Although no one yet knows exactly what exactly a Buddhist Fraternity will look like, they know in their hearts that they have the ability to bring the two together—and they have the intention to do so. They are directed by one of DBT’s founders to remember that the project they are working on is larger than them, and that it will impact many other people, although they won’t always know whom.
You see, you don’t have to be any ethnicity or race to be Buddhamerican. You don’t have to be any gender or sexual orientation to be Buddhamerican. You don’t have to belong to any socio-economic status to be Buddhamerican. You don’t have to adopt foreign symbols, or customs that don’t make sense to you to be a Buddhamerican. You don’t have to renounce your worldly life to be a Buddhamerican. Heck, you don’t have to be Buddhist to be Buddhamerican.
While it doesn’t matter who you are, what you do and how you do it is important. Every action we make has an affect on both the world and ourselves. Most often we don’t know how big or small that affect will be. Yet when we truly cultivate the intention to use our every action to further our embodiment of empathy, understanding, wisdom, and joy we create a self-guided system. This system lets us know when we are off target. When we are off target, which inevitably we will be, we have an opportunity to come back to our intention and try to act from that.
Although you don’t have to be Buddhist to be a Buddhamerican, recognizing the non-religious universality of Buddha’s message is undoubtedly a defining feature. That message is about the presence and the nature of dissatisfactoriness in life. That message is about discovering a radical joy and appreciation for life despite inevitable hardship, uncertainty, and death.
Many people have practiced Buddhism in many different ways over many different time periods. The idea that you don’t have to be anything to be a Buddhamerican is not some weird marketing ploy. The beauty of inclusivity is that it models an acceptance, a tolerance of all experience. This recognition is one that supports us in learning to be with our experience exactly as it is, without trying to manipulate it, alter it, and/or improve it. Our ability to be with ourselves exactly as we are allows us to cultivate our capacity to be with others exactly as they are, with out trying to manipulate or alter them. This is one way that we can begin to recognize a joy that is not dependent on outer circumstances. Ultimately, this practice is based on the recognition that what we seek to become is already inside of us; it is not created, rather it is discovered. That is why it makes sense to me to say, “you don’t have to be anything to be a Buddhamerican.”
However like the Buddhist Fraternity, I really don’t have a concrete definition for what a “Buddhamerican,” is yet. I keep throwing out these ideas and using “is,” and “isn’t,” qualifying the concept with this or that belief that I have. The purpose of this blog is to simply share my thoughts on my understanding of Buddhist themes in the context of my life. However, just like those involved with the Fraternity, I don’t know how this blog may change over time. I don’t know who will be affected by what I write, and how they will be affected. My hope is that you feel supported on your own unique path by reading it. That you know that it is possible to create a system that supports you in developing more joy and compassion in your life. If college students can bring together two seemingly disparate realities in “Buddhist” and “Fraternity” through the intentionality to embody Buddhist principles, just imagine what you can do.