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Thread: Will Buddhism experience a 'boom'?

  1. #1
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Will Buddhism experience a 'boom'?

    It could..and here's why I think it will...

    Married clergy and the increase in 'lay teachers'.

    We're in a weird time. Westerners are in a unique position to be both dedicated practitioners and sangha members while also being able to dedicate themselves to job and family. I know, this has been noted before, and Jundo's 'Protestant Minister' ideal seems to be a pretty good idea. Celibacy and the monastic system by necessity have carried us very far - a system of clergy to carry on the core of the practice has been beneficial in carrying the tradition forward for thousands of years. And yet... this model does not seem perfectly poised in a modern age.

    My own situation is unique, but I've been studying it for awhile and have come to the conclusion that my 'three days work, four days off' situation has allowed me much time to develop my practice. I've mostly been neglecting that practice, but the opportunity is there! We are no longer agrarian farmers or industrial workers who have had to decide how best to partition our time. Our consumerist society by design must include enough 'free time' to dedicate to .... well, so far - consumption. But that consumptive time - those minute-acres of time-space - need not be dedicated to buying time-consumptive 'widgets' which we must maintain and perpetuate.

    I think that the Japanese Soto model of married clergy definitely translates, with some modernizing, into a period where there can be a real boom in Buddhist practice in the West. Protestant ministers and the whole protestant system has never had much of, if any, meditative tradition. In fact, even Catholicism has, until recently, abandoned it's meditative tradition and is only now re-introducing the idea to a skeptical mass of believers. Zen has never abandoned this tradition - in fact, it is the core of the practice - as Will continually drives home (thanks, Will!). Mature consumptive societies like those in the west feel increasingly disconnected and 'un-communitied'. The dissatisfaction of consumerism is starting to wear on many of us.

    The key is keeping the 'core' of the practice while also adapting it to a modern society - and bringing that core to our consumptive society may well be seen as 'useful' to a skeptical, dissatisfied, disconnected, and disenchanted population. Monotheistic mythology-based religions are in crisis - agrarian myths just don't hold up to modern scrutiny. 'Tribal' 'us vs. them' theologies are hard to maintain in light of our modern world.

    Zen has very little of that baggage.

    Discuss (or don't).

    Chet

  2. #2

    Re: Will Buddhism experience a 'boom'?

    Hi.

    Not to forget it's in the "now", with "Outcroppings" like mindfulness and such...

    But the "real" question is "what is "Buddhism""?
    What defines it and so forth...
    How much can you strip away before it's not "Buddhism" anymore?

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  3. #3
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Will Buddhism experience a 'boom'?

    I don't think it's a matter of 'stripping away'. The example of married clergy already exists in Japanese Zen. My point is simply that more now than ever, Zen is a path that many people in the west are finding applicable to their situations.

    Chet

  4. #4

    Re: Will Buddhism experience a 'boom'?

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Mature consumptive societies like those in the west feel increasingly disconnected and 'un-communitied'. The dissatisfaction of consumerism is starting to wear on many of us.
    I think you are right that there are people in the West who are feeling this and turning to something else to find relief. I'm not convinced, however, that there are enough of these people percentage-wise to ever stem the tide of consumption.
    I'm probably too much of a skeptic here.

    --Bill

  5. #5
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Will Buddhism experience a 'boom'?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eika
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Mature consumptive societies like those in the west feel increasingly disconnected and 'un-communitied'. The dissatisfaction of consumerism is starting to wear on many of us.
    I think you are right that there are people in the West who are feeling this and turning to something else to find relief. I'm not convinced, however, that there are enough of these people percentage-wise to ever stem the tide of consumption.
    I'm probably too much of a skeptic here.

    --Bill
    Consumerism in and of itself isn't inherently 'bad' - it's just a shitty way to try to experience satisfaction of any sort. Not that Zen is a path to satisfaction...but it offers a different perspective that negates, in some ways, the drive for satisfaction.

    IMHO

    Chet

  6. #6
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Will Buddhism experience a 'boom'?

    If you count the new age buddhism-lite version then it already is booming somewhat. But isn't that the sort of self-ish zen you don't care for, Chet? So you think a more "faithful" version might boom? I hope so, and I hope you are right, but I am also a skeptic about it.

  7. #7
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Will Buddhism experience a 'boom'?

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    If you count the new age buddhism-lite version then it already is booming somewhat. But isn't that the sort of self-ish zen you don't care for, Chet? So you think a more "faithful" version might boom? I hope so, and I hope you are right, but I am also a skeptic about it.
    I think that a more 'faithful' version may indeed boom. Self-oriented pseudo-Buddhism will lead to the same frustrations as consumerism, IMHO.

    Chet

  8. #8

    Re: Will Buddhism experience a 'boom'?

    I would like to make a couple of points. Even though our time can be devoted to Zen practice, we still devote part of that time to work, whether great practitioner or not. Work and life is part of practice. It is not only on Sundays.

    Also, I refrain from generalizations (Although sometimes useful) because things are not always so. The topic didn't state "Western" boom, so from many angles we can look at this situation. I can't presume much if anything about studying in Western countries because I have lived in China for over 7 years (and I don't presume much about that either).

    Mature consumptive societies like those in the west feel increasingly disconnected and 'un-communitied'.
    Perhaps. I lived in Canada which is not the same as America, as you may know. But it is considered a "Western country" and has close relations to it's neighbor. I don't see the "disconnection". My whole life in Canada I had friends and groups of friends.We didn't necessarily get together on Sunday to go to church, but we had our gatherings ie. Going to a band, playing music, going to see a movie, going skating, having tea, going for coffee, discussing books, philosophy, life and so on. "Close friends" a "group of friends". It's not exactly church or congregation, but it is not "disconnected".


    Gassho

    W

  9. #9

    Re: Will Buddhism experience a 'boom'?

    If it does experience a 'boom' it will also experience a 'bust'

  10. #10

    Re: Will Buddhism experience a 'boom'?

    Hi Chet,

    I'm not sure whether (Zen) Buddhism will "boom" more in the future than it does right now, nor if that's even desirable. I've no doubt of its potential to liberate sentient beings, but I think the masses may either get too caught up in bubble-gum (i.e. superficial, feel-good, consumption oriented) Buddhism or chase their tails to the point of utter exhaustion (i.e. by succumbing to an endless search for the "ultimate" enlightenment experience) before they're able to realize that potential in themselves. For those who do manage to avoid those pitfalls, they may not be able to appreciate the tasteless taste of Zen which is left once the bubble-gum loses its flavor or the head rush subsides. Which is, of course, a crying shame, since that is just the point where the real beauty of our Practice becomes apparent.

    Gassho
    Bansho

  11. #11
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Will Buddhism experience a 'boom'?

    Will:

    Yes. Work and the rest of our life is part of practice!

    As for the disconnection of Western life, in my own experience - it has often taken place in my late 20s and 30s. High School and college provide many social connection opportunities. They often seem to drop off shortly after that. I know many single or divorced 30-somethings that are struggling to make a connection beyond the eating and shitting machines that are their children. Many of us turn to consumerism to fill the void or even use consumption as a hub for socializing. Luckily where I am from, we have a robust tavern culture. Sure, you pay for the beer, but the rest of the experience is free. Still...in some areas of the country, disconnection is the NORM (LA comes to mind).

    The Internet and popular culture in general have helped isolate us too. Most of my current friends are people I have met (sometimes only known through) the net.

    My point is that 'satisfaction through consumption' is a hard ethos to maintain when someone is sufficiently wealthy. When someone has attained a measure of affluence and still feels vastly unsatisfied, one begins to suspect that the ethos ain't working. I think this is why Buddhism has taken the form it has in America and the West, as well as the reason that Buddhism has mostly appealed to the relatively well-off here. It may be harder for the working poor to see that more wealth will not solve all their problems.


    Chet

  12. #12

    Re: Will Buddhism experience a 'boom'?

    Hi,

    I was reading a description of the Age of Degenerative Law (mappo). It's the age "in which a great number of sensitive minds turned first from the secular world to established Buddhism, and then turned, in despair and alienation, from religion to a retreat from everything to a quiet pursuit of their personal predilections..." (in Eihei Dogen Mystical Realist, Hee-Jin Kim).

    I guess that some/many of us could be described as "sensitive minds turned... from the secular world to established Buddhism". That sounds like a good place to sit, before sliding into the despair and alienation of "personal predilections" (whatever they may be: hobbies? golf? the internet? :roll: )

    Just by the way, "mappo" is the third of the three ages of Buddhism. The first is "shobo" which is, I assume, where the title "Shobogenzo" comes from. Perhaps someone could compile a Mappogenzo to guide us through this particular age.

    gassho,

    JohnH

  13. #13

    Re: Will Buddhism experience a 'boom'?

    My point is that 'satisfaction through consumption' is a hard ethos to maintain when someone is sufficiently wealthy. When someone has attained a measure of affluence and still feels vastly unsatisfied, one begins to suspect that the ethos ain't working. I think this is why Buddhism has taken the form it has in America and the West, as well as the reason that Buddhism has mostly appealed to the relatively well-off here. It may be harder for the working poor to see that more wealth will not solve all their problems.
    Yes and no. It depends on our upbringing and the influences/experiences that guide us, but I do see what your saying. Maybe boom, maybe not Maybe more Yoga.

    Gassho

  14. #14
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Will Buddhism experience a 'boom'?

    Are we in the third age? How can we tell?

    There's a danger of Buddhism falling into torpor and disrepair. Look at Christianity - it's success has lead to ossification followed by one harebrained post-reformation resurgence after another.

    But this needn't be the fate if Zen, as long as it does not spurn sitting practice for mere ritual. Luckily, our recent Asian founders mostly put us right as far as that goes...no matter how damned hard we work to misunderstand it.

    Chet

  15. #15

    Re: Will Buddhism experience a 'boom'?

    hi chet:

    here you can see some briefly description about Mappo and three age of buddhism, but dont worry. buddha already know that and will take care of that. When dharma are complete disappear. Maitreya will reborn to teach the pure dharma to secular beings.

    gassho, tony yeung

    P.S. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mapp%C5%8D

  16. #16
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Will Buddhism experience a 'boom'?

    I'll read that when I get back on my Mac, but I'm not so sure that the Dharma is in descent. I'm also not counting on a new Buddha to reinvigorate the Dharma. Zen is very much a DIY sort of Buddhism, IMHO. The truth of reality is always with us - even teachers are just helpful tools - even Buddhas!

    Don't wait for the Buddha - be the Buddha!

    Chet

  17. #17

    Re: Will Buddhism experience a 'boom'?

    It seems to me that you've hit the nail on the head, Chet. As long as the emphasis is on zazen, it seems to me it'd hard to go too far wrong. So much of the ritual, tradition, etc, is there to give meaning to people in the times and places those practices came along, but they're not of primary importance.

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