2019 marks 40 years of Lion’s Roar. But instead of looking back, we’re looking forward — to Buddhism’s next 40 years.
2019 marks 40 years of continuous publishing at Lion’s Roar. We’re maturing, and Buddhism in the West is maturing too, but it’s still early days by any standard. We see a landscape rich with diverse voices, traditions, teachings, and practices; societal and individual challenges that are more urgent than ever; and evermore opportunities for Buddhism to have a positive impact.
In our 40th-anniversary year, we’re peering into the future, bringing together some of today’s finest Buddhist thinkers to hear what they think is in store, or should be, for the dharma’s next 40 years.
On this page, you can find all of the introductions and essays from the series. Read, share, and come back throughout the year for thought-provoking perspectives on the future of Buddhism.
What’s the Message?
In our first issue, we asked leading Buddhist teachers (and one astute observer of spiritual America) what they feel is the most helpful message or teaching Buddhism can offer in coming decades. As people who benefit from Buddhist practice, we have a common project: to benefit people’s lives, society, and the future of the earth. This is in fact the common project of all humanity. To it we offer the brilliance of the teachings, the power of the techniques, and whatever wisdom is in our minds and love in our hearts. To be of benefit is the basic Buddhist vow. It is the basic human vow. Let’s talk about how to fulfill it with skill and foresight.
The Importance of Diversity
It’s easy for privileged people to think of diversity as just about appearances—how a company looks, who’s in a community, what groups are represented on stage. People who run things would like us to think of diversity that way, as kind of superficial. Because real diversity challenges power structures and puts us on the spot about who we are as human beings.
This collection of five powerful essays on diversity and Buddhism is part of our year-long series marking the fortieth anniversary of Lion’s Roar. Our theme is the next forty years of Buddhism—how it can change, deepen, and, yes, diversify in order to be of most benefit to many different people’s lives, to our society, and to the future. Benefit, after all, is Buddhism’s only goal and the standard by which it is measured.
Becoming more diverse will be as challenging and transformative for Buddhism as for the rest of society. But while each of these important essays offers a powerful, sometimes damning critique of the Buddhist status quo, each also points to the tremendous progress and benefit that real diversity will bring. It is one of the most important things we can do to make the Buddha’s teachings a reality.
Deepening Our Practice and Study
Buddhists focus a lot these days on spreading the dharma. We aspire to make Buddhist practices and teachings accessible and applicable in order to benefit as many people as possible. And rightly so.
But there is another, less glamorous job that is as important as widening the reach of the dharma. It is deepening the practice and study of Buddhism. That is the subject of these five essays in our fortieth anniversary series looking at key issues for Buddhism’s next forty years.
It is its profundity—the depth of its teachings and practices—that defines Buddhism. Without it, Buddhism is reduced to just another self-help system that, while helpful, only addresses the symptoms of samsara. It is deep practice and study that gives Buddhism its integrity and ensures its benefit in the future.
No matter where we are on our spiritual path, we strive to deepen our own practice and understanding. That’s one contribution we can all make. Beyond that, Buddhism in the West needs a foundation of expert teachers, meditators, and students of the dharma, and so we need to support their long-term practice and study.
That way, Buddhism will be like a great tree—its branches and leaves will spread gloriously because its roots are deep.