Monday, March 13, 2006

“I Take Refuge in the…”

Or, “American Zen: Refuge for the Passive?”

When discussing Buddhism with Christians and other folks that are not familiar with the Dharma, I sometimes hear the criticism that Buddhism is passive, allowing practitioners to avoid responsibility for their lives, by saying things like, “it is what it is, and I accept it.”

I usually respond that this perspective is a misunderstanding of the Dharma, and Buddhism is actually a philosophy of action, requiring the practitioner to fully embrace and take responsibility not only for his or her own circumstance, but for everything that is experienced.

At least that’s the way I see it.

Or is American Buddhism different? Has it evolved into something uniquely American, like MTV, pop music, diet pills, and video on demand, with practitioners shopping for instant gratification of the senses through the latest pop Zen book or the latest blog that entertains and titillates?

Has American Buddhism become another form of American consumerism?


At March 13, 2006, Blogger cromanyak said...

I can't see how anyone who's actually tried doing zazen for an extended period of time could see it that way, and I don't see the majority of teachers sending out the message that Zen it easy. If anything it's the exact opposite.

At March 14, 2006, Blogger Jinzang said...

People who say things like this are looking for an argument. Instead of giving them one, why not just say okay?

At March 16, 2006, Blogger rot-13 said...

Anatman, I've been a little confused by your question. Are you asking about personal passivity, or social?

'Cause on a personal scale, Buddhism is the prime "Suck it up, gotta get there by your own damned self" religion, thus not passive at all. But socially, Buddhism was dead flat freakin' completely inactive throughout its history, until contact with Christianity.

At March 17, 2006, Blogger Anatman said...

Hey rot-13, I was just flapping my mouth, trying to quickly create some small talk. I'm glad we have more thoughtful topics to discuss!


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