Unofficial Buddhist Terminology

For those who’ve been in the Western Buddhist community long-enough, you begin to see certain trends among its followers. Someone compiled a list of unofficial Buddhist terms that are just too funny to ignore. A few examples:

  • HUNGRY GHOSTS: Used by Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh to describe individuals who inhabit Dharma centers but are unable to absorb the teachings.
  • ETHNOSANGHA OVERSIGHT: The exclusion of ethnic Buddhist groups (nonwhites in this case) when referring to Western Buddhism. (true!! –GF)
  • THERAFIRMA BUDDHISTS: Intellectual Buddhists, usually psythotherapists, who believe in Buddhism strictly as a psychological process and reject any hints of extraordinary aspects of the tradition. They seem drawn to the Theravada and Tibetan Buddhist traditions.

For my part, I definitely fit the stereotype of having an “Anti-Bodhisattva Complex” with a habit of “Multimedia Migration”. ;)


P.S. Let me know what fits you, or add new terms you’ve heard!

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3 Comments on “Unofficial Buddhist Terminology”

  1. Jeannie says:

    The only thing that I can think of that may fit is that Yin De Shakya hoped that I wouldn’t become a “Hungry Host” when I became a host at the tumultuous Beliefnet boards. I was always trying to create peace there- I didn’t succeed.

  2. Jishin says:

    With a nod to our supposed class system and the background of a lot of converts, I have heard Buddhism described in the UK as being ‘the Upper Middle Way’.

  3. josho_adrian says:

    That list is very good and funny:)

    I would add a new type of Buddhists – “internet Buddhists”,a very close category to “book Buddhist”, who take their Buddhist knowledge only from books but mostly by internet. These kind of people usually never go to a center and don’t belong to a sangha, they don’t engage in practice and have a teacher, but fill many yahoo groups and forums with their presence and personal ideas about Buddhism.

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