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Buddhadharma : Spring 2009
9 spring 2 00 9 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly letters Being one of those “Western Buddhists” who is thinking about and practicing the integration of Buddhism and psychotherapy, I was disheartened to read Sam Bercholz’s opinions in the short piece titled “Buddhist Roadkill.” As I understand his “two-fold” perception of the problem, he sees a soured- grape motivation for people who want to adapt Buddhism to Western perceptions and learning styles “because they’re dissatis- fied.” This sounds suspiciously similar to the Catholic Pope’s warning to American Catho- lics to eschew pick-and-choose “Cafeteria Catholicism.” The second issue Mr. Bercholz appears to be disgruntled with is the alleged idea that Buddhism is not complete without Western psychology. This may be a partial misunder- standing. What Mr. Bercholz may be echoing is an orthodox backlash against the utilitarian tendency to integrate Buddhist concepts into psychological practices; for example, incor- porating mindfulness practice with cognitive therapy to help end the suffering of major depression. He’s correct in noting that this is a change from how Buddhism is practiced in a monastic setting, but it does go a long way toward ending suffering, and is this not one of the main goals of practice? Judith Prebluda, M.A., L.M.H.C. Medford, Massachusetts Did it occur to anyone else that your recent article “Can Buddhism Save the Planet?” did not mention the connection that animals have to the planet—chiefly, the practice of veg- etarianism to stem global warming? Neither the article nor the ecobuddhism website re- ferred to on this subject stresses the significance of animal-based agriculture as a contributor to global warming. A plant-based diet drastically reduces a large percentage of global warming, and if you add the methane that the planet’s animals produce, this cannot be ignored any longer. In the December 4 New York Times, an article titled “As More Eat Meat, a Bid to Cut Emissions” details how Europe is trying to address this growing worldwide problem, with solutions ranging from “persuading consumers to eat less meat” to a proposal for a “sin tax” on pork and beef. Buddhists do not seem to like the word “sin,” but if reasons of compassion and health cannot con- vince all to go vegan, then the envi- ronmental imperative makes anything less than trying real hard toward that goal woefully inadequate. Eileen Weintraub Seattle, Washington I will be canceling my subscription because of my extreme disappointment with your hypocritical editorial stance. I have often won- dered why your magazine is printed on such high-quality, bleached, glossy paper. Now you publish an article on being environmentally conscious and responsible that, according to the author, should start with Buddhism. How can I take this seriously when recycled paper has existed for as long as I remember? Does a Buddhist magazine really need to have such excessive use of color and graphics? Why not print in grayscale, on recycled paper? Why not eliminate some of the advertisements that drive consumerism and contribute to waste in our landfills? I was also very disappointed that the article focused too much on the thinking about sav- ing the planet, rather than the actively doing. Thinking, at this point, is passé. There are so many options today when it comes to per- sonally being environmentally conscious and aware. It begins with each individual and the choices they make in their daily lives. Which brings me to another point the author makes: “new technologies cannot save us un- less they are combined with a new worldview.” from “persuading consumers to eat less meat” to a proposal for a Buddhists do not seem to like the word “sin,” but if reasons of compassion and health cannot con- vince all to go vegan, then the envi- ronmental imperative makes anything less than trying real hard toward that