A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Eastern vs Western Buddhism

I don’t know if it because I was raised with my feet planted in two different cultures, while my mind was in the clouds in a different place. However the last little while I have been thinking about the Eastern viewpoint of Buddhism vs the Western viewpoint of Buddhism. The more I have thought about this the less I believe there is a difference. In today’s rapidly globalizing world there is very little difference between east and west. It does not matter what country you look at the rich are getting richer, the poor are becoming poorer and the middle class while they aspire to the former, are scrambling to avoid becoming part of the latter. I listened to an elderly Chinese man who was complaining about the number of elders who now are shipped off to elder’s mansions so they can have the companionship of people their own age. He made the point, that it was less about this, than the younger generations now too busy in their own lives to want to be bothered by having to take care of the elderly. This struck me as we were sitting next to a daycare, where the parents were rushing to get their children inside, then racing off to work, or what ever else they had scheduled. A side note not a single child was dropped off by a parent driving a regular Toyota or Nissan. Lexus, Infiniti, Volvo, Mercedes, BMW were the vehicles I saw while sitting there. Not one Toyota Corolla, or even a Prius among them.

This is now no different than the Caucasian or western culture. Have children get a nanny or get them into daycare, preschool and back to the accumulation of more wealth. I wonder if this new generation of Asian latch key kids will experience the same disconnect with their parents as western raised children. The acknowledgement that yes you are my parents, but you have no right to tell me what to do attitude. If we look around the world the race to accumulate wealth so we can have more of this, and a better that, seems to have become our motivation that overrides all other factors. I think today we are on the verge of the first truly global culture, that of Consumerism. It does not matter where you live, your ethnic background, or what belief system you were raised to follow. No the message of the day everywhere is you need this product, if you have that product you are second class or obsolete.

As soon as we think of east or west, I or you, us or them, we are dividing ourselves. The message The Buddha taught was for all of us. It was for men and women, north, south, east, and west.


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