October 25, 2009

The Danger of Ethnic Buddhism

A friend recently pointed me to Ethnic Buddhism and Other Obstacles to the Dhamma in the West by Dr V. A. Gunasekara.
When ethnic Buddhism is introduced into a Western country it tends to shunt the particular manifestation of Buddhism into an ethnic ghetto. The danger here is that many people will perceive Buddhism as a ghetto religion. Indeed the mass media in Western countries have made it a fine art to present Buddhism as an ethnic religion and not a universal message of liberation. The activities of ethnic Buddhists in the West lend support to this propaganda of the mass media to the great detriment of the cause of Buddhism in the West.
The piece is riddled with patent falsehoods presented as fact, not to mention that I have a ton of issues with the way he structured his argument and examples. But there’s some interesting food for thought too.

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