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Buddhadharma : Fall 2005
fall 2005| 82 |buddhadharma readers’ exChange: generaTional diversiTy Usually when I think of diversity, I think of ethnic and socioeconomic realities. But there’s another kind of diversity that is crucial for any commu- nity to survive and flourish: generational diversity. As a young practitioner in the Shambhala community – the Buddhist sangha that I grew up in – it was hard to see this kind of age diversity. The rise of my own strong interest in the Buddhist teachings in my late teens meant a very simple thing – while I was studying and practicing in this particular community, I was going to have to give up spending time with many other people my age. Both the teachers and the people in the courses I took were almost all at least twenty years older than me. Luckily, my own interest was strong enough that I could get over the lack of people who liked the same music as me. I didn’t really need to talk about hip-hop with the people I was studying Buddhism with anyway. This experience was very different from my own father’s experience of get- ting involved in the same community in 1970, when he was twenty-two. He says: “When I started studying and practicing, it felt like you were part of a movement, the energy of your generation. It wasn’t all young people, but a lot of us were, and it felt like youth was a big part of what was happening. There was a dynamic teacher [Chögyam Trungpa] who was only a little bit older than me.” Three years ago, I started and led a weekly under-thirties night at the Shambhala Center of New York. It was a chance for twenty-somethings to learn more about meditation and to have a dis- cussion about a wide range of topics: art, politics, sex, the messed-up world we had inherited, and maybe even Buddhism. It created a forum for young people to explore, on their own terms, the connec- tion between meditation and their own lives – which for a variety of reasons was ETHan nicHTErn is a sEcond-gEnEraTion BUddHisT, wHo TEacHEs mEdiTaTion and BUddHisT sTUdiEs classEs in nEw York ciTY and aT collEgEs and UnivErsiTiEs in THE norTHEasTErn UniTEd sTaTEs. BaBy Boomers, gen x'ers, and more BarBarawenger By ethan nichtern