“Western Buddhism” is in the mainstream news again. The Gray Lady shares some Buddhisty thoughts of one newcomer to meditation, while you can read more blather about “American Buddhism” at the Washington Post’s On Faith blog. How completely novel that yet another white American Buddhist would make bland speculations about the future of Buddhism in the West!
As someone who occasionally contributes a blog (or two) about Buddhism in the West, I just wish American newspapers wasted less ink yogifying Western Buddhism with boring reflections of meditation retreats (“Dude, I went on a meditation retreat… woah…”) or culturally appropriative fantasies on the future of the Western Buddhist community (“WESTERN BUDDHISM IS GOING TO BE SO GREAT! I CAN’T WAIT!”). Now the authors were not so inane as my parenthetical hyperbole would suggest, but there are much more interesting perspectives on Buddhism in the West than neophytic meditators or scholarly navel gazers.
Not that there’s much I’m prepared to do about it right now. Fortunately, there is a whole generation of young American Buddhists, raised in temples and Dharma centers, who are gradually coming of age and, I hope, preparing to share the story of a mainstream American Buddhism which you’re quite unlikely to find in the pages of mainstream East Coast periodicals.