Tradition and Challenge

02007-03-05 | Buddhism | 2 comments

Bielefeldt. Participatory Buddhism
If we have an historical obligation to criticize our tradition, we must also recognize that the more we fix the tradition to our liking, the less power it may have to challenge us to fix ourselves.

I have thought about this a lot – the need to have something to push against. Perfection is death. Rebellion against parents/institutions/traditions can initiate growth. Or take this musical example: Segovia brought the guitar into the concert hall when it was still looked down upon as a folk instrument. I am sure that was an uphill struggle for a while.


  1. Mugaku

    American Buddhism, because of its newness, seems particularly susceptible to the “change it to suit me” challenge. There is so little depth to what is received that the tendency to rebel against it, to make it suit one’s particular vision, may have a larger tendency to destabilize the institution than would be the case in a country with a deeper Buddhist culture. The upside is that some bold new synthesis of various Buddhist schools and, for example, Western psychology will emerge. The downside is that there will be less doing the hard work of holding the notion of the self still for examination, and more talking of understanding.

  2. ottmar

    Thanks for your comment, sensei. I agree wholeheartedly.


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