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Buddhism in the News


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Generation X Inheriting American Buddhism.

PHOTO CREDIT: Buddha Statue in Thailand by chok photo
From, "The Buddhist Channel": Buddhism in America is at a crossroads. The best-known Buddhist leaders, mostly white converts who emerged from the counterculture and protest movements of the Vietnam era, are nearing retirement or dying. Charlotte Joko Beck, a pioneer of Zen practice in America, passed away in June.

The next generation of teachers is pushing in new directions, shaped by the do-it-yourself ethos of the Internet age and a desire to make Buddhism more accessible. Unsettled elders worry that the changes could go too far and lose touch with tradition.

James: I understand the concern of the elders, but I had to chuckle a bit at the irony of their concerns, considering one of the core teachings of Buddhism is that change is inevitable, even drastic change. Younger Buddhists might have tattoos and spend more time meeting up with other Buddhists online, but the core teachings remain fairly unchanged. It's not like the "Hippie Generation" that many elders of Buddhism in America today emerged from wasn't considered radical and perhaps even dangerous by some of their Asian teachers. Yet, the "Hippie Buddhists" didn't cause the downfall of Buddhism in America. So, if Buddhism in America could survive the "hippie generation's" experiments with the Dharma and sex, drugs and rock n' roll, then it can surely survive the Internet Age.

Monkhood is a timeless calling. So long as suffering endures, there will always be those who seek to relieve it by deepening their Dharma practice through monasticism, regardless of their generation's predilections. Karma has a pull that is stronger than the internet, and when a person is called to take up monasticism, no amount of change will stop them. When I look upon the monastics of my tradition, Zen as taught by Thich Nhat Hanh, I am inspired to see so many faces from my generation. And, with Buddhism growing in America, there are likely to be plenty of teachers to come. It's an exciting time, so rather than fear change, let us embrace it and learn to adapt that change for another generation of Buddhists on this marvelous planet.


~I bow to the Buddha within all beings in the Universe~

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Vajramate said...

Well put, James.
As an older person (Hoping to become an Elder), I find that when talking to young people wishing to explore Buddhism, they are keen to learn how to ensure the teachings are authentic, so in just that approach, the desire is there to preserve the Buddha's teachings

Anonymous said...

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Sarah Flood said...

Of course, in the true spirit of Buddhism, embracing impermanence and change, means embracing new mediums for the dharma to be shared and progressed. The West has, I'm sure, progressed Buddhism in ways previously thought impossible and no doubt new generations will take it in myriad directions.


Drosseldaisy said... the age of the media, internet and information flow that keep capturing our attention, I don't think the way we grasp and understand reality will change, but I do believe that learning buddha-teaching through internet will not replace the old way of learning it, but become a supplement to the new way of learning it. For example, the cinema still exists even though we can watch movies at home. MAny thought that the cinema was going to dissapear as soon as television made movie-watching possible...but no, they are enjoyable on their own terms without conquering eachother ...

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