Author Topic: Cultural Appropriation in Western Buddhism  (Read 2367 times)

Offline Mrs Malaprop

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Re: Cultural Appropriation in Western Buddhism
« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2020, 01:19:28 am »
Translations can be quite misleading, particularly the idiosyncratic ones.

I always have some discomfort with statements like that.  I tend to think, to offer commentary on the quality of a translation, some qualification as a translator of the source language would be needed, wouldn't you say?

The problem is that translators don't always agree. Also the meanings of common terms can vary according to which text they appear in. And different teachers and schools might well interpret he meaning of particular terms in different ways.
We do need translations, but I think they should always be regarded as provisional, and approached with caution.

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Re: Cultural Appropriation in Western Buddhism
« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2020, 07:27:03 am »
The problem is that translators don't always agree. Also the meanings of common terms can vary according to which text they appear in.

Can you offer an example?

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And different teachers and schools might well interpret he meaning of particular terms in different ways.

That's very true.

This could go all the way back to when the Buddha taught.  He probably have a teaching more than once.  It's quite likely he gave a teaching differently.  I would say this was to address the paricular needs of his audience on any given day.


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We do need translations, but I think they should always be regarded as provisional, and approached with caution.

I don't think differences in translation are a bad thing and no reason for circumspection.  Different translation can give a wider perspective on the dharma.  One translator will say the First Noble Truth is Suffering.  Another will say Stress.  Neither, I think, is wrong.  I have a friend and teacher in Boulder, Co who stated that a better translaion for the phrase  "Four Noble Truths" in Pali might be "The Four Truths  Of The Noble Ones" .  There's a difference and an interesting one.  Right?  Wrong?  No one here can say, but it does offer opportunity for contemplation.

Offline Mrs Malaprop

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Re: Cultural Appropriation in Western Buddhism
« Reply #17 on: January 08, 2020, 05:13:24 am »
The problem is that translators don't always agree. Also the meanings of common terms can vary according to which text they appear in.

Can you offer an example?

Quote
And different teachers and schools might well interpret he meaning of particular terms in different ways.

That's very true.

This could go all the way back to when the Buddha taught.  He probably have a teaching more than once.  It's quite likely he gave a teaching differently.  I would say this was to address the paricular needs of his audience on any given day.


Quote
We do need translations, but I think they should always be regarded as provisional, and approached with caution.

I don't think differences in translation are a bad thing and no reason for circumspection.  Different translation can give a wider perspective on the dharma.  One translator will say the First Noble Truth is Suffering.  Another will say Stress.  Neither, I think, is wrong.  I have a friend and teacher in Boulder, Co who stated that a better translaion for the phrase  "Four Noble Truths" in Pali might be "The Four Truths  Of The Noble Ones" .  There's a difference and an interesting one.  Right?  Wrong?  No one here can say, but it does offer opportunity for contemplation.

For example the meaning of dukkha varies according to context. Sometimes it means "unsatisfactory" and sometimes it means "suffering".
So it's not just about different translations of the same word.

Generally I agree it's useful to read several different translations of the same text, the differences can be quite illuminating.

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Re: Cultural Appropriation in Western Buddhism
« Reply #18 on: January 08, 2020, 06:57:48 pm »
That's true, MM, but it's not the subject at hand.  My intent was tto discuss appropriation and the word dukkha is a great example.  Dukkha is a word that has different meanings, depending on context, and that's good, except nobody knows what it means and that's bad.

Maybe we should use the word "sucks".

There is that which sucks.  It sucks for a reason.  It can cease to suck.  The path to the cessation of sucking.

To say something sucks can have somewhat different meanings depending on context/usage.  And everyone in the western world knows what it means
« Last Edit: January 09, 2020, 07:37:45 am by Chaz »

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: Cultural Appropriation in Western Buddhism
« Reply #19 on: May 24, 2020, 11:09:40 am »


This is an image from a Zen Buddhist altar, with Dogen on one side and Keizan on the other, the founders of Soto Zen.

When Western Zennists look down on Buddhist devotionalism, they expose how out of touch they are with Zen Buddhism as it's traditionally practiced in Japan.

This ahistorical understanding of Zen practice is symptomatic of the white privilege unconsciously taken for granted by Western Zennists.

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Re: Cultural Appropriation in Western Buddhism
« Reply #20 on: May 24, 2020, 12:55:07 pm »


This is an image from a Zen Buddhist altar, with Dogen on one side and Keizan on the other, the founders of Soto Zen.

When Western Zennists look down on Buddhist devotionalism, they expose how out of touch they are with Zen Buddhism as it's traditionally practiced in Japan.

This ahistorical understanding of Zen practice is symptomatic of the white privilege unconsciously taken for granted by Western Zennists.

What does this image have to do with how western Zennist's attitude?

You offer us a complete non sequitur. 

If you have some beef wtih Western Zen, you had better be very specific in what kind of disparaging statements you're going to make unless you want this post taken down.  Ok?

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Cultural Appropriation in Western Buddhism
« Reply #21 on: May 25, 2020, 03:09:16 am »
Part of the problem with translations is using English words, which of course had other meanings prior to being used in that particular context. We spent a lot of time at the Buddhist centre getting some kind of shared understanding of what words meant in particular contexts.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: Cultural Appropriation in Western Buddhism
« Reply #22 on: May 25, 2020, 10:04:41 am »


This is an image from a Zen Buddhist altar, with Dogen on one side and Keizan on the other, the founders of Soto Zen.

When Western Zennists look down on Buddhist devotionalism, they expose how out of touch they are with Zen Buddhism as it's traditionally practiced in Japan.

This ahistorical understanding of Zen practice is symptomatic of the white privilege unconsciously taken for granted by Western Zennists.

What does this image have to do with how western Zennist's attitude?

You offer us a complete non sequitur. 

If you have some beef wtih Western Zen, you had better be very specific in what kind of disparaging statements you're going to make unless you want this post taken down.  Ok?

I am sorry if I was being unclear. The image is specifically for Soto Zen devotional practice, as it's traditionally practiced in Japan. When Western Zennists look down on devotional practice, they are divorcing themselves from Zen as traditionally practiced in Asian countries.

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Re: Cultural Appropriation in Western Buddhism
« Reply #23 on: May 25, 2020, 10:38:17 am »


This is an image from a Zen Buddhist altar, with Dogen on one side and Keizan on the other, the founders of Soto Zen.

When Western Zennists look down on Buddhist devotionalism, they expose how out of touch they are with Zen Buddhism as it's traditionally practiced in Japan.

This ahistorical understanding of Zen practice is symptomatic of the white privilege unconsciously taken for granted by Western Zennists.

What does this image have to do with how western Zennist's attitude?

You offer us a complete non sequitur. 

If you have some beef wtih Western Zen, you had better be very specific in what kind of disparaging statements you're going to make unless you want this post taken down.  Ok?

I am sorry if I was being unclear. The image is specifically for Soto Zen devotional practice, as it's traditionally practiced in Japan.

It was a no-brainer.  The image is very similar to the Tibetan Thanka in appearance and purpose.  It's not just a pretty picture.


THIS is the problem:

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When Western Zennists look down on devotional practice, they are divorcing themselves from Zen as traditionally practiced in Asian countries.

Is Western Zennists "looking down on devotional practice" even a thing?  With whom?  Where?  How does it manifest?  Are there leaders, teachers or centers who promote and endorse such an attitude?  Otherwise you're just saying something with the apparent attitude that we all get it and are are going long with your vitriol.

AS the moderator, I'm all about being respectful to other traditions.  That doesn't mean we can't be critical, but it you want to offer a critique be fair and thorough.  Don't just blab something like it's a toy surprise you got it out of a box of
Cracker Jacks.

You put a lot of effort into reseraching and sharing your thoughts on Pure Land, and that's really great.  I think it would be good if you would put a similar effort into putting down Zen.

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: Cultural Appropriation in Western Buddhism
« Reply #24 on: May 25, 2020, 01:25:01 pm »
You put a lot of effort into reseraching and sharing your thoughts on Pure Land, and that's really great.  I think it would be good if you would put a similar effort into putting down Zen.

Since the combined practice of Zen and Pure Land is very common in countries like China and Vietnam, I've read a great deal of writings from the Zen tradition. This is precisely why it's concerning to me when Western Zennists disrespect Zen Buddhism as it's traditionally practiced in Asian countries. In combined Zen/Pure Land practice, one recites the name of Amitabha Buddha in order to realize Amitabha as the True Self, our own Buddha-nature, rather than just an external being.

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Re: Cultural Appropriation in Western Buddhism
« Reply #25 on: May 25, 2020, 01:37:15 pm »
You put a lot of effort into reseraching and sharing your thoughts on Pure Land, and that's really great.  I think it would be good if you would put a similar effort into putting down Zen.

Since the combined practice of Zen and Pure Land is very common in countries like China and Vietnam, I've read a great deal of writings from the Zen tradition. This is precisely why it's concerning to me when Western Zennists disrespect Zen Buddhism as it's traditionally practiced in Asian countries. In combined Zen/Pure Land practice, one recites the name of Amitabha Buddha in order to realize Amitabha as the True Self, our own Buddha-nature, rather than just an external being.

Dude that make no sense at all.  What western Zennists, are disrespecting asian practice?  Specifically.

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: Cultural Appropriation in Western Buddhism
« Reply #26 on: May 25, 2020, 01:44:51 pm »
You put a lot of effort into reseraching and sharing your thoughts on Pure Land, and that's really great.  I think it would be good if you would put a similar effort into putting down Zen.

Since the combined practice of Zen and Pure Land is very common in countries like China and Vietnam, I've read a great deal of writings from the Zen tradition. This is precisely why it's concerning to me when Western Zennists disrespect Zen Buddhism as it's traditionally practiced in Asian countries. In combined Zen/Pure Land practice, one recites the name of Amitabha Buddha in order to realize Amitabha as the True Self, our own Buddha-nature, rather than just an external being.

Dude that make no sense at all.  What western Zennists, are disrespecting asian practice?  Specifically.

I am only describing Western Zennists who see only seated, silent meditation as true Zen practice, and all forms of devotionalism and ritualism as cultural accretions that need to be discarded or ignored.

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Re: Cultural Appropriation in Western Buddhism
« Reply #27 on: May 25, 2020, 02:04:59 pm »
You put a lot of effort into reseraching and sharing your thoughts on Pure Land, and that's really great.  I think it would be good if you would put a similar effort into putting down Zen.

Since the combined practice of Zen and Pure Land is very common in countries like China and Vietnam, I've read a great deal of writings from the Zen tradition. This is precisely why it's concerning to me when Western Zennists disrespect Zen Buddhism as it's traditionally practiced in Asian countries. In combined Zen/Pure Land practice, one recites the name of Amitabha Buddha in order to realize Amitabha as the True Self, our own Buddha-nature, rather than just an external being.

Dude that make no sense at all.  What western Zennists, are disrespecting asian practice?  Specifically.

I am only describing Western Zennists who see only seated, silent meditation as true Zen practice, and all forms of devotionalism and ritualism as cultural accretions that need to be discarded or ignored.

That's completely in substantiated.  Name these Zennists.  I know a lot of Zen practitioners whose sole practice is zazen, but I've heard more about toleration of others than condemnation.  So, if you're going to put down a group of Zennists on this forum, you had better make damn sure you know what and who you're talking about and cite it.

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