Episode 5 :: Brooks Peterson :: Cultural Intelligence Part One

| April 9, 2010 | 1 Comment

Brooks Peterson

Brooks Peterson is the founder of Across Cultures, a micro company serving internationally-focussed professionals. An experienced cross-cultural trainer, researcher, and graduate level educator, he has lived and traveled extensively around the world and now lives and works in Minneapolis / St. Paul. He is the creator of a variety of culture tools and resources, including the widely used Peterson Cultural Style IndicatorTM, available online at AcrossCultures.com.

One of the benefits of our multi-cultural society is that we have many different kinds of Buddhist centers in the same country. Larger cities may have over a dozen options from which the practitioner can choose, selecting the gathering place that most meets their needs. Religious centers abound, and many have active online presences to support their community.

For those of us looking for a religious institution with our heritage, the decision is fairly straightforward. You’re Sri Lankan Theravadin, that Vihara is where you go. Thai? Done. Japanese Zen? There. No, a few feet to the left. Yes, that’s it!

But if you are not an ethnic match, language and cultural barriers can hinder learning and practice, however welcoming people may be (and are, certainly the experience is worthwhile). This can be further complicated when one is secular, and the only options are overtly religious.

More and more centers are addressing this by having programs less religious in focus, and new centers are opening their doors with a completely secular practice. It’s still Buddhism, but many of the common religious trappings are absent from the teaching. That leaves an open question, however, as we (I suspect) typically Western secular Buddhists seem to lack a cultural identity. We are ethnically and socially diverse, with our unification being the practice itself.

So what does culture mean to you? Is it important that we have a cultural identity to provide a sense of communal belonging, or do we get that from other aspects in our lives?

:: Discuss this episode ::


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Music for This Episode Courtesy of Rodrigo Rodriguez


The music heard in the middle of the podcast is from Rodrigo Rodriguez. The tracks used in this episode are:

  • Hon Shiraba
  • Aki

Category: The Secular Buddhist Podcast

Ted Meissner

About the Author ()

Ted Meissner is the host of the podcast Present Moment: Mindfulness Practice and Science. He has been a meditator since the early 90’s, has been interviewed for Books and Ideas, Mindful Lives, and The Whole Leader podcasts, spoken about mindfulness with various groups including Harvard Humanist Hub, and has written for Elephant Journal and The International Journal of Whole Person Care. He is the Executive Director of the Secular Buddhist Association, host of the SBA’s official podcast The Secular Buddhist, and is on the Advisory Board for the Spiritual Naturalist Society. Ted’s background is in the Zen and Theravada traditions, he is a regular speaker on interfaith panel discussions, and is interested in examining the evolution of contemplative practice in contemporary culture. Ted teaches Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care & Society, where he is the Manager of Online Programming and Community Development.

Comments (1)

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  1. Jason says:

    Books mentioned in this podcast:

    The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins

    Synaptic Self by Joseph LeDoux

    Consciousness Explained by Daniel Dennett

    How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer

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