Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Dalai Lama: Re-think Our Traditional Buddhist Ways

This is the first part of five that records the interview between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Hyon Gak Sunim. Hyon Gak Sunim is a disciple of Zen Master Seung Sahn but has left Kwan Um School of Zen to be largely on his own. So this video means a lot to me because both Buddhist traditions have made much impress on me. Watch all five parts. In his message, I think the Dalai Lama is trying to encourage Zen tradition to think out of the box and not just follow centuries old tradition. Since the society nowadays is very much grounded on logic and scientific thinking, try to introduce some "words and speech" kind of study into Zen, although traditionally Zen is "beyond words and speech". He is not asking us to abandon it altogether, merely introduce other elements to make it more relevant to our society. All Zen Masters should pay heed of this advice. In Korea especially, many youths are attracted to Christianity and have converted. Christianity is definitely easier to understand. Korean youths might find Zen Buddhism confusing especially those puzzling Zen koans. We must adapt to our times in order for Buddhism to survive. I am not sure if His Holiness has said it or not, but I think the same is true of Tibetan Buddhism.

Also another point brought up by His Holiness is the need to identify ourselves with broader concepts, ultimately identifying ourselves a "humans", rather than narrower concepts like religion, race or politics. For example, Theravadians, Mahayanists, Tibetan Buddhists, Protestants, Catholics, Sulus, Sabahans, Chinese, Malay, etc. We should broaden it to Buddhists, Christians, Asians, etc. Then broaden it even further to just Humans.  He pointed that it is because we identify ourselves to these narrow concepts that often people fight. We fight because we want to defend our narrow little concept. We destroy each other for our own ego. In the end we achieve nothing, and indeed, everything may be destroyed. He used the example of North and South Koreans. They are the same race and the same country, but because of their narrow political identity, they end up being enemies. It's ridiculous if you think about it. Asean talks about achieving an Asean Community in 2015 or 2016, but if one country still desire to claim land that belongs to another country all these years, then what does that tell you about that community? It's superficial. There's no unity at all. Asean Community is a dream and will stay a dream if people don't let go of their selfishness, attachment and ego. So, please think about the message given by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

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