A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Buddhism’s power is not divine but human

A lot of westerners perceive Buddhists as the 98lb weakling who gets sand kicked in his face by the bully.  This has been a favorite refrain from certain groups whose turf has been encroached on by the spread of Buddhism. Buddhism is about taking power over our own actions, not depending on a God, angels or any religious order to save us. Part of this perception can be traced to the Hippie, Beatnik, Pacificist movement that exploded out of California in the 60s. The counter revolution which opted out, espoused free love, spawned the environmental movement, and embraced alternative realities. They were amongst the first outside the natural or cultural Buddhists to adopt the ideals. This was at a time when a large number of Christian denominations in America still held the mentality held over  from the wild west days, that it was required that the male member of a household owned and was able to use a shotgun or rifle to defend his family. The age of consumerism had just arrived; ad agencies were learning new techniques, such as subliminal suggestion, to encourage you to buy more. Cars weren’t marketed as the safest or most fuel efficient, nope it was the dawning of the muscle car. Doctors were encouraged to prescribe smoking as a cure for agitation, hypertension and stress. Having a movement that espoused no harm to other living beings was, well, downright anti-American. The established churches of course didn’t want this new movement anymore than the previous mentioned hippies and their ilk. Buddhism is about having the strength within you to accept that life is suffering, and then to do the best you can to alleviate that suffering. Not just suffering for yourself but for your family, friends, neighbours and society in general .A Buddhist is not to be a skulker hiding in the shadows, nor a spectator watching the parade of life pass tem by. We have no further to look then the current Dalai Lama, who recently stepped down as the political leader of Tibet while remaining as it’s spiritual leader. Since he came to power he has tried to find a middle path between Tibet’s nationalists and China. He recognized the modernization of Tibet under China, as a necessary thing. He does not cry out for an Independent Tibet, rather his is a voice for a greater Tibetan voice within China on matters that pertain to Tibet.

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