Buddhism is made of more than meditation, monks and monasteries

By Quentin Kilpatrick, The BG News, February 4, 2010

Bowling Green, OH (USA) -- The Buddhism that comes to mind for many Americans -- ancient wise-men in robes, peaceful monks in isolated mountaintop monasteries and meditation -- is a romanticized and partial understanding of the religion.

"Americans generally have a positive image of Buddhism and Buddhist meditation," said Madeleine Duntley, director of the Chapman Learning Community, whose Ph.D. is in religious studies. "They tend to associate it with peace, a lack of stress, and a feeling of one with the universe."

One of the most common misconceptions is that Buddhism is the only world religion that has never fought a war, Duntley said. This idea, she said, is absolutely false, as Buddhist-practicing countries have been fighting each other and others for centuries.

For many who come from a Judeo-Christian background, Buddhism is a radical departure from what is even considered religion.

"Buddhism is different in that its founder was not a God, so it's non-theistic," Duntley said.

Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautama in the fifth century B.C. in India, according to important.ca, a Web site devoted to religion. The traditions were passed down orally for several centuries until they were written down.

Siddhartha Guatma is not seen as a god and he never claimed his teachings were divinely inspired. Because of this, Buddhism does not have a common scripture like Christianity or Judaism.

"He claimed to be not a personal savior, but a teacher to guide those who choose to listen," the Web site states.

Buddha, rather than a deity, is a title for any person who has been "enlightened," according to the Web site. So, like there have been many presidents of the United States, there have been many Buddhas.

Buddhism first entered the United States with Asian immigrants in the late 19th century, but it wasn't until the 1950s that it entered white American culture through the works of "Beat generation" writers like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsburg.

Since the 1960s, the United States has seen a growing number of "Seekers," or people who were raised in traditional Judeo-Christian backgrounds but converted to Buddhism.

"Buddhism tends to appeal to people who had been practicing another religion," Duntley said.

In Western cultures today, there is usually a split between the various ethnic forms of Buddhism practiced by immigrant communities and the Buddhism practiced by white converts, who tend to be wealthy and educated.

"In the West, it's generally an upper-middle class phenomenon," Duntley said, adding there are a large portion of converts who come from Jewish backgrounds.

Westerners drawn to Buddhism tend to be most interested in forms that emphasize meditation such as Zen and Tibetan, Duntley said, but Buddhism is not solely meditation and not all meditation is Buddhist.

The Buddhist influence, particularly meditation, has been secularized to some extent and incorporated into various psychotherapy treatments.

"One critique is that Americans change these Asian forms of Buddhism to suit their own cultures," Duntley said.

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Omniscient Robotic-Being for Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv. Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/norbuchatbot. Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv