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Western Culture

FleaMarketFleaMarket Veteran
edited May 1 in General Banter

From a place of sincere curiosity I ask the following:

I'm from North America and to the west of me is Asia. I keep hearing about how these Westerners struggle with Buddhist concepts, don't like to sit down, are too busy to pay attention, too egocentric, etc.. but to me it seems like they are the same as me, same faults, same difficulties, etc.. I kinda feel bad they're picked on so much and find it hard to blame them for struggling if that's how they are viewed. I think I would struggle more if I felt viewed in such a way too. Maybe I misunderstand?

What am I missing about Westerners that everyone else seems to understand? Are there actually differences?



  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    People in Asian countries are on the whole, just like here, not that interested in religion. So for example I have noticed Vietnamese Catholics in the local church are very much more devotional than the more common Irish Catholics.
    In a similar way those Westerners converting and practicing Buddhism, prefer greater access to 'advanced' practice.

  • Shoshin1Shoshin1 Veteran
    edited May 1

    What am I missing about Westerners that everyone else seems to understand? Are there actually differences?

    Thus have I heard....

    There's a story about when the Dalai Lama first started to interact with Westerners, he could not understand low self-esteem which some of his Western students were struggling with...Having low self esteem was a foreign concept to Tibetans....

    I would say the main difference between the Western (those born into a Western cultural mindset) and Asian (those born into an Asian cultural mindset) , is how one's mind is 'conditioned/programmed'...

    I guess one could say God/bible-centric & Karma-centric mindsets...

    And from what I gather those Western Buddhists who have or are beginning to de-programme their sense of self (conditioned state projected by the mind), find the barriers on the "Path" put up by their minds to block experiential understanding of the Dharma, somewhat easier to mentally dismantle ...

    Hmm The Gateless Gate comes to mind (no pun intended)

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    There's an idea in sociology/anthropology? (not exactly sure) about the west. They refer to us as culturally WEIRD, essentially most research into psychology, culture, etc has been done on people from the west.

    "They found that people from Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic (WEIRD) societies — who represent as much as 80 percent of study participants, but only 12 percent of the world’s population — are not only unrepresentative of humans as a species, but on many measures they’re outliers. found that people from,many measures they're outliers.

    I was listening to a podcast today where they talked about the big 5 personality traits, but when they did the same test to, I think it was an amazon tribe, only 2 traits emerged, pro sociality and industriousness, two traits not even in the big 5.

    I guess my main point is we tend to think of ourselves as the norm, as the good, right thinking people, and no doubt most of us are. But globally we're the outliers, not the norm.

  • FleaMarketFleaMarket Veteran

    Hmm...I grew up with a temperament of aversion for much of my culture as I'd felt abandoned by it from the start. I think I hear Western Culture and and feel a pang of an inescapable upbringing along with a sense of not belonging to that upbringing but always associated with it. I take it personally when it is not personal. I think you guys helped me see that now and I can let it go. Also maybe the start of more discovery from there. I'm grateful.

  • JeroenJeroen Do it with a smile Netherlands Veteran

    Often the culture we grew up with follows us in some form throughout our lives. You can reactively push against it, or you can embrace it, but it is inescapably part of our past.

  • ShanJieshi2ShanJieshi2 bahia blanca Veteran

    some things are explained in the phrase of Jorge Luis Borges... "the fervor of the converts".
    Argentine writer who of course fell under the spell of the Dharma and gave lectures and wrote a book about "what is Buddhism".

  • FleaMarketFleaMarket Veteran
    edited May 2

    Discovery of something so completely unique and helpful, anything other than diving in head first seems foolish. Making a big splash, I discover everyone else is already well acclimated. I'll be with the ducklings if you need me.

  • JeroenJeroen Do it with a smile Netherlands Veteran

    Loved this article about Borges, it really gives you a flavour of what kind of man he was. He died on 14 Juli, 1986, and he never did win the Nobel Prize.

  • FleaMarketFleaMarket Veteran

    I am immediately fond of this man. His many quotes in that article make me smile.

    'The other one, the one called Borges, is the one things happen to,' the parable reads. 'I live, let myself go on living, so that Borges may contrive his literature, and this literature justifies me.'

    When Borges walks through the street of Buenos Aires on his way to lunch or a lecture, many people approach the familiar figure and say, 'Are you Borges?' He replies, 'Sometimes.'

  • FleaMarketFleaMarket Veteran

    @ShanJieshi2 Do you know where that line originates from in Jorge Luis Borges' works? I'm curious of its context.

  • ShanJieshi2ShanJieshi2 bahia blanca Veteran

    is a phrase that is now used by everyone!
    It is used for almost anyone who is new to something they have just discovered and proclaims the good news with renewed verve.
    I first read it in Borges, so I assume it's his, but I can't say for sure, since googling it brings up hundreds of places where it's used indiscriminately.
    Politics, music, art, drugs, etc etc.
    give me some time and ill find the book...

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    “(When asked what he thought of Western civilization): 'I think it would be a good idea.”
    ― Mahatma Gandhi

  • FleaMarketFleaMarket Veteran

    Thank you @ShanJieshi2 you've shown me plenty already. You've shown me where to look if I seek to find it.

    @lobster said:
    “(When asked what he thought of Western civilization): 'I think it would be a good idea.”
    ― Mahatma Gandhi

    Yes, I'm sorry. I believe this ignorance is arising from practice. Or at minimum my awareness of it. That isn't an excuse. Daily practice is already having an impact when it comes to watching. Everything I look at produced by my self is quite nauseating today. The mind really would prefer I let it be but...I'm not exactly sure how to do this without some mess. I'll let my efforts in practice speak as my apology and gratitude.

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