Dhamma propagation - most effective form?

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Maitri
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Re: Dhamma propagation

Post by Maitri » Mon Jul 11, 2011 10:12 pm

We have decided to try and host an intro to Buddhism course for local people. Many times new persons just come to regular meetings without much of an introduction and feel overwhelmed and rather confused. The Bhikkhuni is putting together a 4 week program that will be a very basic intro to meditation practice, the life of the Buddha and the Dhamma.

The competition is an issue. For whatever reason, there is almost 5 Theravada center in the local area and none of them want to consolidate and work together. The monastics all want to run their own center even though takes much more effort to run 5 centers instead of one :rolleye:
"Upon a heap of rubbish in the road-side ditch blooms a lotus, fragrant and pleasing.
Even so, on the rubbish heap of blinded mortals the disciple of the Supremely Enlightened One shines resplendent in wisdom." Dhammapada: Pupphavagga

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/

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Kim OHara
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Re: Dhamma propagation

Post by Kim OHara » Tue Jul 12, 2011 10:44 am

palchi wrote:One of the things that draw me into Buddhism (apart from the teachings hitting home of course) was the complete lack of missionary zeal. During my very first meditation course in a Tibetan temple the teacher even refused to answer questions on Buddhism during course time. His response was along the lines of: This is a beginners' meditation course, not a Buddhist course. If you have questions on Buddhism or the temple you are welcome to stay on afterwards and I will respond. Loved it.
The local group I sit with (Tibetan led) follows the same approach - it explicitly teaches meditation, not Buddhism. Sure, there's a shrine up the front and we start with the 'Refuge and Enlightenment' thought, but the Buddhism is incidental to the meditation. If people hang around long enough, they will pick it up as they go along and may study on their own or attend retreats.
It seems to work - the group is gradually growing and people keep attending for longer, on average, than they used to.
But we also advertise the meditation course quite widely - flyers on noticeboards, announcements in community newsletters, etc, and (recently) a simple web site which is all we need for people looking online for a local group.

:namaste:
Kim

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daverupa
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Re: Dhamma propagation

Post by daverupa » Tue Jul 12, 2011 11:05 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:But we also advertise the meditation course quite widely - flyers on noticeboards, announcements in community newsletters, etc, and (recently) a simple web site which is all we need for people looking online for a local group.
This is the sort of "Buddhist evangelism" that seems most appropriate to me so far: it's passive, and focuses on imparting a beneficial tool.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

rowyourboat
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Re: Dhamma propagation

Post by rowyourboat » Tue Jul 12, 2011 9:32 pm

daverupa wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:But we also advertise the meditation course quite widely - flyers on noticeboards, announcements in community newsletters, etc, and (recently) a simple web site which is all we need for people looking online for a local group.
This is the sort of "Buddhist evangelism" that seems most appropriate to me so far: it's passive, and focuses on imparting a beneficial tool.
Well, we dont have a 'message' to get across to everyone- nor are we multinational corporations- it will be comparatively subdued in spirit.
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

rowyourboat
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Re: Dhamma propagation

Post by rowyourboat » Tue Jul 12, 2011 9:40 pm

AN 5.254: MACCHARIYA SUTTA — STINGINESS (1)

"Monks, there are these five forms of stinginess. Which five? Stinginess as to one's monastery [lodgings], stinginess as to one's family [of supporters], stinginess as to one's gains, stinginess as to one's status, and stinginess as to the Dhamma. These are the five forms of stinginess. And the meanest of these five is this: stinginess as to the Dhamma."
Interesting point!

with metta
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Spiny O'Norman
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Re: Dhamma propagation

Post by Spiny O'Norman » Thu Jul 14, 2011 11:31 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:The local group I sit with (Tibetan led) follows the same approach - it explicitly teaches meditation, not Buddhism. Sure, there's a shrine up the front and we start with the 'Refuge and Enlightenment' thought, but the Buddhism is incidental to the meditation. If people hang around long enough, they will pick it up as they go along and may study on their own or attend retreats.
It seems to work - the group is gradually growing and people keep attending for longer, on average, than they used to.
I'm glad it's working out, though I think it's all a bit trial and error really. A Tibetan group I used to be involved in tried this approach ( ie advertising "meditation" rather than "Buddhism" ) but when people turned up they complained because they thought they'd been misled. ;)

Spiny

rowyourboat
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Re: Dhamma propagation

Post by rowyourboat » Thu Jul 14, 2011 8:58 pm

In my experience over the past 10 years what I have seen is that whatever type of group you set up -people will come for just that. :) So I don't think there is anything to fear in setting up a Buddhist group. Ultimately it will be people who can see beyond their social conditioning who will be able to approach such a group- which is a good thing.

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Matheesha
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Kim OHara
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Re: Dhamma propagation

Post by Kim OHara » Thu Jul 14, 2011 9:44 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote: I'm glad it's working out, though I think it's all a bit trial and error really. A Tibetan group I used to be involved in tried this approach ( ie advertising "meditation" rather than "Buddhism" ) but when people turned up they complained because they thought they'd been misled. ;)

Spiny
Oh, this group doesn't hide the Buddhist connection - the group name on the flyers is the "... Buddhist Centre" and there's a bit of Sanskrit for decoration. But the focus in classes is entirely (probably too much, IMO) on meditation.

:namaste:
Kim

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Spiny O'Norman
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Re: Dhamma propagation

Post by Spiny O'Norman » Fri Jul 15, 2011 9:54 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:
Spiny O'Norman wrote: I'm glad it's working out, though I think it's all a bit trial and error really. A Tibetan group I used to be involved in tried this approach ( ie advertising "meditation" rather than "Buddhism" ) but when people turned up they complained because they thought they'd been misled. ;)

Spiny
Oh, this group doesn't hide the Buddhist connection - the group name on the flyers is the "... Buddhist Centre" and there's a bit of Sanskrit for decoration. But the focus in classes is entirely (probably too much, IMO) on meditation.

:namaste:
Kim

Oh, I see. Yes, the meditation / Dhamma balance isn't an easy one to get right, sometimes you can try to please everyone and end up pleasing nobody.
Generally I have the greatest admiration for anyone who leads or supports a Buddhist class / group. I've found that people who haven't had this kind of experience don't always understand the challenges involved.

Spiny

Platypus
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Re: Dhamma propagation

Post by Platypus » Sat Jul 16, 2011 1:01 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
plwk wrote:Location Matheesha Location :jumping:
(Where people are the most, that's where Dhamma should be made available, in my POV)
That's what seems to happen in practice, in the UK centres and groups tend to be in the cities and large towns. Which is fine unless you live in the country. ;)

Spiny
Even then its not always easy, York is no small place but I can't for the life of me find a theravada group, Zen groups and Tibetan groups abound however.

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Spiny O'Norman
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Re: Dhamma propagation

Post by Spiny O'Norman » Sat Jul 16, 2011 2:47 pm

Platypus wrote:, York is no small place but I can't for the life of me find a theravada group, Zen groups and Tibetan groups abound however.
This might be of interest, it's the results for Yorkshire from the Buddhanet directory:

http://www.buddhanet.info/wbd/search.ph ... =theravada" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Spiny

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manas
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Re: Dhamma propagation

Post by manas » Sat Jul 16, 2011 9:34 pm

I'm one of the crowd who has been preached to so many times by Christians, some of whom acted like they were trying to befriend me, when actually they just wanted an opportunity to make another convert, that I find it very difficult indeed to try proactively go out and 'spread the dhamma'. This would make me feel just like all the others (ie Christians and various cult members) who were acting friendly, but really just wanted to change my point of view. (Is it just me, or do others find this very off-putting?)

I feel that as we grow in the dhamma, over a long period of time, certain good and noble qualities will naturally begin to shine forth, and this will be a much better advertisement than us talking at people. For example, thanks to dhamma practice, I'm gradually letting go of habitual nervous tension. One day, someone might meet me who used to know how tense I was, how nervous. They might meet a totally transformed person. Maybe one day, even in busy social situations, every bone and muscle in my body will be relaxed...that person would think, "wow what has happened to andrew? he's not the same person anymore!" Now if they were to enquire, I would have to give credit to anapanasati...and this could effortlessly lead into the dhamma, without me looking like a zealot. :P
Knowing this body is like a clay jar,
securing this mind like a fort,
attack Mara with the spear of discernment,
then guard what's won without settling there,
without laying claim.

- Dhp 40

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Kim OHara
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Re: Dhamma propagation

Post by Kim OHara » Sat Jul 16, 2011 10:25 pm

Platypus wrote:Even then its not always easy, York is no small place but I can't for the life of me find a theravada group, Zen groups and Tibetan groups abound however.
Hi, monotreme (and what are you doing so far from home?),
What you're finding is common almost everywhere in the West - including here. I see it as a result of historical processes -
1. Zen was enormously popularised (though often misunderstood) in the hippie culture, 1960s and a bit later.
2. The Chinese forced a Tibetan diaspora in the 1950s and beyond, which gave Tibetan Buddhism in the West an endless stream of sympathy, publicity and (not least) highly qualified teachers who had been thrown out of home and were willing to look almost anywhere for a new one.

These two overwhelmed the relatively tiny older Buddhist groups (largely Theravada in Europe, Zen in the US). The current wave of interest in Theravada in the West seems to be largely a result of people exploring outwards from (1) and (2) above. So it is a later development, and it has been hampered by the relative shortage of teachers from traditionally Theravadin countries.

:namaste:
Kim

rowyourboat
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Re: Dhamma propagation

Post by rowyourboat » Sun Jul 17, 2011 11:28 am

manasikara wrote:I'm one of the crowd who has been preached to .....This would make me feel just like all the others (ie Christians and various cult members) who were acting friendly, but really just wanted to change my point of view. (Is it just me, or do others find this very off-putting?)
Hi Manasikara,

The only effective way that i have seen in getting friends into the dhamma is to openly join up with them for monthly 'fun' (relatively) dhamma discussions. The fun aspect is in that it is group of known friends more or less into the dhamma (mildly interested or curious to meditating) so it is meeting people who are alike- there is dinner involved- it is usually on a friday night when people are more or less free, we discuss a topic of interest to the group (we ask for topics)- then one person gathers all the dhamma around that particular topic and does a presentation, along with somewhat provoking questions in line with the dhamma- which makes it interesting and a little challenging at the same time, but not so much that it throws people off :jumping:. We have had a lot of success with this format we've had people having little faith at the begining, now going on retreat after 25 sessions (monthly). Others with curiosity now regularly reading the suttas. Those who did go on retreat now doing their own sessions etc. I think it is up to each of us to find fun innovative ways to engage friends with the dhamma, without being a pain!

with metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

Dhammanucara
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Re: Dhamma propagation

Post by Dhammanucara » Tue Aug 23, 2011 3:55 am

As to having a TV channel to speak about Buddhism, we already have it in Taiwan: the Buddhist Tzu-Chi Relief Foundation founded by Master Cheng Yen. This foundation has a TV channel that broadcasts over Taiwan as well as over the world, whoever subscribes it from the website. It starts off with having the Master speaks about some Dhamma passages in the dawn to inspire people to begin their days with Dhamma, with mindfulness and compassion, and throughout the day, the channel features programs concerning humanitarian projects carried out by its members and others, whatever thought to fit into nurturing people with compassion, humanity and wisdom. In this respect, I don't find this as 'evangelical' like Billy Graham or other Christian channels in the United States. I'm not sure about other Buddhist channels in other countries, but I generally find that such activity seems more human-based and pragmatic in human's life and not of evangelism - it serves to nurture certain beneficial values in humans so that we can all create a wonderful and better world to live in. Not so much of like persuading you to accept certain doctrinal truths - no offense to other religions though.

Somebody points out a very good point earlier that the best teacher should be a person who has been well-established in the practice himself, and I find this is what the Buddha preached himself too in Culasihanada Sutta: http://tipitaka.wikia.com/wiki/Culasihanada_Sutta
In addition to this (meaning the above criterion is the main determinant), my personal view is that a person who wishes to speak or propagate the Dhamma should also possess several characteristics so that the Dhamma-propagation effort would be somewhat fruitful or leading toward success - observant in people's responses toward the Dhamma, looking how Dhamma could be practiced in daily life and how Dhamma could be used to solve life problems (this is why a teacher should also be a practitioner) since generally people nowadays would only turn to things that they could find useful to solve their life dilemmas, ability to customize the different needs of people for different aspects of Dhamma, ability to speak the Dhamma efficaciously using certain terminology or examples to convey the ideas (this includes the person speaking from his experience of practice as well as his theoretical learning in order to use the correct terms), etc. These are just my general observations about great Dhamma teachers who have greatly impacted my life, so I hope these characters should be emulated in the Dhamma propagation efforts. Sadhu!

With metta,
Dhammanucara :namaste:

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