Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What This is For

As it says off to the right there, under my glamorous picture, the opinions expressed here are for entertainment purposes. I'd just like to reinforce that, assuming anyone still checks this blog after my large hiatus.

Actually, the purpose of this blog is two-fold. One: to chronicle my experiences as a devout Buddhist in a land that doesn't understand, respect, or care about Buddhism. Two: the entertainment value of my experiences, which have a good deal of comedy about them.

A lot of people would disagree with the notion that America doesn't understand, respect, or care about Buddhism. Those people are wrong. America is TRYING to understand Buddhism; that much is clear. There are plenty of scholars and practitioners out there dedicated to comprehending this path through the lens of American culture. But the general populace does not understand. And most likely will not. They feel reasonably convinced that Buddhism is something exotic like what the Dalai Lama does, or something inscrutable and foreign, like Zen. There is no impetus for them to further their understanding. Why would they? The only time Buddhism impacts their daily lives is when it's co-opted for advertising. My own grandmother asked me once if Buddhism believes in God. I told her no and she told me I was going to hell while she'd be in heaven. She has no desire whatsoever to understand anything further about Buddhism. It doesn't worship her God so she's done. That's it. While I don't believe this is fully representative of America as a whole, I think it's a big part of it. Buddhism is not on the radar because we haven't broken the hold of divine religion yet.

As a corollary of this, America doesn't respect Buddhism. This is actually fine with me. Belief systems and philosophies don't deserve respect. They're something to DO, not something to possess and defend. But Buddhism will probably never be granted the status and protection that Christianity has, which sucks. Buddhism is most definitely a third-class religion here and it will take a long time to change that, if it's even possible.

This lack of understanding and recognition are why people here don't care about Buddhism. It's an exotic import, not a part of everyday life. It's something people in California do, which automatically makes it pretty much bullshit.

And here I am. I'd like to report all the things that occur to me as I exist in this country, state, and city as a Buddhist. Some of them are funny; some are sad; some are mean; most are pointless. That's where the entertainment value comes in. Because, rest assured: my understanding of Zen is immature. There won't be much in the way of wisdom here. What there will be is stories about how I relate to the world, and it to me, filtered through the net of my practice. I'm not trying to inspire anyone. I'm CERTAINLY not trying to teach anyone. I'm just giving you the opinion of one callow guy fascinated with Zen. Please adjust your expectations accordingly.


4 comments:

  1. Well, where are those stories you wrote about here? :) Too bad you stopped writing, I really enjoyed your posts today. And it is 3 years later. Do you still practice? What happened in those 3 years? :)

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  2. It is a new way to see this matter. It is interesting as well. www,bellofpeace.org

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  3. Hi, Brent (you related to Stephen?) Your grandmother's opinion of Buddhism pretty much reflects my experience in or outside of Lexington. I'm one of the ubiquitous Shambhalians who prefers a simpler practice, and no more contact with those expensive land center programs. But in Kentucky, Shambhala isn't ubiquitous. Quite the opposite; groups have struggled to exist as near as Louisville and Cincy and been unable to maintain a critical mass. I have found the local Nichiren/Soka Gakkai group to be elusive. I tried emailing the national SG group about them and received no reply. They apparently come and go, so they're not ubiquitous around here either....

    If I blow off other Sunday commitments, I may one day show up at your group.

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