September 20, 2007

"Dharma Family Values" by Clark Strand, and Progressive Buddhism

It seems like Clark Strand's piece "Dharma Family Values" in the latest Tricycle has struck a chord. It was written about (and Strand was interviewed) in Religionwriter.com and this was noticed in On Faith, an online conversation on -- you guessed it -- faith put out by Newsweek and the Washington Post. Strand's piece was also noticed by a blogger from the Courier-Journal out of Louisville, and the blog Thoughts Chase Thoughts. This is a great example of blogs keeping good discussions alive!

A relatively new blog is Progressive Buddhism, an interesting take on the new kind of Western Buddhism that may be emerging. To wit:

The purpose of this blog is that it will be a group-blog on the topic of progressive, modern Buddhism with the following aims:

  • looking at Buddhism in the light of modern knowledge, free from over-attachment to ancient dogmas,
  • looking at the best ways to integrate Buddhism into Modern/Western societies
  • discussing and encouraging an empirical or scientific approach
  • Seeing insight and awakening as a living tradition

I think attempting to craft a religion to satisfy the current atheistic / scientific movement sweeping the bookstore shelves might be a losing battle, but I sympathize with the instinct. (Along these lines, some folks were surprised to learn that the Dalai Lama is not, apparently, a Darwinist.) Unfortunately PB uses the bogus Einstein quote about Buddhism being the best-suited religion for scientifically minded people to introduce the site. Tricycle used this quote in promotional material back in the day until its spuriousness was was pointed out by the estimable Kenneth Kraft of Lehigh University. If you're not busy you should read or re-read his Zen: Tradition and Transition right now.

Progressive Buddhism also links to a cool blog called Gangsta Zen, where the blogger is meditating every day for a year and writing a new blog post about it each day. He's on Day 48 now. Talk about commit to sit!

- Philip Ryan, Webmaster

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philweb's picture

Gregor: On Wikiquote (http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:Albert_Einstein) there is some discussion of this on the Einstein page (item 18.) I'm not sure how Professor Kraft arrived at this conclusion some time ago. The book mentioned is not about that but rather a selection of essays about Zen Buddhism -- a bit academic, maybe, but I found it very absorbing when I read it several years back, especially "The Story of Early Ch'an" by John R. McRae, who is a professor at Indiana University.

Gregor's picture

Phil,

I suppose trying to completely overlap Buddhism with science is a bit of a bad fit. Each discipline has a different focus and direction, balance is key in all things.

I did not know that the Einstein quote about Buddhism was bogus. I'm interested in hearing more about it's debunking. Is it in the book you recommend?