How does the way in which Buddhists speak Buddhism affect the relationship between individual and community?
Anytime one is speaking about issues of spirituality, it is important to not make too broad of generalizations. Given the delicate nature of religious worship, it is easy to find an example to disprove the rule. With this in mind, I think that there is a very synthetic relationship between Buddhists' individual sense of self and the community. There is a definite belief that the way in which a Buddhist speaks of their relationship to the tenets of their religion is one rooted in individualism. There is no pastor or leader of worship in a "top down" manner. The Buddhist finds their own center through meditation, an individualistic experience. The transcendental nature of this that is discovered by the individual is one that is spoken in terms of individual experience, something that cannot be supplanted from outside. However, where the synthetic element resides is in how this can be a communal experience. When the individual "takes refuge in the Buddha," this is an individual experience that can be broadened into the community in which others seek to "take refuge in the Buddha." The community is one in which individuals speak about their own experiences and understanding of how the tenets of Buddhism can be absorbed into one's being. Through this subjective experience and its spoken articulation, a community can develop. It is here where the ability to experience something subjective and speak about it in a larger context can translate into an understanding in which community is understood. This is where the synthesis between individual and community is evident and not one in which there is mutual exclusivity.
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