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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Western Buddhist Culture

One of the great things that I find about Buddhism is how the common thread of peace, truth and liberation of mind are present in all forms of Buddhism. Vajrayana(Tibetan being one example), Theravada, Mahayana(Zen being one example) are the 3 major schools, though there are many others. The basic principles are the most important thing, that the core teachings to do not change. It does not matter what coat of tradition you flavor it with, in fact, over the centuries, Buddhism has worked its way into the lifestyle of the culture where it sits and does not become the culture.

Its like flavoring water I think. You can have lemon water, coffee, Tea, tonic water or anything in between. As long as the at the basic level, water is the key ingredient and is not diluted too much, we have no problem. I study and follow a Soto Zen tradition, which has taken a most definite Western flare here in the States. However, I see it difficult for many western people to get past the traditions and hang-ups on conceived ideas about bald monks bowing to golden Buddha statues. This is why I think it is important, that we as Westerners find our own path. It is a great opportunity we have to build something new, that threads through the fabric of our culture, much like a yellow string sewn into a black shirt.

Here in America, especially, the teachings of Anatta(emptiness of self) are extremely difficult for many to understand. Where we raise our children based on pride and self worth, breaking down the illusion of self is much more difficult than in many Asian cultures where ego is not as ever present. We drive our big trucks, climb the corporate ladder and revel in our pride. This is obviously a generalization, relative to all other things, but if we can find a new way, using the strengths of what we do have, conceptual understanding and breaking things down to see how they work, maybe we can break through the ignorance of ego......slowly.

My 7 year old son saw the Dalai Lama on the TV a few days ago, pointed at him then pointed at me. I said to him, "He is a Buddhist man, Tibetan, but he is me and you as well. Zen and Tibet, same thing, just different flavor of man" To which he quickly replied, "No! TV! Turn to Blue's Clues!."


Blogger shyloh said...

Ha cute!

9:38 AM  

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