With the eastern concepts of mindfulness, meditation, and, karma all making their way to the west a slight push back seems to be rising. A lot of cries of “Cultural Appropriation” are going into the ether and from some big publications. We can look around and see how huge speakers are getting, names like Sharon Salzberg, Jack Kornfield, Susan Piver, Gabby Bernstein and the list goes on, all of them have their own particular angle and discipline they come from. According to some naysayers these people are appropriating these cultural elements of Buddhism and eastern philosophies. Cambridge Dictionary defines cultural appropriation as “The act of taking or using things from a culture other than your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect the culture”.
Cultural Appropriation: (n) “The act of taking or using things from a culture other than your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect the culture”
I’m sure in your internet travels you’ve heard other harsher words used for the same thing. Here in the U.S. we are becoming saturated with apps, videos, teachers, and, studios all boasting “sick gains” even in the spiritual realm. At the end of the day is this misuse or blaspheming of these concepts or philosophies,the irony of writing this here hurts my head, are we in fact neglecting the spirit of these life changing tools and outlooks?
NO. Not just plainly, but shouted loud enough to make Grandma turn her head away from the Wheel of Fortune.
Brace yourself for my shocking opinion… NO. Not just plainly, but shouted loud enough to make Grandma turn her head away from the Wheel of Fortune. I’ll build a case and final decision, as always, is yours
The Vedas describe some form of the practice (Samatha – appears to be the style shown. Here’s my piece on Samatha) nearly 5000 years ago in India. The Buddha lived (*checks watch) between 2,500 and 2,600 years ago. So unless Ancient Aliens dude is right this was by no means a new concept. However, like Will Smith said in Men in Black “…I make this look good”, and the historical Buddha did. The point is the practice of meditation is not a southern Asian invention so the point from which we are supposedly appropriating the teaching is not where it comes from in the first place. Whats-more, not all people of the region practice it, hell not even all the monks that take ordination practice meditation. In my opinion to say it’s being appropriated is to miss the point of the teaching entirely
Buddhism like any other popular belief system spread rapidly. It spread from the Northern Indian/Nepal (the Buddha was Nepalese) area throughout China, Tibet, Thailand, Afghanistan, and, now it’s world-wide. The Buddha attained Enlightenment in Bodhgaya and went on teaching from there. However he had some reservations as to whether or not people would get it. If you read the Sutras there was a plea from an angel type being (Deva) and boom he’s was out walking the trail like a robed Johnny Appleseed. The teacher intended his teaching to spread as far as it could with the idea that having heard the teacher will hopefully plant a seed in the minds it graced. Had he not wanted this he would have popped a lotus under the Bodhi tree and just lived out his days there in that grove. The Dharma was meant to be spread throughout the world to anyone who was willing to hear it.
He’s was out walking the trail like a robed Johnny Appleseed.
Buddhism in it’s purist form had no origin stories and no end times stories. Yet there are stories in Tibet of Padmasambhava and how he brought the Dharma to them. On top of that there are stories throughout Asia starring Amitabha-buddha, he’s the fat, bald depiction of the Buddha, he patiently awaits his turn to run this bitch, from the Enlightened dude perspective. His turn starts after the stars burn out and this world system collapses and completely fades away. If you read further into the Sutras, when asked, the B man usually played off the question entirely. This lack of “Where did humanity come from? Where are we going?” , was filled in by the lore of the areas to which Buddhism was spreading. To state facts plainly, a lot of what we consider to be “Buddhist” is nothing more than the snowball effect of rolling throughout the diverse areas that the belief system has rolled through.
Let’s come to terms with a few things here. The doctrine laid out by Siddhartha Gautama 2600 years ago was like a big ass bag of jelly beans… meant to be shared. Nothing that we enjoy today lives in it’s most pure form. Things grow, evolve and take new shape to fit the needs of the people touched by it. Finally, and this cannot be understated, what others think of your path says more about them than you. Don’t let yourself be fed a guilt trip and made to water down your thing to fit the popular idea of the time. The Buddha, Jesus, Krishna all threw caution to the wind and brought about change in their part of the world at their time in history. Your path is yours don’t live it for them.
It’s your practice own it