Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

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Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby plwk » Wed Jun 13, 2012 3:19 am

Bhikkhus, if you develop and make much this one thing,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.
What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

Anguttara-Nikaya: Ekanipata: Ekadhammapali: Pañhamavagga
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Hanzze » Wed Jun 13, 2012 3:52 am

When I see the people on the fixed-image and the names, there is no more doubt why it is like that. *smile* But don't worry, misunderstanding Buddhas teachings is not just an western problem, its a problem of defilement. A projection problem we are not able to overcome with multiplex projecting but just with conceive out of some understanding and step by step and watching what "teachers" are about. They can not give more as they simply understand by them self. So where do they misunderstand? What do they like to project?
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Nyana » Wed Jun 13, 2012 4:50 pm

A decent talk if one is into that sort of cerebral Western revisionism. Although, quoting Monier Monier-Williams as an example of how the West misunderstands Buddhism is a bit dated. At present, thousands of Westerners have thoroughly trained under the guidance of the best Asian teachers of each tradition, and many have also learned the language(s) of their tradition and work at translation. So things have changed considerably since the days of Monier-Williams.

Batchelor and Peacock's aversion towards the word "religion" is also kinda funny. If John Cleese would have appeared from the audience it could have made for a hilarious skit.
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby gavesako » Wed Jun 13, 2012 5:06 pm

I hope the Skeptical Buddhists will at least put the Buddha statue in its proper place:

http://www.knowingbuddha.org/


We often find that Buddha is not treated with respect. Many people over look the feelings of billions of Buddhists around the world.

Why is the image of Buddha so important?

Some show respect, others behave with ignorance.

:buddha2:
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Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

ajahnchah.org - Teachings of Ajahn Chah in many languages
Dhammatube - Videos on Buddhist practice
Ancient Buddhist Texts - Translations and history of Pali texts
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Sam Vara » Wed Jun 13, 2012 7:57 pm

I was there. I listened. I asked a question. I was mildly depressed for weeks afterwards.
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby daverupa » Wed Jun 13, 2012 8:02 pm

Sam Vega wrote:I was there. I listened. I asked a question. I was mildly depressed for weeks afterwards.


How enigmatic...

:?:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jun 13, 2012 8:09 pm

Sam Vega wrote:I was there. I listened. I asked a question. I was mildly depressed for weeks afterwards.

:console:

Will I be depressed if I listen to it?

:coffee:
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Sam Vara » Wed Jun 13, 2012 8:16 pm

daverupa:

How enigmatic...


Sorry, I didn't intend it to be - just wanted to spare people too much grisly detail.

Mike:

Will I be depressed if I listen to it?


Only one way to really find out! You might be made of sterner stuff, or be coming from a different place entirely...
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Viscid » Wed Jun 13, 2012 8:30 pm

It's not at all depressing!

I'm glad that they're as equally excited to see how early Buddhist suttas are suggestive of the Dhamma being a philosophical doctrine rather than a religious one. The historical Buddha is an enticing beacon of insight, and I believe reaching towards that is an act of genuine 'faith.' We need to develop modern Buddhism to present the teachings of the Buddha in a way which is not encumbered by the religious and cultural clutter which it has accumulated over the past 2500 years.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Jun 13, 2012 8:31 pm

There are a few problems with the accuracy of what they say. no word for meditation??? jhana does also have that meaning, and they seam to miss the fact that the Buddha meditated as it was a good state to be in rather than the coarse world we inhabit normally, and as an example for others, also that dependence upon a teacher is subscribed within the texts like an apprenticeship.
rather poor in some ways although interesting in some others.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Nyana » Wed Jun 13, 2012 8:44 pm

Cittasanto wrote:There are a few problems with the accuracy of what they say. no word for meditation??? jhana does also have that meaning, and they seam to miss the fact that the Buddha meditated as it was a good state to be in rather than the coarse world we inhabit normally, and as an example for others, also that dependence upon a teacher is subscribed within the texts like an apprenticeship.

I think he was referring to the older, primarily Christian use of the term "meditation." What he fails to acknowledge though, is that the English term "meditation" has now shifted and expanded in meaning due to the influence of Buddhism and other Eastern yoga traditions.
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Nyana » Wed Jun 13, 2012 9:04 pm

Viscid wrote:The historical Buddha is an enticing beacon of insight, and I believe reaching towards that is an act of genuine 'faith.' We need to develop modern Buddhism to present the teachings of the Buddha in a way which is not encumbered by the religious and cultural clutter which it has accumulated over the past 2500 years.

Sure. But there seems to be a fairly extreme skepticism and deep distrust regarding the soteriological efficacy of faith-based dhamma practices underlying these speaker's opinions. IMO this is unwarranted. Faith-based practices have been pervasive in every Buddhist tradition throughout history, and there's no good reason to believe that this mode of relating to the dhamma doesn't go right back to the earliest decades after the Buddha's parinibbāna. And if we are wont to scrutinize the dhammavinaya in terms of pragmatic utility as provisional expedients for development, then there are plenty of modern Western Buddhists who can attest to the effectiveness and skillfulness of devotional practices. This doesn't mean that devotional practices can't go off track and become unbalanced, then certainly can, but so can approaches which rely primarily on skepticism and rationalism.
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Sam Vara » Wed Jun 13, 2012 9:12 pm

Viscid:
It's not at all depressing!


Well, if it depressed me, then by definition it is! People's reactions will obviously differ, according to their perspective and background.

Personally, I don't like the kind of pragmatic and anti-realist approach put forward, but my reaction was as much to do with the emotional tone of the event. Self-congratulatory and smug in an insufferably middle-class English way, and lapped up by the largely admiring audience. Both the content and the tone were the antithesis of what I get from our local monks. It might be OK for some. It might not come across on the (heavily edited) video. I'm not a particularly sensitive person, but I had a very strong impression of a radiant darkness, very nasty indeed.
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:38 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:There are a few problems with the accuracy of what they say. no word for meditation??? jhana does also have that meaning, and they seam to miss the fact that the Buddha meditated as it was a good state to be in rather than the coarse world we inhabit normally, and as an example for others, also that dependence upon a teacher is subscribed within the texts like an apprenticeship.

I think he was referring to the older, primarily Christian use of the term "meditation." What he fails to acknowledge though, is that the English term "meditation" has now shifted and expanded in meaning due to the influence of Buddhism and other Eastern yoga traditions.


Hi Ñāṇa
they have actually limited the scope of the christian forms, although Lecio divinia/spiritual reading can be found in Buddhism in a slightly different guise, such as the memorisation of texts and subsequent mastery/understanding of the teaching (found in the suttas), or the reflections on requisites, 5/10 reflections...
allot of people are not even aware of the extent of the christian traditions meditative practices, even the desert fathers used a form of breath meditation as a means to gain communion with god (as opposed to the goal of Buddhist meditation).

although I would also like to add spiritual friendship along side with the apprentiship.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby danieLion » Wed Jun 13, 2012 11:47 pm

It's the one trick pony show, but with two ponies.

You've heard one Peacock or Batchelor talk. you've heard 'em all.

Re: The MEDITATION comments. While knowing Peacock thinks "meditation" is the worst translation of the practices the Buddha taught has some validity, you'll find him (and Batchelor) using the term all the time--not to mention, they both meditate frequently.

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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby danieLion » Wed Jun 13, 2012 11:53 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:And if we are wont to scrutinize the dhammavinaya in terms of pragmatic utility as provisional expedients for development, then there are plenty of modern Western Buddhists who can attest to the effectiveness and skillfulness of devotional practices. This doesn't mean that devotional practices can't go off track and become unbalanced, then certainly can, but so can approaches which rely primarily on skepticism and rationalism.


Hi Ñāṇa,
Well said. May I add that Buddhist meditation is itself a devotional practice and that Buddhist meditation itself cannot be divorced from faith. If it weren't for devotion and faith, I'd never sit and do anapanasati, or develop the jhana factors, or practice satipatthana in my other activities.

metta
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Viscid » Thu Jun 14, 2012 12:43 am

danieLion wrote:Hi Ñāṇa,
Well said. May I add that Buddhist meditation is itself a devotional practice and that Buddhist meditation itself cannot be divorced from faith. If it weren't for devotion and faith, I'd never sit and do anapanasati, or develop the jhana factors, or practice satipatthana in my other activities.

metta


How are we defining devotion here? We're not meditating to or for the Buddha.. I suppose you mean devotional in the sense of dedicating yourself to it as a matter of supreme urgency-- but by that definition, many things which we do not consider 'devotional' would be so. Politics, for instance.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Lampang » Thu Jun 14, 2012 1:06 am

Sure. But there seems to be a fairly extreme skepticism and deep distrust regarding the soteriological efficacy of faith-based dhamma practices underlying these speaker's opinions. IMO this is unwarranted. Faith-based practices have been pervasive in every Buddhist tradition throughout history, and there's no good reason to believe that this mode of relating to the dhamma doesn't go right back to the earliest decades after the Buddha's parinibbāna.


That doesn't sound like an especially convincing reason for its continuance, though. Arguments from tradition aren't usually especially strong.

And if we are wont to scrutinize the dhammavinaya in terms of pragmatic utility as provisional expedients for development, then there are plenty of modern Western Buddhists who can attest to the effectiveness and skillfulness of devotional practices. This doesn't mean that devotional practices can't go off track and become unbalanced, then certainly can, but so can approaches which rely primarily on skepticism and rationalism.


So devotional practices are justified in terms of their efficacy. That seems great but where does faith (and I'm assuming that 'faith' is being used in opposition to 'knowledge') come into things? Because it sounds like you're saying that devotional practices are or can be rationally justified and in that case they are based on knowledge, leaving no room for faith.

We need to develop modern Buddhism to present the teachings of the Buddha in a way which is not encumbered by the religious and cultural clutter which it has accumulated over the past 2500 years.


I agree with the first half of that sentence but, for me, the second half would have to read "which is encumbered by our religious and cultural clutter not theirs". I don't think there is any ur-religion which we can uncover (despite our best efforts to naturalize our own cultural prejudices), we can only recast what has come before in a way which is congruent with all our other pre-existing beliefs.
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby danieLion » Thu Jun 14, 2012 1:17 am

Hi Lampag,
Lampang wrote:Arguments from tradition aren't usually especially strong.

This is the exception, not the rule.
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby danieLion » Thu Jun 14, 2012 1:21 am

Lampang wrote:
And if we are wont to scrutinize the dhammavinaya in terms of pragmatic utility as provisional expedients for development, then there are plenty of modern Western Buddhists who can attest to the effectiveness and skillfulness of devotional practices. This doesn't mean that devotional practices can't go off track and become unbalanced, then certainly can, but so can approaches which rely primarily on skepticism and rationalism.


So devotional practices are justified in terms of their efficacy. That seems great but where does faith (and I'm assuming that 'faith' is being used in opposition to 'knowledge') come into things? Because it sounds like you're saying that devotional practices are or can be rationally justified and in that case they are based on knowledge, leaving no room for faith.

I can't speak for Ñāṇa, but the idea that "devotional practices are justified in terms of their efficacy" is not not the implication I drew from this. Furthermore, the dichotomy between faith and knowledge is false.
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