May 21, 2009

"Can Buddhism Save America?"

Source: EnlightenNext Magazine (excerpt)

....Tworkov's firsthand observations of the coming of age of American Buddhism have led her to think deeply about the fallout from the failure of many teachers to uphold moral values, and about the tenacious independence and individualism, perhaps particular to Americans, that she terms "libertine antagonism to authority." Both of these factors, she believes, have served to diminish the role, purpose and value of awakening among Zen Buddhists. In her Afterword, she responds unequivocally to this phenomenon, describing how "the quest for enlightenment has been derided of late as [a] romantic and mythic aspiration." She laments the "denigration of enlightenment" as a "grievous and perhaps peculiarly American misinterpretation" of some of the great Zen masters' teachings about the goal of the spiritual path. And in contrast to this view, she holds up the passion for change that brought Buddhism to America in the first place: "The original enthusiasm . . . was not just for personal discovery, but for the possibility of developing an appreciation for the unknown in an excessively cluttered society—it was an effort to break ground for new possibilities...

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