Critical Commentary: New Direction for Buddhist Programs

Posted on March 23, 2013 by


          For my critical commentary, I chose to look at the topic of teachings of Buddhism in schools.  The article I chose to review was from the Yale News and it describes the new Buddhist Programs they will be initiating.  The title is “New Direction for Buddhist Programs” by Cynthia Hua. The author of this article is a student, so that being said, biases could come from that.  She may be a member of the new Buddhist group on campus, or in favor of the past program and disliking the new one.  

        The previous year they had terminated the Buddhist program with Indigo Blue, which was very popular on the campus. The program had been around for over 9 years.  The people they have currently are Steve Kanji and Anne Dutton as the interim Buddhist advisers. They will not be hiring full time positions until the Buddhist following grows.  

            One of the problems that the program is having is a lack of a following.  Problem with the new interim advisors is that they are not representing all forms of Buddhism. One of the students at Yale describes his frustration with the new Buddhist program. “The Chaplain’s Office is refusing to hire a new full-time Buddhist chaplain who would appeal to multidimensional Buddhism,” stated Hung Pham, ‘15. “It happens to be that the new Buddhist leaders on campus are of the Zen school.”  The teachings from Indigo Blue were more of a pan-Buddhism approach that many of the students appreciated and attended the lessons.  

            The problem that they’re having is reaching out to the old followers of the Buddhist programs at Yale. They have not been attending any of the new programs or visited the new advisers.  However, there is a separate group that have been attending the Chaplain’s Office’s Buddhist programs.  Neither of the groups has collaborated to attend any of the programs together. 

            What I got from this article when I first saw the title was that it would be a good thing.  Buddhism is becoming more and more recognized and popular, especially among younger people, like in college.  It seemed like they were creating a program that would be more prominent and recognized among the student body. It seems to be however, that Yale diminished an already popular group on campus to change it the way they wanted.  Many of the followers are not attending the new Buddhist programs due to the teachings, which are more centered around the Zen aspect.  Without more followers though, the school will not hire new Buddhist teachers instead of the interim advisers they have now. It seems to be a situation that no one is winning.   

(Cynthia Hua, New Direction for Buddhist Programs, Yale News, 3/1/13)Image

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