Why are most western Buddhists white?

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waterchan
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by waterchan » Wed Mar 05, 2014 8:11 am

pilgrim wrote:OK, why do western sangha call their white teachers by the Thai word Ajahn? Why not use the original Pali Acariya?
Maybe because those white teachers were ordained in the Thai tradition? White monks ordained in the Burmese tradition may be called "Ashin", for example Ashin Ottama. Although that isn't always so, for example in the case of Bhikkhu Pesala.

Then there are monks like Venerable Amarantho who is technically a samanera and has been for over ten years. But he prefers being called by his monastic name, Amarantho, without any prefixes or suffixes.

Ajahn Sujato once said that sometimes his fellow Australians call him "mate". :D

If you're not sure how to address a monk, "Venerable" seems a pretty safe choice.
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by Dinsdale » Wed Mar 05, 2014 9:12 am

Ben wrote: I agree. The vast majority of western Buddhists, are, in fact, Asian.
That hasn't been my experience in the UK, Ben. Buddhism here seems to be predominantly a white, middle-class interest.
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Ben
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by Ben » Wed Mar 05, 2014 9:37 am

Hi Spiny,
Spiny Norman wrote:
Ben wrote: I agree. The vast majority of western Buddhists, are, in fact, Asian.
That hasn't been my experience in the UK, Ben. Buddhism here seems to be predominantly a white, middle-class interest.
Do you think that is because it is just the Buddhism that you have been exposed to is mainly a white, middle-class interest? My comment above is that the vast majority of western Buddhists are in fact Asian - and living in Asia.
Kind regards,
Ben
“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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Dinsdale
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by Dinsdale » Wed Mar 05, 2014 9:58 am

Ben wrote: Do you think that is because it is just the Buddhism that you have been exposed to is mainly a white, middle-class interest? My comment above is that the vast majority of western Buddhists are in fact Asian - and living in Asia.
Kind regards,
Ben
I assumed we were talking about Buddhists in western countries like Europe and North America. I can only really speak about the UK from first-hand experience.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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Kare
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by Kare » Wed Mar 05, 2014 10:36 am

convivium wrote:And why do white people co-opt irrelevant asian cultural elements in Buddhist communities?
Why do you find the color of the skin so interesting? Are you a racist?
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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Mar 05, 2014 10:48 am

One might as well ask, “Why are most people racially prejudiced and ignorant?”

Some results from a survey on world literacy rates

Swedish professor Hans Rosling is poking fun at the British, but the results of such surveys among other populations would likely be just as wrong. It seems that if you don't have the facts, just ask some chimpanzees to get the best estimate! :stirthepot:
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plwk
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by plwk » Wed Mar 05, 2014 11:11 am


It's almost universal, no? :tongue:
And why do white people co-opt irrelevant asian cultural elements in Buddhist communities?
I hope you have better luck in getting this answered as I have failed when I was a Christian wondering why are East Asian/S.E Asian/South Asian churches in the earlier days of evangelism co-opting 'white' cultural stuff in liturgy and everything else...

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waterchan
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by waterchan » Wed Mar 05, 2014 11:18 am

That was an amazing presentation! And the graphics and sound effects were very well done.

"My name is Hans Rosling, I'm a statistician and... NONONONO DON'T SWITCH OFF!"

Haha!
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
(Anything in Latin sounds profound.)

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Ben
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by Ben » Wed Mar 05, 2014 12:01 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
Ben wrote: Do you think that is because it is just the Buddhism that you have been exposed to is mainly a white, middle-class interest? My comment above is that the vast majority of western Buddhists are in fact Asian - and living in Asia.
Kind regards,
Ben
I assumed we were talking about Buddhists in western countries like Europe and North America. I can only really speak about the UK from first-hand experience.
Hi Spiny,
The history of Buddhism since the colonisation of South and southeast Asian countries in the 18th Century is fascinating. Buddhism was, and continues to be transformed by contact with the west.
If you are interested, a couple of books that I can recommend:
Eric Braun's Birth of Insight: Burmese Buddhism, Modernism and the Burmese monk Ledi Sayadaw, and
David McMahan's The Making of Buddhist Modernism.
“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

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

barcsimalsi
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by barcsimalsi » Wed Mar 05, 2014 12:16 pm

plwk wrote:

It's almost universal, no? :tongue:
Well, at most we only got 3 Yakkas dancing in front of Buddha’s statue.


Once upon a time,
…while exchanging friendly greetings, arranging beddings, putting away bowls and robes, they made much noise. The Blessed One addressed venerable ânanda: 'ânanda, who are those making such a noise, like fishermen hauling a catch of fish'…

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seeker242
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by seeker242 » Wed Mar 05, 2014 12:29 pm

convivium wrote:And why do white people co-opt irrelevant asian cultural elements in Buddhist communities?
Seems to me because if they practice in an asian tradition, the cultural elements come with the tradition. And no good reason to reject them since they are mostly harmless anyway. What reason is there to reject certain elements if they are harmless and irrelevant?

chownah
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by chownah » Wed Mar 05, 2014 12:42 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:
pilgrim wrote: My guess would be "The Buddha's instructions". Now, pls :focus:
Yes, the Buddha's instruction (and this is on-topic, see the OP).

See: http://www.buddhisma2z.com/content.php?id=379
Great, thanks for the reply. I guess it seems that you recognize mindful eating (for example) as something that the Buddha taught and so you recognize its importance to your Buddhist practice and I suppose you at least sometimes practice it and so you see its benefit and this reinforces your view that it is relevant. On the other hand many Buddhists in my neighborhood do not recognize mindful eating as something taught by the Buddha and these people have in fact never even heard of the concept of mindful eating so they do not do it or even know about it. Would you say that mindful eating is relevant to their Buddhist practice?......I'm sure that they do not view it as relevant.
This is why I suggested asking why something is considered relevant to Buddhist practice........seems the answer is that it is a matter of experience and views......I guess.......don't know for sure.........
chownah

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lyndon taylor
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by lyndon taylor » Wed Mar 05, 2014 7:56 pm

Maybe because most of what we think of as westerners are white????
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community, sincerely former monk John

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appicchato
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by appicchato » Wed Mar 05, 2014 9:34 pm

...these people have in fact never even heard of the concept of mindful eating so they do not do it or even know about it..I'm sure that they do not view it as relevant.
How would they, if they are not aware of it?...they might if they (generally speaking) actually studied the (proposed) word of the Buddha...
Last edited by appicchato on Wed Mar 05, 2014 9:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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gavesako
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Re: Why are most western Buddhists white?

Post by gavesako » Wed Mar 05, 2014 9:36 pm

Gentrifying the dharma: How the 1 percent is hijacking mindfulness
As big corporations embrace meditation, some Buddhists fear their religion's being co-opted by elites

Buddhism first came to the U.S. with Japanese and Chinese immigrants. It enjoyed a brief period of popularity among urban elites around the turn of the century, but the current wave of convert popularity began in the 1960s. Today there are about 3 million to 5 million Buddhists in the United States, about 70 percent of whom are Asian-Americans. The remaining 30 percent tend to be white, middle-aged, highly educated and solidly middle to upper class.

http://www.salon.com/2014/03/05/gentrif ... ndfulness/
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