Interview with Reggie Ray

By Michael Schwagler

Dr. Reginal Ray, writer and Buddhist scholar, presented a lecture at Sakya Monastery on “Buddhism in the West” on January 27th, 2010.   At the request of Monastery members, Dr. Ray agreed to this interview.  We are very thankful that he was so generous in sharing with us his time, his knowledge and wisdom.

MS: The main thing I gathered from your talk last night is that in order to be Buddhist you have to practice.  What further comments can you add to this?

RR: I’m an historian; that’s my training.  My academic training is the history of religions and one of my special areas is very early Buddhism.  And what we learn from the study of the earliest Buddhist tradition is what Buddhism first was and most essentially was:  the practice of meditation and what it leads to.  And it’s that simple.

Over time Buddhism became much, much more complicated and it has a lot of other things going on.   And oftentimes in the West people become distracted from the essence of Buddhism which is practice and they may not practice very much at all.  They may do other things: study, and go to church and hang around teachers but that’s not really the essence of Buddhism.  So from my point of view it’s kind of a shame if we become distracted from the essence because then we don't change.  You don’t really change by studying, you don’t change by going to church, you don’t change by hanging around teachers.  The one and only way you change is by meditation practice, so in Dharma Ocean that’s what we do. That’s what we emphasize.

MS:  To go deep within yourself?

RR:  Exactly.

To read the complete interview, please download the PDF.