Western cultural adaptations

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

Re: Western cultural adaptations

Postby Goofaholix » Sun Mar 16, 2014 11:14 pm

Ben wrote:You will also find that Buddhism predates the Hare Krishnas and even Hinduism. It would not surprise me that it is one of the many Buddhist artefacts that have been incorporated into Hinduism and some of its offshoots.


According to Wikipaedia Hare Krishna was founded in 1966, the same year Luang Por Sumedho ordained and only 3 years before Goenka started teaching in India BTW.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Western cultural adaptations

Postby Ben » Sun Mar 16, 2014 11:39 pm

Hi Goof,
Yes, that is the modern Krsna Comsciousness (ISKON) movement. But that seems to be the modern iteration of a Krishna devotion cult it has been going for quite a while longer.
Kind regards,
Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Western cultural adaptations

Postby Mr Man » Mon Mar 17, 2014 7:39 am

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Re: Western cultural adaptations

Postby appicchato » Mon Mar 17, 2014 8:14 am

Lived near a Hare Krishna house in Laguna Beach, California in the sixties...a mad lot...please refresh my memory, why are we talking about them?...
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Re: Western cultural adaptations

Postby Ben » Mon Mar 17, 2014 8:44 am

appicchato wrote:Lived near a Hare Krishna house in Laguna Beach, California in the sixties...a mad lot...please refresh my memory, why are we talking about them?...


Hi Bhante,
They sound like heady days!
The diversion relates to comments binocular made here:
viewtopic.php?f=14&t=20198&start=80#p283458

The diversion is sort of on topic as it is an exploration of the conditioning influence of one religion or mental culture over another.
Kind regards,
Ben.
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Western cultural adaptations

Postby binocular » Tue Mar 18, 2014 12:58 pm

Kim OHara wrote:
binocular wrote:I think the Hare Krishnas introduce an interesting concept that may be worth considering (and may in fact already exist in Asian Buddhism, it's just that we in the West aren't seeing it?), namely, that of the "triple check" guru-sadhu-sastra. That is, essentially, that a person should follow only instructions that the three sources (ie. one's teacher, saintly people, and scriptures) agree on. This approach has its double binds too, to be sure, but it's not rocket science either.

Surely this is simply the Triple Gem - Buddha, Dharma and Sangha? And "taking refuge" in it is depending on it?

No. In Dhamma terms, it's about how a particular, actual person can know what is true Dhamma and what isn't.

For example, someone could go around claiming that the Buddha taught (to borrow a fake Buddha quote from Fake Buddha Quotes):
“To force oneself to believe and to accept a thing without understanding is political, and not spiritual or intellectual.”

Now, how do we know whether this is actually the teaching of the Buddha, whether it is actually the Dhamma?

We can (and do) tend to help ourselves with basically these three sources:
1. a person whose opinion we highly value and can inquire from (ie. guru),
2. other people whom we deem knowledgeable and whose texts we can read (and maybe even communicate with them) (ie. sadhus),
3. scriptures we deem authoritative (ie. sastra).

And then we check: if these three all agree that “To force oneself to believe and to accept a thing without understanding is political, and not spiritual or intellectual” is true and has been taught by the Buddha, we'll be inclined to also believe so; otherwise, we won't.

But any of the three sources per se doesn't seem enough:
Scriptures may simply be too large or too complex for a single person to study on one's own in whole and in detail in any foreseeable time, leaving one with doubt and uncertainty if one relies solely on scriptures to get answers to pressing questions.
Even saintly people sometime disagree (so how do we make sense of it?) or don't address a particular issue we have a problem with (or we cannot find it addressed in their body of work).
Relying just on the teacher seems too much like hero worship.

So to avoid the problems connected to relying on just one of the three sources, we rely to some extent on all of them. It's faster, more efficient.
Many people generally seem to apply that triple check anyway, but I've only seen it conveniently formulated like this by the Hare Krishnas so far.


All on one's own, how could one possibly have any idea what is the Triple Gem? If we look at Buddhism, there are many different schools, with many lineages in them, and many famous teachers too, and each of them has a somewhat different understanding of what the Triple Gem exactly is and what it means to take refuge in it.
Before one can take refuge in the Triple Gem, one has to somehow have an idea of what that is. How does one get that idea? Probably by some combination of input from a teacher(-figure), saintly people, and scriptures.

I think a bag in West's cultural baggage is the conviction that one decides about all these things on one's own, decide without the input from a teacher(-figure), saintly people, or scriptures what is Dhamma and what isn't, as if one could unilaterally declare membership in a religion.

Not every Westerner carries that bag, but some certainly do.
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Re: Western cultural adaptations

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Mar 18, 2014 1:53 pm

binocular wrote:I think a bag in West's cultural baggage is the conviction that one decides about all these things on one's own, decide without the input from a teacher(-figure), saintly people, or scriptures what is Dhamma and what isn't, as if one could unilaterally declare membership in a religion.
Are you seriously suggesting that Western Hare Krishna folks are not doing the same thing?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Western cultural adaptations

Postby binocular » Tue Mar 18, 2014 1:59 pm

Doing what exactly?
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Re: Western cultural adaptations

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Mar 18, 2014 2:02 pm

binocular wrote:Doing what exactly?
What you seem to claim that some misguided Western Buddhists are doing. The Western Hare Krishna followers are exemplars of the supposed "triple check?"
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Western cultural adaptations

Postby binocular » Tue Mar 18, 2014 2:23 pm

tiltbillings wrote:The Western Hare Krishna followers are exemplars of the supposed "triple check?"

Some certainly are. From what I've seen, if one wishes to maintain some semblance of sanity, one has to apply the triple check, otherwise one's spirituality/religiosity simply turns into fanaticism.
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Re: Western cultural adaptations

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Mar 18, 2014 2:32 pm

binocular wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:The Western Hare Krishna followers are exemplars of the supposed "triple check?"

Some certainly are. From what I've seen, if one wishes to maintain some semblance of sanity, one has to apply the triple check, otherwise one's spirituality/religiosity simply turns into fanaticism.
We certainly do not want Buddhist fanatics. So, tell us how this "triple check" would work -- what it would look like -- in a Buddhist context. Give some clear examples of this "triple check," both in terms of how it works with the Hare Krishnas and how it might look in a Buddhist context.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Western cultural adaptations

Postby binocular » Tue Mar 18, 2014 2:34 pm

Already did above in the post the second-to last sentence of which you quoted, and earlier provided a link to the Hare Krishnas.
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Re: Western cultural adaptations

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Mar 18, 2014 2:41 pm

binocular wrote:Already did above in the post the second-to last sentence of which you quoted, and earlier provided a link to the Hare Krishnas.
Both of which really do not say much in terms of what an actual application of the "triple check" might actually look like in practice for the Buddhist and what it looks like for the HK follower. There is nothing of substance there. You will need to put some meat on what few bones you have provided us.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Western cultural adaptations

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Mar 18, 2014 7:12 pm

binocular wrote:We can (and do) tend to help ourselves with basically these three sources:
1. a person whose opinion we highly value and can inquire from (ie. guru),
2. other people whom we deem knowledgeable and whose texts we can read (and maybe even communicate with them) (ie. sadhus),
3. scriptures we deem authoritative (ie. sastra).


This is the main point of taking refuge in the triple gem, it's nothing new.

Obviously it changed once the Buddha died as one can only rely on what the scriptures say he said, and the Buddha is part of the Sangha so there are overlaps, but if one can't realisticly demonstrate Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha being in harmony on a matter then one is probably on the wrong track.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Western cultural adaptations

Postby binocular » Tue Mar 18, 2014 7:57 pm

Goofaholix wrote:This is the main point of taking refuge in the triple gem,

According to whom? I at least have never seen that formulation in Buddhist sources before.
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Re: Western cultural adaptations

Postby binocular » Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:16 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
binocular wrote:Already did above in the post the second-to last sentence of which you quoted, and earlier provided a link to the Hare Krishnas.
Both of which really do not say much in terms of what an actual application of the "triple check" might actually look like in practice for the Buddhist and what it looks like for the HK follower. There is nothing of substance there. You will need to put some meat on what few bones you have provided us.


Here's a secular example to start with:

You go to a doctor about some ailment of yours. He instructs you what to do and what medications to take. The advice and prescription strike you as a odd, so you request a second opinion. You also ask some other people whom you deem knowledgeable in medicine, and you look up some scientific studies on the subject.
This way, you have applied the triple check: 1. your doctor / teacher; 2. other doctors and knowledgeable acquaintances / sadhus; 3. scientific literature / sastra.

Or you have some problem with your meditation. You 1. talk to your meditation teacher and/or other people whom you highly respect, 2. you look up what other big meditation teachers had to say on the topic, and 3. you look up what the scriptures say.

Similarly, the Hare Krishna devotee ideally consults the three sources on a matter before committing on a course of action: he talks about it with his teachers; consults saintly people; checks what the scriptures say on the matter.



Some other posters in this thread seem to understand just fine what I'm talking about.
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Re: Western cultural adaptations

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:26 pm

binocular wrote:
Goofaholix wrote:This is the main point of taking refuge in the triple gem,

According to whom? I at least have never seen that formulation in Buddhist sources before.


According to me.

What do you think taking refuge is about if not that?
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Western cultural adaptations

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Mar 18, 2014 9:25 pm

binocular wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
binocular wrote:Already did above in the post the second-to last sentence of which you quoted, and earlier provided a link to the Hare Krishnas.
Both of which really do not say much in terms of what an actual application of the "triple check" might actually look like in practice for the Buddhist and what it looks like for the HK follower. There is nothing of substance there. You will need to put some meat on what few bones you have provided us.


Here's a secular example to start with:

You go to a doctor about some ailment of yours. He instructs you what to do and what medications to take. The advice and prescription strike you as a odd, so you request a second opinion. You also ask some other people whom you deem knowledgeable in medicine, and you look up some scientific studies on the subject.
This way, you have applied the triple check: 1. your doctor / teacher; 2. other doctors and knowledgeable acquaintances / sadhus; 3. scientific literature / sastra.

Or you have some problem with your meditation. You 1. talk to your meditation teacher and/or other people whom you highly respect, 2. you look up what other big meditation teachers had to say on the topic, and 3. you look up what the scriptures say.

Similarly, the Hare Krishna devotee ideally consults the three sources on a matter before committing on a course of action: he talks about it with his teachers; consults saintly people; checks what the scriptures say on the matter.



Some other posters in this thread seem to understand just fine what I'm talking about.
Goodness. What you are describing, though, again, not really saying much, is what I see Buddhists as ideally doing as they are taught to do in the Nikayas.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Western cultural baggage

Postby manas » Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:16 pm

binocular wrote:
5. Compliance with modern Western science and culture, even at the expense of canonical references.


On the other hand, we shouldn't blindly accept what is in the suttas, over reason and modern science, in some instances; take this one for example:

Suriya Sutta: The Sun Deity's Prayer for Protection

Thus have I heard:

On one occasion the Blessed One was living near Savatthi at Jetavana at Anathapindika's monastery. At that time Suriya, the sun deity, was seized by Rahu, Lord of Asuras. Thereupon calling to mind the Blessed One, Suriya, the Sun deity, recited this stanza:

i. "O Buddha, the Hero, thou art wholly free from all evil. My adoration to thee. I have fallen into distress. Be thou my refuge."

Thereupon the Blessed One addressed a stanza to Rahu, Lord of Asuras, on behalf of Suriya thus:

ii. "O Rahu, Suriya has gone for refuge to the Tathagata, the Consummate One. Release Suriya. The Buddhas radiate compassion on the world (of beings).

iii. "O Rahu, swallow not the dispeller of darkness, the shining one, the radiant and effulgent traveler through the sky. Rahu, release Suriya, my son."

Thereupon Rahu, Lord of Asuras, released Suriya, and immediately came to the presence of Vepacitta, Lord of Asuras, and stood beside him trembling with fear and with hair standing on end. Then Vepacitta addressed Rahu in this stanza:

iv. "Rahu, why did you suddenly release Suriya? Why have you come trembling, and why are you standing here terrified?"

"I have been spoken to by the Buddha in a stanza (requesting me to release Suriya). If I had not released Suriya my head would have split into seven pieces. While yet I live, I should have had no happiness. (Therefore I released Suriya)."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .piya.html


Here is the relevant Hindu myth regarding Rahu and Surya:

In Hindu tradition, Rahu (U+260A.svg) is a decapitated head of an asura, that swallows the sun causing eclipses. He is depicted in art as a serpent with no body riding a chariot drawn by eight black horses. Rahu is one of the navagrahas (nine planets) in Vedic astrology and is paired with Ketu. The time of day considered to be under the influence of Rahu is called Rahu kala and is considered inauspicious.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rahu


So just because we find that the Canon ends up being completely correct 99 percent of the time (when we are both able to test it's veracity, and then do so), doesn't mean that we ought not point out instances when the Canon is clearly in error, and when modern science does offer a better explanation. We now know that eclipses are not caused by a demon seizing / swallowing the sun for a while, then releasing it. The relative motion of the Sun, Moon and Earth causes eclipses, not demons. So in this particular instance, I'm going with modern science over what is in (this particular) sutta.

:anjali:
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Re: Western cultural adaptations

Postby binocular » Wed Mar 19, 2014 8:47 am

Goofaholix wrote:According to me.
What do you think taking refuge is about if not that?

People can differ quite a bit in what they mean by "Buddha," "Dhamma," and "Sangha", and what it means to take refuge in them.
So how does one choose whose understanding of these terms to go with?
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