still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

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Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby ancientbuddhism » Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:13 pm

alan... wrote: ... i only consider zen because my choices are: zen or tibetan lol! it's the best one of the two. i agree with you. i've just got so many questions!!!


for example i even find questions in thanissaro's little quote above! what is concentration per se? zero thought? thoughts arise but no interaction? is there consciousness of the senses and inputs? and so on. i just wish i could freaking talk to a teacher!


zen goes back and forth as well. some teachers in history went with a really odd outlook like meditation is the opposite of what you want to do since by meditating you are getting further from the truth because the goal of meditation is your true nature so to seek it is to lose it. that kind of stuff is almost the exact opposite of what the buddha taught. but soto zen for example is fairly close to theravada. it's really a mix of different traditions. you see old school buddhism in early zen, heavy on meditation and morality, then in late zen you see this odd mixture of it and other things, some masters are extremely violent, one cuts a man's finger off, another cuts a cat in half, there are masters shouting and beating people, and so on, and they teach odd things like the above about meditation on and off. in some ways it's far from what the buddha taught but in other ways, coupled with the theravada dhamma (or perhaps a firm guiding hand through zen practice itself), these shocking ideas and thoughts can help cut through some of the confusion in practice, that is as long as one already has a firm grounding in theravada dhamma.

for example i used shikantaza to just sit and noticed how automated everything is in the body, even consciousness itself! this was very liberating as i realized how little room there is for a willful self when the body and mind run with or without my consent!


Since you can do shikantaza there is enough to settle the mind upon a proper aiming-point, which for me is the nikāyan analysis of the rise and fall of psychophysical causal processes.

I did zen for 20 years and other than the contemplative work of zazen and shikantaza, found it to be fortune-cookie Buddhism and a poor guide.
Katamo ca bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo: samatho ca vipassanā ca. Ayaṃ vuccati bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo.

“And what, bhikkhus, is the path leading to the unconditioned? Calm and insight. This, bhikkhus, is called the path leading to the unconditioned.” SN. 43.2 – Samathavipassanāsuttaṃ

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Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby alan... » Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:20 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:
alan... wrote: ... i only consider zen because my choices are: zen or tibetan lol! it's the best one of the two. i agree with you. i've just got so many questions!!!


for example i even find questions in thanissaro's little quote above! what is concentration per se? zero thought? thoughts arise but no interaction? is there consciousness of the senses and inputs? and so on. i just wish i could freaking talk to a teacher!


zen goes back and forth as well. some teachers in history went with a really odd outlook like meditation is the opposite of what you want to do since by meditating you are getting further from the truth because the goal of meditation is your true nature so to seek it is to lose it. that kind of stuff is almost the exact opposite of what the buddha taught. but soto zen for example is fairly close to theravada. it's really a mix of different traditions. you see old school buddhism in early zen, heavy on meditation and morality, then in late zen you see this odd mixture of it and other things, some masters are extremely violent, one cuts a man's finger off, another cuts a cat in half, there are masters shouting and beating people, and so on, and they teach odd things like the above about meditation on and off. in some ways it's far from what the buddha taught but in other ways, coupled with the theravada dhamma (or perhaps a firm guiding hand through zen practice itself), these shocking ideas and thoughts can help cut through some of the confusion in practice, that is as long as one already has a firm grounding in theravada dhamma.

for example i used shikantaza to just sit and noticed how automated everything is in the body, even consciousness itself! this was very liberating as i realized how little room there is for a willful self when the body and mind run with or without my consent!


Since you can do shikantaza there is enough to settle the mind upon a proper aiming-point, which for me is the nikāyan analysis of the rise and fall of psychophysical causal processes.

I did zen for 20 years and other than the contemplative work of zazen and shikantaza, found it to be fortune-cookie Buddhism and a poor guide.


i don't understand. your first statement equates shikantaza with a theravada practice, your second statement brushes off the whole tradition (or at least your experience). so is shikantaza good or bad in your opinion?

i found roughly the same. lots of little ideas and thoughts that didn't really fix anything. just quick temporary fixes that were similar to learning secular philosophy.

EDIT: not hating on zen, just giving my experience. i'm obviously fairly confident there is progress possible in zen considering i'm thinking about finding a zen teacher.
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Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby ancientbuddhism » Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:33 pm

alan... wrote: ... i don't understand. your first statement equates shikantaza with a theravada practice, your second statement brushes off the whole tradition (or at least your experience). so is shikantaza good or bad in your opinion?

i found roughly the same. lots of little ideas and thoughts that didn't really fix anything. just quick temporary fixes that were similar to learning secular philosophy.


Shikantaza is in essence the same as ‘calm and insight’ (samatho ca vipassanā), and roughly equivalent to later Burmese Vipassanā methods. There had been no significant conflict with these practices for me in transition from Zen to Theravāda practice.
Katamo ca bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo: samatho ca vipassanā ca. Ayaṃ vuccati bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo.

“And what, bhikkhus, is the path leading to the unconditioned? Calm and insight. This, bhikkhus, is called the path leading to the unconditioned.” SN. 43.2 – Samathavipassanāsuttaṃ

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Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby Mr Man » Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:52 pm

Hi alan, In my opinion one of the great things about the teaching of the Buddha is that there really isn't a need for a "school affiliation" that is something extra. Our affiliation is to the path.
If you feel you are at a gridlock I would try and really figure out where it is you want to go and take it from there.

From Ajahn Chah:

“Whenever you have feelings of love or hate for anything whatsoever, these will be your aides and partners in building parami. The Buddha-Dhamma is not to be found in moving forwards, nor in moving backwards, nor in standing still. This, Sumedho, is your place of non-abiding.”

http://fsnewsletter.amaravati.org/html/80/thirtyyears.htm
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Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby alan... » Fri Mar 01, 2013 3:36 am

ancientbuddhism wrote:
alan... wrote: ... i don't understand. your first statement equates shikantaza with a theravada practice, your second statement brushes off the whole tradition (or at least your experience). so is shikantaza good or bad in your opinion?

i found roughly the same. lots of little ideas and thoughts that didn't really fix anything. just quick temporary fixes that were similar to learning secular philosophy.


Shikantaza is in essence the same as ‘calm and insight’ (samatho ca vipassanā), and roughly equivalent to later Burmese Vipassanā methods. There had been no significant conflict with these practices for me in transition from Zen to Theravāda practice.


very cool. thanks for clarifying.
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Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby alan... » Fri Mar 01, 2013 3:37 am

Mr Man wrote:Hi alan, In my opinion one of the great things about the teaching of the Buddha is that there really isn't a need for a "school affiliation" that is something extra. Our affiliation is to the path.
If you feel you are at a gridlock I would try and really figure out where it is you want to go and take it from there.

From Ajahn Chah:

“Whenever you have feelings of love or hate for anything whatsoever, these will be your aides and partners in building parami. The Buddha-Dhamma is not to be found in moving forwards, nor in moving backwards, nor in standing still. This, Sumedho, is your place of non-abiding.”

http://fsnewsletter.amaravati.org/html/80/thirtyyears.htm


well by "switch schools" i meant from pali canon only teachings to mahayana since that's what the only temples near me are.
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Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby daverupa » Fri Mar 01, 2013 7:34 pm

alan... wrote:well by "switch schools" i meant from pali canon only teachings to mahayana since that's what the only temples near me are.


There are probably Xian churches near you as well, but those aren't in the running - presumably because they aren't based on what the Buddha taught - so I fail to see how Mahayana made the cut, as it largely falls to the same criticism.

:shrug:
    "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: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:38 pm

I agree with Dave not solely due to the logic but from actual experience. Although I have been Theravadin at heart since I met the suttas I have, for similar reasons, found myself trying to practice with Zen, Seon, Vajrayana. In the end I feel like I wasted a lot of time. There will always be some cognitive dissonance there and you will never be able to really listen and/or learn from them so you will be doing a disservice to both parties. Whatever you decide though is your choice and I wish you the best of luck!
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby alan... » Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:26 am

daverupa wrote:
alan... wrote:well by "switch schools" i meant from pali canon only teachings to mahayana since that's what the only temples near me are.


There are probably Xian churches near you as well, but those aren't in the running - presumably because they aren't based on what the Buddha taught - so I fail to see how Mahayana made the cut, as it largely falls to the same criticism.

:shrug:


eh. i see a large parallel between particularly soto zen and the vippassana school of theravada. i see other parallels in other areas of zen but soto is the most consistent one. i don't know what the other thing you're talking about is. i wouldn't even consider other mahayana schools like pure land, nicheren, vajrayana, and so on. nothing wrong with them, just not my style. zen, and specifically certain types of zen are the only things i would even consider as they are pretty close to theravada in some areas. others not so much...

in the end though i'm theravada through and through. this thread was out of frustration, i wasn't thinking clearly. i consider some zen ideas but only the ones that fit in with the pali canon. i would still even consider talking to a zen teacher but only because i know enough theravada to see when and where it aligns with whatever this hypothetical teacher would be teaching me.
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Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby alan... » Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:27 am

Khalil Bodhi wrote:I agree with Dave not solely due to the logic but from actual experience. Although I have been Theravadin at heart since I met the suttas I have, for similar reasons, found myself trying to practice with Zen, Seon, Vajrayana. In the end I feel like I wasted a lot of time. There will always be some cognitive dissonance there and you will never be able to really listen and/or learn from them so you will be doing a disservice to both parties. Whatever you decide though is your choice and I wish you the best of luck!


indeed. ever read any alan watts? that guy will really make you think!!!
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Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby Mr Man » Sat Mar 02, 2013 7:29 am

alan... wrote:. i don't know what the other thing you're talking about is.

I didn't either and searched - I think Xian = Christian.
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Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby daverupa » Sat Mar 02, 2013 11:42 am

Mr Man wrote:
alan... wrote:. i don't know what the other thing you're talking about is.

I didn't either and searched - I think Xian = Christian.


Yes, exactly. I hope this wasn't too confusing; it's an old abbreviation.
    "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: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby beeblebrox » Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:39 am

Khalil Bodhi wrote:Although I have been Theravadin at heart since I met the suttas I have, for similar reasons, found myself trying to practice with Zen, Seon, Vajrayana. In the end I feel like I wasted a lot of time. There will always be some cognitive dissonance there and you will never be able to really listen and/or learn from them so you will be doing a disservice to both parties.


Hi Khalil,

Sorry if this seems off-topic... but I'm curious if there's not still some cognitive dissonance when you're just practicing with the Theravada tradition?

For example, (other than the obvious stuff, like the supernatural descriptions in the Pali Canon), what do you think of the Bhikkhuni ordination issue? Especially when there are at least some western Bhikkhus who are in disfavor... in spite of the society where they're supposed to receive alms from?

How would someone resolve that for himself? Especially so that he could continue his own practice in good conscience?

How do you think a sincere female practitioner (granted, neither you or Alan are females) should resolve this... especially when she wants to surrender herself completely to the Triple Gem, and devote her own full life to maintaining it?

If you were able to resolve that kind of thing for yourself, then why this problem of trying to practice with others who only follow a different tradition from yours?

I think that there is dissonance everywhere. There's no escaping it... it is exactly the nature of the world that we live in. That is dukkha.

When you read about the cognitive dissonance on the Wikipedia, it says the following:

The theory of cognitive dissonance in social psychology proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by altering existing cognitions, adding new ones to create a consistent belief system, or alternatively by reducing the importance of any one of the dissonant elements.


This kind of drive isn't a part of our practice... whether it's Mahayana or Theravadin.

It obviously goes directly against the first noble truth... which is to recognize the dukkha, as it is. That is... to contemplate the dissonance in its own full, clear glory.

It is only then that we'll be able to see exactly how it passes away. If we get that kind of insight for ourselves, then we'll be able to build the eight-fold path out of it.

There's no running away from things. There's not even trying to compartmentalize it to other traditions... as an attempt to keep it away from ourselves, and our own practices. This is not how we escape the samsara.

How's that for fortune cookie Buddhism?

:anjali:
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Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Sun Mar 03, 2013 2:09 am

Hi Beeblebrox,

Yes, I see your point. There is certainly enough to entangle one within the Theravada which is precisely why I am so weary adding anything else to the mix. Mettaya! :anjali:
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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Kiva-Theravada Buddhists:http://www.kiva.org/team/theravada_buddhists
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Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby Sylvester » Sun Mar 03, 2013 6:44 am

daverupa wrote:
Mr Man wrote:
alan... wrote:. i don't know what the other thing you're talking about is.

I didn't either and searched - I think Xian = Christian.


Yes, exactly. I hope this wasn't too confusing; it's an old abbreviation.



While we are on the subject of the "X", check out Ven Hui Feng's exciting PhD thesis on the deep and hidden X structures belying the chaotic appearance of the Prajnaparamita literature.

:focus:
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Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby beeblebrox » Sun Mar 03, 2013 5:25 pm

Khalil Bodhi wrote:Yes, I see your point. There is certainly enough to entangle one within the Theravada which is precisely why I am so weary adding anything else to the mix. Mettaya!


Hi Khalil,

That makes sense, and I appreciate you responding in the way that you did. I thought I went a bit overboard with my last post and was worried it might lead the thread off in the wrong direction. I'm glad that it didn't.

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Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby alan... » Mon Mar 04, 2013 3:23 am

Sylvester wrote:While we are on the subject of the "X", check out Ven Hui Feng's exciting PhD thesis on the deep and hidden X structures belying the chaotic appearance of the Prajnaparamita literature.

:focus:


interesting. could you explain what this is more?
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Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby alan... » Mon Mar 04, 2013 3:32 am

beeblebrox wrote:
Khalil Bodhi wrote:Although I have been Theravadin at heart since I met the suttas I have, for similar reasons, found myself trying to practice with Zen, Seon, Vajrayana. In the end I feel like I wasted a lot of time. There will always be some cognitive dissonance there and you will never be able to really listen and/or learn from them so you will be doing a disservice to both parties.


Hi Khalil,

Sorry if this seems off-topic... but I'm curious if there's not still some cognitive dissonance when you're just practicing with the Theravada tradition?

For example, (other than the obvious stuff, like the supernatural descriptions in the Pali Canon), what do you think of the Bhikkhuni ordination issue? Especially when there are at least some western Bhikkhus who are in disfavor... in spite of the society where they're supposed to receive alms from?

How would someone resolve that for himself? Especially so that he could continue his own practice in good conscience?

How do you think a sincere female practitioner (granted, neither you or Alan are females) should resolve this... especially when she wants to surrender herself completely to the Triple Gem, and devote her own full life to maintaining it?

If you were able to resolve that kind of thing for yourself, then why this problem of trying to practice with others who only follow a different tradition from yours?

I think that there is dissonance everywhere. There's no escaping it... it is exactly the nature of the world that we live in. That is dukkha.

When you read about the cognitive dissonance on the Wikipedia, it says the following:

The theory of cognitive dissonance in social psychology proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by altering existing cognitions, adding new ones to create a consistent belief system, or alternatively by reducing the importance of any one of the dissonant elements.


This kind of drive isn't a part of our practice... whether it's Mahayana or Theravadin.

It obviously goes directly against the first noble truth... which is to recognize the dukkha, as it is. That is... to contemplate the dissonance in its own full, clear glory.

It is only then that we'll be able to see exactly how it passes away. If we get that kind of insight for ourselves, then we'll be able to build the eight-fold path out of it.

There's no running away from things. There's not even trying to compartmentalize it to other traditions... as an attempt to keep it away from ourselves, and our own practices. This is not how we escape the samsara.

How's that for fortune cookie Buddhism?

:anjali:



bhikkhuni ordination is a whole different story. i'm talking about two different traditions that don't even use the same scriptures, so there could be huge inconsistencies in what i may be learning and trying to practice.

i think men and women are equal. i have no ties to any specific theravada lineage, i use the pali canon as my guide. i think women should be allowed to do anything men are allowed to do.

if bhikkhunis are not allowed that is a sad state of affairs but again, no comparison to differences in scripture and practice. if i go theravada i may reach nibbana, if i go zen, i may reach satori, if i go both i may get confused or who knows, maybe it will work better? if there is or is not bhikkhuni ordination that doesn't really affect my practice one way or the other since there are no theravada temples near me, hence the OP in the first place. if i were going to ordain and i had a choice i would go with a school that allows it. some of my zen teachers were women and one of my favorite authors is ayya khema. it would be hard for me to ordain in a school that didn't allow women to ordain.
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Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby bongrf » Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:56 pm

Because I stepped onto this path without a teacher and practiced in relative solitude for a number of years, I find myself moved to make several comments. One is that if your heart tells you that Theravada is your spiritual home, as mine did me, then I feel you should honor that. However, this does not mean judging and avoiding all other opportunities for fellowship on the path that might be helpful to you. During that time I attended a Zen retreat and also a Tibetan workshop and I continue to read widely. I keep in mind a teaching...someone may know from where, I'm sorry that I don't...that one should not be attached to anything. And that includes the idea of being a Buddhist. I expand this to think that attachment to a particular school is also problematic.

Keep a sure sense of your intention, practice with diligence, know your mind. Teachers come...online, in books, in friends and children, and sometimes where we think we are seeking them, that is, in the person of some "teacher" we meet on retreat or at a center. Everything is teaching us, if our hearts are open and we are rooted solidly in dhamma.

Wishing you well.
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Re: still no hope of a teacher, should i switch schools?

Postby alan... » Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:15 am

bongrf wrote:Because I stepped onto this path without a teacher and practiced in relative solitude for a number of years, I find myself moved to make several comments. One is that if your heart tells you that Theravada is your spiritual home, as mine did me, then I feel you should honor that. However, this does not mean judging and avoiding all other opportunities for fellowship on the path that might be helpful to you. During that time I attended a Zen retreat and also a Tibetan workshop and I continue to read widely. I keep in mind a teaching...someone may know from where, I'm sorry that I don't...that one should not be attached to anything. And that includes the idea of being a Buddhist. I expand this to think that attachment to a particular school is also problematic.

Keep a sure sense of your intention, practice with diligence, know your mind. Teachers come...online, in books, in friends and children, and sometimes where we think we are seeking them, that is, in the person of some "teacher" we meet on retreat or at a center. Everything is teaching us, if our hearts are open and we are rooted solidly in dhamma.

Wishing you well.


wonderful thoughts, thank you. the teaching you keep in mind is spoken many times in zen and theravada across the board. likely in many other traditions as well. very applicable!
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