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QUESTION Unsanitized Buddhism and Humanitarian Crises -

Some Buddhist religious leaders found it useful to meet these Westerners halfway and develop with them a new eclectic Buddhism that gathered together the most palatable elements from the various Buddhist sects in nations across the East, emphasizing mental discipline and meditation while disregarding the more off-putting magic, ancestor worship, sacralizing of relics, and so on.

That’s why, as Sweeney quips: “The Buddhism we get in California is all cleaned up for us.” It’s a customized variety, disconnected from its source cultures and functioning less like a religion and more like a secular self-help system. This leads Arnold and Turner to conclude, “To the extent that such deracinated expressions of Buddhist ideas are accepted as defining what Buddhism is, it can indeed be surprising to learn that the world’s Buddhists have, both in past and present, engaged in violence and destruction.”

zblaze 7 Mar 24

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There is not 'one type' of Buddism first of all, but many variations based on the same Dharma,
similar to Christianity imo.
I lived in Los Angeles from 1985 to 2014 and practiced Buddhism there and still do.
Spoke with monks from all over the world in L.A., I don't know who Sweeney is, but I didnt't share his expereinces at all.

truth abounds if one seeks it.


Of course they did, in their defense. Also, they are only human, they just try to be better than the rest of us, daily imo.


It's core to Buddhism that if any teaching doesn't work then reject it, that goes back to the origins of the faith with Gautama Buddha about 2,500 years ago:

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
― Gautama Buddha

Buddhism has upgradeability built into it.

@McIntyre love that you posted this

ahh! taken from The Kalama sutta. One of my faves,

Shit!!! makes me sound like 'ah, Mathew 10.14' 🙂

I havnt read the article but Ive often discussed with others that Buddhism in the west (with the possible exception of Tibeitan Vajrana) tends to be more 'fundamentalist' if that word hasnt become too tainted.
Buddhism in Thailand is different to Buddhism in Japan or Myanmar. Each of those countries has taken it and maybe blended it in with some of their pre-existing ideas
Just as we have in the west. Our Buddhism is in the main more pragmatic and science based. Thats not to say we don't have our share of folk sit there mindlessly chanting what may as well be shopping lists in Sanskrit or some other tongue they don't understand 😉 but i think theres a definate trend towards stripping away the cultural packaging in an attempt to get to practice


That's why I take my buddhism as a philosophy, as I take my humanism. Being a spiritual humanist I wouldn't reject several of the "paranormal possibilities" of buddhism as well.


It's a valid point. On the other hand, I have no issue with extracting from Buddhism what is actually beneficial and justifiable (e.g., secular meditation practice or its equivalent). Or recognizing that some aspects of religious Buddhism are pretty humanistic and effectively atheistic and even respectful of science (e.g., the form of Tibetan Buddhism that the Dali Lama represents, if not always what is practiced).

One can even argue that this "sanitized Western Buddhism" is more influential on a worldwide basis than what it was extracted from, and thus has transcended it. (I'd make that case, but for the various sex scandals and other forms of "guru abuse" that have sprung from the "sanitized" version).

On the other hand, you have the human rights debacle in Myanmar and other examples that demonstrate that people suck wherever you go and regardless of religion (and sometimes because of religion).

My personal bottom line is that I borrow some basic concepts from Buddhism and apply them to my life (mainly, that attachements to particular outcomes are the source of existential suffering, and detachment from same is the solution to most existential suffering). I do not identify as a Buddhist or attend Buddhist meetings, even though I could chose between Tibetan and Zen groups that are very active and developed in my area. The religion brings too much cruft with it.

I don't restrict it to Buddhism. If I find any philosophy, secular or religious, that I like in part, I try to take that part and make it fit within the whole.

Raised roman catholic as I was, there were a lot of good lessons that I kept (love thy neighbor, turn the other cheek) even as I dismissed a lot of the dogma (weekly worship, hell for non-believers)

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