[Buddha-l] New Generation of Western Buddhists?

Dan Lusthaus vasubandhu at earthlink.net
Mon Sep 12 00:35:35 MDT 2011

The topic of western Buddhists (and denizens of buddha-hell) being mostly 
older generation has come up a number of times. Here's a piece from the 
LATimes about younger generation. Any conference attendees on this list?



Buddhist wonks? No, Buddhist Geeks

Vincent Horn, 28, is representative of a new kind of American Buddhist: 
young, U.S.-born converts who have intertwined their religious practice with 
a certain 21st century techie sensibility.

There was talk, too, of a generation gap that has emerged between older and 
younger American Buddhists - between the "pioneer" generation of native-born 
Americans who turned to Buddhism in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, and the Gen X 
and Y acolytes like Horn who bring slightly different values and worldviews 
to the sangha (a Buddhist community).

Besides Horn, the younger generation was represented by people such as 
computer game designer Jane McGonigal, who described herself as "23% 
Buddhist, 77% geek," and compared Buddhist "awakening" to an "epic win" in a 
video game. The older generation was represented in part by Jack Kornfield, 
a teacher in Northern California who admitted being "in a little bit of a 
remove" from the digital world. "It's not my language," he said.

One issue, Horn said in an interview after the conference, is that the older 
generation came to Buddhism through the counterculture of the time, and many 
younger Buddhists see themselves as part of mainstream culture.

Less discussed at the conference was the gap between immigrant and 
non-immigrant Buddhists, or that between new converts and Asian Americans 
whose Buddhism is part of a family heritage. 

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