Over the last year or so I’ve made several minimalist changes to this blog, cutting out clutter. Lost in the shuffle have been long-winded explanations about me or the site that I thought would be self-evident or the type of thing that, if you were really curious, you’d just ask.
In case I donâ€™t have the chance to write anything profound and meaningful before the holiday (Iâ€™ve got quite a bit to do before Dana and I leave town for a week), I wanted to leave the year on a high note. There are, as always, a multitude of infuriating things in the news. And Iâ€™m all over the place on most of them. When faced with so many questions, when I find my mind wandering in different directions, unable to get settled, unable to express myself in a way that feels right, I am often overwhelmed with the beauty and simplicity that exists in the world all around me. I am overwhelmed, grounded, and humbled.
It might just be the Fugazi talking, and I don’t really know if these ideas are worth the digital ink I’ve spilled on them, but I think American Buddhist sanghas (of any variety) need to seriously think about how they’re planning on carrying the dharma into the next generation. And truly inclusive, community-based models of practice may be where it’s at.
When we say that we should spread the dharma in the West (or anywhere), exactly which dharma are we talking about? The dharma that says full awakening isn’t even possible in this lifetime but takes aeons of rebirths? The dharma that says awakening is a possibility, right here, right now, in this very body? The dharma that says not only is the Buddha’s teaching going to vanish from this world, but that it already has and the only hope any of us has for awakening is reliance on the Lotus Sutra?
Thereâ€™s a couple of things I want to talk about. I want to point them out free of last weekâ€™s debate. I want to avoid conversations about race or ethnicity or immigration or access to powerâ€¦. Oh, who am I kidding? I donâ€™t want to avoid those things! And I probably wonâ€™t!
The Institute of Buddhist Studies 2009 Winter Symposium is titled “The Great Sound of Enlightenment: Shin Buddhist Music Throughout the Ages.” The program will examine the use and meaning of music in Shin Buddhist services, including its origins, current practices and future possibilities.
I will be giving a talk on Shin Buddhism to the San Francisco Gay Menâ€™s Buddhist Sangha during their weekly â€œEvery Day Dharmaâ€ session.
It’s a quarter to nine in the morning. And I’m a little sleepy. And I’m liable to say some things in what follows that I might regret. Or at least will want to temper at some point when I’ve had a bit more coffee or settled down. So consider yourself warned.
Screw this whole academic thing. I wanna be a rock star. I should never have given up the drums!
The view from Berkeley, from Los Angeles, from Portland and Seattle, on the other hand, is completely different. San Francisco, after all, has the highest concentration of Chinese anywhere outside of China. The number of Japanese Buddhists in Hawaii is still large enough to make Buddhism the second largest religion on the islands. And the division between â€œtwo Buddhisms,â€ one white, one Asian, seems ludicrous because the communities are, and have been, so deeply interrelated since the foundation of the Buddhist Churches of America in 1899. American Buddhism necessarily includes Asians for those of us out here on the Left Coast. Itâ€™s a given.