Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Buddhist New Year

Today I joined literally thousands of Buddhists in our area as they celebrated the Buddhist New Year at the local temple. I've driven past the temple hundreds of times - an inauspicious building off the highway - but except for a few saffron-robed monks in front had never seen much activity. I never would have imagined our city had so many Theravada Buddhists; they are the ones who celebrate the New Year this weekend. It was a festive, family occasion with stalls selling types of food I've never even seen much less tasted and people wearing jeans, tee-shirts, miniskirts and tank tops. Everyone was welcomed inside the temple, non-Buddhists as well as believers, women as well as men, where people sat together and waited patiently to receive individual blessings from the main monk.

I could not help but compare the experience with the recent CNN program "Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door". When the several hundred Muslim families of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, decided to build a 52,000 square foot Islamic center in the middle of town, local residents responded with protests, vandalism, arson, and lawsuits. To me the difference is striking. In my neighborhood, thousands of Buddhists who blend into the general culture in their mannerisms and dress turn out to celebrate their faith at a small, inconspicuous temple. In Tennessee a few hundred Muslim families whose women, children, and even men often stand apart from the dominant culture even in their dress decide to build a large, imposing center and refuse to back down when asked to reconsider. I have the impression that Islam seeks to impose its presence whenever possible, and when that imposition is resisted cries of Islamophobia are quickly heard.

Even though I enjoyed the day, I'm not about to become Buddhist. I like Jesus, thank you, and still have problems with Siddhartha Gautama abandoning his young wife and newborn child forever to seek enlightenment. Even more significantly, I think Buddhism is way too pacifist. Afghanistan was once a Buddhist country, but because there was no emphasis on self-defense they had nothing with which to resist Islam when it steamrolled in and demolished Buddhism there forever.

But I welcome the Buddhists in my neighborhood. And by the way, CNN, I welcome Muslims as well. I would actually love to have "Muslims Next Door".

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

"In Tennessee a few hundred Muslim families whose women, children, and even men often stand apart from the dominant culture even in their dress decide to build a large, imposing center and refuse to back down when asked to reconsider."

The issue here is freedom, do people have the freedom to build their mosques/churches/temples etc..?

What if a rich person builds a mega-mosque, or a centre/mosque that will be a dominant feature in the community?

Anyone is free to build an 'imposing' center as long as they obey the law. Or is the problem here only christians can have big imposing churches but muslims cant?

Dominant in their dress? They wear different clothes than others? so?

You want them to wear secular clothes or christian clothes?

Anonymous said...

Afghanistan was once a Buddhist country, but because there was no emphasis on self-defense they had nothing with which to resist Islam when it steamrolled in and demolished Buddhism there forever."

Afghanistan is known as the graveyard of empires, the british empire failed there, the russians failed as well, yet these people accepted islam.

I am sure if they didnt like Islam they would have fought back.

Guy said...

Anonymous,

"The Afganis accepted Islam" See the miserable condition they are in now.They would have been better off being Buddist.

Anonymous said...

"See the miserable condition they are in now.They would have been better off being Buddist."

Well I would argue that its not because of islam that they are in this condition now.

Afghanistan suffered invasion after invasion, just because they're muslims doesnt give you the right to bomb them daily, every day nato is killing civilians and its normal to us. But if 1 israeli or american dies, the UNITED NATIONs security council would convene!

Look at pakistan, theyre suffering the same as afghanistan with suicide bombing, muslims killing each other, and USA drones killing civilians. But then pakistan has nuclear weapons, there are good schools hospitals doctors scientists etc...

Also look at saudi arabia, even though saudi is extreme in islam it is supported by the west and even though its corrupt it has infrastructure and good schools universities hospitals roads etc..

So yeah when I look at afghanistan, its like a stone age country not even medieval, infact with the WEST bombing it daily, its now in pre-historic age , I can see dinosaurs , thats how backward it is.

Afghanistan is a tribal society, there are problems everywhere in the world, look at zimbabwe its not muslim, so would you blame mugabe there or would you blame christianity or local religions?

Lastly, I want to say Afghanistan has the right to freedom and self-determination like any other country in the world. If they want to be muslims good for them. Dont forget before 9/11 taliban were good friends with USA like all corrupt islamic countries.

Cyril Lucar said...

Anonymous 10:44

"Freedom" does not exempt anyone from building codes, permits, or city planning. Local governments almost always receive input from the community about these things. The problem is that, because of the fear of offending our violent, victimhood-claiming minority, Muslims often get a pass on things Christians never would. Do you really think the city planning for Murfreesboro included making a Mosque the center of their city? Go and try to build a Mega-Church in the city center of a larger city and see how far you get. Freedom is always limited by consideration of impact on others.

Anonymous said...

the city planning should do its job without fear, but if muslims cant build mosques, then they can challenge the city planning in court.

but lets say someone wants to build lots of mosques, buying private land and building on it then what?

would you still refuse?

Guy said...

Anonymous,

Are you so daft that you can't get even the drift of the post by SATV.For you, muslims can and should be able to do what they want.Everyone else should just keep quiet.

Anonymous said...

yes muslims can do whatever they want as long as they follow the law.

Shades of Gray said...

Anonymous: If you lived in a primarily Muslim community, would you object to a giant adult movie theatre / liquor store being the predominant feature in the town, right next door to the Masjid? A lot of cities and neighborhoods don't allow the building and operation of certain businesses and structures that aren't considered representative of the community. My HOA won't even let me paint my door any color but brown - and I pay them to make decisions like that! If I want a house with a green door, I need to move into an area where green doors are allowed by the community.

Anonymous said...

like I said, as long as the LAW / local planning is followed then anybody can do what they want.

So I agree that everyone should follow the rules and obtain planning permission.

The issue is, if the rules are followed and planning permission obtained, and the community doesnt like it because they dont like mosques what then?

Shades of Gray said...

Then the residents protest, representatives introduce legislation, the legislation is voted on, and possibly a new local law is enacted that puts restrictions on what can be built where. Problem is, residents are practically being accused genocide for merely protesting a plan to build a giant Masjid in the middle of their community. Surely there's a middle ground between the two extremes that respects the rights and sensitivities of everyone involved.

Anonymous said...

yes i agree.

but i would also ask questions like why would they protest a giant or a small mosque?

my point is people are against muslim worship buildings just like park51 because they are Muslim!

SATV said: "In my neighborhood, thousands of Buddhists who blend into the general culture in their mannerisms and dress turn out to celebrate their faith at a small, inconspicuous temple."

So what they want is for muslims to blend in , have a mosque not too big far away, and dress like the dominant culture.

If the laws are being followed, all should be fine.

jcl said...

Thanks for another fine post.

It may be of interest to note that Buddhism is now -- officially -- the third largest religion in the United States, after Christianity and Judaism.

[http://religions.pewforum.org/reports]

[It's not clear to me whether Pew includes the 300 young men at Gitmo.]

Perhaps presidents will now speak speaking less about the separation of mosque and state, and more about our shared Judeo-Christian-Buddhist heritage.

No doubt, then, irremediably bigoted and hateful, xenophobic Americans will find themselves afflicted with yet another irrational phobia.

Tensions will begin to rise.

Rep. King will then start holding hearings on the threat of homegrown Buddhist radicalism. The feds, too, will have to set aside their jihad-detox programs, and get to work protecting us from fanatical homegrown ninjas.

Or maybe not....

jcl said...

@Anonymous :: "So what they want is for muslims to blend in , have a mosque not too big far away, and dress like the dominant culture."

How totally gauche of them, right?

Only the big old meanies in America could possibly get all hot and bothered about such a thing. Every other country in the world is so totally enlightened and progressive: Pakistan, Saudi, Egypt, Turkey, Persia, and Switzerland.

Only the medieval United States continues to cling to its guns, global capitalism, and barbaric ways.

For what it's worth, my guess is the opposition you're sensing has little to do with the nature of your invisible friend and what you think you need to do to keep it happy.

The U.S. kinda already got over that sectarian thing, a long time ago. Been there, done that, found it was a total waste of time and brain cells.

No one cares whether you've got one of these invisible friends, much less whether he's bigger than all the rest.

The bigots of America do still get a little worked up about some things. They like their jobs, their politics, and their sports, and they dislike bad manners (especially whining), planes running into buildings, and bearded idiots taking their embassy staff hostage.

Other than that, they're an easy going bunch.

Arguing about invisible friends, contrariwise, ranks rather low on the scale of fun things to do over a keg of beer at a pig pickin' on Friday nights.

They've got this real old proverb, see. It goes: When visiting the neighbors, leave your politics and religion at the doorstep.

On the other hand, if your invisible friend were to start dumping fire and brimstone on the great state of Tennessee, I'm sure they'd be willing to reconsider.

Why don't you talk to her or him or it (in Tennessee, pronounced sh-he-it, ya`ni, rhymes with shiite), and get back to them.

JihadBob said...

What's so ironic is that anonymous may very well hail from a Muslim country where the dominant culture *DOES* demand conformity of religious or even ethnic minorities.

It's like, 'whoah. dude, are you being serious right now?'

Anonymous said...

"Arguing about invisible friends, contrariwise, ranks rather low on the scale of fun things to do"

then leave the arguing over religion/god to us christians , muslims and jews etc..

aemish said...

Not unlike Joel Osteen who often refers to his early days in ministry and the naysayers he endured each time he wanted to build a bigger church I suppose. Sometimes you just need to take a deep breath and live and let live. If you have a problem with individuals that have committed no crime nor broken any laws the problem lies not in them, but you.