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Am I doing it wrong? - Dhamma Wheel

Am I doing it wrong?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Individual
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Am I doing it wrong?

Postby Individual » Sun Jul 05, 2009 5:02 am

Is it possible to "do Buddhism incorrectly"? Can my attempts at Buddhafying my life fail, even if I am sincere and diligent?

There are so many people that regularly ask about rules and procedure, as if being a Buddhist was like applying for a job, applying to a university, getting a passport, and so on. Although I thought Buddhism is about how to find happiness and live intelligently, people have to ask, "But what's the proper procedure for doing that?"

They want to know... Can they go to other Buddhist traditions for teachings or see other teachers? Can they mix other religions with Buddhism? Can they eat meat? What music should they listen to? What television should they watch? Is it okay to get involved in politics? Can you be a businessman? How should you address monks? What clothes should you wear, like what about lay robes? How often should you meditate and how? Should you have an altar when you meditate? What should be on your altar? If you have an altar, is it okay to make offerings to it? Should you own a mala?

The answer to all of these questions, for the most part, is always the same: You can do whatever you like, although there are obvious consequences to such actions. Rarely do you hear somebody say something like, "No, you CAN'T do that (whatever it is they were asking about). That's BAD. That's UNBUDDHIST."

And what is the reason for this? The reason is because nobody ever asks stupid questions. Nobody asks, "Can I be a murderer and still be Buddhist?" "Can a Buddhist rape people?" "Can I rob people?" "Is it okay for a Buddhist to do drugs?" "Should a Buddhist lie to people?" Because the five precepts are pretty intuitive and straightforward. Is the rest of Buddhism not equally straightforward, and it is simply a matter of intent and proper effort?

Let's say we made Buddhism like Orthodox Judaism or Islam, with several hundred rules to follow, or basically like how monks already have to live. Is this the kind of practice you'd want to engage in and what do you think you would benefit from it?

The point is, it seems like many people do Buddhism to "get their Buddhist groove going on..." Buddha-ism to feel Buddha-ish. But there are no such rules and procedures that make one a good Buddhist or bad Buddhist, and there's no monopoly on truth or happiness.

And so, what I'd call "fashion Buddhists" wear sandals, vote left-wing, and speak like Keanu Reeves or Steven Seagal or Gil Fronsdal or Bhikkhu Bodhi. Buddhists can't wear big boots, hunt deer, vote Republican, or talk loudly and swear; Rush Limbaugh cannot be a Buddhist.

I find it difficult to identify with these people or this behavior, "acting Buddhist", although every day I try very hard to avoid neurotically causing myself further misery for the obvious reason: doing that is painful. This doesn't usually involve daily sitting meditation, but does involve a lot of mindfulness and concentration -- trying to figure out what it is I'm doing wrong, why, how to fix it, and whether I'm consciously suppressing knowledge of such.

Anyway, once, it occurred to me, "Why do I even have to use the same words Buddhists use, like hindrance or fetter? Why don't I use synonyms?"

As I understand it, enlightenment is like the process of examining a building's foundation and fixing it where problems are apparent... not knocking walls down and adding new floors for the sake of re-decorating. What's the point in that?

Am I doing it wrong?
The best things in life aren't things.


Mawkish1983
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Re: Am I doing it wrong?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sun Jul 05, 2009 7:05 am


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mikenz66
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Re: Am I doing it wrong?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jul 05, 2009 7:36 am


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Jechbi
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Re: Am I doing it wrong?

Postby Jechbi » Sun Jul 05, 2009 7:38 am


Mawkish1983
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Re: Am I doing it wrong?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sun Jul 05, 2009 7:47 am


Individual
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Re: Am I doing it wrong?

Postby Individual » Sun Jul 05, 2009 8:39 am

The best things in life aren't things.


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Guy
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Re: Am I doing it wrong?

Postby Guy » Sun Jul 05, 2009 8:46 am

Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm

Mawkish1983
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Re: Am I doing it wrong?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sun Jul 05, 2009 8:54 am

The thread has turned into a witch hunt. I'm out.

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mikenz66
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Re: Am I doing it wrong?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jul 05, 2009 9:31 am

But which witch is which? Bhikkhu Bodhi or the Deer Hunter? :thinking:

Mike

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acinteyyo
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Re: Am I doing it wrong?

Postby acinteyyo » Sun Jul 05, 2009 10:07 am

Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

PaulC
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Re: Am I doing it wrong?

Postby PaulC » Sun Jul 05, 2009 11:28 pm

There IS so much in the Western Buddhist world to be irritated by ... If it isn't one weird trip, it's another ... Taken by people who are obviously desperate to convince themselves of stuff they haven't really assimilated, or taken to heart.

But that's only if we let it irritate us, right?

(And deep down pedantry is only ever a sign of deep insecurity ... So maybe the stickler for the procedures might actually be in dire need of our compassion!)

Following on from that apposite quote from Ajahn Chah, one thinks also of the Cunda Sutta:

"Therefore, Ananda, be ye an island unto yourself, a refuge unto yourself, seeking no external refuge; with the Teaching as your island, the Teaching your refuge, seeking no other refuge."

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retrofuturist
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Re: Am I doing it wrong?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jul 05, 2009 11:37 pm

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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adosa
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Re: Am I doing it wrong?

Postby adosa » Sun Jul 05, 2009 11:50 pm

IMHO, its about your defilements, nobody else's. It's a path but no one is starting from the same point. It goes on far beyond the five precepts and yet who would benefit more from Buddhism than someone who struggles to maintain even five precepts? Everyone is welcome as everyone is defiled. Keep plugging away. The only way to do it wrong is to give up. To not review one's blemishes.

http://www.yellowrobe.com/pali-canon/su ... ishes.html

adosa
"To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas" - Dhammapada 183

Individual
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Re: Am I doing it wrong?

Postby Individual » Sun Jul 05, 2009 11:53 pm

The best things in life aren't things.


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retrofuturist
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Re: Am I doing it wrong?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jul 05, 2009 11:57 pm

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

PaulC
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Re: Am I doing it wrong?

Postby PaulC » Mon Jul 06, 2009 12:07 am


Individual
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Re: Am I doing it wrong?

Postby Individual » Mon Jul 06, 2009 12:16 am

The best things in life aren't things.


PaulC
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Re: Am I doing it wrong?

Postby PaulC » Mon Jul 06, 2009 2:23 am

The sutta isn't included in my 3-volume Nyanamoli MN ... So many thanks for drawing my attention to it, Individual.

I wondered about the choice of "scold". Piya Tan translates it as "admonish" which seems a little less harsh (in the context of this discussion, also).

http://earlypalisutta.googlepages.com/1 ... 22piya.pdf

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Guy
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Re: Am I doing it wrong?

Postby Guy » Mon Jul 06, 2009 3:00 am

Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm

Individual
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: Am I doing it wrong?

Postby Individual » Mon Jul 06, 2009 3:15 am

The best things in life aren't things.



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