Tuesday, September 03, 2013

"Integral" ignores the globalization trend

Thanks to the recent Brouhaha about Buddhist-you-know-what, I found out that this "Integral" stuff is still going on. 

I thought I'd written a series of blog posts on why Integral is hoo-hah.  Maybe I did, maybe I didn't.

But if such posts exist, maybe it's due for a rewrite. 

"Western" Buddhism need not incorporate things that were more rigorously handled elsewhere.  Especially when, due to globalization, the boundaries between East and West have been dissolving.  The folks in Japan and Korea (and lately China) making those electronic gizmos are a lot more worldly than the folks who are trying to "Westernize" "Eastern" thought.

I don't remember where I saw it in which airport in Japan, but Buddhists in Japan have been  deep in existentialism for years. 

You learn stuff when you've been to Asia two or three dozen times.  The world is a helluva lot more integrated than you'd imagine.   It's sad that some folks are still stuck in "Western" Buddhism versus "Eastern" or "Immigrant" Buddhism paradigms.  

Well, that's yet another series of posts for another day.

I don't know why lately there's been a surge of posts I've been thinking about for this blog. 

But one thing is clear: the emerging aspects of Buddhism are not the way anyone in the Buddhist blogosphere, yours truly included, imagines it to be.


Al said...

But it *is* true, in my experience at least, that convert (white) Buddhists do not mix with Asian American (or immigrant) Buddhists with only a few exceptions.

I recall going to Tibetan Dharma Centers, such as the Sakya in Seattle where I originally took refuge. Actual Tibetans (of which there are quite a few in Seattle) came to their own events, largely, and not the ones full of white folks. I've seen the same thing in the Bay Area Vajrayana places when I still practiced that.

The local Kwan Um School has almost no Korean presence, though I've seen Koreans at the Las Vegas temple but they largely come to Korean only events and don't mix with the meditation retreats and such.

There is a pervasive divide and it seems to be as much racial as anything else. The only exception I've seen is that a lot of the Shin Buddhist groups (the BCA ones) appear to be more integrated, though largely still ethnically Japanese, even if fifth generation.

When I go to Seattle to visit or other places, the Dharma groups and centers are all pretty white. It would be nice to see this broken down but, protests aside, I don't see any good methods for doing so.

Mumon K said...

That is rather odd. I think you're right generally speaking, though. Asian Buddhists from Asia aren't often likely to go to temples run by folks of European descent.

Having said that there's some exceptions, and I think language plays a part. Sheng Yen had numerous heirs.

In Portland, OR, I have never felt unwelcome at any temple, and we have many of them.

That said, the boundaries really are dissolving, at least where I live internationally.

And trust me, most folks in Asia in similar economic/educational strata as mine, in my experience, are far more cosmopolitan that most folks in the same strata here.

So while your point's taken, it's still true that there's not much need to introduce whole new theories, structures, etc. into Buddhism because there's different ethnic groups.

And if you look at this: http://integrallife.com/integral-movement I'm not sure at all what any of this has to do with Buddhism.

Al said...

I think the Integral connection is as it was four or five years ago. I'm not under the impression that anyone involved with BG is still heavily involved with Integral. I could be wrong though.

Al said...

Not to be too terribly contrarian but I have a hard time seeing Portland as really integrated since it is the whitest (77%?) large city in North America. There isn't much of a non-white community there to integrate with.

This doesn't disagree with the larger points.

That said, I think that because of cultural differences, American Buddhists don't feel much commonality with Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, or Korean Buddhists. We live in fairly different societies within the large global would-be police state.

Mumon K said...


We have a pretty big (~7%) Asian community here, compared to the rest of the US.

And I guess I just know lots of Asians, and regularly work with them, so it's no big thing for me.

Al said...

Point taken. I grew up in Seattle and lived there until I was almost 35 so I pretty much grew up around Japanese Americans as much as anyone else.