Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Language’

Mental dump

Just got back off a five hour drive from San Francisco. Some thoughts…

Finally I understand why monks are supposed to sleep on low beds. I’ve been spending the last few nights with a quilt across two zabuton (and a pillow). As a result I would only lie down to sleep for the sake of sleep, not for any pleasure at all! (I still got good sleep.)

I love staying with family because I can waste five minutes of my day by gently taking an ant outside, and no one will question why, and no one makes me defend expending so much effort for the sake of a little ant.

Someone should install a traffic camera at the corner of Oak and Octavia. The city could make millions on those tickets. And maybe it would even be safer.

Much time with family also meant much time speaking our language! I think it’s definitely important to speak another language with family for at least the following reasons. [1] You can talk about people in the same room without them knowing. (“Don’t nag Mom right now, she’s having a bad day.”) [2] Language is like a cultural glue. If you have language, you have almost direct access to so many aspects of culture, from recipes to history to religion. If you try to study a culture without its language, learning about it is like crawling the net with a dial-up modem. [3] Language binds family at a very deep emotional level. You share a knowledge that no one else has. [4] Perhaps the most obvious reason: if you don’t speak it, your language just might die out.

Lastly, I just came across an article from Urban Dharma with the topic: How will the Sangha fare in North American Buddhism? More about this later. But first sleep, and I shall sleep for the joy of it too.

Read Full Post »

A teacher of mine once commented that Buddhism had no room for hope – and he grounded this accusation on the understanding that hope is wanting things to be different than they are, and that Buddhist practice is about accepting things as they are.

Explained in that way it seems reasonable enough, but something about adhering to a hopeless religion seems iffy, especially when Buddhism has so many things which look like hope, but my own misgivings were much more personal.

I remember that when I first heard that from my teacher I felt very disappointed, because I had adopted a language of hope. I hoped others had nice days, I hope that people got good restful nights of sleep, as well as excellent hockey tickets and doubles from vending machines. Most importantly though, I hoped that good things happened to others, because I desperately wanted to stop wishing people “good luck.”

(more…)

Read Full Post »

I don’t want to sound like the Angry Asian Man, but I’ve had a hard time finding articles about Asian American Buddhists.

This is one of the classic issues for Asian Americans. The underrepresented minority caught between two worlds. Asian Americans born and raised in North America must continually confront a mainstream perception that they aren’t American enough. At the same time, Asian Americans face pressures from both within and outside the Asian American community of not being Asian enough.

The real issue for young Buddhists in the Asian American community is that there are very few Buddhist communities that they can go to without having to suppress part of their identity. Culturally Asian temples emphasize language and culture, which can be really intimidating for Asian American youth who feel excessively high cultural expectations placed on them. There is probably no coincidence that the virtually all Asian American Buddhists who are active in their communities are also fluent in their parents’ native language and culture.

But on the other hand, culturally American Buddhist centers often feel impersonal when stripped of culturally Asian (but maybe spiritually-lite) practices. And it’s hard for these American centers to understand the perspective of young Asian Americans, who may be intimately familiar with Buddhist symbolism and ritual, but don’t know what it all stands for. An iconoclastic emphasis on philosophy often smacks of inauthenticity.

Then again, there are organizations like the BCA that have really, in my opinion, managed to forge a unique Asian American identity. But cultural divisions in the Asian American Buddhist community continue. BCA Youth are more likely to play basketball with Japanese Methodists than with GĐPT youth (who also have basketball teams).

So is there a place for Asian American Buddhists in today’s Buddhist community? Maybe this is why the Pew study said that 50% of Buddhists choose not to keep the faith…

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts