What if everyone in America becomes Buddhist?

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Individual
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What if everyone in America becomes Buddhist?

Post by Individual » Sun Oct 24, 2010 3:37 pm

And then it becomes like China or ancient India, where -- the more Buddhism spreads, the less pure it becomes? Like the property of diffusion of liquids and gases.

So, people take the core of the teaching, but distort it, emphasizing one aspect more or less, to the exclusion of others.

Not because that's what they need, but because they are imposing their own worldview on the teaching. In America, we already have a divide between secularists and evangelical Christians. Can't you already see how many Buddhists basically take this same worldview and subconsciously project it onto Buddhism? So you end up with atheistic "secular" Buddhists like Stephen Batchelor and religious fundamentalist Buddhists like Bhikkhu Bodhi.

We could all just become like Buddhist zombies -- knowing Buddhist terms and following Buddhist practices, but without any genuine realization.

Members of each Buddhist sect thinks they have it right, so you might think, "It will be OK so long as Americans are all Theravada." But as I see it, we are all cartoons.

I kinda regret ever mentioning Buddhism to anybody, because I don't want the bad karma that comes even from the most subtle proselytizing.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

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Re: What if everyone in America becomes Buddhist?

Post by m0rl0ck » Sun Oct 24, 2010 4:36 pm

Individual wrote:And then it becomes like China or ancient India, where -- the more Buddhism spreads, the less pure it becomes? Like the property of diffusion of liquids and gases.
I dont think that would ever happen. if the Christians saw their majority and control threatened, im sure steps would be taken.
We could all just become like Buddhist zombies -- knowing Buddhist terms and following Buddhist practices, but without any genuine realization.
We are now arent we? Its a raft isnt it? If you really know whats going on, unless you are teaching, you drop it dont you? I figure if i actually knew anything i wouldnt be posting on boards like this one.
Members of each Buddhist sect thinks they have it right, so you might think, "It will be OK so long as Americans are all Theravada." But as I see it, we are all cartoons.
You knwo the more i am associated with buddhism and its practice the less difference i see between mahayana and theravada. I have seen suttas that read as if they were talking about mahayana doctrine. Lately the differences seem more a matter of emphasis to me.
“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

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Re: What if everyone in America becomes Buddhist?

Post by Sobeh » Sun Oct 24, 2010 4:38 pm

Hooray for idle speculation?

:heart:

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Re: What if everyone in America becomes Buddhist?

Post by yuttadhammo » Sun Oct 24, 2010 4:45 pm

Well, the problem is your definition of "Buddhist". If Buddhist truly means someone who follows the teachings of the Buddha, then your hypothetical America sounds great. If it just means identifying oneself as something without any practical application, then sure, it would have no effect other than as an ego trip, etc. But then in what sense would such a person be Buddhist?
And then it becomes like China or ancient India, where -- the more Buddhism spreads, the less pure it becomes? Like the property of diffusion of liquids and gases.
I don't see this... the more Buddhism spreads, the less people cling, and the more pure they become - if we are talking about the Buddha's teaching, and not just empty words, that is.
So, people take the core of the teaching, but distort it, emphasizing one aspect more or less, to the exclusion of others.
Distorting things is not Buddhist :) I can see emphasizing certain things over others; that may be beneficial in certain cases, but not distorting things. Does that happen? Sure. Is it Buddhist? No.
Not because that's what they need, but because they are imposing their own worldview on the teaching. In America, we already have a divide between secularists and evangelical Christians. Can't you already see how many Buddhists basically take this same worldview and subconsciously project it onto Buddhism? So you end up with atheistic "secular" Buddhists like Stephen Batchelor and religious fundamentalist Buddhists like Bhikkhu Bodhi.
Let me ask you this. Do you think Stephen Bachelor and Bhikkhu Bodhi have helped people purify their minds or become better people? I bet the answer is yes; whatever additional baggage they bring to Buddhism is their own, and shouldn't be confused with the basic message they have in common.
We could all just become like Buddhist zombies -- knowing Buddhist terms and following Buddhist practices, but without any genuine realization.
If one truly follows Buddhist practice, it is hard to imagine not gaining genuine realization. I think you are confusing Buddhist practices with cultural baggage.
Members of each Buddhist sect thinks they have it right, so you might think, "It will be OK so long as Americans are all Theravada." But as I see it, we are all cartoons.
Again, baggage, not Buddhism :) I still think the baggage doesn't really get in the way that much; there are many schools of Buddhism in America, and they seem to have a generally positive impact in their respective communities, people being more interested in the teachings than the labels.
I kinda regret ever mentioning Buddhism to anybody, because I don't want the bad karma that comes even from the most subtle proselytizing.
Buddhism doesn't spread through proselytizing, as you are certainly aware. Proselytizing comes from clinging, so how could it spread the dhamma? The less people cling, the more Buddhist they and the people around them will become. No need to mention Buddhism at all.

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Re: What if everyone in America becomes Buddhist?

Post by Individual » Mon Oct 25, 2010 4:25 am

No true Scotsman!
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

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Re: What if everyone in America becomes Buddhist?

Post by Ben » Mon Oct 25, 2010 7:32 am

Q: What if everyone in America becomes Buddhist?

A: Jesus would be lonely.
“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.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: What if everyone in America becomes Buddhist?

Post by Paññāsikhara » Mon Oct 25, 2010 8:11 am

Proselytize as "bad karma"?

Proselytize: to convert or attempt to convert as a proselyte; recruit
Proselyte: a person who has changed from one opinion, religious belief, sect, or the like, to another; convert.

In other words, if anybody was formerly not a Buddhist, and then becomes a Buddhist, they have somehow or through some method been prosetylized, ie. converted.

hmmm, having people turn away from wrong view and develop right view. Sounds like good karma to me. And the Buddha certainly encouraged it too.

At that time there were sixty-one Arahats in the world.
11.
1. And the Blessed One said to the Bhikkhus: 'I am delivered, O Bhikkhus, from all fetters, human and divine.
You, O Bhikkhus, are also delivered from all fetters, human and divine. Go ye now, O Bhikkhus, and wander,
for the gain of the many, for the welfare of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the good, for the
gain, and for the welfare of gods and men, Let not two of you go the same way1, Preach, O Bhikkhus, the
doctrine p. 113 which is glorious in the beginning, glorious in the middle, glorious at the end, in the spirit and in
the letter; proclaim a consummate, perfect, and pure life of holiness. There are beings whose mental eyes are
covered by scarcely any dust, but if the doctrine is not preached to them, they cannot attain salvation. They will
understand the doctrine. And I will go also, O Bhikkhus, to Uruvelâ, to Senâninigama1, in order to preach the
doctrine.'

~~ PTS Vinaya, Mahavagga, 20-21 (Rhys Davids & Oldenberg trs. pp. 112-113)

And recall, at this point, apart from the Buddha himself, the two merchants he met on the road to the Deer Park, and Yasa's family, nobody else on the planet was a Buddhist. So, any people they would teach the Dharma to, if those people then practiced the Dharma, they would be converted, ie. proselytized.

And being arahants, none of them had any clinging. And yet the Buddha openly encourages them to teach others, and obviously convert them. (Because pretty soon, there were quite a few Buddhists, where none previously existed.)
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.

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Re: What if everyone in America becomes Buddhist?

Post by Prasadachitta » Mon Oct 25, 2010 3:58 pm

Ben wrote:Q: What if everyone in America becomes Buddhist?

A: Jesus would be lonely.
I think Jesus might be relieved. Kind of like after a bunch of obnoxious drunks crash a party at your house and they finally leave.
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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Re: What if everyone in America becomes Buddhist?

Post by Prasadachitta » Mon Oct 25, 2010 4:02 pm

Paññāsikhara wrote:Proselytize as "bad karma"?

Proselytize: to convert or attempt to convert as a proselyte; recruit
Proselyte: a person who has changed from one opinion, religious belief, sect, or the like, to another; convert.

In other words, if anybody was formerly not a Buddhist, and then becomes a Buddhist, they have somehow or through some method been prosetylized, ie. converted.

hmmm, having people turn away from wrong view and develop right view. Sounds like good karma to me. And the Buddha certainly encouraged it too.

At that time there were sixty-one Arahats in the world.
11.
1. And the Blessed One said to the Bhikkhus: 'I am delivered, O Bhikkhus, from all fetters, human and divine.
You, O Bhikkhus, are also delivered from all fetters, human and divine. Go ye now, O Bhikkhus, and wander,
for the gain of the many, for the welfare of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the good, for the
gain, and for the welfare of gods and men, Let not two of you go the same way1, Preach, O Bhikkhus, the
doctrine p. 113 which is glorious in the beginning, glorious in the middle, glorious at the end, in the spirit and in
the letter; proclaim a consummate, perfect, and pure life of holiness. There are beings whose mental eyes are
covered by scarcely any dust, but if the doctrine is not preached to them, they cannot attain salvation. They will
understand the doctrine. And I will go also, O Bhikkhus, to Uruvelâ, to Senâninigama1, in order to preach the
doctrine.'

~~ PTS Vinaya, Mahavagga, 20-21 (Rhys Davids & Oldenberg trs. pp. 112-113)

And recall, at this point, apart from the Buddha himself, the two merchants he met on the road to the Deer Park, and Yasa's family, nobody else on the planet was a Buddhist. So, any people they would teach the Dharma to, if those people then practiced the Dharma, they would be converted, ie. proselytized.

And being arahants, none of them had any clinging. And yet the Buddha openly encourages them to teach others, and obviously convert them. (Because pretty soon, there were quite a few Buddhists, where none previously existed.)

Thanks for that Bhante. This site being public is inherently a type of proselytizing. Its just that some forms of proselytizing has given it a very bad connotation.


Metta


Gabe
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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Re: What if everyone in America becomes Buddhist?

Post by Bhikkhu Cintita » Mon Oct 25, 2010 7:51 pm

My own impression of Buddhism is that it has maintained its integrity remarkably well over the centuries and as it has spread to new lands, in spite of many cultural accretions and most remarkably in spite of not having a common scriptural foundation. The essence of Buddhism is the same in Tibet, in China, in Burma or wherever. After six years as a Zen priest in the Soto Zen tradition I reordained as a Theravada monk in the Burmese tradition. Though these two traditions look quite a bit different, and have developed separately for about two thousand years, I can report that where the rubber meets the road there is almost no difference.

How can this be? The Buddha's teachings are very sophisticated, and therefore very easily misunderstood and miscommunicated. They are also very tolerant of admixtures of folk beliefs. If you ask the average Asian Buddhist to explain details of Buddhism, they will not be able to, nor will they be able to distinguish in the range of their beliefs and practices what is Buddhist and what is some folk accretion.

The reason that Buddhism retains its integrity, or if it does go into decline is able to right itself again, is the monastic Sangha, the Buddhist nuns and monks. This is a highly specialized group that is responsible for understanding and living according to the Dharma, propagating it through teaching and ensuring it is communicated accurately to subsequent generations. This is by the Buddha's design; whereas, for instance, Catholicism has tried to maintain its integrity through investing authority in a hierarchy, with the Pope at the top, the Buddha's intention was that Buddhism would maintain its integrity through monastics with virtually no hierarchical organization and no central authority at all. after the Buddha's death, but monastics who are required to live under rigorously defined standards, which have now been followed for 2600 years. Historically Buddhism has never entered a new land without the monastic Sangha and has declined with the loss of the monastic Sangha. It is the cord in the mala of Buddhism.

The West is a special case because the monastic Sangha has not yet fully established itself, and most Western Buddhists are stukk almost totally unaware of the role of the monastic Sangha in the Buddha's teachings as well as in the history of Buddhism. Many people recognized as teachers in the West have a limited grasp of the full scope of Buddhist teachings, and many are willing to pick and choose what they feel comfortable with before they acquire this grasp. (Actually, I am responding to this post by invitation of a reader of an essay of mine which concerns this very point. It is posted online here Western Buddhism has a lot to sort out, but I am confident it will do so. And disagreements are quite healthy as long as discourse continues, which so far it has admirably.

BTW, I must object to applying the word "fundamentalist" to Bhikkhu Bodhi. Apparently Individual meant to say "traditionalist." Fundamentalism is another thing altogether, which is quite incompatible with the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: What if everyone in America becomes Buddhist?

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Oct 26, 2010 12:14 am

Bhante,

Thank you for your interesting input. It is unfortunate that there is not yet much "homegrown" monastic Sangha in the West, and many of us have ready access only to Sangha whose primary focus is their ethnic group (mostly Thai or Sri Lankan in the case of Theravada). This clearly does makes it more difficult for some to feel comfortable.

As you say, it will take time...

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: What if everyone in America becomes Buddhist?

Post by Paññāsikhara » Tue Oct 26, 2010 3:25 am

Bhikkhu Cintita wrote:My own impression of Buddhism ...
Welcome to Dhamma Wheel, Bhante Cintita. :anjali:
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.

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Re: What if everyone in America becomes Buddhist?

Post by Sanghamitta » Tue Oct 26, 2010 8:46 am

Welcome indeed Bhante
:anjali: .
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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Re: What if everyone in America becomes Buddhist?

Post by Sanghamitta » Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:04 am

Individual wrote:And then it becomes like China or ancient India, where -- the more Buddhism spreads, the less pure it becomes? Like the property of diffusion of liquids and gases.

So, people take the core of the teaching, but distort it, emphasizing one aspect more or less, to the exclusion of others.

Not because that's what they need, but because they are imposing their own worldview on the teaching. In America, we already have a divide between secularists and evangelical Christians. Can't you already see how many Buddhists basically take this same worldview and subconsciously project it onto Buddhism? So you end up with atheistic "secular" Buddhists like Stephen Batchelor and religious fundamentalist Buddhists like Bhikkhu Bodhi.

We could all just become like Buddhist zombies -- knowing Buddhist terms and following Buddhist practices, but without any genuine realization.

Members of each Buddhist sect thinks they have it right, so you might think, "It will be OK so long as Americans are all Theravada." But as I see it, we are all cartoons.

I kinda regret ever mentioning Buddhism to anybody, because I don't want the bad karma that comes even from the most subtle proselytizing.
A fairly typical Individual view. I suspect individual that you see yourself as just that ..a rugged Individual heroically challenging the less discerning and more malleable. In the eyes of those who have a bit more life experience and a bit more experience of Dhamma its possible that you appear instead to be one of the herd. A generation who have learned to distrust all authority ( perhaps with reason ) and to subject all ideas to so much analysis and over thinking as to lose the music altogether. Scared and unhappy.
Clearly something draws you back to this forum, and perhaps to the Dhamma although it is always unclear how much practice actually features alongside your preoccupation with Buddhist philosophy.
I wish for you that eventually you will loose yourself from some of the world weariness that you appear to carry ( and at such a young age ) and actually see what the Dhamma is offering instead of standing like a perpetual wallflower at the prom.....
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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Re: What if everyone in America becomes Buddhist?

Post by rowyourboat » Tue Oct 26, 2010 4:52 pm

Hello Individual

I think the teachings sometimes feel a bit strange and may not sit well with your previous understanding of the world. But I think it is adequate to say that where ever the teaching arise, there will be goodness there.

Maybe one day you will be the person who 'converts' America!

with metta
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& Upekkha

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