[Buddha-l] fantastic Buddhism

tccahill at loyno.edu tccahill at loyno.edu
Sun Oct 20 09:41:37 MDT 2013

Hello James, and others,

There are certain ideas that folks in North America feel sure of relating
to Buddhism.  E.g., it is completely peaceful or that it is not like other
religions.  Or the idea that Buddhism is necessarily an individualistic
and a countercultural endeavor.

Anyone who has taught Buddhism to undergraduates knows there's plenty of
"unpacking" to do in terms of examining our cultural presuppositions. This
could be what motivated Donald Lopez to write a book like "7 Things You
Didn't Know about Tibet."  Another eye-opener is the "The Struggle for
Modern Tibet: Autobiography of Tashi Tsering" --coauthored by two
Americans who seemed to feel that his story needed to be heard by an
English reading audience.

It's difficult to speak of generalizations about people on this list since
we (meaning "I") don't keep close track of who's lurking and who has just
signed off and what levels of experience and knowledge the various readers
have. Obviously there's a lot of expertise!  When I first joined,  I
remember being not only educated (very regularly!) but also being
positively shocked to learn certain things.  Happily, by monitoring the
list and following up on suggested readings,  I've found that the voltage
has dropped.

Now, I could offer a flippant, postmodern (or Mahāyānan?) reply: any
singular notion "Buddhism" is a fantasy.  But I won't.

Tim Cahill

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