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TOPIC: Buddhism as Western Romaticism

Buddhism as Western Romaticism 06 May 2013 15:02 #11551

Could totally be my own projection. But I like the other story better :)

As for evolution and better than: X evolved from Y doesn't mean that X is better than Y it might mean that X depends on Y. The "better than" is something we add later. I don't know how much agreement there is among researchers and pundits in this field but I like this story as well. It shows a parallel between our evolution from child to adult and the evolution of human society as a whole. I like that kind of symmetry. It make for a useful map and I don't need it to be 100% accurate, 80% is good enough.
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Buddhism as Western Romaticism 08 May 2013 19:11 #11603

Buddhism's non-western roots and differences in the Western and Asian self-sense:

www.tricycle.com/blog/eastern-selfwestern-self

That's a thoughtful piece that explores how much we may not understand about Buddhism and its Asian roots, and how much that might play into what we do with Buddhism here.
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Buddhism as Western Romaticism 08 May 2013 19:55 #11609

Interesting read for sure. However, I'm not sure I get the author's point. Is she saying that the emphasis on meditation is supporting individualism?
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Buddhism as Western Romaticism 08 May 2013 20:02 #11610

I didn't get that out of the piece, Eran. I read it as saying that Westerners bring a social context to Buddhism that is based in individualism and Asians bring a social context to Buddhism that is based on being a part of something larger than one's self. It's cautionary as far as I can tell, in saying that we may not actually even understand Buddhism the way its originators do.
Last Edit: 08 May 2013 20:03 by Chris Marti.
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Buddhism as Western Romaticism 08 May 2013 20:09 #11611

Check out the comment by Dominic Gomez at the bottom of the article. My take on this tends toward what he points out.
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Buddhism as Western Romaticism 08 May 2013 20:19 #11612

Are you referring to his comments about the environment or about inside/outside?
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Buddhism as Western Romaticism 08 May 2013 20:33 #11615

" But it may be too simplistic to just place "East" and "West" labels on our respective ways of perceiving self and environment (or other), internal and external, subjective and objective, etc." - Dominic Gomez

And just who are "Asians" anyway - Indians, Tibetans, Chinese, Japanese, Indonesians...? These diverse peoples all have a same conception of self neatly demarcated from people in the west? Does a village girl in Greece have the same sense of self as a teenage girl growing up in Paris? Which brings to mind gender differences in self conceptions. This might be a more useful exercise if it was specifically contrasting say Chinese men and English men - I dunno, I have problems with these kinds of "sounds good" sweeping generalizations.
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Buddhism as Western Romaticism 08 May 2013 20:41 #11616

You also find differences within a "culture" - for example rural white farmers in New England are culturally different from rural white second-home-owning semi-retired bankers in New England.
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Buddhism as Western Romaticism 08 May 2013 20:44 #11618

Chris Marti wrote:
I didn't get that out of the piece, Eran. I read it as saying that Westerners bring a social context to Buddhism that is based in individualism and Asians bring a social context to Buddhism that is based on being a part of something larger than one's self. It's cautionary as far as I can tell, in saying that we may not actually even understand Buddhism the way its originators do.

I agree that we have different contexts and therefore understand the teachings differently, practice differently, etc. IMO that's a good reason for Buddhism to change as it comes into the West.

What I wasn't quite sure about is the irony the author refers to in the last graph:
Ironically, the very Buddhist teachings we are so concerned with transmitting to the West emphasize interdependence as the true nature of things. Seeing ourselves or the objects of our world as isolated or independent is considered ignorance according to the very teachings we are busily removing from their context and liberally putting into the service of Western individualism.

In what way is Western Buddhism promoting "Seeing ourselves or the objects of our world as isolated or independent"?
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Buddhism as Western Romaticism 08 May 2013 20:50 #11619

I think it means "Westerners" and not "Western Buddhists."

But I dunno. I didn't write the thing :huh:
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