Buddhism, pop-culture, and the homogenization of the Dharma

Presented as part of a panel on Shin Buddhism in the west at the XIV Biennial meeting of the International Association of Shin Buddhist Studies, this paper is a more reasoned, researched, and well-articulated version of some themes with which my long-time readers will be familiar: Orientalism, the dumbing-down of Buddhism, and the politics of representation.

coming out buddhist research project

It seems to me that there may be something to this, that there may be something worth exploring further, of focusing my academic skills on, in this little post. So, over the next few months (in my “free time”) I’m going to be doing some research on the subject. And that’s where you come in.

x Buddhism

As you may or may not be aware, over the past week or so, here and in other places there’s been a long and sometimes helpful, sometimes not helpful, conversation about what to call Buddhists in these parts. Western Buddhists? American Buddhists? Convert? Asian? What? And buried in the middle of Arunlikahit’s post was something I think deserves far more attention than it received.

still rabble rousing after all these years

I read an interesting opinion piece in the paper this morning about Supreme Court-nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s supposedly racist comments. The issue of race comes up not infrequently in the continuing, and to some belabored, conversation about Asian-American Western Buddhists and non-Asian-American Western Buddhists. It came up over the weekend thanks to the Angry Asian Buddhist, and in the comments thread you can see a number of folks suggest that it’s time to move the hell on from this conversation.

I’m not letting it go. I’m not letting it go for the following reason: ignoring this conversation or wishing it away is actually dangerous to the future of the Buddha Dharma in these United States.