Interesting review of Wild Geese: Buddhism in Canada by Douglas Todd in today’s Vancouver Sun. While Todd values the contribution the three Canadian-based scholars make in writing the book, he complains of its stereotypically positive portrayals of Buddhism and the authors’ fear of offending Asian Buddhists:
[T]here is a streak of political correctness running through Wild Geese, which tends to paint Canadian “Westerners” as haughty colonialists and Asian immigrants as virtuous victims of European-rooted bigotry.
Attributing the authors’ timidity to “Western guilt,” Todd goes on to say that Buddhism isn’t all that nice as it seems after all:
Even though Wild Geese’s academic contributors bend over backwards to avoid offending Buddhists with Asian origins while having no such qualms about hurting the feelings of Western converts, a closer reading of the book reveals that things aren’t always “nice” within Buddhism in Canada. Many Westerners associate Buddhism with meditation, non-theistic philosophy and avuncular teachers like the Dalai Lama. But the book’s authors reluctantly acknowledge that Asian-Buddhist groups and others in Canada are not above rivalry, seeking converts, promoting supernaturalism and doing good works in the questionable pursuit of cosmic “merit-making.”
Start your day with a fresh perspective
Thank you for subscribing to Tricycle! As a nonprofit, we depend on readers like you to keep Buddhist teachings and practices widely available.