September 25, 2009

Become new by becoming old

Over on Dharma Folk, John presents an illuminating discussion on how Buddhism becomes new by becoming old—by presenting new teachings as reformulations of even earlier ones—and how this dialectic may be less applicable in our modern world. But presenting new ideas as old ones isn’t the only way to market them.
The other option for religions to grow and change is simply to call what’s new new. To change the way we practice because it fills a need, whether personal or societal. The only problem with the new being new is that it then operates on the periphery of what Buddhism is. Without a myth to explain how something is Buddhist, or even more Buddhist than what is out there, people who practice in their own way and dance to the beat of a different drummer may not get lumped in with Buddhism at all.
So I’m curious about the point at which novel practices undermine the (apparent) authenticity of one’s lineage.

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