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Maitreya Buddha


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Waiting for next Dogen
 American Maitreya Buddha

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Buddha usually appear as “this very moment”, however perceived or defined. Being always “just that…..” Buddhas may or may not be perceived as Buddhas by others, nevertheless, they always continue being Buddhas just as they are. However, since the “as they are” is inherently empty and not any fixed entity, Buddhas appear as simply “this” […….] or “that” [……..], as me and you, as “this very moment” and as the entire Universe. 

They “appear” only when Mind appears (…) divided into its object / subject modes of Being.  

Whenever a Buddha realizes that he or she is Buddha as a human being, the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha rejoice, leap forward, and “Buddhism” takes yet another turn. 

 

The last 2,600 years of Buddhism have been marked by such occasional appearance of realized Buddhas, of spiritual guides, whose insights, understanding or manifestation of the Dharma not only subsumed and included all prior teaching traditions but also reformulated them into a new philosophical turn, new school or spiritual paradigm.

Today, two centuries after Buddhism was introduced to the West, many practitioners in this country wonder how long will it take for another Buddha, another uniquely enlightened mind, another Nagarjuna, Asanga, Milarepa, Hui-Neng, Hakuin or Dogen to appear in American Buddhism?

 

Alas for all of us, as the timeline in the box below suggests, it may to take quite a long time again.

 

In the past, it was always at least 600 years after Buddhism was first transplanted to a new culture or country before a truly original teacher / reformer would appear – suggesting, if one can extrapolate from history – that it may take another 450 years for one to emerge here, in the West.

 

·         In its birthplace, India, almost an entire millennium passed, before early Buddhism, proselytized by Siddharta Gautama around 600 B.C., spread throughout Southeast Asia and Tibet and matured into its philosophical pinnacle manifested by Madhyamika (Nagarjuna  200 – 300 AD), and Yogacara (Asanga and Vasubandhu  300 – 400 AD).

·         In China, over 500 years passed since the time Buddhism was first introduced (ca. 100 B.C.  – 100 A.D.) to the arrival of Boddhidarma ( 500 A.D), the legendary Indian monk who became the First Patriarch of Chan (Zen).

·         It took another 150 years and five more generations of teachers after Boddhidarma, before Hui Neng (638 – 674), the revered Sixth Patriarch appeared, and additional 200 years for Lin-chi (Rinzai) (d. 867) and Ts’ao-tung (Soto) ( 830) schools of Chan (Zen) to emerge.

·         Over 1,000 years passed in China, since Buddhism was first introduced, to the time when the first two major Zen koan collections – “Blue Cliff Record” (1125 A.D.) and “The Gateless Gate” (ca 1228 A.D.) were compiled.

·         Similarly, even if Buddhism arrived to Japan as early as 550 A.D., it took more than 250 years for it to fully settle in Kyoto during the Heian Period ( 800) and another 400 years to culminate in the Kamakura Period (1185  -  1333 A.D.).

·         Again, Buddhism was widely present in Japan for at least 650 years before the spiritual and poetic genius of Dogen and his mystical masterpiece Shobogenzo (1200 – 1253) appeared and established Soto Zen’s Ehei-ji temple as a major presence in the Japanese Mahayana Buddhism.

·         After Dogen, it was another 400 years more till the time when Hakuin (1686 – 1769) reformed Rinzai Zen and its use of koans at the Ryutaku-ji temple in Japan where it still continues today.

·         Buddhism was originally introduced to the West, about 1800, and it still seems to be in its infancy today.

·         Several generations of Asian pioneer teachers struggled with cultural and language barriers for several decades, as they attempted to bring authentic practice to the US and Europe.

·         First legitimate non-Asian Buddhist teachers began to emerge in the second half of the last century (ca 1950 –2000) and a transition to the second and third generations of teachers is currently under way in all major Buddhist traditions, nationwide.

 

 

More time is needed for Buddhism to take root on the American soil, more time to assimilate with the culture at large and to mature enough for its new, truly Western, form to eventually emerge.

Even more time is probably needed for an American teacher, another Nagarjuna, Asanga, Milarepa, Hui-Neng, Hakuin or Dogen to appear in the U.S., a teacher who will not only conclude the transmission of Dharma to this new land but who will also legitimize American Buddhism as a new and fully autonomous tradition.

 

And when it finally arrives, what is the American Buddhism likely to be, 400 - 500 years from now?

How is that future American Maitreya Buddha, likely to lead, galvanize and propel American Buddhism into its next Millennium?

 

Historically, Buddhism, born out of Hinduism and Yoga traditions in ancient India, has always tended to absorb native spiritual tradition and culture of the country to which it arrived. As it moved East throughout Asia, it merged with Confucianism and Taoism in China, assimilated shamanism in Tibet and adapted to the Shinto Samurai culture in Japan.

 

Similarly, the future of American Buddhism is likely to be shaped by the entire Western / American culture and its future evolution in the time to come. 

 

One can anticipate that, by the year 2,500, American Buddhism in will have assimilated and merged  with the following “Western” influences:

 

·         Democracy – contrary to more autocratic, male dominated Asian model, American Buddhists will embrace more democratic, egalitarian / libertarian approach, with man and women practicing together in centers governed by elective process where the role of a teacher is separate from the center’s administrator. A full spectrum of training models will develop, from more traditional monastic institutions to lay centers which are likely to grow in popularity. The Western appreciation of individuality, democracy and transparency will result in more horizontal, egalitarian approach to the interpretation of the Dharma, with multiple, loosely related “lineages” and a marketplace of individual preachers. Paradoxically, this model is likely to resemble the origins of Buddhism in 600 B.C. India where wondering “seekers” / “monks” gathered only during rain seasons to study and practice in one place and only to resume their individual/ solitary search afterwards. An individual “hermit” / Boddhisatva / preacher model is likely to emerge, in addition to more organized Buddhism-as-religion. 

 

·         Science– science in general, and quantum physics and Unified Theory (when available) will replace Mahayana Buddhism as the new paradigm for the understanding of the Universe, Mind and Emptiness. American Buddhism will not only embrace science as the preferred language of the Dharma but a new, Scientific Buddhism will emerge as the dominant “school” of Buddhism not only in the West but worldwide. 

 

·         Psychology – both Buddhism and psychology endeavor to alleviate suffering and to grasp the nature of Mind. Psychology without the Mysterium of spirituality and mysticism is incomplete, Buddhism without postmodern psychology is naïve. Buddhism will eventually adopt the language of cognitive neuroscience and psychology to redefine itself within the Western culture. Insights of psychology, psychiatry, brain science and psychotherapy will not only inform any serious spiritual training and practice in the future but will also permeate the “Western” interpretation of the Madhyamika / Yogacara Dharma. Buddhist teachers of the future are likely to undergo formal training in at least one of the above disciplines to match ever evolving psychological-mindedness of their Western practitioners. Seated meditation and mindfulness will continue as the key elements distinguishing Buddhists practice from other traditions.

 

·        Language – translating Buddhism into the Western context will impose the English language and its vocabulary on the Dharma. A complete translation of most of Sanscrit, Chinese, Tibetan and Japanese texts should be completed within the next 100 years and most of the Buddhist canon will be available to Western readers in English. Terminology and understanding of particular terms is likely to evolve to adjust to the usage within the Western culture. New, original, modern  “sutras”, or Dharma texts, will appear and gradually replace the old ones. Future, American, Nagarjuna, Asanga, Milarepa, Hui-Neng, Hakuin and Dogen will “re-write” the old texts and create a uniquely English-language “school” of Buddhism. 

 

·         Postmodern / postindustrial culture – Buddhism preceded some ideas typically associated with deconstruction and postmodernism for over 2,600 years. The lack (emptiness) of the subject and form, decentralization / multiplicity (Absolute / Relative) of signification and truth, quantum physics and interdependent origination – all point to inescapable parallels between Buddhism and the postmodern. The future Buddhism will continue to evolve within the postmodern Western culture and will become increasingly permeated by its ideas and values. Environmentalism and “engaged” Buddhism will play a significant role in defining how Buddhists will function in the future global / local marketplace.

 

·         Technology –Buddhism will evolve in the Millennium dominated by science and its applications - technology. In a few decades we will be able to effectively manipulate our genetic codes, and hence the life itself, will learn how to control and change, at will, our states of mind through new advances in molecular neuropsychopharmacology, and will be able to immerse ourselves in computerized virtual realities of our choice, leaving more mundane chores to increasingly more efficacious and omnipresent artificial intelligence tools and robotic appliances. Instantaneous visual-audio global access to any information, person or place anywhere on Earth, via the next generations of the Internet, will be taken for granted. Biological computers and ultramicrochip-enhanced biological implants will merge technology with brain functions, altering cognition, consciousness and the sense of individual identity. The new American “Scientific Buddhism” will emerge  to embrace technology as its new “Great Vehicle” to ferry all sentient beings to the other shore of Existence.

 

·         Judeo-Christian tradition – Buddhism will assimilate many of the contemporary Judeo-Christian forms of monastic and lay practice, ranging from the Catholic monastery / church / priest model to the Episcopalian / Protestant / Baptist minister / preacher / congregation formats of practice. Buddhism will continue to struggle with the concept of Judeo-Christian monotheistic God.  Interfaith dialogue(s) will emerge to clarify basic ideas and to enhance mutual understanding. The concepts of God and Buddha-Mind, along with neuroscience, will take the center stage in the multidisciplinary debate on the nature of the mind and spiritual and religious life.

 

·         Global marketplace – American Buddhism will embrace wholesome, not-for-profit entrepreneurial self-sufficiency, simplicity and non-attachment rather than poverty and asceticism. Although Buddhism originally developed within tribal / feudal cultures of ancient India, China and Japan, we are now witnessing an increasing emphasis on economic self-reliance rather than on alms-gathering or feudal / government donations and support. Sophisticated fund raising, students / members fees and small business ventures are likely to become dominant sources of income for Buddhist centers in the future. Separation of the spiritual teaching from the economics, similar to that of church / state in the society at large, will have to be strictly observed to prevent perception of exploitation. The issues of property ownership or de facto property control by teachers, non-attachment vs poverty vs asceticism will have to be addressed and resolved as a Dharma question and within the American Sangha to assure integrity, purity and depth of future practice.

 

The future is always different from our speculations about it. However, we know that Buddhism will have to change in its encounter with the West. The old Theravada / Mahayana tradition will be, eventually, replaced by a new "school" or paradigm.

Since science and technology, along with democracy and global marketplace, are the most dominant forces shaping the world today, the postmodern science will become the next discourse of Buddhism, not only in the West but worldwide.   

That fully autonomous American / Western Scientific Buddhism will need a teacher, who like others did before, will propel it into the next Millennia. That person, whoever he/she will be, will find a way to translate the Dharma into a new language of science, psychology, cognitive neuroscience and postmodern / postindustrial culture.

 

To save all sentient beings, we all need to do our best to make it happen as soon as possible.

 

Buddha usually appear as “this very moment”, however perceived or defined. Being always “just that…..” Buddhas may or may not be perceived as Buddhas by others, nevertheless, they always continue being Buddhas just as they are. However, since the “as they are” is inherently empty and not any fixed entity, Buddhas appear as simply “this” […….] or “that” [……..], as me and you, as “this very moment” and as the entire Universe. 

They “appear” only when Mind appears (…) divided into its object / subject modes of Being.  

Whenever a Buddha realizes that he or she is Buddha as a human being, the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha rejoice, leap forward, and “Buddhism” takes yet another turn. 

 Source: http://mindis.com/MINDis.shtml

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Update : 01-12-2002


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