Cultural Encounters - bringing Buddhism home
Buddhism in Asia is clothed in the bright colours of the cultures in which it has developed. As people around the world have discovered Buddhism, some have been attracted by the exotic allure of its oriental origins. But, sooner or later, those who try to practise the Dharma find they have to make sense of its teachings in their own lives and their own context. This is the idea underlying 'western Buddhism'. This issue of Dharma Life explores what happens when Buddhism encounters diverse cultures in the modern world.
In The Roshi and the Rabbi Norman Fischer, a leading Zen teacher, describes his project to revive Jewish spirituality through Zen meditation. A World of Difference explores Viveka's heritage as a Chinese western Buddhist, now working among San Francisco's ethnic groups. Subhuti's Global truths and Noble Hearts makes a plea for cultivating an expansive sense of identity through the practice of internationality.
Vishvapani (Rallying to Freedom) witnessed a new wave of conversions by those oppressed by caste, and saw how Buddhism in India remains a revolutionary counter-cultural force. In Presence Minded Taranatha relates how developing a retreat centre in the New Zealand bush meant befriending the ancient spirits of the land. British sculptor Jack Everett entered another world when he was commissioned to carve a large Buddhist statue (Timeless Creativity) . And Akashadeva outlines, in Attuned to Death, the meeting of ancient themes with contemporary western music in a new Buddhist opera, The Triumph of Life.