Why are most western Buddhists white?

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.
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Goofaholix
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by Goofaholix » Thu Mar 06, 2014 9:01 pm

Kare wrote: Well, different people are amused by different things. I don't find this blatant racism amusing. The Dhamma is not about the color of your or my skin.
Any diversity or equal opportunity initiative starts with the questions like "why is this group not achieving?" or "why is that group taking most of the opportunities?".

If that's blatant racism then a lot of western governments are blatantly racist.

I don't think it's blatantly racist to ask why Buddhism doesn't appeal to sopme sectors of society and what we as Buddhists can do to make it more accessible. This is what I assume the OP is about.
“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 Goofaholix » Thu Mar 06, 2014 9:09 pm

JeffR wrote: Ajahn Chah established Wat Pa Nanachat for Farang (whites), so those temples established under it tend to be full of white monks.
Just a point of correction, he established Wat Pa Nanachat for foreigners. Nanachat means international, not caucasian.

There have been monks of all different nationalities there aand many are not 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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convivium
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by convivium » Thu Mar 06, 2014 9:20 pm

I don't think it's blatantly racist to ask why Buddhism doesn't appeal to sopme sectors of society and what we as Buddhists can do to make it more accessible. This is what I assume the OP is about.
this
Last edited by convivium on Thu Mar 06, 2014 9:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by waterchan » Thu Mar 06, 2014 9:21 pm

Kare wrote: Well, different people are amused by different things. I don't find this blatant racism amusing. The Dhamma is not about the color of your or my skin.
Calling it blatant racism is a bit too much. Subtle racism, maybe. Blatant racism would be like "These curry faces should get the hell out of my monastery" or something.
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
(Anything in Latin sounds profound.)

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convivium
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by convivium » Thu Mar 06, 2014 9:21 pm

there's a palpable divide between predominantly white monastic communities and predominantly asian monastic communities in america.
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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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by DNS » Thu Mar 06, 2014 9:37 pm

convivium wrote:there's a palpable divide between predominantly white monastic communities and predominantly asian monastic communities in america.
For example . . . ?

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convivium
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by convivium » Thu Mar 06, 2014 9:38 pm


Gentrifying the dharma: How the 1 percent is hijacking mindfulness
As big corporations embrace meditation, some Buddhists fear their religion's being co-opted by elites

Buddhism first came to the U.S. with Japanese and Chinese immigrants. It enjoyed a brief period of popularity among urban elites around the turn of the century, but the current wave of convert popularity began in the 1960s. Today there are about 3 million to 5 million Buddhists in the United States, about 70 percent of whom are Asian-Americans. The remaining 30 percent tend to be white, middle-aged, highly educated and solidly middle to upper class.
this is one source of explanation for the OP but not only i'm sure. i think all explanations for this phenomenon are either economic or cultural (of course the cultural includes the religious, and nationalistic considerations etc). this raises another problematic to mind, namely of the use of the dhamma for instrumental purposes that perpetuate the system. mindfulness among CEOs... white collar zen -- this is zizek's criticism i posted on here a while ago.
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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convivium
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by convivium » Thu Mar 06, 2014 9:40 pm

David -
Abhayagiri and Wat Metta vs the local thai temples or the burmese monastery in Austin sitagu. i'm not a buddhist scholar but i'm pretty sure this divide is pretty widely recognized.
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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Virgo
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by Virgo » Thu Mar 06, 2014 10:10 pm

It appears that because the practice of vinaya is slack in general, most asians are used to slack vinaya since monasteries in their culture are generally slack and more accepting of it, whereas Westerners are mostly looking for stricter vinaya.

Kevin

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Aloka
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by Aloka » Thu Mar 06, 2014 10:23 pm

Virgo wrote:It appears that because the practice of vinaya is slack in general, most asians are used to slack vinaya since monasteries in their culture are generally slack and more accepting of it.....
Kevin
What is your actual evidence for this ?

.

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Virgo
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by Virgo » Thu Mar 06, 2014 10:36 pm

Evidence?

Only what I have seen. Most monasteries have slack vinaya, that is simply the way it is. And most monasteries are in Asian countries. Therefore, ethnically Asian people are more used to seeing slack vinaya. I have routinely seen Thais ordain in monasteries where the patimokha practice is not ideal, yet they feel they are making much merit. Westerners seem to be more critical about keeping the rules, and tend to only ordain if they can keep the rules strictly. Of course, there are exceptions on both sides...

That is what I have observed.

Kevin

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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by culaavuso » Thu Mar 06, 2014 10:40 pm

Virgo wrote:It appears that because the practice of vinaya is slack in general, most asians are used to slack vinaya since monasteries in their culture are generally slack and more accepting of it, whereas Westerners are mostly looking for stricter vinaya.
The description of slack vinaya seems to find some support in this thread. Also of relevance, the book that started that thread was written by an Australian monk who seems to prefer stricter vinaya.

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Aloka
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by Aloka » Thu Mar 06, 2014 10:49 pm

Virgo wrote:Evidence?
I am curious because I have only visited monasteries in the west.


.

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Goofaholix
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by Goofaholix » Thu Mar 06, 2014 11:19 pm

Aloka wrote: I am curious because I have only visited monasteries in the west.
If you ever visit some in asia you might be shocked then.

Ask any Thai and they'll tell you the vinaya of town monks is not good, at least compared with forest monks. They might also tell you the vinaya of Thai forest monks is not as good as farang forest monks.
“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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Kare
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by Kare » Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:23 am

Goofaholix wrote:
Kare wrote: Well, different people are amused by different things. I don't find this blatant racism amusing. The Dhamma is not about the color of your or my skin.
Any diversity or equal opportunity initiative starts with the questions like "why is this group not achieving?" or "why is that group taking most of the opportunities?".

If that's blatant racism then a lot of western governments are blatantly racist.

I don't think it's blatantly racist to ask why Buddhism doesn't appeal to sopme sectors of society and what we as Buddhists can do to make it more accessible. This is what I assume the OP is about.
I may have misunderstood the meaning of 'blatant'. Sorry.

But I am very surprised to see that this forum obviously allows and condones a discussion based on skin color. I have been here for some years, but now I see that I will have to reconsider. If this really is a forum for racist talk, I seriously doubt it is a forum where I would want to be a member.
Mettāya,
Kåre

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