We are Buddhists because…

A statement made by Arun over at Angry Asian Buddhist needs repeating:

Let me reframe the credentials of Asian American Buddhists. We are Buddhist because that’s what we call ourselves, because that’s how we practice, because that’s the religion we choose to follow and identify with. We are American because we were born here, we went to American schools, we salute Old Glory, we pay American taxes, we speak American English, we vote in American elections and because we fought, bled and died for American freedoms. We are as American as chop suey, fortune cookies, competitive team taiko and home-baked apple pie. And our Buddhism is American Buddhism because no matter how superficially similar our local practice may seem to the way that Buddhism is practiced in Asia, we have had to significantly adapt and alter our traditions to fit our American community and context here in North America.

I don’t have much to add except to say that I do not always agree with Arun but he has a perfectly valid point on Asian American Buddhists being left out of the dialogue concerning how buddhism is emerging in America. There is an overall element of Manifest Destiny in this Western practice of ours. Where it has been determined that Buddhist practice has been properly appropriated from traditional Asian hands into progressive Caucasian hands looking foward to the future.


Image is of T. K. Nakagaki of the New York Buddhist Church who played the flute at the beginning of an interfaith blessing ceremony at the East Coast War Memorial. He faced away from the crowd and toward the water. Nakagaki chose not to speak to the crowd. “Sometimes it’s better not to speak and just be there, then everybody can just do their own prayer in their mind,” Nakagaki said. [source]

Nakagaki also attended an Interfaith Time of Reflection for Japan. An event that shows the inclusive nature of Buddhist practice is exactly the what the Emerging Face of Buddhism should be representing rather than the stength of our respective marketing network.

Just wanted to mention that I am a huge fan of T. K. Nakagaki and this article on about Buddhism with a New Mindset is the Emerging Face of Buddhism without marketing machines, twitter accounts and huge book deals. This is the merging of cultures, traditions and beliefs that, hopefully, will typify American Buddhism rather than marginalization and percieved authority.