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Caucasian Buddhists?

Hello all,

I'm new here, so apologies if this is posted in the wrong category.

I will start off by saying that I am a Caucasian Mahyana (Pure Land) Buddhist.

Often times, when I tell other this to others who are not Buddhist, I find myself subject to odd looks, and laughter. However, I just go about my day, as I normally would. Though I thought I would ask a question or two.

1) Is it okay or acceptable to be a Caucasian Buddhist? ( I won't change my views, was just wondering the opinions of others.)

2.) Are there many other Caucasian Buddhists?

Comments

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    Why specify?
    I'm half Italian, Half English, lived in France, am of Jewish/Scottish descent.... I'm just Buddhist....
    I don't see the need to attach any more labels than necessary....
    Bunks
  • mfranzdorfmfranzdorf Veteran
    edited February 2013
    Welcome! So you are asking if you can be a Buddhist and a white person at the same time? Well, you are a Buddhist and Caucasian, so, yes!
    There are a whole bunch of us :)
    TetrussZero
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran
    No - it's unacceptable!!!

    ;)

    Just kidding.......welcome to the fold.

    I am a white male from Australia. Apparently 2.5% of us Aussies are buddhist but I suspect a large portion of those are immigrants from Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma etc.

  • Firstly, don't go about telling people you're a Buddhist if you don't know them very well. I've learned this the hard way, after being ridiculed at work. Tell only if people ask you (don't lie, of course), but don't go on about it if they are not your close friends or trusted family members. Don't discuss religion at work or with random people.
    Secondly, I don't understand why you think ethnicity would be an impediment to being Buddhist. In fact, ethinicity has no relevance whatsoever in the spiritual life. Still, of course there are plenty of caucasian Buddhists! There are Buddhists all across the globe. The Buddha didn't judge people based on the color of the skin. In fact, he abhorred the caste system. Have you not heard of Martin Luther King jr's speech? That character is more important than skin color? So, please, try not to go around believing what other people say. It is hard to find someone wise. Forget about these ethnicity, it leads you nowhere, or nowhere good. Don't think of yourself as "caucasian" or even "buddhist". That would only make your sense of self stronger. And will lead you to think you have to defend yourself against attacks you will take too personally.

    Meanwhile, meditate on this, if you have not done so yet:
    " It is not new, O Atula! It has always been done from ancient times.They blame one who is silent, they blame one who speaks much, they blame one who speaks little. There is no one in this world who is not blamed." Dhammapada 227

    And be at ease.
    JeffreyTetruss
  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    edited February 2013
    I think it would be challenging to be a Buddhist who thought Buddhism was limited by ethnicity.

    In Caucasian country's, the Buddhists are often Caucasian.

    That being said..Pure land does not attract as many Caucasians as other expressions of Buddhism.

    Just where in Canada are you?
  • The skin color is just part of your body. Your inner light has no color.
    TheEccentricTetrusskarastiDaftChris
  • edited February 2013
    Thank you all for your wisdom. It is not that I see this as an impediment in any way. I was simply wondering the opinions of others, as when I go to my temple I do not see many Caucasians. Nonetheless, I have seen Caucasian monks on Youtube.

    @how I'm in Vancouver.

    @lotuspadma thank you for your insightful wisdom my friend.

    @Jeffery I never looked at it that way before. Thanks!
    Invincible_summer
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited February 2013
    Tetruss said:

    Hello all,

    I'm new here, so apologies if this is posted in the wrong category.

    I will start off by saying that I am a Caucasian Mahyana (Pure Land) Buddhist.

    Often times, when I tell other this to others who are not Buddhist, I find myself subject to odd looks, and laughter. However, I just go about my day, as I normally would. Though I thought I would ask a question or two.

    1) Is it okay or acceptable to be a Caucasian Buddhist? ( I won't change my views, was just wondering the opinions of others.)

    2.) Are there many other Caucasian Buddhists?

    Where do you live, that this would be thought unusual? What type of temple do you go to? In the US, Buddhist temples are pretty much divided between those that cater to the Asian immigrant crowd (Korean Buddhist, Chinese Buddhist), and those that are more for Westerners (Zen, Tibetan Buddhist (though some Tibetans organize teachings in their community), Ch'an, Nichiren, and others. Possibly if you were around Asian immigres or their kids, they might find it a little odd that a Westerner were Buddhist.

    I went to a Thai restaurant in Vancouver that served traditional Thai breakfast to a Thai crowd on weekends. The staff thought it was very strange that I was there. The equivalent establishments in California draw plenty of Westerners, so I was surprised the staff in Van wasn't expecting a non-Thai.

  • I should hope it's acceptable -- or else the Buddha police are going to kick in my door and seize my incense and dharma books, lol. I am infact Caucasian (Jewish if you want to get really technical about it).

    Coincidentally, I'm also interested in Pure Land as well. Nice to meet you : )
    Tetruss
  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran
    Tetruss said:

    Thank you all for your wisdom. It is not that I see this as an impediment in any way. I was simply wondering the opinions of others, as when I go to my temple I do not see many Caucasians. Nonetheless, I have seen Caucasian monks on Youtube.

    @how I'm in Vancouver.

    @lotuspadma thank you for your insightful wisdom my friend.

    @Jeffery I never looked at it that way before. Thanks!

    A fellow Vancouverite! Welcome! :clap:

    So long as you yourself are comfortable with your spiritual practice, I don't see why your ethnicity would matter. That being said, Pure Land Buddhism can be quite wrapped up with cultural/ethnic traditions which may/may not resonate with you. So yeah, as long as that's not a problem with you (it seems like it isn't), then why should it be one?
    Tetruss
  • Dakini said:

    Tetruss said:

    Hello all,

    I'm new here, so apologies if this is posted in the wrong category.

    I will start off by saying that I am a Caucasian Mahyana (Pure Land) Buddhist.

    Often times, when I tell other this to others who are not Buddhist, I find myself subject to odd looks, and laughter. However, I just go about my day, as I normally would. Though I thought I would ask a question or two.

    1) Is it okay or acceptable to be a Caucasian Buddhist? ( I won't change my views, was just wondering the opinions of others.)

    2.) Are there many other Caucasian Buddhists?

    Where do you live, that this would be thought unusual? What type of temple do you go to? In the US, Buddhist temples are pretty much divided between those that cater to the Asian immigrant crowd (Korean Buddhist, Chinese Buddhist), and those that are more for Westerners (Zen, Tibetan Buddhist (though some Tibetans organize teachings in their community), Ch'an, Nichiren, and others. Possibly if you were around Asian immigres or their kids, they might find it a little odd that a Westerner were Buddhist.

    I went to a Thai restaurant in Vancouver that served traditional Thai breakfast to a Thai crowd on weekends. The staff thought it was very strange that I was there. The equivalent establishments in California draw plenty of Westerners, so I was surprised the staff in Van wasn't expecting a non-Thai.


    Perhaps I need to shed more light on the subject. It is not the temple, at all. In fact, I find my temple one of the most peaceful places to be. I go there often, and everyone including lay members are very helpful. I am not judged by anyone at my temple, as could be expected. I was there two days ago, and was told I was welcome to join them in their services any time. The temple is however, i nan area with a large Asian populous. More or less, the first question pertains to my family.

  • edited February 2013
    @Invincible_summer You are right. My ethnicity plays no role at all. Pure Land Buddhism does not bother me at all :) What I do not understand, I have explained to me/translated by members of the Sangha. (Mostly nuns or monks)
    Invincible_summer
  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    edited February 2013
    Pureland temples in Vancouver have been built by and cater to the local Asian community. Some serve as both temple and social/ Asian rec centres.
    Zen/Tibetan & Vipassana/scoop up the most of the Caucasians.
    Another interesting stat from the last 40 years of attending Buddhist centres on the West coast of North America is that the medium age group of those joining has always been the same. In the 70's it was 20 year olds/in the 80's it was 30 year olds/ in the 90's it was 40 year olds /2000 it was 50 year olds etc etc.


    And after talking about the theoretic irrelevance of Buddhist ethnicity I do notice a distinct lack of Asians in the Caucasian temples. I do not think this is from any Buddhist cause so much as a social/ comfort oriented one.
  • how said:

    Pureland temples in Vancouver have been built by and cater to the local Asian community. Some serve as both temple and social/ Asian rec centres.
    Zen/Tibetan & Vipassana/scoop up the most of the Caucasians.
    Another interesting stat from the last 40 years of attending Buddhist centres on the West coast of North America is that the medium age group of those joining has always been the same. In the 70's it was 20 year olds/in the 80's it was 30 year olds/ in the 90's it was 40 year olds /2000 it was 50 year olds etc etc.


    And after talking about the theoretic irrelevance of Buddhist ethnicity I do notice a distinct lack of Asians in the Caucasian temples. I do not think this is from any Buddhist cause so much as a social/ comfort oriented one.

    I guess it comes down to what one is comfortable with.
  • cazcaz Veteran United Kingdom Veteran
    There are plenty of Buddhists around of many ethnicities :)
    TetrussTheEccentric
  • BhikkhuJayasaraBhikkhuJayasara Bhikkhu Veteran
    edited February 2013
    The far majority of buddhist monks came to this country to cater to populations from back home who moved west, not to teach westerners. That being said westerners will ALWAYS be the minority basically anywhere you go simply because of that. There may be a single place here or there that has more westerners but this has been my experience on the whole visiting mayahana and theravada traditional centers.

    the place that I consider my Buddhist home is Bhavana Society forest monastery in West Virgina. If you go there for the typical retreat you will see mostly westerners as it is a famous place for the teaching of westerners, but if you go there and see the "real" community that supports the place during times like Vesak and Katina.. you as a westerner will be vastly outnumbered in a giant sea of Sri Lankans.

    regardless in any buddhist place(temple, monastery, retreat center) you will have the variety of ethnicity, which for me has always been great because I love meeting people from all cultures.
    vinlynTetruss
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    Tetruss said:

    Hello all,

    I'm new here, so apologies if this is posted in the wrong category.

    I will start off by saying that I am a Caucasian Mahyana (Pure Land) Buddhist.

    Often times, when I tell other this to others who are not Buddhist, I find myself subject to odd looks, and laughter. However, I just go about my day, as I normally would. Though I thought I would ask a question or two.

    1) Is it okay or acceptable to be a Caucasian Buddhist? ( I won't change my views, was just wondering the opinions of others.)

    2.) Are there many other Caucasian Buddhists?


    5555555555555555555555555555555555555555555

    In case you're wondering, "ha" is the Thai word for "5".

    You actually have people 555 at you? Wow! Who are these people.
    Yes, there are lots of Caucasian Buddhists...and glad you are one of us!

    Tetruss
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator
    I live in Minnesota, and beyond the metro area of Minneapolis/St Paul, MN isn't exactly known for it's diversity. My sangha is entirely Caucasian, except our Tibetan monk teacher. Minneapolis does have a fair amount of Tibetans. But in northern MN where I live, I didn't even have someone in my entire school (K-12) who wasn't Caucasian until I was in 8th grade.I think there are plenty of Buddhists of all sorts of types. And I agree with what @maryanne said. I try not to apply labels to myself or others. To do so creates a separateness from the very start and the last thing we need is more walls between us.
  • DaltheJigsawDaltheJigsaw Mountain View Veteran
    I'm a Caucasian Buddhist! LOl! I follow Zen Sect, however.
  • @karasti, doesn't Mpls/St. Paul have one of the largest Tibetan populations in the US? MN and WI have the 2 largest, last I checked.
  • Now I do know a Buddhist, or so he claims, that is a White Supremistst.
  • edited February 2013
    JosephW said:

    Now I do know a Buddhist, or so he claims, that is a White Supremistst.

    Are you referring to me? If so, not sure as to how I would come across as such.
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator
    Yes, the Minneapolis metro has a large number of Tibetans. But it is no where near I live. I am about 4.5 hours north of Minneapolis.
  • Tetruss said:

    Hello all,

    I'm new here, so apologies if this is posted in the wrong category.

    I will start off by saying that I am a Caucasian Mahyana (Pure Land) Buddhist.

    Often times, when I tell other this to others who are not Buddhist, I find myself subject to odd looks, and laughter. However, I just go about my day, as I normally would. Though I thought I would ask a question or two.

    1) Is it okay or acceptable to be a Caucasian Buddhist? ( I won't change my views, was just wondering the opinions of others.)

    2.) Are there many other Caucasian Buddhists?

    It's okay if you are okay.
  • TheEccentricTheEccentric Hampshire, UK Veteran
    It is extremely discriminitve for anyone to suggest that it is any less acceptable to be a Buddhist from a certain race than another.
    Bunkscaz
  • It is extremely discriminitve for anyone to suggest that it is any less acceptable to be a Buddhist from a certain race than another.

    Apologies. This was not what was to be implied nor suggested at all. I have no problem with anyone that decides to be any religion, regardless of their ethnicity. The law where I live also says it's discriminatory to make fun of other peoples religions :)
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    It is extremely discriminitve for anyone to suggest that it is any less acceptable to be a Buddhist from a certain race than another.

    I don't agree with the way you stated it.

    If you said that it's discriminative for anyone to say that a Black person (for example) shouldn't be a Buddhist, then yes, that's correct.

    But for a Black person (for example) to say that the Black community isn't very receptive toward Blacks being Buddhist, then that's just stating reality.

    TetrussBhikkhuJayasara
  • TheEccentricTheEccentric Hampshire, UK Veteran
    edited February 2013
    Tetruss said:

    It is extremely discriminitve for anyone to suggest that it is any less acceptable to be a Buddhist from a certain race than another.

    Apologies. This was not what was to be implied nor suggested at all. I have no problem with anyone that decides to be any religion, regardless of their ethnicity. The law where I live also says it's discriminatory to make fun of other peoples religions :)
    Oh don't worry I diddn't mean you :) , I meant the people who you where talking about in the OP and anyone else who behaves in a manner like that and just to state my views on the matter.
  • TheEccentricTheEccentric Hampshire, UK Veteran
    vinlyn said:

    It is extremely discriminitve for anyone to suggest that it is any less acceptable to be a Buddhist from a certain race than another.

    I don't agree with the way you stated it.

    If you said that it's discriminative for anyone to say that a Black person (for example) shouldn't be a Buddhist, then yes, that's correct.

    But for a Black person (for example) to say that the Black community isn't very receptive toward Blacks being Buddhist, then that's just stating reality.

    Sorry I meant the first thing, not that stating that a certain group in general isn't recpetive to it is discriminitve.
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