Today, I’d like to direct your attention to a very good post by Katherine at On the precipice. She addresses a number of important topics pertaining to the present state, and the future, of Buddhism, particularly here in the West. I’m impressed with her thoughtful presentation.
She approaches these challenges, as she calls them, within the context of contemplative living, and although I suspect that my sense of that may not be the same as hers, it is a practice oriented perspective that resonates with me.
Katherine summarizes the issues as: “1) The subject of dana and generosity, and how it has not very successfully been translated here; and 2) The issue of gender inequality and the general lack of (recognized as such) realized women teachers within the Buddhist institution — the same can be said for lack of racial diversity; as well as 3) The challenges for monasticism, particularly for women in the Theravada tradition.”
While that’s quite a lot to deal with, these issues have been bubbling for some time and some of them really should be dealt with in the present (you know, that place where we’re all supposed to be) and not be left to boil over some time in the future. I also feel that these issues transcend gender and tradition. As far as I’m concerned if there is inequality for some, there is inequality for all.
So, for those interested in these subjects, please read: Some Challenges of Living a Contemplative Life Today.
Another subject that is demanding our attention now is Islam and the biggest problem about it is ignorance. The sad fact is that most of us don’t know much about this faith. I think it’s important to have some understanding of different religions. Almost everything I understand about Islam, which isn’t much, has come from Karen Armstrong’s book, Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time, which I recommend as a good introduction.
Now, Deepak Chopra has just published a new book, a novel called Muhammad: A Story of the Last Prophet. Say what you will about Deepak Chopra, he often acts (or is cast) in the role of a spokesperson for an alternative spiritual point of view that is fairly congruous to Buddhism, and that’s not a such a bad thing.
Some people may be thinking that it might not be the smartest thing to write a fictionalized account of the life of The Prophet, but Chopra is unconcerned about any possible backlash. Regardless if it’s a calculated risk in the commercial sense or an act of courage, hopefully it will encourage other writers who would like to explore various aspects of Islam but are reluctant to do so out of fear.
At SF Gate, Deepak Chopra shares his thoughts about writing the book: Muhammad and the Litmus Test.
Lastly, I think that if you put Zen in the title of something, it attracts people. That’s why I called this post The Zen of Everything. That was probably the idea behind the title of this article in the Atlantic which has absolutely nothing to do with either Zen or Buddhism: Zen and the Art of Picking Blackberries.
Well, there must be something to Buddhist-inspired names, as evidenced here: Bullish on Buddha?