Today’s post is a continuation of this post (click here to read).
I think many would agree with me that words/labels/symbols are limited in their reach but still necessary to navigate this samsara that we find ourselves within. Yet descriptors can sometimes help us understand each other and therefore increase our realization of the Oneness of Consciousness. It is within those parameters that I return to one of my favorite topics, the controversial subject of Western Buddhism.
I am distancing myself from the term Western Buddhism that I’ve been using on this blog because it is too limiting and unwieldy.
I tend to agree with the position that Western Buddhism is not establishing a totally new and unique branch of Buddhism. It could still happen at some point down the road in the evolution of time and space but for right now It is still very debatable and blurry.
At this point the way I would define the term “Western Buddhism” to simply mean that a western Buddhist’s perspective toward the Dharma might be a little different then a traditional Asian Buddhist cultural view. Both are beautiful and to be respected but they differ because of slight cultural differences. It’s like speaking two slightly different languages such as French versus Italian, many of the words are quite similar and sentence structures are somewhat similar as well. Doesn’t make one better or worse but just a different variation of the system of tonal symbols that we use to communicate ideas and concepts that enable us to grow and succeed as a global community.
Another example could be shown via the prism. It is generally known that a prism refracts the light of the sun into the varied colors of the rainbow. Each one is vivid, bright and beautiful. We can see that they each add something slightly different to the stunning and blissful tapestry of color than the rest and we wouldn’t say that red is better than green as they are both equally brilliant.
Well the different cultures that influence the tableau of Buddhist schools are like these different colors. These diverse cultures have various characteristics that can’t help but slightly influence Buddhism. However, despite these varied cultural aspects, Buddhists across this diverse planet Earth are interconnected and blended together by the strong bonds of the Four Noble Truths and the Eight-Fold Path. The inter-locking connectors of impermanence, inter-being and no self strengthen the bond. And the five precepts act as another bridge between cultures although some cultures might disagree as to the particulars of certain precepts but that is a post for another time.
So It is with all that in mind why I find it more accurate to say that I am a Zen Buddhist with a western influence, rather than using the cumbersome, amorphous, vague moniker of Western Buddhism. Especially since this theory that Western Buddhism is a totally new and unique branch of Buddhism is still very debatable and blurry right now.