The Buddhist Geeks Conference rocks

I am at the Buddhist Geeks Conference in L.A.

It’s extraordinary. There’s a level of enthusiasm, engagement, excitement here far beyond what I’ve experienced at any large Buddhist gathering. It totally rocks.

It’s making me feel more optimistic about Buddhism than that I have in many years—perhaps ever. It’s not so much the intellectual content (although some of that has been remarkable) as the vibe of “we can do things differently, and create an unexpected future for our religion.”

I may write a more detailed post in a few days when I’ve thought things through. For now, this is just to say wow, you oughtta be here!

(You can get a sense of the excitement by reading the #bgeeks11 Twitter hashtag.)

Buddhism is a conversation

One other thought.  Vince Horn, the primary organizer of the conference, opened it by saying that his goal was to bring about interesting conversations.  (With the other organizers, he’s succeeded.)

I was reminded of these words from Robert Sharf, in an interview in Tricycle (about Buddhist Modernism):

Q: Before you referred to Buddhism as a critique of all essences, including the idea that there is some essence in Buddhism that is transmitted over time. So, then, what is Buddhism?

A: One way of looking at Buddhism is as a conversation, and this conversation has been going on now for over two thousand years—a long time… It is a conversation about what it is to be a human being: why we suffer, how we can resolve our suffering, what works, what doesn’t, and so forth. These are big issues, and whichever one you choose to look at, you are not going to find a single Buddhist position. There have always been different positions, and these would be debated and argued. But all parties to the debate were presumed to share a common religious culture—a more or less shared world of texts, ideas, practices—without which there could be no real conversation…

You are confronted with many answers that generate new sets of questions and perspectives. But it is important, I think, that we keep the conversation going here. It opens one up to dramatically different ways of understanding the world and our place in it. Through our participation we help shape the conversation, and the conversation, in turn, shapes us. To abandon it would be to lose something precious.

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10 Responses to The Buddhist Geeks Conference rocks

  1. Marc says:

    I’d love to hear a more detailed write up of the conference, love the podcast, wish I could be there…

  2. annbraun says:

    On the topic of Buddhism as a conversation, here’s a snippet (both clip and quote) from a retreat with Ken McLeod on religions as conversations: http://umquotes.blogspot.com/2011/07/religions-as-conversations.html

    This is from A Trackless Path II, session 3: http://www.unfetteredmind.org/audio/podretreat.php?code=ATP2#here

  3. @ Marc — I will follow up with at least one post soon that’s inspired by the conference. But for descriptions of what happened there, I’d recommend:

    http://www.openbuddha.com/2011/07/30/buddhist-geeks-2011-day-1-5/ [Al Billings]
    http://www.c4chaos.com/2011/07/bgeeks11-awakening-is-an-epic-win/ [~C4Chaos]

    Videos of all the sessions will be posted to the Buddhist Geeks site eventually!

    @ annbraun — Thanks! The text on the first page you linked is great. Here’s part of what Ken McLeod said:

    Now, what keeps a religion alive is that the conversation never comes to an end. And in particular the questions are asked and answered anew in each generation. And when you look at the history of Buddhism, you find that that’s exactly what has happened. Buddhism has displayed a remarkable capacity for, to use a modern phrase, reinventing itself in generation after generation.

    He starts out talking about Greek philosophy outside the Socrates-Plato-Aristotle lineage. I’m a big fan of that, and intrigued by its possible influence on Buddhism.

    I hadn’t really encountered Ken’s work before this conference; I was impressed.

  4. Here’s another great write-up:

    http://www.nikkichau.com/2011/08/01/reflection-from-buddhist-geeks-conference-11/

    (She mentions me in passing—Hi Nikki!)

    Some quotes that really resonate for me:

    Rohan Gunatillake mentioned the Satipatthana Sutta *and* Y Combinator in his talk. Mind. blown.

    In any case, being at the Buddhist Geeks conference, I felt… relief. I still had to figure out who I was talking to to some degree, but I felt a bit more free talking about Ceiling Cat and Double Rainbows in the same sentence as dharma, and that, is a really great feeling.

    I’m now thinking of that scene in X-Men, First Class, when the mutants found each other and realized that they didn’t have to hide who they are, or a part of who they are, and that they did belong to something.

    I hope she makes the “Meditation: It Works, Bitches” T-shirt! (Non-Geek readers: it’s a geek joke…)

  5. Sky Serpent says:

    I so wish that I would have been able to attend the conference. However, I have had interesting practice in the forrest of Sweden with other Aro gTér folks and now I am happily swinging sword in the Ling Gésar retreat.

  6. annbraun says:

    Hi David, very glad I stumbled into your world here. And can you fix a typo? McCloud is spelled McLeod. Thanks. Ann

  7. Hi Ann – Yikes! What an embarrassing mistake for me to make! I’ve fixed it. Thank you very much for pointing it out.

  8. Pingback: #BGeeks11 – Epilogue: It’s Good To Be In Something From the Ground Floor < ~C4Chaos

  9. Awesome – wish I was there too. I’ll do my best to make the next one, for sure. And David, you’ve been coming up a lot in virtual chats I’ve had lately, though I know nothing about you. Your blog(s) is wonderful, how did I ever miss it before? Anyhow, shoot me an email some time; always great to connect with more young(ish) Buddhists in the West :)

  10. Pingback: Buddhist Studies for the Week of August 1st, 2011 « Rev. Danny Fisher

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