As Buddhism moved out of India and into Asia, it adapted to and evolved with local traditions and indigenous beliefs. Thus we are introduced to the Mahayana sutras as well as the melding of Buddhism with Taoism and Confucism in China and with Shinto in Japan. It then melded with the Mystic/Spiritual Movement of Europe during the 1800s and early 1900s (most of us agree that this was unfortunate and has led to many ingrained misconceptions about Buddhism that still exist today). It melded with the beatniks and hippie/communal living movements of the 50’s and 60’s. It (ugh) melded with the New Age movements as well. We are still doing damage control on that one.
But I ramble. Someone commented that Buddhism is still working through its growth spurt in the West. I think they give it too much credit. We are still in our infancy. As a religion/non-religion and as a philosophy we are still shitting our diapers. We can barely make out a coherent sentence. We can’t even walk.
I’m not being pessimistic here, just realistic. We (the West) have not even begun to meld with Buddhism as a culture. And when it does begin to happen, it will be much more complex then it ever was in the past. What is being created is a division between the “western” converted Buddhists with those born into Buddhism (or reborn, as the case may be).
But while they may not be destroying Buddhism they are growing out of our culture’s need for a quick and easy fix and well as our need to consume. Big Mind by Genpo Roshi comes to *ahem* mind when one thinks of Western Zen (not Western Buddhism, mind you, and that is the problem). There seems to be a disconnect growing between what westerners want and what Buddhism actually is. From Genpo Roshi’s website…
Big Mind Big Heart is the name given, by American Zen Master Dennis Genpo Merzel, Roshi, to a special new way to discover, experience and appreciate your life. It’s also a good way of working out the kinks, the stuck places, and the unhealthy patterns that keep us down. Life is complex, and the inner self is an exquisite network of the psychological and the spiritual. Understanding it well naturally leads one to a better life.
The Big Mind Big Heart approach to life is a method of self-investigation and analysis that is straightforward and effective, and working with it will open your heart and mind to a new appreciation of the fullness and richness of life. It’s a new combination of tools, a blend of Western psychology and science, and the Eastern traditions passed on to us, and it’s been developed for the express purpose of helping us to better understand the mind and the nature of human life.
Dennis Merzel, who calls himself Genpo Roshi, has developed a system he calls Big Mind™. And yes, the little ™ is part of the name. According to the Roshi, by usingthis technique, “you will have in one day — before lunch actually — the clarity and experience that a Zen master has. But Zen is seen as the school of sudden enlightenment. And we’re just making sure it remains sudden.” Ken Wilber, in his foreword to Genpo Roshi’s forthcoming book on Big Mind™ says, “In Zen, this realization of one’s True Nature, or Ultimate Reality, is called kensho or satori (“seeing into one’s True Nature,” or discovering Big Mind™ and Big Heart). It often takes five years or more of extremely difficult practice (I know, I’ve done it) in order for a profound satori to occur. With the Big Mind™ Process, a genuine kensho can occur in about an hour—seriously. Once you get it, you can do it virtually any time you wish, and almost instantaneously.”