By Polly Young-Eisendrath, Shoji Muramoto

Buddhism first got here to the West many centuries in the past in the course of the Greeks, who additionally prompted many of the tradition and practices of Indian Buddhism. As Buddhism has unfold past India, it has continuously been plagued by the indigenous traditions of its new houses. while Buddhism seemed in the US and Europe within the Nineteen Fifties and Sixties, it encountered modern psychology and psychotherapy, instead of spiritual traditions. because the Nineties, many efforts were made through Westerners to investigate and combine the similarities and alterations among Buddhism and it healing ancestors, relatively Jungian psychology.

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He tries to combine two perspectives: that of a historian and that of a believer, and proposes to change first of all the assumption that emptiness (Sanskrit: sunyata) as a fundamental truth of Buddhism has to do with passivity and resignation. He proposes something like active emptiness. Firmly trained in the humanities, he alludes to the tasks which American Buddhists and scholars of Buddhism today find themselves confronted with, but at the same time gives relevance to Japanese Buddhists and scholars of Buddhism inasmuch as they, too, live in the contemporary world and have to play an important role therein (Gomez 1983).

It has been hitherto taken for granted that the United States of America is the most representative country of the West. But when we seriously consider the fact that more and more Americans become interested in Buddhism and remember the Buddhist saying that Buddhism is always being transmitted to the East, it becomes less and less self-evident that America is a Western country. Isn’t America already, geographically at least, to the east of Japan? And what about Japan? Our country is proud of the highest level of science and technology, and in international politics we are closely allied with the countries of the West.

This fundamentally subjective attitude is crucial in Buddhism. Any approach— whether practical or theoretical—will fall short if it remains merely object-oriented, assuming something to be grasped, understood, or attained by the subject. This is true whether the approach involves entering samadhi, passing koans, contemplating the Buddha in various forms, calming, or introspection. Through such Buddhist practices it is possible to attain a special state of mind, even to gain some insight. If the root-source of dukkha is not cut off, however, there is the danger of falling into a vicious cycle, an infinite regress, of merely going into and out of samadhi or other such states.

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