Buddhism’s Next 40 Years: Deepening Our Practice and Study

In the third issue in our 40th anniversary series, Melvin McLeod looks at how Western Buddhists can deepen their practice and study of Buddhism.

Melvin McLeod
20 September 2019
Illustration by Sydney Smith.

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.

—Melvin McLeod

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Read the rest of the series, “Buddhism: The Next 40 Years”

Melvin McLeod

Melvin McLeod is the Editor-in-Chief of Lion’s Roar magazine and Buddhadharma.