Religious scholars back validity of digital Buddhist meditation –

Gregory Grievewho directs the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, argues that the authenticity of digital Buddhist meditation is not the determining factor in determining whether it is a valid practice of religion.

In a recent article published on The conversation website, he wrote that “authenticity is not determined by its strict adherence to older forms. On the contrary, an authentic practice promotes happiness based on deeper meanings, while an inauthentic practice can only provide fleeting pleasure or temporary relief.

A specialist in digital religion and BuddhismGrieve echoes the arguments of academics who criticize digital Buddhism:

Some believe that “Online Buddhism differs from earlier forms – if not in the message, at least in the way it is conveyed”.

Others “to dismiss digital Buddhism as merely grassroots consumerism that takes historically rich and complex traditions and selectively repackages them for monetary gain.”

Most scholars who criticize the practice see it as a form of “Western popular culture appropriation of Asian traditions”, quoting the University of the West religious studies professor. Jane Iwamura and his bookVirtual Orientalismin which she says the practice obscures the voices of true Asian Buddhists.

But Grieve disagrees.

“Ultimately, all of these concerns may be legitimate,” he writes. “Nevertheless, these scholars do not fulfill the deep desire of many Western Buddhists for an intense spiritual experience. In my searchmany Western Buddhists have often described their religious practice as a “search for authenticity”.

Current popular culture focuses on hedonic happiness, which values ​​an outgoing, social, and joyful outlook on life. Consequently, a large part of Buddhist-inspired media currently found on meditation apps peddle moments of personal happiness, calm, and relaxation.

Grieve refers to the concept of “eudaimonia”, which means “the condition of ‘good spirit’, which is commonly translated as “human flourishing.’ And he points out that according to Aristotle, “eudaimonia is the highest end, and all subordinate goals – health, wealth, and other similar resources – are sought because they promote good living. Aristotle insists that there are virtuous pleasures in addition to those of the senses and that the best pleasures are experienced by virtuous people who find happiness in deeper meanings.

And even in Buddhist texts like the Samanaphala Sutta“one can find eudemonic descriptions of Buddhist practice.”

Moreover, Grieve indicates, “Buddhism has been modified and translated into new cultures wherever it has spread. Also, without a doubt, Western Buddhism online shows that it has been translated to integrate into our consumer society.

In the final analysis, however, Grieve states, “If digital Buddhist practice approaches the good life as eudemonic – as leading to human flourishing based on the pursuit of deeper meaning – it can be deemed authentic. An inauthentic practice is a practice that only promotes hedonism by simply peddling happiness and relaxation.

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