We’re Not Who You Think We Are: Chenxing Han examines the stereotypes that have marginalized Asian American Buddhists and reports on the rich diversity and depth of practice of a new generation of practitioners

  • Level 3 - Captain

    We’re Not Who You Think We Are

    Chenxing Han examines the stereotypes that have marginalized Asian American Buddhists and reports on the rich diversity and depth of practice of a new generation of practitioners.


    “As a millennial, mixed-race Asian American Buddhist, I often feel like a party of one. When I am feeling lonely or unique, I imagine that I can see myself as if I am looking from a telephoto lens on the moon—I can see the insignificance of my challenges, that being a follower of Buddha’s wisdom doesn’t mean I am separated into a neat little category. Like the blades of grass in my yard, I am a part of this! Our differences deserve to ab acknowledged and respected, but we must not forget what binds us together. We are links in the chain. We are part of nature. You can call it dharma (I do), or you can simply call it the truth of being alive.”
    -Gabrielle Nomura Gainor, a media relations manager, professional dancer, and practitioner of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism from Seattle, Washington. Photo by Tsuki Nomura-Henley.

    During my undergraduate years, a budding interest in Buddhism prompted me to explore various Buddhist communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. At meditation centers where older white practitioners predominated, I regularly fielded compliments about my ability to speak the language I consider to be my native tongue: “Your English is so good; I can’t detect any accent at all!” I was further stymied by the frequent follow-up question, “Where are you from?” Having lived five years in my birthplace of Shanghai, six years in Pennsylvania, and seven in Washington State, then moved to the Bay Area for college after a gap year in Australia and Asia, I struggled for a succinct answer. “I went to high school near Seattle” only triggered further questioning. Where was I really from? Cambodia? China? Japan? Korea? Thailand? Tibet? This was hardly the first time white Americans expected me to be a recent immigrant from Asia who spoke “accented” English, though another expectation was new to me: “Your parents must be Buddhist.” To the contrary: raised by atheist parents who lived through the tumultuous Cultural Revolution, I grew up associating religion with brainwashing cults. My Bay Area explorations also took me to Buddhist temples where the membership was primarily Asian, places where I spent much of the time listening to Mandarin and trying to decipher the Cantonese, Khmer, or Vietnamese around me. Here, nobody complimented my English, probably because many of them had children who spoke English as fluently as I did. Yet I rarely saw anyone between preschool and middle age at the temple services. I began to wonder, Where are all the other young adult Asian American Buddhists?


    @secondstrike How do I do spoilers? I want to put more of the article in the thread, but don’t want people to have to scroll down a bunch.

  • Empress of War

    @tour_operator I don’t think anyone here was saying that Christianity or any type of religion/fanaticism is the only contributing factor to white imperialism or the upholding of white supremacy but that it’s one of the many aspects of it that shouldn’t be ignored.

  • Empress of War


    Also, there is constant attempt to troll, infiltrate, sabotage, corrupt, etc between each other sides which doesnt like each others: christianity vs talmudism vs masonry.

    So the answer is that Christians/Jews are the ones controlling (or who are “tamers” to) other Christians/Jews? So if the “puppets” are Christians/Jews and the “puppeteers” are also Christians/Jews, then what is the problem with criticizing Christians/Jews, especially those with a moral superiority complex in general?

    The current Vatican is like any big organizations, very likely hi-jacked and trolled, followed by blind bigots.

    Wouldn’t a simple solution to that is to rewrite/edit the entire Bible to make it idiot-proof and “unhijackable” by blind bigots? Since we all agree that many of what is said in the Bible is outdated and even Christians themselves cherry pick passages to follow and not follow, might as well rewrite the entire thing.

  • administrators

    @bugoutfever Looks like you’re good to go now. This is your OP


    Reload the page to see the spoiler function.

  • Level 3 - Captain

    @secondstrike Yep, I can see it. It is exactly what I was looking for, thanks.

    Please check my OP and see why I can’t get it working. Edit so the last paragraph is spoiler hidden. Then I can see first hand.

  • administrators

  • Empress of War


    Fellas, i just love how people are still stubbornly bashing against Christianity and foccussing only on the puppets while, in the same time, referring to the atomic bomb, opium, Bolshevism and slave traders. One must also check who wrote history sometimes…

    The quote that I just cited on how the south loves to hold a bible on one hand but a gun on the other is reference to the fight between Christian Republicans/southerners and not-so-religious Democrats/northerners over the gun law that is an ongoing debate even today. So no, that’s not “history” just yet :) Neither is the fight between Christians and non-Christians on women’s reproductive rights (abortion, birth control, planned parenthood, etc…), issues on immigration (particularly non-white immigrants), issues regarding gay marriage and gay adoption of orphans, and the protection of pedophile priests by the Vatican.

    Again, I’m not stating all of this to “stubbornly bash against Christianity” or even all Christians but the number of those who believe themselves to be morally superior than others due to their religion (but act otherwise).

    Many “Christian” gold-feverish entrepreneurs were involved in these crimes, but it is a big mistake to not admiting slavery was also commited by many other civilizations.

    No one’s denying that slavery didn’t exist in other civilizations. However, not many of the other civilizations forced their religion down others’ throats on the belief that they are “kind, good-hearted people to save souls".

    We have to neutralize these puppets/“golems” also by getting familiar on who and how they are being created. If a bitch bites you, you must figure out who was/were the tamer[s]. It works sometimes like that: one wants some work of destruction to be done without being involved, go find a group of easily guillible loud brats to tame, and they’ll do the work x100 times louder without even reconsidering their action.

    So who do you think are the puppeteers to these puppets? For example, if the Vatican is protecting pedophile priests not for their own interests but for someone else who you say is taming them, who do you think is the “tamer” then? Genuine question, I’m interested to know.

    Any hint or you really don’t get the point about uncle-chanly (and unwittingly) asserting some historical doctrines ? ;)

    I believe we’re all adults capable of civilized discussions here. Let’s try to stay clear from personal insults/attacks or the display of passive aggressive behavior if we can.

  • administrators


    Ok. I agree there are lots of nuance, but at some point, we need to take a stand against general trends. For example, not every white person hates Asian men, but the overall pattern is undeniable. The results are clear as day. How would you address such an issue?


    Please elaborate on following. It sounds potentially useful.

    Rather, knowing the very simple patterns of mass trolling / crowd psychology / frames of influence to power networks, and how to prevent them turning into our dis-advantage

  • administrators


    It’s nice to bring up the Valladolid debate and the schism inside the church but in the end what did it achieve for the Native Indians? What have their debates achieved for Africans?

    The first two two links as I understand them blame most of the problems on Jews. How do Jews explain the Eight nation Alliance or any other machinations by other European imperialists? See http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/09/12/are-europes-horrid-crimes-forgiven/

    How does it explain the current global terrorist, America? http://www.amazon.com/Rogue-State-Guide-Worlds-Superpower/dp/1567513743/

    I have heard about the secret Jewish cabal claim, but can a tiny percentage of the world’s population really wreak that much havoc for so long and not simply be exterminated?

    Let’s even assume some shadow group of Jews control the banks and can threaten to call loans. So what? Who controls the world’s most powerful military?..unless that’s also controlled by the secret Jewish cabal lol. In fact, the idea of a secret Jewish cabal is an extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary evidence. If they’re so powerful, surely they would live in a big place than tiny Israel.

    I can’t take that cbc link seriously. It’s merely an interview with an actor.

  • administrators


    One must also check who wrote history sometimes…Any hint or you really don’t get the point about uncle-chanly (and unwittingly) asserting some historical doctrines ? ;)

    Can you expand on this? It would really help to flesh out your ideas in plain language. I find these messages a bit off putting because they’re vague but condescending.

  • administrators


    I can’t accept that argument. These are taken from another page.

    Our crimes were a long time ago / you need to get over it / butt hurt

    Why do these same people complain about 9/11, Pearl Harbor, and remind us to never forget the 6 million Jews?


    I’m not responsible for those crimes

    Whose lands are you living on? (we’re guilty also if you live in the West). Whose resources are you selling? Whose waters are you fishing? etc

    Why do these people brag about white achievements? They weren’t responsible for those either.

    Why do these people talk about Tibet genocide then ? (which isn’t even true)

    So in one breath, you say Palestinians should have their own land back, but you can live on property that is formerly a burial ground for the Hopi Indians? If a crook gave you a home but didn’t own the deed, you would have to give it back legally and morally


    It was a different time back then

    What about the precious “Christian” values? And the precious “Western humanist traditions”?

    How do you explain the CURRENT day racism? Police brutality, new Jim Crow,



    ● New Jim Crow | http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1595586431

    ● Confessions of an Economic Hit Man | http://www.amazon.com/Confessions-Economic-Hit-John-Perkins/dp/0452287081/

  • Empress of War


    So since it’s idiotic to literally follow texts written in archaic times, wouldn’t that completely nullify most of Christianity in the first place since most of it was written in “the context of archaic times”? What’s the point of even reading from the Bible anymore or even subscribing to Christianity anymore if that’s the case? Wouldn’t it be better to do away with it completely?

    Just as how many of the right-wingers support arming citizens in the U.S., claiming that it’s unconstitutional to take away the “right to bear arms”as was written in the constitution when the country was first built. But during that time, the colonies were still battling the British, so it made sense to be armed (in the context of that time). Nowadays, it doesn’t anymore, hence why many want to do away with that law completely.

    With that same logic, since literal interpretations of Christianity (or at least the first half) no longer make any sense in the context of today (according to you), then it would also make sense to get rid of the religion entirely or get rid of the first testament. Obviously, the words of god are outdated and not to be taken seriously if one is able to select what works in the 21st century and what doesn’t, LOL.

    As for being accused of being anti-religion, I don’t mind since I’ve never had much fondness for certain religions, including Christianity. I dislike religions that force others to join it and I especially dislike how religions like Christianity was used to imperialistically dominate non-white nations by forcing western culture onto the natives. It upholds the idea that everything from the west is good, pure and correct and that everyone else is wrong. In my view, it’s an indirect form of upholding white supremacy.

    With that being said, my "They’re the same ones who preach how ‘God loves all’ yet racism and slavery was very much alive along the Bible Belt states” rhetoric is based on the fact that despite being the most religious and devoted Christians compared to the north, the south was also most well known for its intense racist laws (Jim Crow) and strong support for slavery. The north, in comparison, though not as religious, was more supportive of freeing the slaves (and many slaves did flee north for a better life). My rhetoric was based on this irony—strongly devoted Christian southerners (who claim to have excellent morals due to religion) also happen to be the most racist while not-so-religious northerners (who would be considered “sinful” by southern Christians) are the most tolerant. Is it really a coincidence that the only president that thought about freeing the slaves also happened to be one of the few if not only non-Christian president the U.S. has had? I normally don’t care for liberals but if there’s one thing I agree with them on, is their saying that “the south loves to hold a bible in one hand and a gun in the other”, implying that the most devoted white American Christians also happen to be the most intolerant/violent/racist.

    My original post was poking fun at the fact that the same Christians who like to arrogantly claim moral superiority (them = good, everyone else = bad) are the same hypocritical ones who commit violent acts against others. I’m not referring to those who are more modest (and even challenge their own religion from time to time), I’m referring to those who like to preach that their beliefs are better than everyone else’s and their religion is what makes them the “most pure” or morally superior. To those that are more modest and understand they have flaws just like every other human or understand others can have morals without being Christian, there’s no reason for me to make fun of them. It’s those who have a superiority complex that I find laughable.

  • administrators

    @bugoutfever @natalie_ng @tour_operator

    Let’s avoid drawn out arguments over semantics. I look at the bigger picture. Here are some factors that I used to arrive at my decision: ten commandments, timeline, admissions of guilt, contradictions in the bible, failure to deliver, and Chinese history.

    Christians had the rules laid out in front of them (just 10 big ones), but for centuries did the opposite and in the extreme. This didn’t happen in some ancient time, Western imperialism still hasn’t stopped. Civil rights movement happened in 1965.

    Numerous political and church leaders were appalled by the atrocities they committed like Doctrine of Discovery and Opium Wars.

    Contradictions in the bible http://infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html

    Failure to deliver http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/ How did “turn the other cheek” and “the meek shall inherit the earth” work out for those civilizations that perished under god’s love?

    China didn’t have Christianity and did just fine until white Christians showed up.

    These same crazies never stop giving empty speeches about their “Christian” values to the same groups they brutalized - the ones who are alive anyways.


    if Christianity isn’t responsible for people’s behavior then isn’t it obsolete?

    I am against anything that holds us back. I don’t see how worshiping some foreigner who inflicts zero divine punishment on history’s biggest group of terrorists while allowing the victims to be wiped out is going to make us better off.


    It’s harmless.
    No. It takes up a lot of resources and brainwashes people with suicidal nonsense like turn the other cheek and their savior is a white looking foreigner. I know he’s a Jew, but he looks really white in many pics.

    Faith gives your life meaning
    If that’s the case, why believe in Christianity and not other religions? They have interesting stories too

    God loves you / god will save you
    Where was god during the opium wars? Nagasaki / Hiroshima, etc

    All you need is god
    No. See the bottom and work your way up yGavJwH.jpg

  • Level 3 - Captain

    @tour_operator @secondstrike Curious to your responses to his posts on Christianity.

  • Empress of War

    @tour_operator With all due respect, I’m going to have to disagree with the idea that it’s always the followers who make the religion look bad and never the religion itself.

    Christianity may have easily avoided or at least minimized the amount of “bad Christians” had the religion itself not promoted so much violence and hatred within the bible.

    But instead, it holds questionable passages that seem to promote misogyny (claiming that women are made by the bone of men rather than being made the same exact way as men were), slavery, violence, unusual and cruel punishments, etc…

    Support of slavery:

    You may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT

    Various cruel/unusual punishments

    If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die. Deuteronomy 21:18-21

    Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys. 2 Kings 2:23-25 NIV

    When men fight with one another, and the wife of the one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of him who is beating him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the private parts, then you shall cut off her hand. Deuteronomy 25:11-12

    More here: http://www.salon.com/2014/05/31/11_kinds_of_bible_verses_christians_love_to_ignore_partner/

    Not to mention the passages where their god decides to flood the world out of some strange temper tantrum and sparing only one person and his family and a slew of animals (Noah’s ark) or when he suddenly decided to kill off every firstborn son in Egypt. The man sounds even worst than Hitler and yet this is the god that Jews/Christians want to worship?

    Even if there exists good Christians who cherry pick the nicer passages from the bible, Christianity still can’t claim to be a “peaceful” religion when the religion itself has so much violence and hatred. You can argue that the bad followers are what makes the religion look bad but it can also be argued that the “bad followers” are simply following some passages in the bible word for word, especially since various violent acts were already condoned by it.

  • Empress of War

    @secondstrike lol on the Christians. They’re the same ones who preach how “God loves all” yet racism and slavery was very much alive along the Bible Belt states.

  • administrators


    It’s a shame really because I’ve met a lot of white monks in the U.S. and tbh, I don’t think they’re practicing the faith correctly.

    lol this wouldn’t be the first time. Remember dem “Christians” coming to save souls?


    Hitting people, hitting on women, being hypocrites…it’s just part of their culture.

  • administrators

    @bugoutfever I found an old plugin [modified 2 years ago]. I rather not break the forum. Plugins have broken things in the past. I don’t think people mind. If you are still concerned, maybe show a snippet and put a link to the source for more?
    [click to read more here / (url goes here) <--------- replace / with ]

  • Empress of War

    Why, then, is American Buddhism so white? In a podcast on the Secular Buddhist, Charles Prebish, a pioneering scholar in the field of American Buddhism, counters with the question “Why are Asian American Buddhists so invisible?”

    Buddhism in America is “so white” because you have the likes of Angelina Jolie, Orlando Bloom, Richard Gear, Sharon Stone and a bunch of other celebrities and upperclass white people prancing around being proud that they are “different” from mainstream whites who follow Christianity (whites love being “different” for the sake of showing off).

    On the flip side, unlike extremist religions like Christianity, Judaism and Islam, Buddhists don’t typically force their children to follow their religion. So 1st gen/immigrant/refugee Asian Americans may hold onto Buddhism for a while but once they have kids, they don’t always reinforce it (which personally, I think is a shame because whether we like to admit it or not, religion encompasses a lot of our culture). As a result, the religion dies off by 2nd gen so you don’t see too many Buddhist Asian Americans around.

    It’s a shame really because I’ve met a lot of white monks in the U.S. and tbh, I don’t think they’re practicing the faith correctly. As a Buddhist monk (well, at least for Zen, not sure about the other branches), you’re supposed to “give up everything” because everything in life is filled with suffering or will cause you to suffer. In other words, if you care about something too much, you will suffer because of it. That means giving up eating foods you love, sex, hobbies and other luxuries of life.

    Well, I can’t even count how many times I’ve witnessed these white monks chatting up and flirting with girls like crazy.

    On the other side, most of the Asian monks I’ve met have been very stoic and actually seem to be following the 8-fold path word for word.

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