Canadian Buddhists eh?

2009 November 20

I’ve been listening to quite a few episodes of the Buddhist Geeks podcast where I hear much coverage of American Buddhism. All of this got me thinking as to whether the Canadian Buddhist experience is all that different. My wish to maintain a non-dualistic mind tells me that we are all under the same banner and that geography is just another label placed onto this experience, but there is a part of me that thinks that there is something unique that’s going on here north of the border.

I’m just putting it out there, but could the following ideas shed some light on this subject.

1. An absence of Canadian Buddhist figureheads. Sure we have K.D. Lang and Lenoard Cohen and they’re great but we as Canadians always seem to be exporting our talent. This brings me to asking if we have enough of an infrastructure to support the education of Buddhist studies here in Canada. Many of us have taken or do consider hitting the ‘Road to Naropa’ since there are very few institutions outside of the Canadian university system that are teaching courses that compare to their offerings.

We did try to recruit the Dalai Lama for the Montreal Canadiens during his recent visit.

2. We as Buddhists are less technologically active (or at least open about our activity). Although we have a greater percentage of the population that is online, Canadian Buddhists are hiding online. I’m not connecting with any and the majority of my online exchanges come from the US and overseas. I don’t come across many Facebook groups speaking to inherently Canadian Buddhist events, actions or organizations. Is it that there is a generational or technological divide amongst Canadian Buddhists? Are we too shy to connect with one another online? Tell me I’m wrong.

3. We’re used to consuming American content. Tell me that you didn’t prefer MTV to Much Music? That the Canadian version of Sesame Street was as cool as that of our US counterparts? How many of the Buddhist blogs and podcasts you follow are Canadian?

4. We’re shy and don’t like offering opinions. Oh that British politesse.

All of this is just a gathering of random thoughts. I’d love to hear from other Canadian Buddhists to get your perspective and to help me to discover more about the elusive Canadian Buddhist community. (said in a “Hinterland Who’s Who” voice)

7 Responses
  1. November 20, 2009

    This is a very interesting post. I am definitely inspired by the Buddhist movement taking place in America and agree it would be nice to see some parallels here.

    I think this sort of engagement is Sangha dependent. For instance, my temple seems to be very progressive: great web presence, good use of online tools (facebook, email), and seems to embrace new innovations and technology as a way of communicating not just the Dharma, but also community.

    But yes, overall, Canadians do lack an in-your-face Buddhist movement. Maybe our generally self-effacing nature has something to do with it?

    • TMcG permalink*
      November 20, 2009

      Thanks so much for your comment Sarah.

      I totally agree that much of this presence is dependent on the sangha. Personally, I always feel like William Gibson or some kind of wacky digital soothsayer when I suggest that local sanghas take their place online in connecting with current and would be members.

      I also agree with the self-effacing nature comment too. I think that it’s much like how when I go to parties or social events and I can tell who the Maritimers are by the fact that they are hanging out in the kitchen. I’m not even going to get into the notion of regionalism in Canadian Buddhism. That’s getting a bit too meta!

  2. November 20, 2009

    I’m originally from Michigan, so I’m like half-Canadian. That counts for something, right?

    • TMcG permalink*
      November 20, 2009

      Adam/ DharmaBrewing : Due to your proximity, we will certainly consider you as half-Canadian. That completely counts!

  3. November 21, 2009

    There’s a few more Canadians with blogs.

    are some I’ve encountered
    And some people don’t identify their nationality or are semi-anonymous.
    I also write a blog but it’s not very quietly Canadian!

    • admin permalink*
      November 21, 2009

      Thanks so much. You’ve helped me to add more blogs to my RSS reader.
      .. and yes, you are keeping your Canadian-ness a secret, until now 🙂

      Thanks for connecting!

  4. December 6, 2009

    Another CDN blogger, living in the US

    And of course my blog.

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