Sunday, November 6, 2011

Bourgeois Buddhists: Do Americans Miss the Point of Buddhism?

By Dr. Owen Flanagan, written for The Huffington Post:

... What kind of Buddhists are American Buddhists? Buddhism is first and foremost a complex philosophy about the nature of reality, the self and morality. Philosophically what is interesting is the connection between understanding that I am no self and that I have reason to be maximally compassionate and loving to all sentient beings. Do most American Buddhists know about the philosophy or enact the moral message of Buddhism?

In my experience the answers are "no." Most Americans who say that they are Buddhist mean they meditate, possibly regularly. The code for this is to say that one "practices." If you ask why a person who "practices" practices, typical answers involve vague new-agey and self-satisfied slogans about "centering," "mind clearing," serenity -- possibly, if they are really bullshiting that they are "getting in touch with their Buddha nature." If you ask what kind of meditation they do, most only know about mindfulness meditation, which unlike lovingkindness meditation, is almost entirely self-centered....

Read the full article here.

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