As you may or may not be aware, over the past week or so, here and in other places thereâ€™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 Arunlikahitâ€™s post was something I think deserves far more attention than it received.
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.