Some random, but no less important, digest-y thoughts for the waning half of January.
Over the past few months, in several places and conversations online (not to mention several places out here in the real world over the last few decades), I’ve come across stories of seemingly well-intentioned young “Westerners” (i.e., white folks) who have gotten discouraged because some Asian Buddhist teacher has failed to allow him or her entrance into the “true path.” I’ve seen a stream of references to instances where white folks were “shut out” of Asian Buddhist communities. Or something. Often, these stories are used to counter the arguments of folks like myself who like to point out that, yes Virginia, there is (white) racism in American Buddhism.
Something about this line of reasoning really bugs me.
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.
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.
The new episode of the DharmaRealm is up (go listen! now!) in which we talk about American Shin Buddhist practice. One of the things we recognize is that the BCA is very much “family Buddhism.” This is a double-edged sword, of course. One the one hand, it acknowledges that people have families, they have kids and jobs and lives, and it can be very difficult to practice Buddhism. So the BCA creates a space that is extremely open and welcoming to anyone complete with Dharma Schools for the kids. But this can also be really difficult for the solitary practitioner. It can be hard to find your place in a century-old community where there are long-standing family networks if you yourself don’t have a family or pre-exisiting ties. It’s a real problem, and Harry and I certainly don’t solve the issue in this one episode, but I was excited to have a chance to talk about it regardless.
How to tell your family you are Buddhist.
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!