Elsewhere I read the suggestion that it might be nice if "Western Buddhists" dispensed with the robes and names of their Eastern forbears. What's the matter with your own name and your own clothes?
It's certainly a possibility and who knows, maybe it will come true.
But no matter what the clothing and no matter what the name, what is the cornerstone of Buddhism? I'd guess that cornerstone would be "suffering," or, less dramatically, the "unsatisfactoriness" found in a given life. And that unsatisfactoriness is founded on what? Without drama or disdain, isn't it just "me?"
And this "me" seems to have some pretty clear characteristics, one of which is the subtle or not so subtle need to be special. "My" case is a special case ... and in a certain sense this is absolutely true. As the old refrigerator magnet put it, "Your life is so difficult that it has never been tried before."
Yup ... we are all special-ists.
And in order to revise or refine or wake up from our specialness of being -- in order to get over ourselves -- it seems to me that there will always be a need for glitz and glamor, some specialness that will outshine the current specialness that is not really satisfactory.
So whether it is a rich ritual, unusual names, or robes and amulets ... still I think there will be a need for something alluring. Special-ists will pick their own special poison, but for starters, special-ness is especially useful. As Ramakrishna used to say, anyone might use a thorn as a means of extracting a painful thorn.
Pick your special thorn ... your Buddhism, your Christianity, your God, your compassion, your enlightenment, your wisdom, your name, your ritual, your robe, your hierarchy ... your come-hither whatever-it-is.
It's just a special something for a special someone.
For the moment.
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