Friday, January 4, 2013

Radical Buddhist Reflections: Final Message From Dolma

To wrap up our interview, I asked Dolma this question.  In light of her anger at the appropriation and the uncomfortable white guilt she had experienced in so many of her encounters with American Buddhists, what would a respectful approach look like?  What advice does she have for white people who want to study Buddhism and avoid being appropriative or disrespectful.  She took the question home with her and sent me a reply the following day.  This is what she wrote:

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Radical Buddhist Reflections: White American Buddhist Temples

I was wary of writing this post.  This part of my interview with Dolma Sherpa was very enlightening, but it's not a subject that I feel particularly authorized to speak about.  My anthropological training tells me that there is wisdom to be found if we listen to people explain their experiences in their own words.  As a race activist and an ally to people of color, I find that the challenges of white guilt and appropriation causes a lot of pain and confusion for both white folks and people of color.  So I'd like to offer this to you: one young Nepali woman's perceptions about her experiences engaging with White American Buddhism.

I avoid White American Buddhist temples. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Radical Buddhist Reflections: Issues of Feminism

In the interview with Dolma Sherpa, there was a strong sense of feminism woven throughout our conversation.  In many of the stories she told me, the challenges she is facing, including the journey of experiencing and expressing her anger, are heavily influenced by her gender.  While most of what she said was too intrinsically linked with other ideas to isolate them as only feminist issues, she did make some wonderful points that I felt really needed to be seen.  In this first part, we are talking about the prevalence of White American Buddhists in Western Buddhist magazines and other media.  The complete absence of Asian Americans from these ranks is an issue with Asian American Buddhists and one that Dolma has come to see as huge flaw in the way that Buddhism is portrayed and practiced in the West.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Radical Buddhist Reflections: The Angry Asian Buddhist

Anger has been a common subject of conversation for me over the last few months.  I've been experiencing my own anger and frustration at the challenges of interfaith dialogue and engagement.  But recently the conversation of religious anger has shifted, to include the voice of my friend Dolma Shepa, a Nyingma Buddhist originally from Nepal.  Recently, Dolma and I talked at length about what it means to her to be an Angry Asian Buddhist.

Yesterday, my friends were joking with me and they said, "There is so much rage in that tiny Buddhist body of yours." Oh, it's so true.

Radical Buddhist Reflections: Nyingma Buddhism

This is the first of five posts which all stem from an interview I did with Dolma Sherpa.  Dolma is originally from Nepal and is a Sherpa Nyingma Buddhist.  With a Jewish father and a Buddhist mother, she has always lived a multi-cultural life with complicated religious influences.  A few years back, she came to Los Angeles to go to college.  In our interview, she shared a lot about her own spiritual journey and her experiences understanding Nyingma Buddhism.  Here are some of my favorite pieces of what she shared.