating my ideas of dhamma in daily life almost nonstop... but while I can become peaceful like this I am left unable to really connect with others because everyone else just lives life the way any other non-meditating non-buddhist/religious type would. I would only really connect with others in a buddhist community or monastery but I'm not quite ready for that lifestyle switch yet. I just want to mesh here again.

So after reading this quote by an influencial understanding buddhist, and that syndrome which I most definitely have....would you recommend I stopped meditation and my studies of buddhism?

Possibly take up something more simple like yoga? So I'd get some basic level of body awareness and keep it daily like that? I really think I need it to get myself grounded with something simpler and not full of ideology and teachings.



Hi Awarewolf,

Have you any idea of the date that the Dalai lama is quoted as saying that ? It might have been when he first encountered westerners many years ago. There are increasing numbers of Tibetan Buddhist centres in western countries these days and the Dalai Lama usually gives teachings and empowerments to packed audiences of western Buddhists when he visits the west himself.

I also had a quick look at the Lorin Roche website (never heard of him before) and he certainly doesn't seem to be practising Buddhist meditation himself - in fact he's saying its unsuitable for lay people in the section " The Total Lack of Useful Information". He obviously doesn't know anything about it, because there are many lay Buddhists with jobs and families who practice meditation and get instructions from both lay and monastic meditation teachers.


If you are genuinely interested in Buddhism, It would probably be a good idea if you checked the Buddhanet Worldwide Search facility for the nearest Buddhist centres/groups to where you live, and then maybe attend an evening class for a couple of hours a week, talk to the teacher, meet some other Buddhists and then see how you feel about it. There's also no reason why you shouldn't have friends who are not Buddhists themselves.

http://www.buddhanet.info/wbd/

With kind wishes,

Aloka
Last edited by Aloka on Tue Aug 27, 2013 10:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Aloka
 
Posts: 3247
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:51 pm

Re: Is Buddhism unsuited towards the average westerner?

Postby Lambcinco » Tue Aug 27, 2013 9:37 pm

I think Buddhism is really great for what westerners (any many other folks worldwide) are suffering from-- greed, lack of compassion and respect towards life. Maybe now, more than ever we need spiritual practice.
Lambcinco
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Jul 16, 2013 7:34 pm

Re: Is Buddhism unsuited towards the average westerner?

Postby HumbleThinker » Tue Aug 27, 2013 9:57 pm

Aloka wrote:Hi Awarewolf,

Have you any idea of the date that the Dalai lama is quoted as saying that ? It might have been when he first encountered westerners many years ago. There are increasing numbers of Tibetan Buddhist centres in western countries these days and the Dalai Lama usually gives teachings and empowerments to packed audiences of western Buddhists when he visits the west himself.

I also had a quick look at the Lorin Roche website (never heard of him before) and he certainly doesn't seem to be practising Buddhist meditation himself - in fact he's saying its unsuitable for lay people in the section " The Total Lack of Useful Information". He obviously doesn't know anything about it, because there are many lay Buddhists with jobs and families who practice meditation and get instructions from both lay and monastic meditation teachers.


If you are genuinely interested in Buddhism, It would probably be a good idea if you checked the Buddhanet Worldwide Search facility for the nearest Buddhist centres to where you live, and then attend some classes, talk to a teacher, meet some other Buddhists and then see how you feel about it.

http://www.buddhanet.info/wbd/

With kind wishes,

Aloka


This threadseems to answer your question about the Dali Lama quote. It was given at a Catholic University.
"I know that I know nothing" -Socrates

IOW, take what I say with a grain of salt, for I likely know as little or less than you do.
HumbleThinker
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Nov 20, 2012 9:02 pm

Re: Is Buddhism unsuited towards the average westerner?

Postby HumbleThinker » Tue Aug 27, 2013 10:13 pm

Awarewolf wrote:I found this quote on a website as I searched the dangers of meditation and becoming addicte/attached to buddhism and its ideals. I have found through the last couple years that my viewpoints which have changed as I discovered peaceful states and ideologies has drastically hindered my ability to connect with the average person in my society and my friends. I have gained distance from them.


I can't say much on this topic, particularly the parts I snipped, but this part stuck out to me. First, this is to be expected. In any religion, spiritual development can often alienate one from friends and others who have not developed in the same ways as you. The reasons for this are the same reasons people in general often drift apart: they find they have more differences than similarities, their interests aren't compatible, they don't participate in many of the same activities, their ideologies are incompatible, and one simply isn't providing what the other is looking for in the relationship anymore.

Second, a goal in Buddhism is detachment. I'm not deep into Buddhist practice at all, certainly nowhere near as long as you have, but I have noticed a slightly increased level of detachment towards my friends even when we are participating in the same activities. If one has not developed a healthy level of detachment yet, I believe that a side-effect of this can be a sort of anxiety when realizing that what one used to get out of interacting with these people is no longer there. This hasn't gotten as big of an issue as it seems to have with you, so I have not felt a great need to do this, but as Aloka pointed out, looking for a Buddhist community would likely help this condition. This is not to say that you need to forcibly cut yourself off from these friends or others you meet in society, but if you are no longer feeling an impulse to interact with them, then work on (through meditation of course) not forcing yourself to want to hang out with them or feel anxious at not connecting with them.

ETA: As the Buddha said, " Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life [not just a half]. When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, & colleagues, he can be expected to develop & pursue the noble eightfold path."
"I know that I know nothing" -Socrates

IOW, take what I say with a grain of salt, for I likely know as little or less than you do.
HumbleThinker
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Nov 20, 2012 9:02 pm

Re: Is Buddhism unsuited towards the average westerner?

Postby Awarewolf » Tue Aug 27, 2013 11:38 pm

Thank you to all for the replies. Maybe the response best to answer what you all have written is that maybe the holy life isn't what I seek? I have experienced some beautiful things in this world, some blissful states and they all seem so right. But as I develop myself further, I find that there is a larger pull for me as of now to simply fit in and pursue a regular worldly life. That may sound like a lesser goal theoretically, but it would still have its good days and bad days and leave me open to return to spiritual pursuit later in life.

Not trying to protect the guy because I don't even know him, but he's getting a good word in from some noticeable names, Jack Kornfield in particular.

This sticks out to me as of now.
From another of his pages "Two Paths" comparing reclusive lifestyles to that of the householder.

People who have families, jobs, pay rent or mortgages, and live in the real world, have very different needs in meditation. Recluses call us householders. Houeseholders do not need to constantly kill off their natural impulses. As a matter of fact, the last thing they need is to weaken their desires, instincts and intuition. The path of the householder involves working with attachment. It is very daring to be attached. Tolerating the experience of attachment takes courage. Personal bonds are attachments. Loving someone is an attachment. Householders, when they meditate, should savor every sexual impulse, cherish every desire, honor and listen to all their instincts, and cultivate their general enthusiasm for life.
Awarewolf
 
Posts: 43
Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2012 6:11 am

Re: Is Buddhism unsuited towards the average westerner?

Postby dagon » Tue Aug 27, 2013 11:57 pm

Awarewolf wrote:I found this quote on a website as I searched the dangers of meditation and becoming addicte/attached to buddhism and its ideals. I have found through the last couple years that my viewpoints which have changed as I discovered peaceful states and ideologies has drastically hindered my ability to connect with the average person in my society and my friends. I have gained distance from them.

What do you all think of this quote?

"In the West, I do not think it advisable to follow Buddhism. Changing religions is not like changing professions. Excitement lessens over the years, and soon you are not excited, and then where are you? Homeless inside yourself."

– The Dalai Lama, quoted in Tibet, Tibet by Patrick French


This is from http://www.lorinroche.com/dangers/homeless.html

This person also mentions Dilation Syndrome...something they made up...and it terribly completely describes me! Please read about it. http://www.lorinroche.com/dangers/dangers/dilation.html
It's crazy because it describes me perfectly... deep peaceful states I discovered during university life, was super social and now am panicky anxious and have difficulties connecting. I just until a week or two ago have been investigating my ideas of dhamma in daily life almost nonstop... but while I can become peaceful like this I am left unable to really connect with others because everyone else just lives life the way any other non-meditating non-buddhist/religious type would. I would only really connect with others in a buddhist community or monastery but I'm not quite ready for that lifestyle switch yet. I just want to mesh here again.

So after reading this quote by an influencial understanding buddhist, and that syndrome which I most definitely have....would you recommend I stopped meditation and my studies of buddhism?

Possibly take up something more simple like yoga? So I'd get some basic level of body awareness and keep it daily like that? I really think I need it to get myself grounded with something simpler and not full of ideology and teachings.


I am not sure what the average westerner is, I am not even sure that it is even a valid statement. However ignoring that it is true that in the west and increasingly in the east we are a consumer based society. My perspective (as someone who is clearly neither typically eastern of western) is that many who look at Buddhism do so as if Buddhism is another commodity – something to be purchased (there is a price with everything) and discarded in part or whole when it suits.

I find that what you have said is far more interesting than the quote that you supplied. Putting aside Buddhism for the moment, we all change as we experience life and are continually shaped by our experiences. Any experience that shows you how superficial our society is will call us to question that society and to question our friendships as we evolve. It is interesting to reflect on how people change and often become more like their parents – perhaps this is only a reflection of then experiencing some of the same things as their parents had previously experienced. As a generalisation I think that experience causes us to become more discerning. At eight we would meet and find our new best friend on the same day. By eighteen that had changed; apart from where lust was the overriding factor. At 28 with a wider experience of people and experience of new situation (maybe work, marriage or kids) we take longer before we describe people as friends.

Experiencing Buddhism is (or at least should be) a profound experience and one that changes the way we think, our ethics and hopefully our behaviours. If you had not had the changes that you have had I would question how deeply the teachings and practice has penetrated. Friends, family and work mates are the closest part of society that we interact with and so any changes in us and what we want will be most clearly seen in those aspects of life. For anyone living in a non-buddhist society the changes will be more apparent than those living in a Buddhist society.

I have so much respect for those who have managed to find their way on to the path and maintain their existing relationships – in particular their marriage. I was lucky that when I came back to Buddhism (it has always been a background part of my life) I was “between wives”. When I decided that I wanted to be married again the second criteria I set was that my partner had to be a Buddhist (the first was that it had to be a female, lol) the third criteria was that they wanted to live in a Buddhist country and for various reasons that would need to be Thailand so logically a Thai lady. Fourth criteria was that there had to already be kids – because she would be more likely to understand my situation and also be less likely to change if we had kids. To most in the west this may sound fairly cold and calculating but in the east there is an understanding that marriage is contractual as well as emotional. I wanted to be married but I was not willing to have to make any compromises on the Buddhist path I had set myself. Yes I did find the right lady who exceeded all my requirements and who I love very much. Relationships of any kind are easier where there are shared values.

metta
paul
dagon
 
Posts: 297
Joined: Sun Jun 30, 2013 12:45 am

Re: Is Buddhism unsuited towards the average westerner?

Postby HumbleThinker » Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:15 am

Awarewolf wrote:Thank you to all for the replies. Maybe the response best to answer what you all have written is that maybe the holy life isn't what I seek? I have experienced some beautiful things in this world, some blissful states and they all seem so right. But as I develop myself further, I find that there is a larger pull for me as of now to simply fit in and pursue a regular worldly life. That may sound like a lesser goal theoretically, but it would still have its good days and bad days and leave me open to return to spiritual pursuit later in life.

Not trying to protect the guy because I don't even know him, but he's getting a good word in from some noticeable names, Jack Kornfield in particular.

This sticks out to me as of now.
From another of his pages "Two Paths" comparing reclusive lifestyles to that of the householder.

People who have families, jobs, pay rent or mortgages, and live in the real world, have very different needs in meditation. Recluses call us householders. Houeseholders do not need to constantly kill off their natural impulses. As a matter of fact, the last thing they need is to weaken their desires, instincts and intuition. The path of the householder involves working with attachment. It is very daring to be attached. Tolerating the experience of attachment takes courage. Personal bonds are attachments. Loving someone is an attachment. Householders, when they meditate, should savor every sexual impulse, cherish every desire, honor and listen to all their instincts, and cultivate their general enthusiasm for life.


What may be of comfort to you is that the Buddha did not try to force all his listeners to undertake the highest calling that will ultimately lead to Nibbana. To people with desires of sensual or monetary happiness in this life and the next, he speaks to them about how to go about their desires in a way that would generate good karma and lead to a positive rebirth. To people with all kinds of desires, he presented the Dhamma, but in a manner that would actually be relevant to them. He understood that by creating good karma, they would be reborn in a higher plane, then be reborn again in the human world, then would likely have the karma that would equip them to attain a state closer to Nibbana. This is why you will read in the suttas about those who attain enlightenment simply from hearing a few words from the Buddha; lifetimes of karma have led to them being in the state allowing them to obtain enlightenment so "easily." Hopefully this helps and isn't too inaccurate :)
"I know that I know nothing" -Socrates

IOW, take what I say with a grain of salt, for I likely know as little or less than you do.
HumbleThinker
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Nov 20, 2012 9:02 pm

Re: Is Buddhism unsuited towards the average westerner?

Postby Awarewolf » Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:20 am

No not at all, that is a good post. I had posted not long ago about the progression of developing bodily happiness, the basic level before reaching to the next highest being meditative happiness and further nibbana. It makes sense to me that maybe I've opened up too quickly in my life, in the same way you hear about people having kundalini awakenings in yoga practices before being ready and having serious consequences to their psyches.

Maybe I need to get my life back on track here before reaching towards the spiritual.
Awarewolf
 
Posts: 43
Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2012 6:11 am

Re: Is Buddhism unsuited towards the average westerner?

Postby dagon » Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:35 am

Awarewolf wrote:No not at all, that is a good post. I had posted not long ago about the progression of developing bodily happiness, the basic level before reaching to the next highest being meditative happiness and further nibbana. It makes sense to me that maybe I've opened up too quickly in my life, in the same way you hear about people having kundalini awakenings in yoga practices before being ready and having serious consequences to their psyches.

Maybe I need to get my life back on track here before reaching towards the spiritual.


Jhanna posted a link in this thread that maybe useful to you
viewtopic.php?f=12&t=18410

metta
paul
dagon
 
Posts: 297
Joined: Sun Jun 30, 2013 12:45 am

Re: Is Buddhism unsuited towards the average westerner?

Postby plwk » Wed Aug 28, 2013 3:12 am

If any of these are useful...

Jack Kornfield remembering the late Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche...
http://www.lycaeum.org/~sputnik/Misc/buddhism.html
My advice to you is not to undertake the spiritual path. It is too difficult, too long, and it is too demanding.
What I would suggest, if you haven't already begun, is to go to the door, ask for your money back, and go home now.
This is not a picnic. It is really going to ask everything of you and you should understand that from the beginning.
So it is best not to begin.
However," he said, "if you do begin, it is best to finish."
Ajahn Sumedho: Who Needs Enlightenment When I Have My Opinions

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Monks, I do not say that the attainment of gnosis is all at once.
Rather, the attainment of gnosis is after gradual training, gradual action, gradual practice.
And how is there the attainment of gnosis after gradual training, gradual action, gradual practice?
There is the case where, when conviction has arisen, one visits [a teacher].
Having visited, one grows close. Having grown close, one lends ear. Having lent ear, one hears the Dhamma.
Having heard the Dhamma, one remembers it. Remembering, one penetrates the meaning of the teachings.
Penetrating the meaning, one comes to an agreement through pondering the teachings.
There being an agreement through pondering the teachings, desire arises. When desire has arisen, one is willing.
When one is willing, one contemplates. Having contemplated, one makes an exertion.
Having made an exertion, one realizes with the body the ultimate truth and, having penetrated it with discernment, sees it.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Then Ven. Ananda, together with Tapussa the householder, went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side.
As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One:
"Tapussa the householder, here, has said to me, 'Venerable Ananda, sir, we are householders who indulge in sensuality, delight in sensuality, enjoy sensuality, rejoice in sensuality. For us — indulging in sensuality, delighting in sensuality, enjoying sensuality, rejoicing in sensuality — renunciation seems like a sheer drop-off.
Yet I've heard that in this doctrine & discipline the hearts of the very young monks leap up at renunciation, grow confident, steadfast, & firm, seeing it as peace.
So right here is where this doctrine & discipline is contrary to the great mass of people: i.e., [this issue of] renunciation.'"

"So it is, Ananda. So it is.
Even I myself, before my Awakening, when I was still an unawakened Bodhisatta, thought: 'Renunciation is good. Seclusion is good.'
But my heart didn't leap up at renunciation, didn't grow confident, steadfast, or firm, seeing it as peace.
The thought occurred to me:
'What is the cause, what is the reason, why my heart doesn't leap up at renunciation, doesn't grow confident, steadfast, or firm, seeing it as peace?'
Then the thought occurred to me:
'I haven't seen the drawback of sensual pleasures; I haven't pursued [that theme]. I haven't understood the reward of renunciation; I haven't familiarized myself with it. That's why my heart doesn't leap up at renunciation, doesn't grow confident, steadfast, or firm, seeing it as peace.'
Then the thought occurred to me: 'If, having seen the drawback of sensual pleasures, I were to pursue that theme; and if, having understood the reward of renunciation,
I were to familiarize myself with it, there's the possibility that my heart would leap up at renunciation, grow confident, steadfast, & firm, seeing it as peace.'
"So at a later time, having seen the drawback of sensual pleasures, I pursued that theme; having understood the reward of renunciation, I familiarized myself with it.
My heart leaped up at renunciation, grew confident, steadfast, & firm, seeing it as peace."
Dhammapada Verses: 1 2 3
King Bimbisara & the young ascetic
http://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/T ... ook-VI.htm
“I have entered the ascetic-wood to destroy old age and death, — with no thirst for heaven, with no lack of love nor feeling of anger.
“Do not think of mourning for me who am thus gone forth from my home; union, however long it may last, in time will come to an end.
“Since separation is certain, therefore is my mind fixed on liberation; how shall there not be repeated severings from one's kindred?
“Do not think of mourning for me who am gone forth to leave sorrow behind; it is the thralls of passion, who are attached to desires,
the causes of sorrow, for whom thou shouldst mourn.
“This was the firm persuasion of our predecessors, — I as one departing by a common road am not to be mourned for by my heir.
“At a man's death there are doubtless heirs to his wealth; but heirs to his merit are hard to find on the earth or exist not at all.
“Even though thou sayest, ‘He is gone at a wrong time to the wood,’ — there is no wrong time for religious duty (dharma), life being fragile as it is.
“Therefore my determination is, ‘I must seek my supreme good this very day;’ what confidence can there be in life, when death stands as our adversary?"
‘Do thou address the king, O friend, with these and such-like words; and do thou use thy efforts so that he may not even remember me.

From the great Nalanda Indian Pandita, Acarya Kamalasila aka Padampa Sangye to the Tibetans...in his 'Hundred Verses of Advice'
http://wahiduddin.net/budh/hundred_verses.htm
The day you were born, your death began approaching;
People of Tingri, remember: there is never any time to spare.

Since you won't be staying in this world forever,
People of Tingri, make your preparations for the journey now.

If you first finish what you have to do, you'll never get to Dharma;
People of Tingri, while you're thinking about it, practice straight away.

Birth, sickness, ageing and death flow on, a river without ford or bridge;
People of Tingri, have you prepared yourselves a boat?

In the next world, there are neither family nor friends;
People of Tingri, place your confidence in the Dharma.

If you wander in distraction, you'll waste the freedoms and advantages of human life;
People of Tingri, make a resolute decision now.

While you're busy being distracted, the demon of Death will catch you;
People of Tingri, practice from this very moment onwards.

Your flesh and bones took form together, but in the end are sure to separate;
People of Tingri, do not believe that you will live forever.

For this life, come what may, you'll have enough to eat and clothe yourself;
People of Tingri, put everything you have into practicing the Dharma.

While you are young, practice hard and with austerities;
People of Tingri, once you're old your constitution won't withstand it.

Think from time to time of all the defects of samsara;
People of Tingri, that will make your faith become much clearer.

That faith succumbs to circumstance is only a short step away;
People of Tingri, contemplate samsara's imperfections

The Buddha's teaching is like the sun shining through the clouds;
People of Tingri, now is the one time that it is present.
http://www.dharmaweb.org/index.php/Thus ... nd_Stories
A well-known Master once advised a lay friend to recite the Buddha's name.
The latter replied, 'There are three things I have not yet attended to: one, my father's coffin is not yet entombed; two, my son does not yet have a family; three, my youngest daughter is still unmarried. Let me take care of these three things and then I will follow your advice.'
A few months later, the layman was struck by a grave illness and suddenly passed away.

After the memorial, the monk offered a stanza in lieu of condolences:
'My friend, the wise official,/
When I advised him to recite the Buddha's name, he countered with three things;/
The three things have not been accomplished,/
Yet impermanence has already snatched him away./
Lord of Hell, how inconsiderate can you be!'


Reading this stanza, who among us dares claim he is not another wise official?
Therefore, those who are determined to cultivate should take advantage of every single instant, and recite the Buddha's name at that very moment.
They should avoid stepping in the doomed footprints of those who have erred before them--with cause for regret for a thousand autumns to come.
http://www.cttbusa.org/42s/42sections.asp
The Buddha asked a Shramana, "How long is the human life span?"
He replied, "A few days." The Buddha said, "You have not yet understood the Way."

He asked another Shramana, "How long is the human life span?"
The reply was, "The space of a meal." The Buddha said, "You have not yet understood the Way."

He asked another Shramana, "How long is the human life span?"
He replied, "The length of a single breath." The Buddha said, "Excellent. You have understood the Way."
Bhikkhus, if you develop and make much this one thing,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.
What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

Anguttara-Nikaya: Ekanipata: Ekadhammapali: Pañhamavagga
VSM VMM WBB TBHT WTBT My Page
plwk
 
Posts: 1093
Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:14 am

Re: Is Buddhism unsuited towards the average westerner?

Postby Kusala » Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:33 am

Awarewolf wrote:I found this quote on a website as I searched the dangers of meditation and becoming addicte/attached to buddhism and its ideals. I have found through the last couple years that my viewpoints which have changed as I discovered peaceful states and ideologies has drastically hindered my ability to connect with the average person in my society and my friends. I have gained distance from them.

What do you all think of this quote?

"In the West, I do not think it advisable to follow Buddhism. Changing religions is not like changing professions. Excitement lessens over the years, and soon you are not excited, and then where are you? Homeless inside yourself."

– The Dalai Lama, quoted in Tibet, Tibet by Patrick French


This is from http://www.lorinroche.com/dangers/homeless.html

This person also mentions Dilation Syndrome...something they made up...and it terribly completely describes me! Please read about it. http://www.lorinroche.com/dangers/dangers/dilation.html
It's crazy because it describes me perfectly... deep peaceful states I discovered during university life, was super social and now am panicky anxious and have difficulties connecting. I just until a week or two ago have been investigating my ideas of dhamma in daily life almost nonstop... but while I can become peaceful like this I am left unable to really connect with others because everyone else just lives life the way any other non-meditating non-buddhist/religious type would. I would only really connect with others in a buddhist community or monastery but I'm not quite ready for that lifestyle switch yet. I just want to mesh here again.

So after reading this quote by an influencial understanding buddhist, and that syndrome which I most definitely have....would you recommend I stopped meditation and my studies of buddhism?

Possibly take up something more simple like yoga? So I'd get some basic level of body awareness and keep it daily like that? I really think I need it to get myself grounded with something simpler and not full of ideology and teachings.


Sangharakshita, founder of Friends of the Western Buddhist Order(now Triratna Buddhist Community) was asked a similar question.

Image

Homage to the Buddha
Thus indeed, is that Blessed One: He is the Holy One, fully enlightened, endowed with clear vision and virtuous conduct, sublime, the Knower of the worlds, the incomparable leader of men to be tamed, the teacher of gods and men, enlightened and blessed.

Homage to the Teachings
The Dhamma of the Blessed One is perfectly expounded; to be seen here and now; not delayed in
time; inviting one to come and see; onward leading (to Nibbana); to be known by the wise, each for himself.
User avatar
Kusala
 
Posts: 377
Joined: Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:02 am

Re: Is Buddhism unsuited towards the average westerner?

Postby ancientbuddhism » Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:50 pm

Dhamma is not suited for the average human. But there are some with little dust in their eyes.

Otherwise, the Dhamma is not limited to present-day notions of East/West duality.
“The authentic and pure values – truth, beauty, and goodness – in the activity of a human being are the result of one and the same act, a certain application of the full attention to the object.”
– Simone Weil (Gravity and Grace)

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

A Handful of Leaves
User avatar
ancientbuddhism
 
Posts: 586
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:53 pm
Location: Cyberia

Re: Is Buddhism unsuited towards the average westerner?

Postby HumbleThinker » Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:55 pm

Awarewolf wrote:No not at all, that is a good post. I had posted not long ago about the progression of developing bodily happiness, the basic level before reaching to the next highest being meditative happiness and further nibbana. It makes sense to me that maybe I've opened up too quickly in my life, in the same way you hear about people having kundalini awakenings in yoga practices before being ready and having serious consequences to their psyches.

Maybe I need to get my life back on track here before reaching towards the spiritual.


I've often heard that one must get their mundane life in order before entering into the monastic life for instance. Things such as debts and unsettled attachments will not vanish when one becomes a monk, so they will eventually catch up to you just as all karma will eventually catch up to you no matter where you are. I've heard that plenty of people go so far as to become a monk in an attempt to run away from such things, but that, when these things catch up with them, they quickly derobe, making their effort at obtaining the highest goal worthless.

I would not be surprised if there is a similar dilemma for laymen attempting to shift towards a more spiritual laymen life. I would guess that the best route would be to take what you already have and try to apply the dhamma to that instead of trying to change what you have. When talking to Sigalaka, who worshipped the six directions on his father's deathbed request, the Buddha did not dismiss his actions or change the actions themselves, but simply showed Sigalaka how to apply the dhamma to this practice by explaining, "But, young man, that is not how the six directions should be worshipped according to the discipline of the noble ones." He then proceeded to correlate the six directions to ethical mundane layman practices such as how not to squander wealth or be lazy. This of course is not the whole dhamma which will lead to nibbana, but is obviously a part of it, will give him a fortunate rebirth, and likely set him on the path to practicing the whole dhamma and reaching enlightenment in a future life.

As a practical example, when you have naturally arrived at a state where money does not mean anything to you and you are prepared to live without it (ie. settled all debts, mentally/physically prepared to live without what money buys, etc.), then and only then should you live in voluntary poverty. Until then, just find ethical ways that are grounded in the dhamma on utilizing your money.
"I know that I know nothing" -Socrates

IOW, take what I say with a grain of salt, for I likely know as little or less than you do.
HumbleThinker
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Nov 20, 2012 9:02 pm

Re: Is Buddhism unsuited towards the average westerner?

Postby SDC » Wed Aug 28, 2013 7:05 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:Dhamma is not suited for the average human. But there are some with little dust in their eyes.

Otherwise, the Dhamma is not limited to present-day notions of East/West duality.


Very well said.
Through many of samsara’s births I hasten seeking, finding not the builder of this house - pain is birth again, again. O builder of this house you’re seen, you shall not build a house again, all your beams have given away, rafters of the ridge decayed, mind to the unconditioned gone, exhaustion of craving has it reached.(Dhp - 153, 154)
User avatar
SDC
 
Posts: 859
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:08 pm
Location: North Jersey

Re: Is Buddhism unsuited towards the average westerner?

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:06 pm

HumbleThinker wrote:I've often heard that one must get their mundane life in order before entering into the monastic life for instance. Things such as debts and unsettled attachments will not vanish when one becomes a monk, so they will eventually catch up to you just as all karma will eventually catch up to you no matter where you are. I've heard that plenty of people go so far as to become a monk in an attempt to run away from such things, but that, when these things catch up with them, they quickly derobe, making their effort at obtaining the highest goal worthless.

I would not be surprised if there is a similar dilemma for laymen attempting to shift towards a more spiritual laymen life. I would guess that the best route would be to take what you already have and try to apply the dhamma to that instead of trying to change what you have. When talking to Sigalaka, who worshipped the six directions on his father's deathbed request, the Buddha did not dismiss his actions or change the actions themselves, but simply showed Sigalaka how to apply the dhamma to this practice by explaining, "But, young man, that is not how the six directions should be worshipped according to the discipline of the noble ones." He then proceeded to correlate the six directions to ethical mundane layman practices such as how not to squander wealth or be lazy. This of course is not the whole dhamma which will lead to nibbana, but is obviously a part of it, will give him a fortunate rebirth, and likely set him on the path to practicing the whole dhamma and reaching enlightenment in a future life.

As a practical example, when you have naturally arrived at a state where money does not mean anything to you and you are prepared to live without it (ie. settled all debts, mentally/physically prepared to live without what money buys, etc.), then and only then should you live in voluntary poverty. Until then, just find ethical ways that are grounded in the dhamma on utilizing your money.

:goodpost: here and http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=18420#p258955 earlier, HumbleThinker. :smile:

I think one of our problems in Western Buddhism is that we blur - or just don't see - the difference between 'professional' (ordained) and 'amateur' (lay) Buddhism.
In traditionally-Buddhist countries there is no such problem: everyone knows and sees the difference all the time. Same thing with Christians in traditionally-Christian countries - which might help us understand the difference.
Most of us here in the West are converts and have the enthusiasm and commitment of converts (think: born-again Christians?). We are surrounded by other converts and professional Buddhists (again, think: born-again Christians?) who continually reinforce the value of total commitment to the new path (again think: born-again Christians?)

But total commitment to the path is impossible for most of us because of real-world obligations, and a lot of us are not spiritually ready for it anyway. The Buddhism we really need is a lay practice, much closer to level of commitment of the church-on-Sundays Christian families we see around us all the time - using their/our religion for moral guidance and trying to make the world a better place in the time we can can make available.

:namaste:
Kim
User avatar
Kim OHara
 
Posts: 2893
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:47 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: Is Buddhism unsuited towards the average westerner?

Postby seeker242 » Fri Aug 30, 2013 1:38 am

Awarewolf wrote:
This person also mentions Dilation Syndrome...something they made up...and it terribly completely describes me! Please read about it. http://www.lorinroche.com/dangers/dangers/dilation.html
It's crazy because it describes me perfectly... deep peaceful states I discovered during university life, was super social and now am panicky anxious and have difficulties connecting. I just until a week or two ago have been investigating my ideas of dhamma in daily life almost nonstop... but while I can become peaceful like this I am left unable to really connect with others because everyone else just lives life the way any other non-meditating non-buddhist/religious type would. I would only really connect with others in a buddhist community or monastery but I'm not quite ready for that lifestyle switch yet. I just want to mesh here again.


It just sounds like you are lacking proper Metta cultivation. From the "dilation" link you posted.

"As a result of cultivating sensitivity, they start to hate everyone. Because they see themselves as spiritual, everyone else is unspiritual in some way and fallen, except for certain spiritual heroes, who would be the dead Asian males on their altars, and maybe one living Asian male. Then they cover this disgust with humanity with a veneer of compassion or tolerance, and there they go – a person with artificial layers, who even 20 years later is irritable. The irritability shows up in problems forming lasting human relationships and a complicated internal balancing act.


Proper metta cultivation completely eliminates this possibility. It is true that after a while you no longer connect with people on the same level that you used to because they are still only interested in these mundane everyday things, which is mostly just pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain. However, with proper metta cultivation, you can connect with them on a much deeper level. This type of connection is so much stronger than the other one too, 10,000 times stronger, even more than that. With the proper cultivation of metta, there is no longer panicky anxiousness or difficulty connecting. There is just genuine all embracing loving kindness.

The authors cure for the "dilation" scenario is not even close to being a Buddhist approach. I don't know where the heck he is getting this stuff from, he probably just made it up himself. He says to get your "strength back", cultivate aggression and become more aggressive in pursuing your desires. This is definitely not Buddhist! Buddhists counter this scenario with metta strength, not aggression and desires!


So after reading this quote by an influencial understanding buddhist, and that syndrome which I most definitely have....would you recommend I stopped meditation and my studies of buddhism?

Possibly take up something more simple like yoga? So I'd get some basic level of body awareness and keep it daily like that? I really think I need it to get myself grounded with something simpler and not full of ideology and teachings.


I would suggest just doing Metta meditation because that will bring back balance.

:namaste:
User avatar
seeker242
 
Posts: 176
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2012 3:01 am

Re: Is Buddhism unsuited towards the average westerner?

Postby Samma » Sat Aug 31, 2013 5:13 am

Woah, first of all not much qualified to offer advice since I don't really know you. Talk this over with people you know and trust. Or perhaps a psychologist for " panicky anxious" stuff.

Would you talk more about how " ideologies has drastically hindered my ability to connect with the average person"? Is not possible for you to make small talk anymore? Hi, how are you, taking some interest in others, and having a conversation? Granted you may not see this as "connecting" but that all that's needed, and its up to you what you prioritize.

"The more you meditate, the more you need to go out and live it up."
Thats what the Buddha said right? :rofl:
Samma
 
Posts: 162
Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:47 pm

Re: Is Buddhism unsuited towards the average westerner?

Postby dxm_dxm » Sun Sep 01, 2013 5:20 pm

All responses here are of very good quality and full of compassion. There is something that I always reply to this type of problem and that I think reaches better to the the western way of thinking.


What are you seem to be losing because of budhism ? Social contact, desires not chased etc. ? Why do you want this social contact, desires etc. ? To be happy, like every person wants, to be happy. When trying to do something, in this case been happy you should know that happiness can be easily measured these days (by measuring dopamine and serotonine) and you should know that a buddhist meditative monk is 8-10 times more happy than the average person and the happies man in the world is Mathieu Ricard who literally got off the scale of the measuring device. Whathever happens after this life, it seems that meditation is the best way to achieve happiness in this life anyway. Another thing to keep in mind is that your eyes will close and you will die too one day.

Another advice would be not to concentrate on adjusting your living to the dharma, like the way you talk to people. Just focus on meditation and the more you will get disconected from the "self" and have more compassion, the less you will feel the need to do bad deeds for egoistic purposes and be able to be a better person and do good deeds for the benefit of you and the world. "Happiness never decreases by been shared"

The "Dilation" link you posted and what that guy is discussing there, like many said, has nothing to do with buddhism. That link surely made people angry over here and I am surprised how well people can overcome that frustration and post practical and compassionate responses on this forum. What that guy is talking over there suits well to the "new age" movement who practice meditation and all sort of stuff withaught a precise goal and structured aproach. Practicing all that kind of stuff unstructured surely has the risk of developing your narcissistic part, thinking you are better than the others because you are more spirituall yet you don't get any gratiffication for that from the "ants" and get frustrated. If you have right view and practice in a structured aproach, clearly knowing the goal you narcissistic reactions will be reduced, the whole point of meditation is destroing the ego, not doing all sort of "energy" practices and then beliving you are superior to everybody because of that. You should always have in mind the goal, witch should be: ending suffering for yourself and every other been. Buddhism in the west is often sold as "feel good therapy" and has nothing to do with normal buddhism. Normal buddhism is way too pesimistic and just "different" from everything western that it does not sell well so unstructured "energy" "chakas" etc. stuff that increases your ego and give rise to "spiritual narcissism" obviously sells better. No wonder there exist a fundation who asks for 2500$ for meditation instructions that you can learn from just 1 page of wikipedia and has assets of 5 billion (yes, with B not with M) dollars. You have to adapt to the costumer to sell and touch his narcissistic side, make him feel that he is better than other people because of the product he bought, like selling a nice car.
dxm_dxm
 
Posts: 92
Joined: Sun Aug 28, 2011 2:32 am
Location: Romania, Bucharest

Re: Is Buddhism unsuited towards the average westerner?

Postby Virgo » Mon Sep 02, 2013 3:26 am

Realities are arising at the six doorways no matter where you are from.

"Religion" is one thing, understanding - the development of paññā a - is another.

We tend towards always being lost - lost in race, in identity, nationality, in past, future, going somewhere, doing something, being something - these things are not the teachings of the Buddha which are about what appears now, and understanding that.

Kevin
Virgo
 
Posts: 1170
Joined: Sun Feb 14, 2010 10:52 pm


Return to Open Dhamma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Anagarika, binocular, BlueLotus, Kasina, Lazy_eye, robertk, Shaswata_Panja, sohjo, TheNoBSBuddhist and 8 guests