Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

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mettafuture
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Re: Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

Post by mettafuture » Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:16 pm

narhwal90 wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:20 pm
The intent is to reach out to anyone, anywhere- which is great.
Every Buddhist school could learn from this example. If I'm not mistaken, the dhamma is for everyone's benefit. If a Buddhist community doesn't reflect the demographics (genders, races, ages, etc) of the country it resides in, maybe it could do more to reach out to more types of people.
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.
Honestly, I'm not particularly fond of wrestling with the texts or various meditation forms. At this point in my dhamma journey, I'd like simplicity and directness, therefore I've tried to focus mainly on the discourses directed to the laity like MN 41, SN 55.7, AN 11.12, and Snp 1.4.

You've piqued my interest, which isn't to suggest that I hope to convert into a Nichiren Buddhist anytime soon, lol. As far as I know, I'm generally content with my Theravadin practices. Regardless, I'd like to see first hand what's going on with SGI.

Thank you for sharing the details.

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LG2V
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Re: Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

Post by LG2V » Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:19 pm

Check out https://ebonyloka.com . It's an Afro-Buddhist forum that I admin. I hope to gather everyone here eventually.

That, and there's a Facebook group for Black Buddhists too, which is a lot more active: https://www.facebook.com/groups/618189548347516/
Here are some excellent sites for giving free Dana (Click-Based Donation):
http://freerice.comhttp://greatergood.com/www.ripple.orgwww.thenonprofits.com

SarathW
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Re: Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

Post by SarathW » Sat Oct 20, 2018 12:07 am

It's an Afro-Buddhist forum that I admin. I hope to gather everyone here eventually.
If you want to gather everyone I suggest you change the name Afro-Buddhist.
If I see this as the name I will think this is only for Afro black Buddhist.
It is impressive to see that you have eight thousand members.
Perhaps you better stay as it is.
Having said that I have seen names like:
Sri Lankan Buddhist Associaton and Tibetan Buddhist Association.
Will you join a Sri Lankan Buddhist Associaton?
Perhaps I can relate to a name like Theravada Buddhist Association because I think there is a reason for it to differentiate.
However, I like neutral names such as Dhamma wheel and Sutta Central even though they are predominantly Theravada. I think these names represent the Buddha's true message.
:shrug:
“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 » Sat Oct 20, 2018 2:15 am

mettafuture wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 11:51 am
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.
Sure. I probably can't even empathize with your life history of racism. But the "certain space" in this situation is Buddhism. It is an expression of faith a white or Jewish dominated dhamma centre should have basic metta & be safe.

narhwal90
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Re: Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

Post by narhwal90 » Sat Oct 20, 2018 5:02 pm

mettafuture wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:16 pm

Honestly, I'm not particularly fond of wrestling with the texts or various meditation forms. At this point in my dhamma journey, I'd like simplicity and directness, therefore I've tried to focus mainly on the discourses directed to the laity like MN 41, SN 55.7, AN 11.12, and Snp 1.4.

You've piqued my interest, which isn't to suggest that I hope to convert into a Nichiren Buddhist anytime soon, lol. As far as I know, I'm generally content with my Theravadin practices. Regardless, I'd like to see first hand what's going on with SGI.
Personally I'm a big fan of Pali material and spent a bit of time and effort with it so perhaps I project my own practice biases. As far as SGI i'd say please do go check it out if you're interested, the practice is definitely simple, much moteso than some of the other Nichiren lineages. Far as
I've seen there is no official conversion as such, people are free to practice in the organiztion if they wish, though out of respect its polite to limit topics in SGI meetings to their canon.

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mettafuture
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Re: Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

Post by mettafuture » Mon Nov 05, 2018 3:39 pm

LG2V wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:19 pm
Check out https://ebonyloka.com . It's an Afro-Buddhist forum that I admin. I hope to gather everyone here eventually.

That, and there's a Facebook group for Black Buddhists too, which is a lot more active: https://www.facebook.com/groups/618189548347516/
I'll check it out. Thanks.
narhwal90 wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 5:02 pm
Personally I'm a big fan of Pali material and spent a bit of time and effort with it (...)
Same. For now, it's still my primary source of scripture.
DooDoot wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 2:15 am
mettafuture wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 11:51 am
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.
Sure. I probably can't even empathize with your life history of racism. But the "certain space" in this situation is Buddhism. It is an expression of faith a white or Jewish dominated dhamma centre should have basic metta & be safe.
I don't believe my discomfort is the main problem here. We should probably be asking why aren't Theravadin sanghas attracting a broader variety of members? What is SGI doing differently? What could Theravadin sanghas learn from them?

There are likely countless non-White and non-Jewish people who could benefit from the dhamma, or are looking for something like it, and yet it’s completely unknown to them. If a Buddhist community doesn't reflect the demographics (genders, races, ages, etc) of the country it resides in, maybe it should do more to reach out to more types of people.

SarathW
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Re: Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

Post by SarathW » Mon Nov 05, 2018 10:46 pm

There are likely countless non-White and non-Jewish people who could benefit from the dhamma, or are looking for something like it, and yet it’s completely unknown to them. If a Buddhist community doesn't reflect the demographics (genders, races, ages, etc) of the country it resides in, maybe it should do more to reach out to more types of people.
I still can't understand the problem.
Does this mean Jewish and white people have the monopoly on Buddhism in the West?
“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 » Tue Nov 06, 2018 4:01 am

mettafuture wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 3:39 pm

I don't believe my discomfort is the main problem here. We should probably be asking why aren't Theravadin sanghas attracting a broader variety of members? What is SGI doing differently? What could Theravadin sanghas learn from them?
SG/SGI have a history of evangelism in Japan and then elsewhere including the US, up till about 1990 the organizations held formal campaigns to bring newcomers to meetings etc, a cursory search will reveal the checkered past. As usual the results were good and bad, on one hand the organization grew amazingly fast and many of those folks stay affiliated with Nichiren practice if not in SGI then elsewhere as independents or one of the other schools. On the other hand the message grew to resemble a prosperity cult- chant for the new car to prove how the practice works which is a degraded form of the teaching to say the least. Sometimes people went too far with it and its perhaps the 1st thing many people think of when the organization is discussed. I like the experimental aspect of it though; simplify the teaching down to its functional basis and lead with that, leave the rest behind- less chance of mistaking culture for dharma and all that. But that has its downsides as well- nuance is lost and the easily grasped stridency and intensity of some of the teachings (IMHO) sometimes reach an undesirable prominence.

Many people work an intercessionary sort of practice. That is the SGI challenge to the newcomer; use the practice to change something in your life & so demonstrate it works. I know many folks who routinely chant for others' health, to save the house, for their children. That might be a more immediately approachable message than discussions of nirvana.

I find the SGI message pointed and direct, not to say aggressive or perhaps it is; chant and get the results- change yourself and so the world, or don't- win or lose, its everyone's choice- your obstacles put enlightenment in your hands and so on. That said, personally I don't think the Theravadins are doing anything wrong. It is a different practice with different standards and metrics. When I put down a sutra, the mind (hopefully) permanently displaced from some view or ignorance and the world looks a bit different, its a great day. Makes me want to pick up another and chant a bit more with a slightly clearer view of some bit of dharma.

I would not presume to say I practice Theravadin buddhism, but I read a lot and I like how they roll and there is clearly transformation happening.

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mettafuture
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Re: Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

Post by mettafuture » Tue Nov 06, 2018 6:56 am

SarathW wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 10:46 pm
I still can't understand the problem.
Does this mean Jewish and white people have the monopoly on Buddhism in the West?
I'm basically saying that some Buddhist communities could do better at "marketing" to non-White people. We shouldn't simply ignore them. People, generally, won't find the dhamma unless someone introduces it to them, or personally invites them to a sangha. We can't expect everyone to discover it on their own.
narhwal90 wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 4:01 am
On the other hand the message grew to resemble a prosperity cult- chant for the new car to prove how the practice works which is a degraded form of the teaching to say the least. Sometimes people went too far with it and its perhaps the 1st thing many people think of when the organization is discussed.
This raises an important point. Propagation can't be done too aggressively. I never randomly go up to people talking about Buddhism, lol. But if I encounter someone who is struggling with stress, I'll sometimes tell them about how meditation has helped me, and could possibly help them.
I like the experimental aspect of it though; simplify the teaching down to its functional basis and lead with that, leave the rest behind- less chance of mistaking culture for dharma and all that. But that has its downsides as well- nuance is lost and the easily grasped stridency and intensity of some of the teachings (IMHO) sometimes reach an undesirable prominence.
Western Theravadin practice could benefit from some streamlining. There's too much blurring between lay and aesthetic practices, which results in lay followers being taught a lot of complex dhamma. Traditionally, lay practice was very simple, and was—if I'm not mistaken—comprised mainly of observing and precepts and practicing the five or six recollections (anussati).

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Re: Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

Post by dharmacorps » Tue Nov 06, 2018 5:43 pm

mettafuture wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 6:56 am

This raises an important point. Propagation can't be done too aggressively. I never randomly go up to people talking about Buddhism, lol. But if I encounter someone who is struggling with stress, I'll sometimes tell them about how meditation has helped me, and could possibly help them.
I think this approach here that you mentioned is really the right way to do it, Mettafuture. It is relatable and has the best chance of having an effect. The dhamma is as it is, although as you mentioned, often biased in the west, and those who will find meaning in it and practice it likely will do so anyway. No need for the hard sell. :anjali:

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Re: Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

Post by lostitude » Tue Nov 13, 2018 9:58 am

As a white man who converted to islam in his 20s and lived in Arab countries, I think I can relate to that issue. I was often greeted with some degree of skepticism, sometimes even contempt, on a few occasions I was even refused access to the mosque by some people who thought I had nothing to do there. Many thought I was a spy. Whenever I entered the mosque I would have a couple hundred pairs of eyes following me, expressing a variety of reactions which my anxiety probably led me to overinterpret.

At the end of the day you can't just blame others for the anxeity you feel. Yes they could be more welcoming, yes there could be more variety to make you feel less isolated. But if we are talking about your awakening, it would be wiser to take the matter into your own hands and go for the immediately available option, i.e. confronting your fears and getting into that temple you're afraid of. What is the worst that could happen to you?

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Re: Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

Post by lostitude » Tue Nov 13, 2018 10:15 am

mettafuture wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 3:39 pm
If a Buddhist community doesn't reflect the demographics (genders, races, ages, etc) of the country it resides in, maybe it should do more to reach out to more types of people.
I don't think this is how it works. In no religious community will you find the same demographics as in the general population. Interest in metaphysics, philosophy and meditation is clearly not something that is evenly distributed across all segments of the population, so it is only a natural consequence to see certain groups overrepresented in some Buddhist circles.
One factor (among many) to consider about the relative absence of Black Buddhists might be the fact that those Blacks who may have been interested in buddhism may already belong to a certain religious denomination, and thus will not be receptive to dhamma propagation efforts or will not seek information about Buddhism the way an isolated agnostic (for example) would.

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mettafuture
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Re: Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

Post by mettafuture » Tue Nov 13, 2018 12:31 pm

lostitude wrote:
Tue Nov 13, 2018 9:58 am
At the end of the day you can't just blame others for the anxeity you feel.
I must mettafully disagree. In the example you provided, your anxiety seemed justified. It was the result of how others treated you, and not solely fabrications of your own mind. Our anxieties wouldn't arise as quickly if people treated each other better. Some of the onus is on them.
I don't think this is how it works. In no religious community will you find the same demographics as in the general population.
If this is generally the case, it still wouldn't hurt to at least make an effort to reach out to more demographics, or attempt to find ways to appeal to them. SGI has had success doing this.

lostitude
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Re: Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

Post by lostitude » Tue Nov 13, 2018 3:47 pm

mettafuture wrote:
Tue Nov 13, 2018 12:31 pm
lostitude wrote:
Tue Nov 13, 2018 9:58 am
At the end of the day you can't just blame others for the anxeity you feel.
I must mettafully disagree. In the example you provided, your anxiety seemed justified. It was the result of how others treated you, and not solely fabrications of your own mind. Our anxieties wouldn't arise as quickly if people treated each other better. Some of the onus is on them.
From a buddhist perspective, your perception of the issue seems to contradict the teachings, as far as I understand them of course... Ultimately it depended on me to pay attention or not to how people stare at me, or to understand or fail to understand why their behavior is actually pretty natural and even expected... Ultimately the suffering and discomfort comes from within, and blaming others for their attitude is not going to be as effective as looking into oneself for the true origin of the problem.

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mettafuture
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Re: Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?

Post by mettafuture » Tue Nov 13, 2018 4:43 pm

lostitude wrote:
Tue Nov 13, 2018 3:47 pm
Ultimately it depended on me to pay attention (...)
Not paying attention to your surroundings can be dangerous.
(...) fail to understand why their behavior is actually pretty natural and even expected
We don't have to tolerate bad behavior.

From Snp 1:7:

Whatever man is angry, resentful,
evil, merciless,
deceitful, and defective in his views:
.....He should be known as ‘outcaste.’
Ultimately the suffering and discomfort comes from within
Not if someone punches you in the face.

On a serious note, I respect your ability to empathize.

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