Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

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mettafuture
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Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

Post by mettafuture » Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:03 am

Most people who have spent time in American Buddhist communities would read my title as sarcastic. As numerous writers have noted, many Buddhist sanghas in the United States are largely white. Practicing in these spaces is often an isolating experience where people of color feel erased and invisible, or at times so hypervisible that simply being in the room invites the assumption that they will educate others about race.
Link to the Full Article.

J. Sunara Sasser really hits the nail on the head here.

At the start of my Buddhist journey, social anxiety, travel issues, and this were some of the reasons why I didn’t rush out to find a teacher—as I was often pressured to do. Today, the social anxiety is mostly under control, and travel is less problematic, but I still prefer practicing alone, or with people I’ve already built relationships with.

It’s possible that I could be less apprehensive about physically going to more Buddhist communities if I knew that there’d be a variety of people there. Apparently, J. Sunara Sasser had a good experience at Soka Gakkai International in Chicago, which, surprisingly, is close to where I live.

Are you comfortable with visiting Buddhist communities, or practicing in public?

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salayatananirodha
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Re: Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

Post by salayatananirodha » Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:40 am

I noticed it seemed like there were a lot of or a lot of black buddhists were nichiren
In my locality, there are a lot of white people that call themselves buddhist, but I am not all too confident that we're in agreement as to what buddhism is. For me, I go with a mind of exploiting whatever is there for my benefit and the benefit of others, dhamma talk, however vague, and silent sitting. I was excited when I met an indian woman and a nepali woman and would like to get to know them, but one of my favorite people, sort of a pali canon nerd like me, is white and I think he is a good buddhist
My regular friend and his wife are malaysian or chinese and at my regular wat they are mostly thai
The thais also have their own rituals and culture blended in and I have to take what I need from it, which is alms offering and some talk here or there
As long as you don't hang out and you know when to talk when to leave etc you can get more out of it than you put in, and it's all but invaluable
16. 'In what has the world originated?' — so said the Yakkha Hemavata, — 'with what is the world intimate? by what is the world afflicted, after having grasped at what?' (167)

17. 'In six the world has originated, O Hemavata,' — so said Bhagavat, — 'with six it is intimate, by six the world is afflicted, after having grasped at six.' (168)

- Hemavatasutta


links:
https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/index.htm
http://thaiforestwisdom.org/canonical-texts/
http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html

SarathW
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Re: Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

Post by SarathW » Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:41 am

If I walk in to a Buddhist temple where predominantly white and I feel uncomfortable there could be two reasons.
- My own mind made Sankhara
- They are not Buddhists or they do not understand or follow the Buddha's teaching.
I have many temples around where I live and I hardly visit them.
At this stage I am quite happy with my virtual temple Dhamma Wheel.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

Post by SarathW » Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:59 am

From above link:
A quick glance at the news tells us that racism is at the heart of many of the divisions in the US. The current national climate of racial profiling is out of control, as black people are policed and profiled for everything from chatting in coffee shops to barbecuing in the park, sleeping in dormitories, eating lunch on campus, renting an AirBnB, or just standing on the sidewalk. Simply existing in public space as a black person in America is a precarious prospect. Which is why I —and many others—take refuge in my Buddhist community.
Being a Buddhist will not solve this problem.
Having said that only Buddhism address the all discrimination in full.
You have to be a practicing Buddhist and only an Arahant will eradicate Mana (measuring high, low and equal).
Country like Sri Lanka mainly Buddhist are filled with people who discriminate other fellow human.
What I am saying is may be black people in America is fighting for the colour discrimination but do they fight for the other form of discriminations such as sex, wealth, age and disability etc.?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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DooDoot
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Re: Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

Post by DooDoot » Thu Oct 18, 2018 2:05 am

mettafuture wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:03 am
Are you comfortable with visiting Buddhist communities, or practicing in public?
I am "white" and am somewhere in this video, in this sea or a needle in this haystack of Asian people. At least my generation of white Western Buddhists practised mostly with Asians. With "faith" ("saddha"), we can practise anywhere with anyone.

Never ordained... not an anonymous-online-bhikkhu or ex-bhikkhu...

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Re: Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

Post by SarathW » Thu Oct 18, 2018 2:25 am

I am "white" and am somewhere in this video, in this sea or haystack of Asian people. At least my generation of white Western Buddhists practised mostly with Asians. With "faith" ("saddha"), we can practise anywhere with anyone.
I wonder whether it would be the same if it the other way around.
I do not have a first hand experience in this.
By the way I assume we have more whites in this forum.
If that is the case I would say that I am with a great bunch of white Buddhists.
Having said that I have seen some complains form females in this forum about discrimination.
:D
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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mettafuture
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Re: Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

Post by mettafuture » Fri Oct 19, 2018 11:51 am

salayatananirodha wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:40 am
I noticed it seemed like there were a lot of or a lot of black buddhists were nichiren
As I mentioned elsewhere, they seem to proselytize more overtly than other Buddhist sects. Speaking for myself, I’d be more inclined to visit a monastery or community gathering if I was personally invited. It would be less awkward than just walking in unsolicited.
SarathW wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:59 am
What I am saying is may be black people in America is fighting for the colour discrimination but do they fight for the other form of discriminations such as sex, wealth, age and disability etc.?
Of course. This is the whole point of intersectionality, to name one example.
DooDoot wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 2:05 am
With "faith" ("saddha"), we can practise anywhere with anyone.
Not really. It's not that simple.

If you've had to deal with a lot of racism in your life, you naturally don’t feel comfortable being the only “minority” in certain spaces. I've had armed police called on me for simply walking home from the store, and I've been called a ni**er in my lifetime more times than I can count. This is a common thing for people like me to have to deal with. Experiences like this can traumatize you, and make you—understandably—paranoid.

narhwal90
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Re: Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

Post by narhwal90 » Fri Oct 19, 2018 5:09 pm

I practice in SGI, since the late 80's. Most newcomers in the local small meetings are invited or at least referred from one of the regional SGI centers. The latter do get walk-ins, or at least inquiries- the streetcorner propagation campaigns of the 70's & 80's are long gone. Despite being in SGI so long I am still impressed by its diversity all the way up the food chain at least in the US. How SG is over in Japan I don't know. In my local meetings there are black and white, asian Indian, Hispanics, and people of eastern-asian descent many of those Japanese. Ages are diverse as well.

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JamesTheGiant
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Re: Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

Post by JamesTheGiant » Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:39 pm

"Buddhists of color" hugely outnumber white Buddhists.
There are millions upon millions of buddhists in asia and India/Sri Lanka, and only tens of thousands of white-skin buddhists in western countries.

This concern and hand-wringing over inclusion and equality and diversity within Buddhism... is just a white western progressive liberal thing. Mostly from USA meditation comunities, which are tiny but full of people who write articles about it and spread them far and wide through the internet.

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Re: Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

Post by dharmacorps » Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:55 pm

JamesTheGiant wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:39 pm
"Buddhists of color" hugely outnumber white Buddhists.
There are millions upon millions of buddhists in asia and India/Sri Lanka, and only tens of thousands of white-skin buddhists in western countries.

This concern and hand-wringing over inclusion and equality and diversity within Buddhism... is just a white western progressive liberal thing. Mostly from USA meditation comunities, which are tiny but full of people who write articles about it and spread them far and wide through the internet.
Indeed I think you are right. Unfortunately I think the problem here is that many are more attached to politics and their view of what things should be, or look like, than they are the dhamma as it is for ultimate liberation from samsara where things are inherently unsatisfactory and suffering.

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mettafuture
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Re: Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

Post by mettafuture » Fri Oct 19, 2018 8:16 pm

narhwal90 wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 5:09 pm
I practice in SGI, since the late 80's. Most newcomers in the local small meetings are invited or at least referred from one of the regional SGI centers. The latter do get walk-ins, or at least inquiries- the streetcorner propagation campaigns of the 70's & 80's are long gone. Despite being in SGI so long I am still impressed by its diversity all the way up the food chain at least in the US. How SG is over in Japan I don't know. In my local meetings there are black and white, asian Indian, Hispanics, and people of eastern-asian descent many of those Japanese. Ages are diverse as well.
I love the sound of this.

In a way, the members of a group can reflect the ethos of that group. Clearly, SGI has at least tried to reach out to more than just a few demographics, and, presumably, those who have felt like an outsider in such communities. Such an approach would be more inline with the dhamma, and would actually do more good, than snidely dismissing people's concerns as a political ploy.

TRobinson465
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Re: Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

Post by TRobinson465 » Fri Oct 19, 2018 8:33 pm

SarathW wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 2:25 am

By the way I assume we have more whites in this forum.
If that is the case I would say that I am with a great bunch of white Buddhists.
Having said that I have seen some complains form females in this forum about discrimination.
:D
You know someone should really just make a poll to find the racial and gender breakdown of the ppl here (if there isnt one already). I kinda assumed most ppl here were white males too. But in reality this has no basis. It's just a baseless assumption.
"Do not have blind faith, but also no blind criticism" - the 14th Dalai Lama

"At Varanasi, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that cannot be stopped by brahmins, devas, Maras, Brahmas or anyone in the cosmos." -Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

"Go forth, monks, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the good and the happiness of gods and men. Let no two of you go in the same direction." - First Khandhaka, Chapter 11, Vinaya.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Oct 19, 2018 8:47 pm

Would posters please note that although there might be interesting and useful discussions to be had around the issue of dhamma propagation within specified groups, discussions here should steer clear of politicised claims about whether particular countries or groups are racist. Such questions, important and valid as they are, are properly raised on our sister-site, Dharma Wheel Engaged:

https://dharmawheel.org/

SarathW
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Re: Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

Post by SarathW » Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:15 pm

JamesTheGiant wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:39 pm
"Buddhists of color" hugely outnumber white Buddhists.
There are millions upon millions of buddhists in asia and India/Sri Lanka, and only tens of thousands of white-skin buddhists in western countries.

This concern and hand-wringing over inclusion and equality and diversity within Buddhism... is just a white western progressive liberal thing. Mostly from USA meditation comunities, which are tiny but full of people who write articles about it and spread them far and wide through the internet.
Hi James
I do not think you understand the problem well. When I was young I had the superiority complex about my cast, ( I am from the highest cast)
It took me to my adulthood to understand that could be discriminated due to my color.
Even though I am very fair I was insulted many times calling me black.
It is not just a western progressive thing.
However, I do not promote single discrimination campaigns such as color or sex discrimination.
Sri Lanka suffered from a civil war due to the extremist group who use the race as a foundation to achieve their political motives.
Sigle out discrimination capaigns divide people not unite.
That is why I like Buddha. He addresses the Mana the root cause of discrimination.
Only practicing Buddhist can eliminate all discriminations.
Having said that I feel Christians are less discriminative than Buddhist due to their strong ethics.
What I am saying is there is less discrimination in the West than the East.
However, Westerners could be brutal when they practice their discrimination.
So I still think being a Buddhist is a strong reason for anyone who wants to end all discriminations.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

narhwal90
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Re: Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

Post by narhwal90 » Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:20 pm

mettafuture wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 8:16 pm
narhwal90 wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 5:09 pm
I practice in SGI, since the late 80's. Most newcomers in the local small meetings are invited or at least referred from one of the regional SGI centers. The latter do get walk-ins, or at least inquiries- the streetcorner propagation campaigns of the 70's & 80's are long gone. Despite being in SGI so long I am still impressed by its diversity all the way up the food chain at least in the US. How SG is over in Japan I don't know. In my local meetings there are black and white, asian Indian, Hispanics, and people of eastern-asian descent many of those Japanese. Ages are diverse as well.
I love the sound of this.

In a way, the members of a group can reflect the ethos of that group. Clearly, SGI has at least tried to reach out to more than just a few demographics, and, presumably, those who have felt like an outsider in such communities. Such an approach would be more inline with the dhamma, and would actually do more good, than snidely dismissing people's concerns as a political ploy.
The intent is to reach out to anyone, anywhere- which is great. The other side of the coin is if one stays inside the SGI walled garden the exposure to dharma is quite limited and its easy to remain isolated from the diversity of all the other schools. There is a lot of depth to Nichiren practices, thru Tendai in Japan back to China and Nagarjuna but SGI glosses over much of that. OTOH for many folks thats fine they find the SGI practice wholly sufficient, but there is little to no guidance or introduction to wider study. There is no proscription either, its a solitary exercise unless you run into someone else with similar interests & work together eg there are no "History of Tendai" meetings or line-by-line analyses of Zhiyi. Back in the old days when we were part of Nichiren Shoshu there was an expected depth of study which is not stressed now. I imagine a dharma practitioner used to wrestling with sutras and commentaries, working on various meditation forms etc would likely find the SGI practice shallow. Personally I've found a wider exposure to dharma has made it a lot more interesting and transformative, it remains my daily home practice.

Mr Ikeda and his legacy are also controversial. Though he and his example has made SGI and SG what they are, there is also a strong cult-of-personality aspect that is often seen. He's well on in years and in declining health, it is going to be interesting to see what the fault lines are in the organization and how it changes after he passes away.

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