“Just as the light of a single candle can dispel the darkness of a thousand years, the moment we light a single candle of wisdom, no matter how long or deep our confusion, ignorance is dispelled.”
― Joseph Goldstein
Of the three strands of Buddhism commonly practiced by Westerners, Theravadin Buddhism has the greatest emphasis on renunciation of desires. The at times austere and renunciation focused aspects of Theravadin Buddhism are in the process of being translated from Asian Monastic contexts to Western lay life. Given how long it took Buddhism to fully integrate into south-east Asia, this process of translation is going to take us a while in the West! In the meantime many Western practitioners are left wondering how to handle the complexities of intimate partner relationships, sexuality, ambition, and passions, in a world that handles these things very differently than the monasteries in Asia do.
Some vipassana and the insight meditation traditions have in many cases split from the more traditional religious aspects of Theravadin Buddhism to offer a lot of benefit as a non-religious, spiritual and psychological path for practitioners. Whilst this offers a chance to concentrate on the meditative practices divorced of any blind religious belief, it also tends to produce a distinctly Western and very individualistic experience of practice.
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