June 25, 2009

Buddhism meets cultural entitlement

I write quite a bit about Asians and Asian Americans being marginalized by self-styled Westerners, and today Dr. Scott Mitchell takes on the complaints by these Westerners vis-à-vis discrimination by Asian Buddhists.

First and foremost, when having the racism-in-white-American-Buddhism conversation, invariably someone steps in with the quip that so-and-so Asian Buddhist community routinely excludes white people, routinely keeps white people from ascending the spiritual and/or political power ladder, etc., etc. When I hear this argument, I also hear my mom’s voice in the back of my head: “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?”

I’m not trying to say that self-styled Western Buddhists have no basis for complaint. The post’s discussion is set in a historical framework that I personally wouldn’t be all too sanguine to sign off on, but importantly he explores the interaction of Buddhist identity and personal/cultural entitlement. I wonder if this back-and-forth all boils down to just that.

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