Engaged Dharma is honored to have our root teacher Dr. Jim Eubanks Sensei (Yong Xiang Shi) offer his wisdom on the meaning and practice of contemporary Buddhism. The pragmatic view and intent, and application of Buddhist practice, as taught to him by Rugen Fisher Sensei (Shen Leng Shi) and passed to Venerable David and I is at the core of what Engaged Dharma promotes through our website and teachings at the Buddha Center in the virtual world of Second Life, through one-on-one teaching via Skype, and how we approach the experiences and situations we encounter moment-to-moment.
From the Master’s Cushion: Being Buddhist
by Dr. Jim Eubanks Sensei (Yong Xiang Shi)
When we talk about being “Buddhist” we mean two things. The first is that we are a member of a global group of people who ascribe to the elemental teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha. Teachings which, in all their myriad forms, come back to the central role of causality, change, impermanence, selflessness and resolving the issue of unsatisfactoriness.
The second thing we mean by “Buddhist” is the kind of Buddhist we are – the unique approach to Buddhism to which we subscribe personally. This is the practical side of Buddhism that is deeply and necessarily culturally-mediated. Buddhism, applied to the nitty-gritty of daily life, cannot be separated from the culture to which it is relevant. Applied Buddhism, the kind we use to navigate daily life is cultural, historical, and conditioned by its particular socioeconomic environment. The history of (applied) Buddhism is the history of its cultural conditioning.
On our quest for personal development, we must not just hope or believe that we are good; we must actually do good. Modern science confirms that behavioral modification is a necessary requisite to actualizing the positive changes we seek. This is the basis of cognitive behavioral therapy, for example, which is currently a popular approach in bodymind health. But long before Western psychology discovered the priority of behavioral modification, Siddhartha Gautama (the historical Buddha) advocated the same strategy to improve our personal and social lives.
[from “Awareness: What is Pragmatic Buddhism?” Eubanks Sensei, originally published in the Pragmatic Buddhist Journal, Vol 1, Number 1]