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I am an American, and I am a Buddhist. This is our Western karma. Today I see a great need for us to be very forward rather than backward-looking in our approach to spirituality. To be torchbearers in a benighted and violent world we need to collaborate harmoniously, effectively, and with a spirit of mutual respect, genuine understanding, and openness. We need to keep to the high ground and remain honest, ethical, humane, and even lighthearted—not taking ourselves too seriously.

We need to be willing to go beyond routine thinking. There have been three waves of Buddhist transmission in the West represented by three generations of Dharma teachers. The first group were the Asian-born teachers, who were mainly traditional in their approach. They introduced meditation and related practices as well as personally instructing Western disciples, both in the West and in Asia.

The second wave was the generation of Western Buddhist teachers who trained under these teachers. Their task was to further translate the Buddhist words, concepts, and forms of practice for transmission to Western students in their own countries. Now beginning to emerge are the first generation of Dharma teachers who have trained solely in the West under the guidance of Western teachers. Some people from other cultures are proud that they have maintained much of their cultural identity; others have eagerly adapted and assimilated.

We are bringing about a synthesized or an amalgamated Dharma distilled from the best of what has been transmitted to us from the past and from Asia. Added into this Dharma mix is what is most useful from our own modern experience. It is one Dharma, one coherent liberating path to enlightenment. Protestantism altered Christianity without abandoning it; Reform Judaism loosened many of the restrictions of Orthodox Judaism while retaining the core of the Jewish tradition. Something similar is happening to the Buddha Dharma.

Answers: Discussions With Western Buddhists by Dalai Lama XIV

I think these are mainly positive developments, revitalizing Dharma with a fitting new Western design. One of the main tasks of contemporary Western teachers is to stabilize both the study and practice of Buddhist Dharma and to provide leadership in further integrating wholesome Dharma values, Buddhist lifestyles, and contemplative practices into the mainstream of our postmodern society.

We owe it to ourselves to carry on the Dharma in a sane way. We must keep the spirit, the very heart of the Dharma alive while not being afraid to let outmoded forms die and be reborn in accordance with current conditions. Each of us can give birth to a Buddha! For a number of years now, I have been observing religious trends and the transplantation of Asian Buddhism into the fertile fields of the Western world.

Speaking of the emerging Western Buddhism, there are many colorful, smaller threads woven into the larger tapestry. There seem to be groups variously emphasizing monastic Buddhism, lay Buddhism, ethnic Buddhism, meditation Buddhism, chanting Buddhism, ritualistic Buddhism and bare bones Buddhism; there is mystical Buddhism and practical Buddhism, academic Buddhism, therapeutic Buddhism, intellectual Buddhism, as well as anti-intellectual, no-mind Buddhism.

Some people are attracted to hermitage and retreat Buddhism, congregational Buddhism, socially engaged Buddhism, missionary Buddhism, health and healing oriented Buddhism, upper-middle path Buddhism, Jewish Buddhism, Christian Zen Buddhism, vegetarian Buddhism, pacificist Buddhism, tantric Crazy Wisdom Buddhism, Beat Buddhism, eclectic, New Age, and roll-your-own Buddhism, to name a few. This essence consists of living principles that cannot bear any specific formulation. In The Awakening of the West: Yet it can involve all these things.

Like him I know there is really no such thing as Buddhism; there are only Buddhists. When I speak of the ten trends in Western Buddhism, I therefore do so with certain reservations, not the least among them that I am primarily emphasizing meditation practice groups. Remember, these are emerging trends, and there is still a way to go to fulfill this vision. Meditation-based and Experientially Oriented As Westerners, we typically come to Buddhism for meditation and contemplation in an attempt to improve our quality of life. We want to bring more mindfulness to what we do. We are usually attracted to Buddhism not through academia but because we want personal transformation, direct religious experience, and we want to integrate wisdom, goodness, and compassion into our daily lives.

"Toward a Western Buddhism and Contemporary Dharma" by Lama Surya Das

The Dharma is not just something we believe in, but something we do. Lay-oriented Although there is certainly room for traditional monasticism—both short- and long-term—Buddhism in the West is obviously much more lay-oriented than it has been historically. Practitioners are now bringing personal issues of relationships, family, and work to the Dharma center in an effort to make more sense out of life. Gender Equal In an effort to go beyond traditional patriarchal structures and cultures, we have already made great strides in supporting women as well as men in teaching and leadership roles.

There are more and more women teachers, and they are providing some of the finest teaching.


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Gender equality remains an ideal, but one that seems reachable. We all—male and female—have an opportunity to refine our more feminine aspects and practice a Buddhism in which we keep the heart and mind balanced, respectful of both body and soul. We are trying to learn from the past so as not to unwittingly repeat the mistakes of others. Democratic and Egalitarian Western Buddhism needs to become Western wisdom.

As might be anticipated, it is evolving in a much less institutionalized, less hierarchichal, and more democratic fashion. Almost by definition, personal growth and the interests of the individual are going to be stressed more than institutional preservation and growth. Essentialized, Simplified, and Demystified For the most part, noticeably absent from Western Buddhism are the complex, esoteric rites and arcane rituals designed for initiates only.

Western teachers stress essence more than form, as well as teachings that are relevant for daily life. It is thus practical and this world oriented, rather than otherworldly and hermetic, with great emphasis on integrating Dharma practice via mindfulness and compassion into daily life.

Nonsectarian Most Westerners seem to have a true appreciation for many different meditation techniques and traditions. We have seen how politics, the quest for power, and sectarian bias have created chaos within various religious communities. We understand it is essential that we strive diligently not to fall into those same traps. As practitioners, we are generally interested in broadening and deepening our experience of the various different Buddhist spiritual practices.

I think it is safe to say that there is a true appreciation of the benefits of nonsectarianism, ecumenicism, and cross-fertilization. Is there a different way of practicing the Vinaya for someone who is in the Vajrayana tradition?


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  • How do we integrate our study and practice of Vinaya with our study and practice of the tantra? According to our tradition, we are monastics and are celibate, and we practice the Tantrayana simultaneously. But the way of practice is through visualization. For example, we visualize the consort, but we never touch. We never implement this in actual practice. Unless we have reached a stage where we have completely developed the power to control all our energy and have gained the correct understanding of sunya emptiness , reality , unless we truly possess all the faculties through which those negative emotions can be transformed into positive energy, we never implement practice with an actual consort.

    Although we practice all the higher practices, as far as implementation is concerned, we follow Vinaya. We never follow according to Tantrayana. In terms of actual practice, we have to follow the stricter discipline of Vinaya. In ancient India, one of the reasons for the degeneration of the Buddhadharma was the wrong implementation of certain tantric explanations. It is difficult to follow the Vinaya literally in all situations nowadays. Can adaptations be made to how we live it?

    H. H. the Dalai Lama answers questions

    Obviously, we must make every effort to follow the Vinaya teachings and precepts. Then in certain cases, if there is sufficient reason to make certain adaptations, it is possible. But we should not make these adaptations too easily. First we should give preference to following the Vinaya precepts as they are. In cases where there are enough sound reasons that necessitate an adaptation, then it is permissible.

    What is the source of joy in the mind? How do we maintain a sense of joy? How do we deal with doubt A mental factor which is indecisive and wavering regarding important points such as karma and its result, emptiness, etc. As a practitioner, once you gain some inner experience as a result of your spiritual practice, that gives you some deep satisfaction, happiness, or enjoyment.

    It also gives you some kind of confidence. I think that is the main thing. This comes through meditation. The most effective method for your mind is analytical meditation.

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    But without proper knowledge and understanding it is difficult to meditate. There is no base for knowing how to meditate.

    To be able to do analytical meditation effectively, you should have knowledge of the whole structure of Buddhism. So study is important; it makes a difference in your meditation. In India, at the place where the Buddha attained enlightenment, it became a well-established tradition for the Dalai Lama to spend several days each year giving teachings to Buddhists from all over the world. Following his teachings, he held informal group discussions with Western students of Buddhism. In these lively exchanges, the Dalai Lama exhibits clear and penetratin In India, at the place where the Buddha attained enlightenment, it became a well-established tradition for the Dalai Lama to spend several days each year giving teachings to Buddhists from all over the world.

    In these lively exchanges, the Dalai Lama exhibits clear and penetrating insight into issues that are most important to Western students. Some of the topics discussed are: Kindle Edition , pages. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Answers , please sign up. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia.

    I've read quite a few of Dalai Lama's books. This is the only one that I didn't like. I don't even remember why. I read it over the summer and just did not click with it a bit. Editon 17 So things do exist, but they do not exist from the side of the basis of the label For example, consider Editon 17 So things do exist, but they do not exist from the side of the basis of the label For example, consider the reflection of a thing in a mirror. But that too is a cause; it is an inner cause, which we call merit. For someone who has read a number of Buddhist texts, this didn't offer too much new insight for me.

    I think someone reading this as their first Buddhist text won't get much out of it either. There were a lot of terms I wasn't familiar with but it was more of a textbook style of writing than anything that sincerely provokes thought.

    Buddhism: The last honest religion? Entertaining Q&A with Dalai Lama

    I will admit that there were moments I was in thought over what I read but mostly it was a dull experience. Cheri rated it it was amazing Apr 04, Ana rated it liked it Dec 31, Khrystene rated it it was amazing Nov 03, Mark Harrington rated it liked it Oct 27, Lee rated it it was ok Aug 15,