If I know you as well as I think I do, my dear readers, I know how much you like statistics. (Okay, thatâ€™s my silly attempt at sarcasm. I know that not many of you like statistics, so Iâ€™ll do my best to jump over them and get to the point as quickly as possible.)
I just read this little nugget of made-up wisdom over on the Tricycle blog: Buddhism is Franceâ€™s 3rd-largest religion, according to Wikipedia.
The ever-clever (and able to hold her liquor) SJ commented on my last post asking, I think, for a rant about archaism and oppression masquerading as tradition. And post-colonialism. Dear me. That’s a lot. But I’m always up for a challenge!
Something buried in this post â€” this delightful, insightful, post-colonial critique-ful post â€” by Arunlikhati (of course) caught my eye. â€œDharmic evolution.â€
Iâ€™m going to say it. Evolution has nothing to do with the Dharma.
Now look. I love evolution as much as the next guy. In fact, Iâ€™m a big fan of science in general. I mean, how can you not like science? Itâ€™s given us USB flash drives, penicillin, and the new Star Trek movie. Câ€™mon. How cool is that? But the theory of evolution cannot be applied to human culture, society, or religion. It just canâ€™t.
What would be really interesting, of course, would be something bringing these elements together. What would be really cool would be someone making music that brings together the best of both worlds. Which, of course, isnâ€™t a radically new idea, and I think you could make a case for Ravenna Michalsenâ€™s music being a representative example of such blending of traditions â€” hers is, essentially, devotional music directed toward her teacher, the Buddha, and the Dharma, but arranged in the Western musical tradition.
I thought I’d revisit an article (and my response to it) by Clark Strand on American Buddhism, raising Buddhist children, and other sticky issues like baby boomers and white folk. Being a big believer in allowing one’s opinions to grown, mature, and even change over time, I thought I’d reassess my position and see if my own opinion had done just that.
Over the past couple of months, both online and in the real-world, the issue of identity has come up in a number conversations I’ve had. A recurring theme has been the explicit rejection of identity as a meaningful category or, more plainly, the assertion that folks don’t want to claim an identity or “don’t want to be defined” as one thing or another.
The notion of identity and the related but different “subjectivity” in social theory is a given, so this attitude surprised me. Which, of course, is a sure sign that even I can get a little myopic out here in the academic hinterlands.
So I thought I’d write about it, organize my thoughts, and make a case for not only the reality of your identity but its relevance to Buddhist practice.