Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Why are the Chinese Buddhists and rest of Asians ignored by Western Buddhists ... or are they??

In response to Flower Ornament Depository blog post:  Why is Tibetan Buddhism more poplular?
5 weeks ago the blog showed up in my feed today when I looked through my subscribed blogs.

In the comments I wrote this edited less 2,900 words that originally written: 

I'm a mid-western woman and a Chinese Buddhist bhikshuni.  I do believe your article not based on realistic numbers or any numbers as you stated in the first paragraph.
I do not see what you are claiming.  Just because something is marketed in Shambala Sun, Tricylce, and Buddhadharma does not make it as well-known as you claim.  TB Westerners are really good business people.  It is remarkable how ad orentated these rags are, little content in them.
I do not agree with you.  Chinese Buddhism is about 160 years old in the USA and came with the Chinese immigrants working on the USA railroads.  TB is relatively new since the rush of English print books in the mid-90s only featured Japanese Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism by said rags. 
Why we are not seen, maybe we are not desirable maybe not as marketable. US Media and religious organizations claiming diversity does not include us in all its so-called coverage of religion. It is because somehow Western people lump Chinese Buddhism as part of the hated-CC; we are to be hated for a government we are not a part of overseas and never were.  Chinese does not equal Commies.  But somehow that get played up in the politics of those engaging in persecution of one ethnic group that followed Buddhism for centuries. Our order survives because we understand Buddhist culture, endure to save it, uphold our precepts, struggle for time to cultivate and study on our own.  We have always mixed different Buddhist traditions in our temples, all forms. Most western people don’t realize that, if they did take the time to really understand Buddhist culture from a Sangha member’s view then they would really treasure their time in temples everywhere.
Real advanced TB practice requires fluent Tibetan, high level of reading skills in Tibetan Sanskrit, and great deal of time and patience waiting so you can gain access to a highly achieved master who can actually teach you well.  These masters are in demand and do not have time to dummy down for those too lazy to do this.  Most of the TB monks and very few of the TB nuns have any degree of traditional TB monastic education; mostly they are rim sitters which is sad for they cannot attain much levels at all.  Lots of this has to do with lack of language ability, for you can’t train if you can’t understand.  Interpreters cannot give you the details, they are too pressed for time. I’m fluent in Chinese so I know this first hand, at dharma talks you must be able to understand the high level masters very detailed instructions or you gain nothing.
Tolerance of other cultures should be given to understand how to excel in your Buddhist practice. It is not fair to say our Chinese Buddhist communities demand conformity from Western people, they do not.  They say over and over again, we do not want you to think we want you to be Chinese when you come into our temple we want you to be who you are, American.  Every temple says this even FGS, DDM, CTTB.  They have all races and all countries people in their communities, fully accepted and fully ordained. 
Realize there are Korean, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Thai, Burmese, and many more including Japanese (non Vinaya); there are new movements too here in the USA that are all colors of people.  The white elite it seems that is who you talk about most, I think maybe so; is such a small number as not to matter in the data about Buddhism here in the USA.  In all these temples from all these countries there are Americans who take refuge, a few ordain and you got way more than that 12 that you say you eyeballed when you visited 2 places.  Please let me know if you want to visit more diverse places now, I’ll send a recommendation for you ahead of your visit. I say start with CTTB and then visit Thich Nhat Hahn’s group in Deer Park.

1 comment:

  1. On the statistics for the numbers of Buddhism in the USA:

    On the statistics for the numbers of Buddhism in Taiwan (more interesting than you might think):


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