Why are most western Buddhists white?

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convivium
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Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by convivium » Tue Mar 04, 2014 7:02 pm

And why do white people co-opt irrelevant asian cultural elements in Buddhist communities?
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php

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DNS
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by DNS » Tue Mar 04, 2014 7:42 pm

In a word one of the biggest things preventing more African-Americans from joining Sanghas is: culture. Take a look at this African-American church service:



And compare that to the noble silence of sitting meditation, the very quiet and solemn practice we do in sitting meditation, walking meditation, retreats, even the way we eat our food!

However, socio-economic class also has a lot to do with it and as more African-Americans come out of poverty, there will be greater participation. I have met several African-American Buddhists, but admittedly most have been middle to upper-middle class.

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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by DNS » Tue Mar 04, 2014 7:54 pm

convivium wrote:irrelevant asian cultural elements
What are the irrelevant asian cultural elements?

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waterchan
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by waterchan » Wed Mar 05, 2014 1:22 am

convivium wrote:And why do white people co-opt irrelevant asian cultural elements in Buddhist communities?
Be careful with this. Some practices we see as being nothing more than Asian cultural customs can turn out to be valid outward forms of practice.

By the way, thanks for the video, David. I nearly spilled my drink laughing!
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
(Anything in Latin sounds profound.)

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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by chownah » Wed Mar 05, 2014 2:29 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
convivium wrote:irrelevant asian cultural elements
What are the irrelevant asian cultural elements?
David N. Snyder,
Indeed you have already innumerated many of them, "the noble silence of sitting meditation, the very quiet and solemn practice we do in sitting meditation, walking meditation, retreats, even the way we eat our food!"
chownah

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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by culaavuso » Wed Mar 05, 2014 2:48 am

According to the article Is Western Buddhism White? most Western Buddhists are of Asian heritage.
Is Western Buddhism White? wrote: As I have made the point before, most Western Buddhists are of Asian heritage. We comprise the majority of Western Buddhism. If you’re talking about white Buddhists (and Lander writes about Americans in particular), then you certainly aren’t talking about most Western Buddhists.

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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by DNS » Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:07 am

chownah wrote: Indeed you have already innumerated many of them, "the noble silence of sitting meditation, the very quiet and solemn practice we do in sitting meditation, walking meditation, retreats, even the way we eat our food!"
How is noble silence and mindfully eating "irrelevant" [to Buddhist practice] ?

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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by DNS » Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:09 am

culaavuso wrote:According to the article Is Western Buddhism White? most Western Buddhists are of Asian heritage.
Yes, exactly, which is one of the reasons I'm not a fan of the Western Buddhism term.

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Ben
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by Ben » Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:10 am

culaavuso wrote:According to the article Is Western Buddhism White? most Western Buddhists are of Asian heritage.
Is Western Buddhism White? wrote: As I have made the point before, most Western Buddhists are of Asian heritage. We comprise the majority of Western Buddhism. If you’re talking about white Buddhists (and Lander writes about Americans in particular), then you certainly aren’t talking about most Western Buddhists.
I agree. The vast majority of western Buddhists, are, in fact, Asian.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by chownah » Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:44 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
chownah wrote: Indeed you have already innumerated many of them, "the noble silence of sitting meditation, the very quiet and solemn practice we do in sitting meditation, walking meditation, retreats, even the way we eat our food!"
How is noble silence and mindfully eating "irrelevant" [to Buddhist practice] ?
A better question is what makes them relevant.
chownah

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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by pilgrim » Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:48 am

chownah wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:
chownah wrote: Indeed you have already innumerated many of them, "the noble silence of sitting meditation, the very quiet and solemn practice we do in sitting meditation, walking meditation, retreats, even the way we eat our food!"
How is noble silence and mindfully eating "irrelevant" [to Buddhist practice] ?
A better question is what makes them relevant.
chownah
My guess would be "The Buddha's instructions". Now, pls :focus:

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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by Goofaholix » Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:49 am

Ben wrote:I agree. The vast majority of western Buddhists, are, in fact, Asian.
This is true.

Perhaps a better question would be "Why are most western Buddhist meditators white?"
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by DNS » Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:53 am

pilgrim wrote: My guess would be "The Buddha's instructions". Now, pls :focus:
Yes, the Buddha's instruction (and this is on-topic, see the OP).

See: http://www.buddhisma2z.com/content.php?id=379

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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by pilgrim » Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:55 am

OK, why do western sangha call their white teachers by the Thai word Ajahn? Why not use the original Pali Acariya?

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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by DNS » Wed Mar 05, 2014 4:01 am

pilgrim wrote:OK, why do western sangha call their white teachers by the Thai word Ajahn? Why not use the original Pali Acariya?
Okay, that's probably fair enough. That could be considered an irrelevant Asian custom carried over if the participants are all non-Asian in the U.S. for example. They could be called 'teacher' or 'bhante' or 'acariya' but I imagine those monks were ordained in a Thai tradition and it is simply used out of respect for the tradition they hail from.

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