Introduction

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I believe that Buddhism needs to adapt and change as it travels to different Western countries. Cultural appropriations of Buddhism are inevitable and have occurred numerous times in the past, but we must be very attentive to this process. Buddhist ideas are still very new in the West. Buddhism has a lot to offer the West, and it is important for it to take root here in a way that will enrich modern cultures. That requires time, so we should not take to harshly pruning Buddhism according to what we think is relevant to this modern world.

The question is not whether Buddhism need or should change — in fact, Buddhism more than any other religion stresses the need to contemplate change and impermanence — but how it is to change without losing its essential elements. If we try to transform Buddhism into something that fits neatly into modern Western thought, very little of the original Buddhadharma would remain. It would simply be absorbed into prevalent secular thinking or have bits and pieces appropriated by popular spiritual revivalism such as that found in various New Age philosophies.

Before we decide how we are going to assimilate Buddhism into Western culture, we must first understand the meaning of what the uniquely Buddhist concepts are trying to convey. As with many new ideas, it will take time for them to be integrated and make their meaning apparent.


In this lesson you will explore some of the ways in which you can make use of basic Buddhist concepts in order to make sense of and make the most out of your meditation practice.