Talking to New Age/Western buddhists

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Talking to New Age/Western buddhists

Postby alan » Sat Oct 24, 2009 3:18 am

Hi friends. I've recently been thinking about how to approach people who espouse Buddhist beliefs from a very self-help, psychological perspective. Many of their ideas sound good to our western ears, yet are not in accordance with the Dhamma. How to relate to them without sounding like a fundamentalist? When is it right speech to point them to the original teachings?
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Re: Talking to New Age/Western buddhists

Postby pink_trike » Sat Oct 24, 2009 3:27 am

alan wrote:When is it right speech to point them to the original teachings?

Perhaps at the point that you have a very good understanding of Western psychology and how it is practiced and experienced, keeping in mind all the subtle differences between all the many schools of thought within the field of psychology - and at the point that you're absolutely confident that you know more about expedient means than the Buddhist teachers that are using the psychology model quite effectively to root their students on the Dharma path, and when you're confident that you know more than the many Buddhist psychotherapists that are gently prodding their clients onto the Dharma path by assisting them in helping themselves work with circumstances in the context of basic Dharma awareness and practices. It might be more worthwhile to bring that energy to your own path and generously leave them to theirs.
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Re: Talking to New Age/Western buddhists

Postby alan » Sat Oct 24, 2009 3:47 am

Is the Dhamma a psychotherapy?
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Re: Talking to New Age/Western buddhists

Postby pink_trike » Sat Oct 24, 2009 3:49 am

alan wrote:Is the Dhamma a psychotherapy?

It's different things to different people at different times in their lives and practices. In many ways it is like the elephant being discovered by a group of blind men who each touch a different part of it and describe the elephant from that perspective. The Dharma can be touched as psychotherapy, science, philosophy, and even religiously. Imo, it is none of these, yet all of them and more. I consider it to be "a way of life"
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Re: Talking to New Age/Western buddhists

Postby alan » Sat Oct 24, 2009 4:10 am

Ud 6.4?
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Re: Talking to New Age/Western buddhists

Postby alan » Sat Oct 24, 2009 4:33 am

So my point is...all these people think they are right. How to best talk Dhamma to people who really care, but are coming from a blind spot? (That would be from a new age, self-help perspective).
Ajaan Thanissaro has an excellent article "The roots of Buddhist Romanticism" which I found very helpful. Does anyone else know of similar info? I would love to know. Thankyou.
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Re: Talking to New Age/Western buddhists

Postby pink_trike » Sat Oct 24, 2009 4:34 am

alan wrote:Ud 6.4?


Exactly.

Some of these so-called
priests & contemplatives
are attached.
They sink in mid-stream,
falling into the plunge of darkness


This is true for some who touch the Dharma through psychotherapy, science, philosophy, or religion, amongst other perspectives. I tend not to be very generous toward those who are touching the Dharma through the religiosity that is commonly found in the container of Buddhism. I continually have to remind myself that they will see through that particular container when they arrive at that point in their path. My job isn't to remind people that they are attached to the form...though I do it quit frequently anyway. It's an area of practice for me to restrain that urge and let people find their own way through and beyond whatever container shines for them to the clarity of the Dharma which isn't dependent on any container.
Last edited by pink_trike on Sat Oct 24, 2009 4:57 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Talking to New Age/Western buddhists

Postby alan » Sat Oct 24, 2009 4:47 am

Are we reading the same thing?
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Re: Talking to New Age/Western buddhists

Postby christopher::: » Sat Oct 24, 2009 4:56 am

Hi.

In regards to your question, i think it depends on what the person is into, what their goals are, how firmly they believe what they are getting into. If someone is really into astrology, crystals, edgar cayce, ufos and wicca rituals, there may not be much you can say. If on the other hand they are really into the peace, power of now and inner silence messages of Eckhart Tolle then there's much room for common ground. You can tell them about Vipassana practice, Buddha's teachings on mindfulness, and discuss similarities.

A key thing for me is not to put down or denigrate where someone else is, or even what someone like Tolle is teaching but rather to point out how similar things were taught by the Buddha, have been practiced for centuries, tested and proven. Then just point a finger, pass an article, recommend a book related to what they seem to be focusing on now, if the other person shows an interest.

There are a number of good Western dharma teachers who are not New Age, but do understand "that audience" pretty well, in my opinion, and can serve as doorways to a deeper exploration...

Examples: Thich Nhat Hanh, Lama Surya Das, Joseph Goldstein....

:smile:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Talking to New Age/Western buddhists

Postby pink_trike » Sat Oct 24, 2009 5:05 am

christopher::: wrote:Hi.
If someone is really into astrology, crystals, edgar cayce, ufos and wicca rituals, there may not be much you can say.
:smile:


Best to be careful even here...the bolded items are found in various mainstream traditions of Buddhism.
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Re: Talking to New Age/Western buddhists

Postby alan » Sat Oct 24, 2009 5:10 am

I have no problem with Tolle. My question is about the "Go with the flow, we all have Buddha Nature, don't bother with too much thinking, don't overthink the words" types. How to deal with them? I mean, without being obnoxious. I'm trying not to be that way.
Also, does anyone have a reference to how the Dhamma came to be taught in the west as it is now?
Thanks.
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Re: Talking to New Age/Western buddhists

Postby pink_trike » Sat Oct 24, 2009 5:16 am

alan wrote:Also, does anyone have a reference to how the Dhamma came to be taught in the west as it is now?
Thanks.


Not sure what you mean by "as it is now". Every tradition is being taught in the west, and within each tradition there are different styles and emphasis...ranging from very conservative to very contemporary. Could you be more specific?
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Re: Talking to New Age/Western buddhists

Postby alan » Sat Oct 24, 2009 5:21 am

It is being taught as a psychology, as a way to relax, as away to communicate with your peers. All good things, in there own right. But is this Dhamma?
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Re: Talking to New Age/Western buddhists

Postby pink_trike » Sat Oct 24, 2009 5:31 am

alan wrote:It is being taught as a psychology, as a way to relax, as away to communicate with your peers. All good things, in there own right. But is this Dhamma?

Most Dharma teachers aren't teaching the Dharma as a psychology - not even close, but there are a good many teachers in all traditions of the Dharma who are using psychology as a reference point. Psychology is compatible enough with the Dharma for teachers to use it skillfully to expose students to Dharma practices. More and more Buddhist teachers are encouraging their Western students toward psychotherapy before introducing them to advanced practices. Imo, it's a good idea to trust those teachers (who have their lineage to protect) to do the right thing. What would qualify us to think we know better than highly trained teachers?
Last edited by pink_trike on Sat Oct 24, 2009 5:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
Vision is Mind
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Re: Talking to New Age/Western buddhists

Postby Ben » Sat Oct 24, 2009 5:32 am

Hi Alan

From your posts I sense a desire to set people straight with what the Buddha actually taught and to help free them from the delusion of New Agist appropriation and misrepresentation of Buddhist concepts and ideas.
If that is the case, then i would have to agree with Mr Pink's point of view expressed in his first post on this thread. The best way to communicate the Dhamma to others is to live a Dhammic life. There really isn't anything else that needs doing.

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Re: Talking to New Age/Western buddhists

Postby christopher::: » Sat Oct 24, 2009 5:47 am

pink_trike wrote:
christopher::: wrote:Hi.
If someone is really into astrology, crystals, edgar cayce, ufos and wicca rituals, there may not be much you can say.


Best to be careful even here...the bolded items are found in various mainstream traditions of Buddhism.


Within my own mind i had been putting more of an emphasis on the "and" but yes, point taken.

:tongue:

alan wrote:I have no problem with Tolle. My question is about the "Go with the flow, we all have Buddha Nature, don't bother with too much thinking, don't overthink the words" types. How to deal with them? I mean, without being obnoxious. I'm trying not to be that way.



What i've noticed is a wide range of "ways" in which the dhamma is being taught, with people gravitating toward what meshes with their present situation or thinking. Myself, i don't think there is much that can be said to someone who practices Buddhism as a "go with the flow" approach (without being obnoxious). When the day comes that they find themselves in a crisis, hammered by difficulty- when "going with the flow" doesnt seem to work, that's more likely to be when you might be able to offer a helping hand.

Ben wrote:
The best way to communicate the Dhamma to others is to live a Dhammic life. There really isn't anything else that needs doing.


:namaste:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Talking to New Age/Western buddhists

Postby alan » Sat Oct 24, 2009 5:50 am

Excuse me Ben, I posted that before your statement. Didn't mean any disrespect. Although we may disagree.
Anyone want to answer my question?
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Re: Talking to New Age/Western buddhists

Postby Jechbi » Sat Oct 24, 2009 5:55 am

alan wrote:How to relate to them without sounding like a fundamentalist?
You can't completely control how others will hear your words.
alan wrote:When is it right speech to point them to the original teachings?
Only at the right time. Again, not completely in your control.

Good luck.
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: Talking to New Age/Western buddhists

Postby pink_trike » Sat Oct 24, 2009 5:56 am

The right time to expose others to the original teachings is likely at the point that you can do it free from judgement of their view and path, and in the context of your own understanding of how the teachings benefit your own path.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

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Re: Talking to New Age/Western buddhists

Postby alan » Sat Oct 24, 2009 5:57 am

Bedtime for me, friends. Thanks for your thoughts.
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