Why do liberal places want me to…hold it in?

Why is it that the most liberal towns and cities are the ones where it is hardest for me to find a bathroom?  Aren’t they the places that profess the most compassion? Many will say “Restroom are for customers only/No public restrooms”.  Some will have “restrooms out of order” signs permanently (clearly a lie since…

Hinduism as a foil

Ever notice how Hinduism/Indian culture is brought up in American Buddhist circles in the context of Buddhism and India only while discussing some aspect of Buddhist belief that is not readily digestible or palatable to a mindset with “Western” cultural baggage? For example, rebirth concepts, the presence of spirits like tree spirits, guardian spirits and…

Where’s Asia?/Expanding Europe

You can find the GDP of countries and continents and famous groups of countries on the World Bank’s (WB) website.   Examples of groups are the Arab world, the EU, South Asia. But you cannot find the GDP of Europe there or the GDP of Asia there.  There is one of the European Union, but…

Spirituality is distinct from the sense world

While this seems obvious, I have repeatedly come to the realization, each time with a small shock, that this is not so in the minds of many people.  For example, consider retreats on some spiritual practice.  People go there, spend a week or two doing something like movement exercises, eating delicious (and usually organic) food,…

Want to reform Asian Sanghas? Support your own

I have thought long and hard about it and have not been able to understand why people in America and Europe are insistent (often angrily) that the Thai Sangha or some other Asian Sangha needs to change and promote equality of women in the religious context as it limiting women in corresponding spiritual circles in…

The bearers of gifts and good tidings

Without spiritual practice, and even with considerable amounts of it, we all prefer feeling pleasant sensations and not unpleasant sensations and correspondingly, pleasant news over unpleasant news. However, there is also a preference for being the bearer of pleasant news and not that of the unpleasant.   This is less about pleasing one’s own five senses,…

From a cartoonist

I got this from a post in the Black Buddhist Society’s Facebook page. Nobody in the group knew who had created it, so I cannot credit the artist. But I do want to post it here because it fits within the themes covered in other posts on this blog. I have also removed the title…

“Western” Buddhism’s insistence on political orientation is not new

This blog is not the first one to note that proclaiming that liberal politics is a natural consequence of Buddhadharma can only come from ignoring the presence of Asian Buddhist groups in America. Here is an article from September 2008, just before the presidential election of that year, in Tricycle magazine. The article, which I’m…

A theme to the othering

The attitude I mentioned in the previous post towards American conservatives doesn’t seem unconnected to the attitude towards Asians and Asian Buddhism. How is it that the plain fact that there are many American Buddhists who are politically conservative is simply missed by many? For example, I cite Miles William’s excellent blog post with data…

Do Buddhists have to be liberal?

The other day, as I was describing some of the strange attitudes towards Asian Americans in “western” Buddhist circles, when a friend said (as many are quick to point out as soon as the conversation turns to race), that such elitism “probably exists towards poor or rural white people as well”. Whatever the prompt for…

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