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Archive for October, 2008

A little over a month ago, I got an email from Kusala Bhikshu’s Urban Dharma devoted to an article by Bhikkhu Bodhi titled: How will the Sangha fare in North American Buddhism? (You can also link via Abhayagiri.) Now after tearing through a backlog of work and mending a dislocated elbow, here are my thoughts.

First off, I really appreciate Bhikkhu Bodhi’s article because he raises questions that really do need to be addressed, and he did so very respectfully. He asks the question, Are there forces at work that might actually undermine the survival of Buddhist monasticism? While he characterized different approaches and responses as either conservative or liberal, he emphasized that he was not taking a stand with one camp or another.

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As I find myself swimming from interview to interview, I figured others might be interested in this little piece of advice I got a couple weeks ago. My phone rang as I was driving over to a job interview across town, and it was my friend R on the line. He told me, “You’ve got to do metta.”

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Raise the roof!

Buddhism is filled with a wonderful lyricism stretching all the way back from it’s oral tradition to it’s more modern expressions. The following are just some modes of expression I found interesting in these last few months. Disclaimer: this is in no way meant to be complete or representative.

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Incense at Tien Hau Temple (NYTimes)

First thing in my mailbox this morning was an email from my father about the New York Time’s article In Buddha’s Path on the Streets of San Francisco. The article begins with the oldest Buddhist temple, Tien Hau Temple, and moves its way through the Buddhist Church of San Francisco down to modern institutions which are more famous across the Buddhist community: City Lights Books, the San Francisco Zen Center and the Buddhist Peace Fellowship.

From my past writing, you might imagine that I finished this article with a page full of criticism already set to spew forth. Well, last night I was watching Tavis Smiley, and he mentioned something along the lines of this: he has such low expectations for the accuracy of the mainstream media, that he’s thankful when they even put out an inch of the truth. I had to agree.

This article is for non-Buddhists. While I disagree with certain aspects of the content and presentation, this article still does more good than harm, especially for someone who knows nothing about Buddhism. If this article becomes someone’s first step towards the Buddha Dharma, they’ll probably be interested in learning more. For that I am indeed thankful.

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The racially homogenous staff of Shambhala Sun.

In the past I’ve harped about Buddhist publications, and I’ve mostly opined about Tricycle because it has a popular blog. (The blog makes it an easy target.) In all honesty, I don’t hate Tricycle (or its blog) or Shambhala Sun or Buddhadharma. I think these are great magazines, but they could be even better. One point that I’ve been derisively hammering these past few months is that mainstream Buddhist media don’t properly reflect the Buddhist community. For one, they are overwhelmingly white.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with being white. There are plenty of whites in the Buddhist community, and if you believe the Pew Survey, then whites even make up the majority of American Buddhists. That said, the Buddhist community has a large number of Asians — certainly many more than are exhibited on the staffs of magazines such as Tricycle and Shambhala. Why are there no Asians? (more…)

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I came across the murky but fascinating idea on Wikipedia, and it goes a little something like this: just as we got Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit when Classical Sanskrit was affected by Prakrit vocabulary and grammar, and we got Buddhist Hybrid Chinese when Classical Chinese was affected by the former, the language of English Buddhist Literature is new and different because it tries to convey the concepts in Buddhist canonical languages using English language structures.

Presenting: Buddhist Hybrid English.

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