July 7, 2009

Universality rather than authenticity

Over at the Guardian blog space, Naseem Khan writes about the notion of authenticity with regards to Buddhism in the West.
The question of authenticity is rather more complex, and central to the unfolding path of western Buddhism. But it’s not limited to it, as I indicated at the start. I tangled with the question as a student dancer, and also when I was involved in formulating diversity policy. The past 30 years in which we have come slowly (and painfully) to terms with other cultures have similarities to the issues that are raised over Buddhism’s path. Who do different art forms “belong” to? Clearly the arts must change when they come to the west if they are to express current realities. But it has often been a contentious issue, and not only with native speakers who wish to hang on to heritage. It has also been native Brits who often wanted to corral the arts into ethnic corners and could not see their wider relevance.
Importantly, she’s able to discuss a vision of “western” Buddhism without defining it in contrast with the traditional or eastern. Much appreciated!

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