The Value of Intra-Faith Dialogue

In a Huff-Po article on the recent Garrison Buddhist conference:

Kornfield admitted disappointment that the gathering had no representatives of Asian Buddhist temples, which are some of the oldest and largest in the U.S. and largely serve immigrant communities.

"There is still a pretty big divide between temples and teachers whose communities are of immigrants and those who are called convert Buddhists. I don’t know how to address this," he said.

On Twitter @ZenDirtZenDust responded:

Invite them.

There is a lot of dialogue between Buddhists and people of other faiths. Big multi-faith panels discuss important issues of the day. Some of these are televised or stream over the Internet. We even have Christian-Buddhists, Jewish Buddhists, Atheist Buddhists, convert Buddhists of all sorts.

But how about Buddhist Buddhists? That is those born into a Buddhist culture or Buddhist family. Somehow they get overlooked in all this dialoguing.

The Inter-Faith situation seems to be well covered. That leaves the Intra-Faith situation to be considered.

Perhaps an Intra-Faith Teaching Council is worth developing. Or holding an Intra-Faith Buddhist Conference. Or an Intra-Faith teacher exchange. Or holding Intra-Faith Buddhist celebratory events. Or setting up Intra-Faith regional dialogues. Or researching what already exists along these lines. There’s plenty. Here are some useful models. Perhaps, if contacted, these organizations can give some input on future directions.

Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils-is an enormous umbrella group which represents all Buddhists, of all schools and sects by way of inclusive regional councils.

The Buddhist Council of the Midwest-representing the Chicago area

The Buddhist Sangha Council of Southern California-which was begun by the late Dr. Havanpola Ratanasara

The seeds are already there.

Maybe it’s time for some “Western Buddhists” to get over the sense of “specialness” that conversion sometimes brings.

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2 comments on “The Value of Intra-Faith Dialogue

  1. When deciding on a school at which to study Buddhist chaplaincy, the intra-faith componant was the most important to me, which was why I settled on Unviersity of the West in LA. They’re doing a great job of it here. The many different robes I saw when I made my campus visit convinced me. Chinese monks and nuns from China and Taiwan, Vietnamese monks and nuns from Australia, America, and Vietnam, Korean monks and nuns from America and Korea, Thai monks from Thailand and American Theravadan laypeople, Tibetan priests from Singapore and American Vajrayana laypeople, American Shingon laypeople, and lots and lots of Chinese/Taiwanese laypeople. It can be done. If Kornfield claims he doesn’t know how, all I can conclude is that he hasn’t been paying attention to the people who are doing it.

  2. Over 40 Asians were invited more than 3 years ago. They refused. Some demanded they bring large entourages. All we western teachers had to pay our own way and paid over a year ahead. Not a problem. Was cheap. Scores if not hundreds of other teachers were also asked, again 2-3 years ago. The invitee list was not secret. The conference was good, no nefarious agenda, kind of an experiment really to see if there was a need for such a thing and if more were warranted. It was good to meet fellow teachers and put faces to names. Garrison did a good job. Could not have handled more than 230. Not sure who suggested they invite me. I’d go again if asked. Who is Brad Warner? That addresses some of the issues I’ve seen raised. Most commentators’ remarks have been totally clueless, paranoid and conspiratory theory tninged. Mostly laughable. Nick Ribush LamaYeshe.com. Find me on Facebook too.

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