What are the hurdles hindering Dhamma propagation in the US?

Organisational work, teaching, Sunday school syllabus, charitable work, outreach, sharing of resources, artwork, etc.
User avatar
Zom
Posts: 1629
Joined: Fri May 08, 2009 6:38 pm
Location: Russia, Saint-Petersburg
Contact:

Re: What are the hurdles hindering Dhamma propagation in the US?

Postby Zom » Mon Jan 02, 2017 2:49 pm

I have doubt whether this is effective way to propagate Dhamma.
Christians and Muslims have more wider and effective engaged community-oriented movements.


Yes. Because their communities are about "life in a religion" - but not about "a meditation exercise".

Traditional Buddhism builds a sense of community around monasteries - with lay people working and donating to keep them running.


Not only. Their monasteries is something more than a "place for monks". They hold all meetings there, holidays, celebrations, trade fairs, come there just to chat and learn local news. I'm not saying it is their "2nd home", but this their local monastery is something much more than just "a religious place which you have to support by money just because this gives you good kamma". The good thing is that usually it is nearby, and you can come and stay for some time there at any time you like. This last aspect is also very important. All locals and your neigbours are buddhists there, so this is easily done. In the west this is highly problematic (perhaps impossible at all) to find such a place, a neighbourhood with many-many western buddhist residents. And since there is no such a place, there can't be such a "2nd home monastery".

I know that krishnaists tried to build "their" villages in southern Russia (where it is quite warm even in winter). But still, such projects didn't work too well, because people come and go, this is not their native religion. They stay in krishnaism for some years and then quit, disappear. Guess same will happen with similar buddhist projects, because western people don't see buddhism as "their religion". Most of those who are interested - either not interested deep enough to follow it as a very important part of their life (and so, they won't move to such a communal place), or they just lose interest after some years (and after that are not interested in a community at all).

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 14897
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: What are the hurdles hindering Dhamma propagation in the US?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jan 02, 2017 5:58 pm

Hi Zom,
Zom wrote:
Traditional Buddhism builds a sense of community around monasteries - with lay people working and donating to keep them running.


Not only. Their monasteries is something more than a "place for monks". They hold all meetings there, holidays, celebrations, trade fairs, come there just to chat and learn local news. I'm not saying it is their "2nd home", but this their local monastery is something much more than just "a religious place which you have to support by money just because this gives you good kamma". The good thing is that usually it is nearby, and you can come and stay for some time there at any time you like. This last aspect is also very important. All locals and your neigbours are buddhists there, so this is easily done. In the west this is highly problematic (perhaps impossible at all) to find such a place, a neighbourhood with many-many western buddhist residents. And since there is no such a place, there can't be such a "2nd home monastery".

Yes, thank you for mentioning that. I thought I had implied it enough in other posts, but really, that is an incredibly important aspect of community.

I was trying to explore how we might build such a sense of community among people with some interest in Buddhism. I don't think it's easy.

I'm not sure it has to be just neighbors. It's more that the people you see at the centre are the people you interact with in other ways - having dinner, going on trips, and so on. Not just meeting for meditation...

:anjali:
Mike

User avatar
Zom
Posts: 1629
Joined: Fri May 08, 2009 6:38 pm
Location: Russia, Saint-Petersburg
Contact:

Re: What are the hurdles hindering Dhamma propagation in the US?

Postby Zom » Tue Jan 03, 2017 1:44 pm

I was trying to explore how we might build such a sense of community among people with some interest in Buddhism. I don't think it's easy.

I'm not sure it has to be just neighbors. It's more that the people you see at the centre are the people you interact with in other ways - having dinner, going on trips, and so on. Not just meeting for meditation...


We are exploring it for the last 7 years. The results are not so good as they could be, and two main factors for this are, lets say, "neighbourhood" and "not native religion". Dhammacenter is too far away for many - not a "5 min walk", like in the case of most asian local communities. So, someone pays a visit and then we don't see him for weeks or a month. For him, it takes too much time and "effort" to get there, because it's like a small trip. This is why people see themselves as "guests" all the time. Most of them can't say "Ow, this is my dhammacenter, mycommunity" - they don't have such a feeling, simply because of rare visits.

However, we succeeded in forming good internet community of people (from different towns) who know each other personally and even rarely meet together, either coming to our dhammacenter in Spb, or even travel in a small group to Thai, Burma, Lanka as pilgrims. Such people support our center financially and we are 100% dependent on them (we have to pay monthly rent - and have been doing it for these last 7 years - without any "asian support" at all, and this is already an achievement -). Some of them even made such a nice video on our 7th dhammacenter "birthday".

Interesting thing is that none of them really meditates (at least "hard") or interested much in meditation. Those who do, usually don't have interest in our community. Some of them found us via website or forum, some - via lectures & meetings with our Ven. Monk -) To keep such people we drink much tea and talk a lot about different things (non-dhammic as well), so to create warm and informal friendly atmosphere. This works very well. 3 times a year we hold 2 buddhists holidays (Magha puja and Vesak), and a 3rd one, Kathina day conjoined with Dhammacenter "birthday" - up to 40-50 people come (including those from another cities), they bring tons of food and chat a lot (just like in Asian local monasteries). However, from our side we have to make a good program every time - with thematical games and quizes, speeches, ceremonies, showing spec. videos/photos, etc etc, and trying to get a full Sangha (4 monks) if possible. All this also works very well for creating community spirit. Also I'd add that having a monk plays a crucial role. He is like a magnet. Without him everything would collapse I think, because he, being a monk, spends a lot of time communicating with people, answering questions, giving advice, giving lectures, and so becomes a central driving force.

To move things further we need to somehow strengthen "horizontal connections" among "guests", so that they could become "friends" among themselves. The problem is - you can't just order people to become friends -) So atm I'm thinking about starting a social network group (like Facebook group for example) where these "guests" could post notes about where they want to go, what to do in leisure time, so that others could join if they want to. Not sure this will work, but I don't see what else can be done in our present situation. The problems is - people come as "guests", but then, even if they want to be in a community, they either disappear, because, well, there is none for them as "guests" who pays rare visits. We haven nice "vertical connection" (a person --> monk/dhammacenter), but no horizontal (guest --> guest) -- and "neighbourhood" factor plays a big role here. People become friends only when they see each other frequently or do something together frequently.

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 14897
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: What are the hurdles hindering Dhamma propagation in the US?

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Jan 03, 2017 7:53 pm

Thanks for the thoughtful post, Zom. There is a lot of useful food for thought there.

:anjali:
Mike

SarathW
Posts: 7849
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: What are the hurdles hindering Dhamma propagation in the US?

Postby SarathW » Tue Jan 03, 2017 8:09 pm

Hi Zom
In my home town my neighbour is a temple.
We never went there.
The reason being the monk was not inactive. The only time we had a contact with the monk is when there was a funeral.
Some monks who used to live there were not virtues or had much knowledge in Buddhism.
Now the things have been improved a little bit. So I visit the monk when I go back to my home town.
The temple is controlled by few lay people who make a living from temple's assets.

I had a look at your website. I think you have to make it bit more interesting.
For example the Uganda Buddhist center is in a similar situation like yours.
But the monks are very active.

http://ugandabuddhistcentre.com/site/

I know this is not an easy task but hopefully you can get some help from someone who wish to donate his/her time.
It is a good idea if you can make a video in English.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

paul
Posts: 611
Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 11:27 pm
Location: Vietnam

Re: What are the hurdles hindering Dhamma propagation in the US?

Postby paul » Tue Jan 03, 2017 11:31 pm

The Indian tradition regards celibacy as the highest lifestyle, not only is it a prerequisite for attaining liberation but it is a necessary practice for attaining certain mental and spiritual powers similar to the five mundane higher powers in Buddhism. MN 29 states that the purpose of celibacy is ‘unshakable deliverance of mind.’ In the emerging western form of Buddhism the same functional understanding should be maintained. At this time of the growth of Buddhism the Indian concept of brahmacariya should be introduced into the western lifestyle where it is desirable for lay adherents to observe chastity on uposatha days but also encouraged as a permanent way of life if their temperament permits.

SarathW
Posts: 7849
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: What are the hurdles hindering Dhamma propagation in the US?

Postby SarathW » Tue Jan 03, 2017 11:37 pm

The Indian tradition regards celibacy as the highest lifestyle, not only is it a prerequisite for attaining liberation but it is a necessary practice for attaining certain mental and spiritual powers similar to the five mundane higher powers in Buddhism.


So impotent person should have those powers?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

User avatar
Mr Man
Posts: 2762
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:42 am

Re: What are the hurdles hindering Dhamma propagation in the US?

Postby Mr Man » Tue Jan 03, 2017 11:45 pm

paul wrote: In the emerging western form of Buddhism.


Hi Paul, When you say the "emerging western form" who are you thinking of? Who are the proponents?
Thanks

User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
Posts: 10366
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Contact:

Re: What are the hurdles hindering Dhamma propagation in the US?

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Jan 04, 2017 12:57 am

mikenz66 wrote:Thanks for the thoughtful post, Zom. There is a lot of useful food for thought there.

:anjali:
Mike


+1 Yes, good posts by Zom, someone who has firsthand experience at running a center in a non-traditional, non-Buddhist country. I have had similar experiences with the Dhamma centers I have started. People come and go and most of the participants end up being "guests" rather than regular members. Some come and you don't see them back for weeks or months. I'd also like to see more communities develop and for it to work the way it has for Sri Lankan temples, Thai temples, etc. but it is very slow in developing. And I agree with Zom that the approach is to blame for much of it too. People come looking for a cure for their stress or anger management, etc. It is more of an exercise rather than a religion for many convert Buddhists, if they even call themselves that as many do not.

There are lay led retreat centers, but often we find the focus is on exorbitant fees more than a community. As Zom noted, it is difficult if not impossible to have several Buddhists within walking distance of each other to create a community where the center can be a 2nd home. Even if a co-housing community developed I always wondered what would happen if some members left Buddhism and meditation practice or sold their home in their community, eventually it would no longer be a Buddhist community.

In many developed countries, there is the push toward secularization, so I wonder if this is an issue with other religions too? My wife and I have met some Ethiopian-Americans in our city who are Christian and some who are Muslim and they say their attendance at the churches and mosques is down; often with the number of older women making up the majority as the numbers of younger people and men dwindles down.

SarathW
Posts: 7849
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: What are the hurdles hindering Dhamma propagation in the US?

Postby SarathW » Thu Jan 05, 2017 9:11 am

There is no hurdles hindering Dhamma Propagation in the US according the following speaker.
In fact it is thriving thanks to its appeal to atheist and nihilist.
- Buddhist worship idles
- Nirvana means extinguishment
- Meddle way means the middle of existence and non-existence
- Meditation invite demons
- If there is no self who the hell who taught Buddhism?

“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

User avatar
JMGinPDX
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2016 5:07 pm

Re: What are the hurdles hindering Dhamma propagation in the US?

Postby JMGinPDX » Wed May 03, 2017 6:46 pm

soapy3 wrote:
pilgrim wrote:What are the hurdles hindering Dhamma propagation in the US?.


Copies of the Pali Canon are expensive. The Buddhist temples tend to be converted homes. The more elaborate ones have sanghas with languages I don't speak and different cultures from my own.

There are all sorts of books about Christianity beyond the Bible, taking many approaches to Christianity and in all types of language. Many of those books are cheap ( under $10 sometimes under $5 ) and are often even available in supermarkets. Books on Buddhism tend to be expensive and require sending away for them. Not too many books, or movements taking a different approach to Theravada.

Numbers.


I know this is an old post, but it caught my eye -
With the advent of online sources like AccessToInsight.com and SuttaCentral.com, the Pali Canon is highly accessible online, negating the need to buy a print version.
Many of the Thai Forest books at least are also available for free online at https://forestsangha.org/, and my local center distributes them for free as well - my library of Buddhist-related texts is pretty good thanks to them and a few cheap Amazon purchases! And sometimes I'll donate a copy of a particularly good book to the interfaith room at a hospital or to a friend (especially some of the less "religious" ones such as Ajahn Succito's "Clarity & Calm").


Return to “Dhammaduta (Dhamma propagation)”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

Google Saffron, Theravada Search Engine