Wednesday 7 November 2018

Can a Westerner be a real Buddhist (or Hindu)?

Dalai Lama explaining why-not to a potential Western convert?

William Wildblood and the Dalai Lama both say - No, not really.

As I say - the first task for everyone who does not want to be a Leftist nihilist hedonist is Pick Your Religion.

So that's two down, and not many to go...

To make matters easier for us; in the end there are only two genuine religious options for potential Western converts. So, make your choice...


Chiu ChunLing said...

I think that probably what is more accurate is that Buddhism is focused on abnegation, which in a cultural context dominated by a tradition of abject submission to worldly authority (to a degree Westerners simply don't understand) can mean one thing, but in an entirely different cultural context means something else.

In a cultural context of Christianity, the salient abnegation is of Christian beliefs and virtues. Which is not such a good thing.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...


Hinduism is, like Judaism, and ethnic religion, inseparable from the culture in which it is embedded. Buddhism, on the other hand, is like Christianity and That Other Religion in that it has been successfully transplanted to several cultures far removed from its culture of origin. I haven't read William Wildblood's post yet, but if Chinese and Thai people can be real members of this religion of Indian origin, why not Westerners? (Remember that the idea of non-Jews being Christians was at first quite controversial.)

Bruce Charlton said...

The point is that we should not be assuming that all religions Can be transplanted Everywhere. Indeed, there are only two major religions that actively seek converts everywhere.

It is also an error to expect someone to have opinions on every question.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

OK, I've read WW's post now and basically agree with him. Christianity, Buddhism, and The Other Monotheistic Religion all spread to foreign cultures when they were still young and had not yet put down strong roots in a particular culture. Nowadays the situation is different. Saplings are more readily transplanted than centuries-old trees.

Now I'm wondering if there are even two options? For a Westerner, converting to the Religion That Must Not Be Named seems just as unnatural as becoming a Buddhist. I would say that Christianity and irreligion are the only two live options for most Western gentiles.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - I agree, in the sense that I believe we in the West cannot go back to any traditionalist form of religion, Christian or any other - it simply will not happen for the reason that it is not really real.

My judgment is that modern Westerners who claim to be practicing traditionalist froms of Christianity just aren't doing so (any more than are those who claim to be practising Eastern religions) - their attitudes are qualitatively different from the past. The genie can't be put back into the bottle.

We must move forward to a new kind of Christianity (Romantic Christianity) to we we can - as individuals - embrace at the deepest level - and from which we can develop; or we will not have any real Christianity; or anything else.

This isn't a threat 'or else'; and it is not related to the survival of 'Western Civilization' (which is surely, rightly, doomed whatever happens); it is just a plain fact; as I see it.

There is one destiny, which we each know intuitively and without any need to be told, proved or argued - the choice is just that, or nothing. And nothing is a real option.

Chiu ChunLing said...

Everyone is either moving towards or away from God. That is the essential meaning of religion. To reject cultural Christianity is a far cry from rejecting the typically grasping materialistic competitiveness (in which the vast majority are not just losers, but deemed entirely worthless) which is rampant in highly civilized non-Christian nations.

Of course, merely cultural Christianity has no saving power (and never did), a point I must emphasize often. But it is not of itself an actual bar to receiving God's grace.

Bars can be surpassed, but if you are choosing to impose them then the fundamental motive is not because you want to take the path in which you place them.