Why Buddhism? - Now with a year’s subscription to Tricycle
Interested in earning a year’s subscription to Tricycle Magazine?- one of the preeminent Buddhist publications in the English speaking world.
Our current community topic is simply ‘Why Buddhism’, we are interested in your origin story, what brought you to Buddhism, why, and even how.
We are granting a year’s subscription to Tricycle to one entrant in our ‘Why Buddhism’ discussion. To be eligible, simply:
1. Reblog THIS post
2. Post your entry for the ‘Why Buddhism’ topic - there is no required length, depth, or format.
Spring has formally begun, and every culture that experiences the season has associated it with renewal, beginnings, and growth.
Beginning in April and through-out the month of May, the topic of discussion for ‘So Here We Are' will be 'Why Buddhism'. We are interested in discussing how it is you came to Buddhism, why you came to Buddhism, and the experiences that brought you to Buddhism- and associated practices (meditation, mindfulness, etc).
We will also be posting general open-ended topics in the So Here We Are feed with answers enabled for direct participation, and you are welcome to further the dialogue in the comments section.
Buddhism Is Always “Engaged”
A Buddhist leader on social media posted the question,
What is the difference between engaged Buddhism and politicized Dharma?
I prepared my answer like this:
“I’d like to suggest to practice helping out other beings with compassion at the forefront of our minds. By practicing that way, we attain a non-discriminating view, and the labels of whether or not it is politicized dissolve.
Personally, I think Buddhism already has embedded in it an “engaged” aspect. The only problem is when people in the West think of Buddhism, they automatically think of meditation and philosophical treatises about human nature. However, in practice this is not the case. Around the world, meditation and philosophical discussions are generally understood by the laity to be the technical practices of the monks.
I think people in the West often take an overly intellectual interest in Buddhism and overlook the other practical aspects of Buddhism, namely that of compassion.
For example, “Right Effort” is to me that aspect of “engaged Buddhism”. It is not enough to abstain from doing bad things (e.g., stealing, killing, intoxicating oneself, misusing sexuality, etc.), but to actively do good things. Sometimes, our understanding of how we can help others can’t help but to become politicized—whether it is the pursuit of a clean environment, stopping the killing of endangered species, or finding better ways of living for those with less.
But to me it seems that as long as one remembers to do such actions for others and with compassion in mind, it doesn’t matter what other people call it. What matters is getting it done.
However, personally I would frown upon religious organizations becoming overly involved with a particular political party, promoting political views during services, contributing lay funds to parties instead of charities, etc. [That I would consider politicized Dharma].”
Thank you for asking this wonderful question.
An Introduction to Buddhist Scriptures
What follows is a brief attempt to introduce Buddhist scriptures, the concepts covered by them, and their impact and immediacy to the different schools of Buddhism.
There has long been a lack of textual analysis in Western Buddhism. The relationship that Buddhism has to it’s own sacred texts marks a sharp contrast from the way that the Abrahamic religions orient themselves to their respective sacred texts. The scriptures of Buddhism themselves are not considered to be divinely inspired for pronounced; instead they are seen as the teachings or revelations of the Buddha1. In a Buddhist perspective this establishes the body of Buddhist texts to be ‘more truthful’ than the sacred scriptures of other religions; these texts are not divinely inspired they are instead the utterances of the World Honored one, the Tathagata - the one person in all of humanity that so clearly saw to the heart of all understanding, not compromised by adherence to a specific dogma or the presumptions of existing spiritual traditions. This is obviously conditional on one’s personal theological and philosophical perspectives.
Buddhism originated as an oral tradition- the canon of Buddhism wasn’t organized until well after the Buddha’s parinirvana. This occurred during the First and Fourth Buddhist councils. The First organized and established the teachings as oral traditions which were then entrusted to the participants that organized the council and passed down in their own sanghas and schools. The Fourth Buddhist council marks the first known occurrence we have of the teachings of the Buddha being formally commited to text. There were great famines raging in Sri Lanka at the time and they decided to commit the cannon to text so that it wasn’t so reliant upon the life and teachings of the specific individuals and lineages entrusted with those specific teachings.
Even more after the jump!
I had originally intended this as a ‘So Here We Are' feature.
American Buddhism Through an Asian American Lens
Hello girls and guys!
As I was surfing through the interweb, I came across a good Buddhist blog called Angry Asian Buddhist. I highly recommend it!
This blog discusses a variety of topics about Buddhism in America through the Asian American experience and history—one that is often ignored when analyzing American Buddhism. That is unfortunate, because it’s a huge part of the diverse religious fabric of the United States.
Even if you are not Asian American yourself, listening to and understanding the perspectives of Asian American Buddhists allows us to become more tactful about other people’s religion and cultures and to understand Buddhism as practiced in its many different forms. Why not listen to what the Cambodian Theravada Buddhist community has to say? Or the input from the Vietnamese Pure Land Buddhist community? What do Asian Americans have to say about the tendency to “strip Buddhism of its Asian features”? Or to turn religious practices like Zen meditation into a commodity?
Even if anger is not a virtue in Buddhism, there are many reasons why people might be rightly frustrated. There’s much more to Buddhism than you might think!
I encourage all of my dear followers to broaden our perspectives.
Much love to you all.