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Buddhadharma : Fall 2011
57 fall 2 01 1 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly where they live, so that they don’t feel as if dharma is an eso- teric philosophy that has nothing to do with their lives. People ought to feel that dharma is about awakening who they are, not fitting into someone else’s idea of who they need to be to enter the dharma. Ken mcLeod: I appreciate very much what Gina was saying about diversity, and appreciate coming to understand why that is such an important issue—because, let’s face it, I’m a white middle-class guy. Some time ago, I had the pleasure of talking with Jan Willis, who laid out for me the kind of points that Gina has made, which has helped me to learn how people from different backgrounds might perceive how the dharma is presented in the West. There are also several issues that I felt would have been valuable to discuss, which didn’t really come up in a signifi- cant way at the conference. One is language. It seems to me that a form of hybrid English has developed, which I’ve nick- named “Bunglish” for Buddhist English. It creates a barrier for people to come into Buddhism. It also creates a shortcut, so people think they’re talking about things when they don’t actually know what the original terms mean. For example, sangha. In the West, we talk about individual sanghas. In Pali, Sanskrit, and Tibetan, it’s impossible to refer to sangha in that fashion. It would be like talking about different skies. There is only one sky. We have created a totally new meaning for the word sangha in English, which is much closer to the idea of community than it ever was in the original languages. I also would like to see more exploration of different teach- ing and learning models. We have extraordinary resources for this in the West. All the pedagogical studies that have been done on the different ways people learn would be valuable for us to be aware of. The ways we teach and learn are often inherited from the feudal structures within the Asian tradi- tions. When we no longer are operating within those larger social structures, we need to consider whether there are alter- native ways of teaching and learning that make sense. The same goes for financial models. We have to appreciate that as productivity increases in the whole culture, the actual cost of practice, not to mention the cost of supporting insti- tutions, increases in exactly the same way that medical costs keep increasing. We need to discover ways of working with this rather than relying on old models alone. Finally, there was a short exchange between Stephen Batch- elor and Bhikkhu Bodhi concerning the contrast between mod- ern rational modes of expression and traditional mythic ones. I would love to have seen that explored much more deeply. diana WinSton: I would echo what others are saying about what some of the key issues are. Concerns with diversity are alive in nearly all of our practice communities. If, when we come together, we can bring our best thinking to it, we can photos(LeFt—rIGht):stillMan;MaxMaksiMik_Garrisoninstitute;ankaCZudeC;Billleyden photos a. jesse jiryu davis