The Role of Form and Ritual

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

The Role of Form and Ritual

Postby convivium » Thu Mar 14, 2013 11:51 pm

How many of you get your meditation in by sitting on the toilet to the smell of poop? That's foulness contemplation. Also, it's usually quiet and isolated in bathrooms. Buddha said to meditate in solitude e.g. in an empty room. How is this any worse then meditation retreats with a bunch of awkward people burping and farting? Ritual and form in American Buddhism can be recognized as such and consciously broken to unbind us from dependencies on artificialities and cultural affectations. Having said that, I also think form and ritual is important and worthwhile. But I think sometimes the sacred needs to be destroyed to give way to the Sacred (for lack of a better word). We need to understand the true function of form and ritual in order to understand its fallibility and have it work effectively. The same goes for all techniques and methodology. We have to renounce pretensions of the infallibility of our particular sect, teachers etc; in this way we can practice more effectively without attachment to views and ends (while working towards them without attachment). it's the cliche that my left hand doesn't know what my right is doing. There is a leap of faith required in following rituals and forms that is helpful in subduing the ego. There is also skill in consciously destroying the forms and rituals if you understand their function, meaning, and limitations to make them more genuine. I think it's important to remember that Buddhism at its core is not a religion, and is not anti-natural (it can be taught and communicated within each local network and background; there's nothing necessarily mystical or mystifying about it).
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
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Re: The Role of Form and Ritual

Postby cooran » Fri Mar 15, 2013 12:34 am

Well ... I expect it may be a very, very short meditation if it is a shared toilet - and sitting with pants down and bowel open could lead to some medical problems over time. I think the Buddha taught foulness contemplation to assist us to see through things we were attached to and deluded about. :tongue: I have never been attached to excreta, or thought it attractive.

I want my Teacher NOT to be in it for the money, and I want him/her to only teach those tried and tested practices and understandings which have been handed down and meticulously preserved by the Sangha. My lay teacher, Patrick Kearney, only accepts donations from students for his Dhamma Retreats.

(And of the 10 day and longer Retreats I have attended over the years (lots) - I don't recall many burps, farts, or bunches of awkward people.

With metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: The Role of Form and Ritual

Postby convivium » Fri Mar 15, 2013 1:25 am

i'm glad that my diagnosis of my experience in western buddhism (or at least a couple silly rhetorical points) doesn't apply to your experience. the deeper point of my post is to challenge to the way the knowable-here-and-now teachings are masked in culture and pseudo culture (such that they escape many people). i wanted to discuss ways to challenge and overcome this.
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
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Re: The Role of Form and Ritual

Postby convivium » Sun Mar 17, 2013 4:20 am

no?
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
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Re: The Role of Form and Ritual

Postby knighter » Thu Mar 21, 2013 10:44 pm

hello there

i much prefer awkward people when i take part in 10 day vipassana courses, it aids meditation
i think tolerance is severely lacking in the majority.
Be happy
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Re: The Role of Form and Ritual

Postby nem » Thu Mar 28, 2013 9:29 am

I can understand what you are saying. I attend at a Theravada Center which is populated by Asian monks. Here are some of the things (Form and Ritual) that I see no purpose in, that seem contrary to the dhamma as explained in the sutta pitaka.

- Offerings to the Buddha (light, water flowers)
- Pirith Chanting (some say in Pali, "I worship the buddha, the relics, the shrines") [why worship form?]\
- Giving of dhamma names when requested [why give name to not-self as if it was self...they already have 2 Pali names to describe the composite...nama and rupa]
- Tying on blessing bracelets and bhikkhus chanting blessings [why bless that, which is not-self, simply to continue the illusion of self in the blessed??]
- Once a month, it turns into a South East Asian cultural festival where people who profess to never meditate or study except during the monthly meeting, come there to tell the weekly loyal crowd of devout dhamma practioners; who meditate daily, and study suttas daily, about teachings of the Buddha. We listen patiently while they tell us about how they never meditate because it takes too long, or how they came to give Dāna, or to give merits to a deceased relative, then we listen to their foggy recollection of the dhamma from back when they were a child and used to listen to the dhamma, They stand up like " :soap: Listen here, I am real Buddhist raised in Buddhist country with Buddhist name, and you are Western so I will teach you because you could not possibly understand.... So we listen to them speaking foggy recollection of the dhamma. Or we answer questions politely about what we think about all the native-country food that they brought. It is good practice, to listen to them and not say anything...Then I understand what Ajahn Chah said about people coming to his Wat on tour buses to gain merit, and then leaving before he could even speak to them or teach them anything..they just came to make an appearance and thought they gained merit in doing it. Same thing where I attend, they come and gain merit in the form of arriving, and they come with hands empty of dhamma, and leave with hands empty of dhamma. They give a donation of dana to the Center, and want their name pasted on a board on the wall, so that everyone can see how much they gave...Mr and Mrs. so and so gave...$xxxx.. But we simple Western people, we come there and throw money in the box all the time every week to keep the place open, and we remain nameless, no one knows which of us gave Dāna to sustain, or how much. That is our understanding of Dāna.. but in name and form, the home-country people excel in showing how much they gave and making sure their names are on the wall like big heroes. While we local people are just whatever..we don't care if anyone knows what we did for the Center, just as long as it remains there.
If we local Western people volunteer labor to build a new meditation center, or throw $2 or $5000 dollars cash in the box, we don't ask for recognition on a wall or an engraved brick with our names, we just do it anonymously because that's our understanding of Dāna, that we give it selflessly without expecting anything in return, not even recognition of having given a penny . But the home-country people who show up once a month, are all about name and form and recognition of the merits they've earned.

Once I figure out why I go along with all this, that's my dhamma lesson. I go there because there is no other Theravada center anywhere within driving distance of my home. I do everything the Bhikkhus want us to do, except the chant with worship to Buddha, relics and shines. I will do the Pali chants paying "homage" to the triple gem, but not the ones that say worship..the canonical Buddha never told anyone to worship anything, but to investigate...
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