I was reminded about this holiday by a Khmerican post last night with the photo below.
May 15, 2013
This month is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, which I’ve decided to celebrate by asking a daily question on Twitter about Asian Buddhists in America.
If you tweet me an answer—even if it’s only an attempt—then I’ll post the answer on this blog. You’ll also get a postcard from me if you’re the first to answer correctly.
March 4, 2013
February 25, 2013
Today is Magha Puja. I had forgotten this date was coming up and was only reminded when I went to temple yesterday. If you haven’t heard of this holiday before, or if you’re not sure how Asian Americans celebrate this holiday, I encourage you to read my Magha Puja interview with a young Asian American Buddhist monk.
May you have every good blessing.
Photo credit: windsordi.
February 11, 2013
Today is Losar, shared by Tibetans, Sherpas and Mongolians, among others. If you don’t know much about Losar, I encourage you to read last year’s Losar post by Dolma, a young Sherpa American Buddhist.
Yesterday was the beginning of the Lunar New Year shared by Chinese, Koreans and Vietnamese. This holiday is also recognized as a Buddhist anniversary, a fact I learned from Ven. Heng Sure’s blog. You can read my past thoughts about Lunar New Year here.
May you have a joyous year full of blessings and good fortune!
January 28, 2013
The Buddhist holidays listed here with dates for 2013 are just a few that I’ve come to learn about through my brief experience of Buddhist America. I’ve linked the holiday names to past posts associated with each, so that you can learn more about each festivity.
- Lunar New Year · February 10
- Losar · February 11
- Magha Puja · February 25
- Ohigan · March 17
- Hanamatsuri · April 8
- Songkran/Thingyan · April 13–15/16
- Gotan-e · May 20–21
- Vesak · 24 May
- Obon · July & August
- Asalha Puja · July 22
- Vu Lan · August 21
- Kathina · November
- Rohatsu · December 8
For the past couple of years I’ve tried to interview other Asian American Buddhists to be able to share their holiday experiences. I ask the same four questions. Who are you? What’s the Buddhist significance of this holiday? What does this holiday mean to you? What do you plan to do for this holiday? Then I share the answers with you.
If you’re Asian American and you’d like to share your thoughts or experiences associated with one of these holidays (or even holidays not listed here), I would love to hear from you. Just drop me a line in the comments below or message me on Twitter. I would be honored to share your thoughts in a blog post.
The Lunar New Year is coming up next week!
January 9, 2013
Larry Yang writes more eloquently about Dr. Jones than I surely could. You can read his tribute at the Turning Wheel Media blog. She will be dearly missed, but her efforts toward building a more considerate, diverse and supportive Buddhist community will live on.
January 5, 2013
If you’re a young Asian American Buddhist (ages 18–39), I know someone who would love to talk with you. Chenxing Han, a graduate student at the Institute for Buddhist Studies, wants to write about the experiences and perspectives of Asian American Buddhist youth. That’s you. She wants to know about you.
While secondary readings in American Buddhist studies, Asian American studies, and other disciplines inform this project, the voices of young Asian Americans form its foundation. I am currently conducting one-on-one interviews with people between the ages of 18 to 39 who are 1) of Asian heritage, 2) engaged in Buddhist practice, broadly defined, and 3) willing to complete a two- to three-hour interview in English. The interview includes open-ended questions and interactive activities that explore participants’ Buddhist practices, communities, and beliefs; perceptions of Buddhism in America; and opinions about the representation of Asian American Buddhists.
So what are you waiting for? Go get in touch with her today!
December 31, 2012
I am not a Pure Land Buddhist. My familiarity with Pure Land Buddhist traditions is rather limited, but I know enough to know that Douglas Todd’s Vancouver Sun article on Buddhism in Canada (“As Buddhism grows, two ‘solitudes’ emerge”) distorts the tradition to the point of stereotype. Todd depicts Pure Land Buddhism in Vancouver as a bunch of Asian Buddhist immigrants who don’t speak English and whose superstition-dominated spirituality consists of liturgical appeals to be reborn in a Buddhist heaven.
December 30, 2012
I was glad to see that Tricycle pulled together a collection of responses by Buddhist teachers to the Newtown tragedy, but I was disappointed to see that not a single one of those teachers was Asian. Not only are the vast majority of Buddhist Amerians also Asian American, American temples with monks, nuns or priests of Asian heritage also play a role in communities with parents and children. There were invariably conversations within these communities where Asian American Buddhists discussed what all this meant and how to deal with this tragedy from a Buddhist context. But those perspectives will never be shared with us through the pages of Tricycle, Shambhala Sun or Buddhadharma magazines. If you’re curious to know what Asian American Buddhist teachers have said, you could visit the Taste of Chicago Buddhism blog for at least one perspective.
Update: Another relevant article to read is Ven. Losang Tendrol’s essay on the shootings in the Washington Post online.
December 24, 2012
This careless misrendering of an Asian name of the Pure Land Buddha is but one of the myriad problems in Douglas Todd’s Vancouver Sun piece on Canadian Buddhism (“As Buddhism grows, two ‘solitudes’ emerge”). Todd attempts to stuff Metro Vancouver’s Buddhist diversity into a Two Buddhisms framework, and in so doing he misrepresents both Asian Buddhists and Pure Land Buddhist traditions by perpetuating common racist stereotypes and sectarian aspersions.
December 18, 2012
November 18, 2012
Update: The post below is a response to the numbers in a Huffington Post article on racial diversity in American Buddhism. The numbers in the article have since been vetted and revised to address the issues raised.
I encourage you to read Jaweed Kaleem’s most recent Huffington Post article, “Buddhist ‘People Of Color Sanghas’: Diversity Efforts Address Conflicts About Race Among Meditators.” This is a fantastic piece about People of Color sitting groups. Kaleem did some great on-the-ground research and interviews, but when it comes to some of the numbers he presents, there are two important points I’d like you to keep in mind.
First, the numbers are wrong. Kaleem repeats figures from the Pew Forum’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey that “[American] Buddhism is made up largely of white converts, who count for more than half of U.S. Buddhists; less than one in three are Asian.” These figures struck many as surprising back when the survey was published, and after closer inspection it turns out the numbers were off. As I have pointed out, the Pew study estimated the number of Asian Americans to be half the U.S. Census’ estimate for 2007, thus undercounting the number of Asian American Buddhists.
October 1, 2012
All of the podcast guests, foremost of them Charles Prebish, are individuals who have done tremendous work to promote the interests and visibility of Asian Buddhists in North America. I was delighted to hear that they were brought together to share their valuable thoughts and perspectives on “Two Buddhisms.” Several facets of their discussion relate to issues that I discuss on this blog. In fact, Chuck even mentioned me briefly—though from what I heard, he didn’t have much good to say! I’m very flattered for the mention, but I’d have rather preferred he left out his degrading speculative inexactitude.
I found their full discussion very interesting and well worth listening to. With luck I’ll have the chance to share my thoughts at a later date. You can download or listen to the podcast at the Secular Buddhist.
August 17, 2012
This year Shambhala SunSpace has been posting weekly essays from the Under 35 Project, a laudable initiative to support and highlight the voices of the emerging generation of Buddhists and meditators. As usual, my naïveté never fails to let me down and I was once again shocked at the whiteness of the lineup. Not a single East or Southeast Asian among them.
A common retort to my posts of the whiteness of Western Buddhist publications is to question whether any Asian Buddhists are reaching out—or even writing—in the first place. In fact, I received a similar such comment on my last post on the overwhelming whiteness of the Buddhist Geeks conference.
In the case of the Under 35 Project, we can directly answer that question through open access to their archive of submissions.
This morning, I went looking for Asian authors who had submitted to the project, and I was able to find Nicole Mahabir, Joshua Shin, Chholay Dorji, Minh Tue Vo Thanh, Susan Yao, Georges Han, Duc Hong Ta, Justin Luu, Tina Ng, Phoebe Tsang, Subha Srinivasan, Ishita Gupta, Anthuan Vuong and Cristina Moon. These Asian authors are together more than were published in the last two issues of Shambhala Sun. Only one of them made it to Shambhala SunSpace’s weekly selection.
If we look at when Asian Buddhist authors submitted their work, we see a huge spike at the end of last year, when the Under 35 Project first went online. But during the nearly six months since Shambhala SunSpace began promoting this project by mostly reposting pieces by white authors, only one Asian author has submitted her work. She wasn’t included in the weekly Under 35 post.
I wonder if Shambhala Publications were to only start publishing more Asian authors, perhaps more would once again step up to submit. Or perhaps it’s already too late.