Why so few Western Buddhists?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Subharo
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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by Subharo » Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:56 am

Indeed there is no one country or culture who owns the patent on idiocy.
Subharo Bhikkhu
"There is but one taste on this path, the taste of freedom" -The Buddha :buddha1:

chownah
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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by chownah » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:33 am

Saengnapha wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:24 pm
Somehow drinking is tied into their fabric of life. SE Asia and India are not like that outside of the expat groups.
You couldn't be more wrong.....I'm not wanting to be offensive and I am not dealing in hyperbole but with regard to thailand you couldn't be more wrong. Drinking alcohol is culturally virtuous in thailand.....without a doubt....
chownah

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retrofuturist
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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:39 am

Greetings Chownah,
chownah wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:33 am
Drinking alcohol is culturally virtuous in thailand.....without a doubt....
Just curious... is there any 'peer pressure' not to drink, in light of the five precepts?

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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No_Mind
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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by No_Mind » Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:01 am

chownah wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:33 am
Saengnapha wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:24 pm
Somehow drinking is tied into their fabric of life. SE Asia and India are not like that outside of the expat groups.
You couldn't be more wrong.....I'm not wanting to be offensive and I am not dealing in hyperbole but with regard to thailand you couldn't be more wrong. Drinking alcohol is culturally virtuous in thailand.....without a doubt....
chownah
Have to agree with chownah (imagine that!!)

India is world's largest producer and consumer of whiskey at 1780 million liters. Sum total of other liquor varities - rum, vodka, gin, brandy - must be equal or near to that and country liquor (moonshine) must then be at least ten times more .. making us one of the drunkest nations on the planet.

I am an ex-alcoholic as I have described elsewhere.

But oddly enough it is frowned on by society. God help a school teacher who is found buying alcohol. It is banned in several states (with strict jail time for bootlegging) but at same time it is not a secret behaviour.

Unfortunately for those who frown (mostly orthodox Hindus from cow belt) .. they are not backed up by religion .. Indian deities like to imbibe "somras"(some type of intoxicant)

and 14% are Muslims who are not supposed to drink at all.

Very schizophrenic attitude to drinking is found.

:namaste:

No_Mind
I know one thing: that I know nothing

Saengnapha
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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by Saengnapha » Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:45 am

chownah wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:33 am
Saengnapha wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:24 pm
Somehow drinking is tied into their fabric of life. SE Asia and India are not like that outside of the expat groups.
You couldn't be more wrong.....I'm not wanting to be offensive and I am not dealing in hyperbole but with regard to thailand you couldn't be more wrong. Drinking alcohol is culturally virtuous in thailand.....without a doubt....
chownah
I guess I need to get out more. :shrug:

Meezer77
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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by Meezer77 » Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:57 am

Subharo wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:56 am
Meezer77 wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:29 am
Bhante, seems like you're feeling really oppressed. What do you reckon are the redeeming things that keep you in robes?
It's getting less and less oppressive all the time. Actually, I've never been happier. These posts are more like a public service announcement, so that others can watch out for the tricks before they get played. With any luck, these tricks will get used less and less, **which I feel is an essential ingredient to Buddhism actually spreading more in the west**. So this grumbling does have have a higher purpose, which is a more transparent Buddhism in the future (and I feel Westerners crucially need transparency in order to trust Buddhism).

My meditation is going quite well these days (but please don't ask me to attest to any sort of attainments). These days, it's easily reward enough just to meditate, or even to simply be mindful of my current object of meditation for all of about 5 seconds. That's what's keeping me in the robes. Also, please don't ask me what my object of meditation is. The particulars of my practice is something I try to keep private.

On the subject of transparency, take a look at how "transparent" Westerner countries tend to be, as compared to how "transparent" traditional Buddhist countries tend to be. Now perhaps you can see what I'm getting at?

@No_Mind, can you see how I'm attempting to answer your question in a constructive, yet deeply-uncomfortable-to-some way?
Okay no problem I won't ask about your object. Is there a vinaya rule about that? It's good that you keep me right, I know a little bit about the vinaya and the fact that monks have to be careful about talking about attainments

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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by Meezer77 » Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:01 am

No_Mind wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:56 am
Meezer77 wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 6:50 pm
Doesn't everyone regardless of where they're from need this to survive?
Clearly these people don't. They have given up critical thinking entirely.

The Flat Earth International Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, attracted hundreds of attendees who believe the shape of the Earth is a disc instead of a sphere.



And neither do people who believe in caste based discrimination as some do in India and also (surprise, surprise) in Japan.

Do you know in Japan a grown man wanting to have sex with a young girl (about ten year old) is considered a normal urge? Until 2014 child pornography was legal to own in Japan. Is that critical thinking?

There are examples from every place on earth .. when people suspended critical thinking .. Brexit for example.

:namaste:

No_MInd
It's a crazy old world we live in eh?

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Subharo
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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by Subharo » Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:40 am

Meezer77 wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:57 am
Okay no problem I won't ask about your object. Is there a vinaya rule about that?
You could read about Parajika 4, in the Buddhist Monastic Code, Vol. 1.

I feel it's the safest to not talk about my personal practice at all, even though it is Vinaya-legal to carefully do so in certain ways.
Subharo Bhikkhu
"There is but one taste on this path, the taste of freedom" -The Buddha :buddha1:

auto
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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by auto » Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:21 am

No_Mind wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:56 am
Meezer77 wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 6:50 pm
Doesn't everyone regardless of where they're from need this to survive?
Clearly these people don't. They have given up critical thinking entirely.

The Flat Earth International Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, attracted hundreds of attendees who believe the shape of the Earth is a disc instead of a sphere.



And neither do people who believe in caste based discrimination as some do in India and also (surprise, surprise) in Japan.

Do you know in Japan a grown man wanting to have sex with a young girl (about ten year old) is considered a normal urge? Until 2014 child pornography was legal to own in Japan. Is that critical thinking?

There are examples from every place on earth .. when people suspended critical thinking .. Brexit for example.

:namaste:

No_MInd
people who wear robes and staying in monasteries doesn't make them recluse.

Do you have evidence that earth is round? For the sense organs it may be round.

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Subharo
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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by Subharo » Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:36 am

auto wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:21 am
people who wear robes and staying in monasteries doesn't make them recluse.
Once you use your psychic powers to embrace my mind with your own, and catch me red-handed posting on this forum without any serenity or any Brahmavihara, it is at that time that I will take your complaints seriously. All I am saying here is that I try to make an effort to check in with the state of my heart before posting. This isn't a claim to attainments, which you might be tempted to conclude.
auto wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:21 am
Do you have evidence that earth is round? For the sense organs it may be round.
Surely you jest.
Subharo Bhikkhu
"There is but one taste on this path, the taste of freedom" -The Buddha :buddha1:

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Subharo
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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by Subharo » Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:07 am

:focus:
No_Mind, I found a great gentlemanly debate between two imminent Westerner thinkers (whom I would call spiritual men worthy of respect). Buddhism gets mentioned several times.



Please note how even though they seriously challenged each other's core assumptions and beliefs a whole bunch of times, observe how they utterly kept their cool at all times, and found many points to agree over. :thumbsup: Near the end of the discussion, they even complimented each other's strengths. Imagine!

I was so impressed with Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson. Where are the Senior monks in Buddhism who are capable of having such discussions as this, not merely gladhanding each other, but **openly challenging** each other on their views, and neither party gets into a conniption fit over "disrespectful behavior" (as a weak-minded, cheap tactic to save face)?

I think the West is going to frankly require open, transparent discussions such as this, over virtually all the long-standing controversies and sticking points (that most monks are too cowardly to make a peep about) if the West is ever going to actually fall in love with Buddhism (which will never be a blind act of faith like you hope it somehow will), to a much broader demographic degree like you are hoping in your OP. And furthermore, this hyper-sensitivity, where face-saving is pretty much valued above all, is frankly a very serious fetter to Buddhism spreading in the West.

So this iron-clad "resect for elders" you speak of, can be a good thing (and please don't get me wrong), but can you see how when it grows too large, then this whole overblown "saving face" game destroys the possibility of constructive and meaningful gentlemanly debate, such as I have pointed at here, which holds Buddhism back in the West?
Subharo Bhikkhu
"There is but one taste on this path, the taste of freedom" -The Buddha :buddha1:

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Subharo
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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by Subharo » Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:50 am

Subharo Bhikkhu
"There is but one taste on this path, the taste of freedom" -The Buddha :buddha1:

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binocular
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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by binocular » Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:32 pm

chownah wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:33 am
Drinking alcohol is culturally virtuous in thailand.....without a doubt....
There goes another bubble ... Maybe it actually wouldn't make as much difference for my Buddhist practice if I lived in a traditionally Buddhist country as I think it would. For a monk, it probably does, but now I'm not so sure anymore whether it's the same for a layperson. (And, of course, if I would move there, I would be a white lay, female, foreigner -- I wouldn't have it easy.)

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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by Saengnapha » Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:44 pm

binocular wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:32 pm
chownah wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:33 am
Drinking alcohol is culturally virtuous in thailand.....without a doubt....
There goes another bubble ... Maybe it actually wouldn't make as much difference for my Buddhist practice if I lived in a traditionally Buddhist country as I think it would. For a monk, it probably does, but now I'm not so sure anymore whether it's the same for a layperson. (And, of course, if I would move there, I would be a white lay, female, foreigner -- I wouldn't have it easy.)
That would definitely put a different spin on it. I do know know some expat females that have made a go of it here, otoh, most have complained about the lack of available white men and their preference for Thai women. It really depends on the individual and what they are looking for.

I'm not sure what culturally virtuous means, but I find no pressure here in BKK to drink socially or even be involved with the bar scene.

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binocular
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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by binocular » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:09 pm

Subharo wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:56 am
It's getting less and less oppressive all the time. Actually, I've never been happier. These posts are more like a public service announcement, so that others can watch out for the tricks before they get played. With any luck, these tricks will get used less and less, **which I feel is an essential ingredient to Buddhism actually spreading more in the west**. So this grumbling does have have a higher purpose, which is a more transparent Buddhism in the future (and I feel Westerners crucially need transparency in order to trust Buddhism).
Subharo wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:07 am
I think the West is going to frankly require open, transparent discussions such as this, over virtually all the long-standing controversies and sticking points (that most monks are too cowardly to make a peep about) if the West is ever going to actually fall in love with Buddhism (which will never be a blind act of faith like you hope it somehow will), to a much broader demographic degree like you are hoping in your OP. And furthermore, this hyper-sensitivity, where face-saving is pretty much valued above all, is frankly a very serious fetter to Buddhism spreading in the West.

So this iron-clad "resect for elders" you speak of, can be a good thing (and please don't get me wrong), but can you see how when it grows too large, then this whole overblown "saving face" game destroys the possibility of constructive and meaningful gentlemanly debate, such as I have pointed at here, which holds Buddhism back in the West?
But does it?

What are the canonical reasons listed for how come a person comes into contact with the Dhamma?
What are the canonical reasons listed for how come a person takes up the practice of the Dhamma?
What are the canonical reasons listed for how come a person gives up the practice of the Dhamma?

That the people who function as formal representatives of the Dhamma have "constructive and meaningful gentlemanly debate"?

It's not clear that transparency, "constructive and meaningful gentlemanly debate" really play such an important role in a person's devotion to the Dhamma as you suggest. I'm sure that not just a few Westerners (and others) who have turned away from Buddhism say that those were their reasons. But I question the relevance of those stated reasons; it's not clear whether it is possible to find canonical support for those reasons. And if there is no canonical support for such reasons; or if we can find canonical evidence to the contrary, then those reasons are just speculation (or face-saving).


When I first read your posts, the thought occured to me, "I don't want to be sold the Dhamma!" I don't want Buddhists to make Buddhism in any way "more palatable" to me. I don't even want them to "meet me halfway". I think Buddhists should just stand their ground, do what they believe they should do, and not worry about prospective converts. Personally, I don't think that Buddhism is the kind of religion where people would need to be made convinced of the doctrinal claims.

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