dhamma musings: Modern Or Moribund?


Buddhism throughout its traditional homelands
is not in a healthy state. A complacent and conservative Sangha has been slow
or even reluctant to adjust to the modern world. The approach seems to be just
to keep repeating what has been done for centuries. In particular, Buddhism in
Japan  is pretty much  terminal and like
Christianity in some western countries, seems irrelevant  to most people, especially
the young. News from Japan tells of a few monks (perhaps ‘priest’ would be more
accurate; nearly  all Japanese Buddhist
clergy  are married) who are trying to
attract the young by presenting Buddhism in  ways that resonate  with them. Apparently one  priest  runs
a bar, chats with customers and chants suttas as he pours their drinks. Another
priest  is attempting to attract the young by transmitting the Dhamma
through rap and hip-hop music. I am reminded of Gomo Tulku, the so-called Rapping Rimpoche –
fancy coiffure, dark sun glasses, leather jacket, torn jeans, the whole works.

Surely there is enough in the Dhamma that,
presented in modern language and  through
modern media  can be meaningful and attractive! And of course, awareness of
problems and doing something about them NOW, might  mean that radical compromises do not have to
be resorted to. It seems to me that when a religion has sunk so low that you
have to  jettison  some of its basic doctrines or characteristic
features in a desperate effort to attract people, then it’s time to throw in  the towel.

On the ‘innovative’ Japanese pre priests
mentioned above see –  


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