Why so few Western Buddhists?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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DNS
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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by DNS » Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:19 pm

Some of this has to do with culture and location too. I've lived in some places where the turnout at a Buddhist meditation program is only 1 to 3 people. And then there is the SF Bay Area where I've heard they have to turn people away because they have no more seating room. Some of their programs have a 'lottery' for getting in to some of the retreats and programs. I sent my application off by mail as they required once and was told that it was all full. They required the retreat fees and application in person or by mail, no email. So I sent mine off in express one day mail and it was still too late as there were so many that personally dropped it off who live in the Bay Area.

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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by pilgrim » Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:45 pm

binocular wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 9:20 am

In the West, there is very little Buddhist infrastructure (temples, places where groups can meet) and community (very few Buddhist converts, and much fewer potentially like-minded ones).
I agree with this to a great extent. In the entire west there is very little outreach. Only Ajahn Brahm makes the effort to establish a city centre in Perth, while maintaining his main monastery in the forest. I am an immigrant to Melbourne. Back in my home country I was active in Buddhist circles, attending pujas and talks every week. In the 10 mths, I've been here I have not been attracted to the activities in the local centres. All the Asian temples, (Sri Lankan, Lao, etc) are run on ethnic lines. The 2 centres aligned with the Thai Forest tradition have few programs for the laity. It is just dana and then an informal talk. The one time I was in Bodhivana, an hours drive away, a Thai lady upfront asked a question in Thai and then the rest of the discussion was totally in Thai between her and the Ajahn. The only bright spot in the whole city is the Buddhist Society of Victoria but even its programs does not sufficently attract me to make the 45 minute drive there.

The Tibetan groups make more of an effort, but programs are held only when the guru happens to visit. The Chinese groups also try but are severely limited by language, cultural and sectarian issues. I would say only the New Kadampa group has got its act together.

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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by manas » Tue Jan 02, 2018 11:07 pm

pilgrim wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:45 pm
The only bright spot in the whole city is the Buddhist Society of Victoria but even its programs does not sufficently attract me to make the 45 minute drive there.
Hi pilgrim,
have you been to the Sunday program at the BSV? They have meditation, a talk, chanting, offering of dana to the visiting monk or nun, followed by a shared meal with fellow members. Also, Bodhivana Monastery in Warburton, is a wonderful place to visit.

:anjali:
Drinking the nourishment,
the flavor,
of seclusion & calm,
one is freed from evil, devoid
of distress,
refreshed with the nourishment
of rapture in the Dhamma.

- Dhp 205

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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by chownah » Wed Jan 03, 2018 2:43 am

DooDoot wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:42 pm
chownah wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:36 am
The percents of western buddhists seems pretty understandable if you look at for instance the fact that about 1.2% of the thai population is christian.
chownah. I think this is an invalid comparison because Thais are fierce nationalists & 'Buddhists'.
Thank you for pointing out exactly why buddhism is not catching on in the USA. It is because americans are fierce nationalists & 'christian'......there are other reasons as well....
chownah

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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by Dinsdale » Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:13 am

DNS wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 4:14 pm
I'm not a secular-Buddhist, but I think that might be the lure for many as they find the Dhamma that way. And then some might go for more of the religion - Buddhist practices after that, but first through secular Dhamma, meditation, corporate mindfulness, etc.
I don't identify as a secular Buddhist either. Many of the Buddhists I've met in the UK have a secular orientation, but probably wouldn't call themselves "secular Buddhists".
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:20 am

Greetings Pilgrim,

Your experience with Melbourne's Buddhist scene is similar to my own.

Hence why I'm on Dhamma Wheel instead.

:lol:

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by Bundokji » Wed Jan 03, 2018 2:08 pm

I think it has to do with the western understanding of freedom which radically differs from the freedom gained by practicing Buddhism.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by dharmacorps » Wed Jan 03, 2018 7:46 pm

DNS wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:19 pm
Some of this has to do with culture and location too. I've lived in some places where the turnout at a Buddhist meditation program is only 1 to 3 people. And then there is the SF Bay Area where I've heard they have to turn people away because they have no more seating room. Some of their programs have a 'lottery' for getting in to some of the retreats and programs. I sent my application off by mail as they required once and was told that it was all full. They required the retreat fees and application in person or by mail, no email. So I sent mine off in express one day mail and it was still too late as there were so many that personally dropped it off who live in the Bay Area.
Bay Area resident here so I hear you David. The fees are astonishing which is already a problem. I gave up attending any of these when I found out that my local "Meditation Center", in a move geared towards "social justice", if any event is overcrowded, "white people" are formally asked to give up their seats to "people of color". I don't know if they still do this but I found it troubling. I try to focus on Abhayagiri.

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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by SarathW » Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:26 pm

"white people" are formally asked to give up their seats to "people of color".
Isn't this racism?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:04 pm

Greetings Sarath,
SarathW wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:26 pm
"white people" are formally asked to give up their seats to "people of color".
Isn't this racism?
Yes, of course it is.

To hear it happens in California though, is no surprise at all.

Perhaps they need to follow the advice that No_Mind gave to Dhamma Wheel here...
No_Mind wrote:To make DW more Buddhist it has to be more culture neutral. Buddhists and Buddhist converts from across the world are not going to subscribe to California school of Buddhism (by which I mean "post modern Western political and social correctness meets cherry picked Dhamma school of Buddhism"
Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

SarathW
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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by SarathW » Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:11 pm

To hear it happens in California though, is no surprise at all.
This is why I always oppose to people who are fighting to combat individual discrimination.
(women rights. LGBT, racial) etc.
When we fight like that we may win the battle but we might lose the war.
We have to fight the discrimination the way Buddha fight it as a whole.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by SarathW » Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:14 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 2:08 pm
I think it has to do with the western understanding of freedom which radically differs from the freedom gained by practicing Buddhism.
I have seen this is a big problem even for the Western Buddhist converts.
They interpret Buddhism in light of their old belief system.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:17 pm

Greetings,
SarathW wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:11 pm
To hear it happens in California though, is no surprise at all.
This is why I always oppose to people who are fighting to combat individual discrimination.
(women rights. LGBT, racial) etc.
When we fight like that we may win the battle but we might lose the war.
We have to fight the discrimination the way Buddha fight it as a whole.
...
They interpret Buddhism in light of their old belief system.
I agree with you Sarath, and it is always pleasing for me personally to see those whose responses to social issues are influenced by the Dhamma, in contrast to those whose Dhamma is influenced by their responses to social issues.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by dharmacorps » Thu Jan 04, 2018 1:56 am

SarathW wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:26 pm
"white people" are formally asked to give up their seats to "people of color".
Isn't this racism?
I personally just say they are not dhamma because getting involved in the "R word" with people like this is fruitless. This is the dangerous place where "Buddhism" has become something else, its not dhamma, its far-left wing activism cloaked in spirituality.

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Re: Why so few Western Buddhists?

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Jan 04, 2018 1:57 am

Greetings,
dharmacorps wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 1:56 am
This is the dangerous place where "Buddhism" has become something else, its not dhamma, its far-left wing activism cloaked in spirituality.
:goodpost:

:buddha1:

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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