40 More Years of Benefit

In the opening editorial of the March 2019 issue of Lion’s Roar, our publisher Ben Moore reflects on Lion’s Roar’s last 40 years, and what’s ahead.

Ben Moore
30 January 2019
Photo by Jarl Schmidt.

In 2019, we mark forty years of publishing at Lion’s Roar. Over these past four decades, we’ve been remarkably blessed with excellent editors, designers, and business people who’ve come together every day to deliver the very best Buddhist teachings, practice guides and explanations, personal journeys, and observations about the intersections of Buddhism and Western culture.

We do this, inspired by our mission, because we believe that Buddhism—whether practiced as a religion or philosophical worldview—represents some of the most profound wisdom about the human experience and how to navigate it. Not only is this particular distillation of our shared human inheritance of great potential benefit to its students and adherents; it deserves to be more accessible in the broader culture too. It deserves to be of even greater benefit.

How can Buddhism be of most benefit in the next 40 years?

What will Buddhism look like in 2059, forty years from now? Of course, we can’t say. For all the discussion of Buddhism’s increasing maturity as part of the Western religious landscape, these practices remain relatively young on this continent. People commonly trace Buddhism’s first arrival here to about 150 years ago, but for the better part of its first century in North America, it was practiced almost exclusively within the Chinese and Japanese immigrant communities who brought their religion with them.

How long did it take the Buddhism born in India to spread across Asia and develop into Theravada, Vajrayana, Chan, Zen, Pureland, and all the other traditions? In each case, the process of evolution, of incorporating local expressions of human wisdom and experience into Buddhism, unfolded over many centuries.

In spite of being a famously “hurried” culture here in America, we can’t rush real evolution. As far as we’ve come, there’s a long way to go before we reach a time when a distinct “American Buddhism” will be recognizable. Or perhaps, as has been noted by many before me, we should expect and embrace the likelihood of “many Buddhisms” in America. Either way, it’s helpful to recognize that evolution is continuous, and we’re only at the beginning.

We intend that to be true for Lion’s Roar, too. While there are many stories to tell about the past forty years, our focus now is on the future: What are the most important issues we face as individual practitioners, as communities—as a society? How can Buddhism be of most benefit in the next 40 years?

These questions are always on our minds here at Lion’s Roar, and in 2019 we’ll be dedicating special coverage of what we see as the most pressing issues for the future in exclusive fortieth-anniversary content. You can read the first in our “Buddhism: The Next 40 Years” series starting on page 70. We’ll also be exploring this content in events, special online coverage, and with new product offerings that reflect the evolving nature of our audience. Our first event of 2019, a discussion of the potential—and potential problems—inherent in spiritual authority, will take place at the Rubin Museum in New York on March 20 (see page 11 for more details).

The future is always uncertain, but one thing that’s increasingly clear is that the old ways of funding media are in decline. More than ever, Lion’s Roar relies on our relationship with you, our audience, for support. If you’re a subscriber, we offer special thanks to you for that commitment of support. If you are or have ever been a donor, we offer a deep bow of appreciation. Your gift enables and inspires us more than you know.

Your donations are an increasingly vital part of fulfilling our non-profit mission. For 2019, we’ve set an ambitious anniversary-year fundraising target of $108,000. If you have the capacity, please consider lending your financial support to our mission, which we hope is your mission too: for the dharma to be increasingly available, increasingly beneficial, and increasingly a part of the fabric of our society.

Ben Moore

Ben Moore

Ben Moore is the Publisher of Lion’s Roar, Buddhadharma, and LionsRoar.com.