- Practice – That’s it just practice.
- Welcome – Invite others – If someone wants to practice with you, welcome them.
- Repeat – There. You are a sangha. Now repeat.
Cultures are different, yes. Religion is intertwined with culture, yes. Some sanghas will be primarily one ethnicity rather than another. Some will be a mix. As an example, Greeks will congregate at a Greek Orthodox Church, that Church will be full of Greeks. That church is serving two functions; one religious and one cultural. Greeks learn about their heritage and their language and history as well as about their religion. These are both important. I can’t express how important they are. Someone – a non-Greek – walks in and sees a bunch of crap (and there is a bunch of crap in a GO Church) and figures that it detracts from the core teachings. There is nothing inherently racist in this situation. The congregation will accept a newcomer and a newcomer will get used to (or learn the significance of) the “crap”.
OK, back to Buddhism. Huge difference is that any Convert Buddhist has no cultural attachment to the religion. They switched over purely (usually from my point of view) for doctrinal reasons. As such the outlook between a White/Black/Hispanic/Asian (many Asian do fall right smack into the “convert” camp, lest we forget) Convert and an Asian Buddhist w/cultural affinities will differ. This is not inferring one is better than the other or that one is a more “pure” form of Buddhism. It is simply stating that those cultural ties lead to a much deeper involvement into the religion. For example, I am still Greek and am tied culturally to that Greek Orthodox Church no matter what I call myself or what path I take spiritually.
So to anyone that cares enough to read this, let me make one more suggestion – Ignore those last two paragraphs – they are full of crap. Go back to the beginning and practice, welcome others and repeat. That should be enough ( if it isn’t now then it will be evenutally). Then smile, sit, chant nembutsu, read sutras, drink tea, have a beer and laugh.
Nothing else is needed. Everything else is worthless. If someone calls you “homespun” or stupid or racist or ignorant then just sit, welcome them to sit with you and repeat. Don’t offer the beer until after you know where they stand on the 5th Precept, however – that can get ugly too – but tea is just as good.