Spreading Buddhism

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby genkaku » Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:24 am

I think the attempt not to call Buddhism Buddhism is a bigger waste of energy than any possible danger of instutionalism.


Not a 'bigger' waste of time ... the same waste of time.

How many times must anyone say it: Words and institutions are tentative.

Tentative.

TENTATIVE.

Anyone who has ever done a bit of meditation knows that "Buddha" and "Dharma" and "Sangha" cannot enter here: This ... is ... it. This moment is not some other moment. Tentatively, in this moment, names are for nitwits.

But as a matter of encouragement and because suffering is not just some philosophical or religious construct, we talk about things and formulate agendas that will address that suffering.

The agendas are tentative.

The moment is not.
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby appicchato » Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:52 am

Around and around we go... :popcorn:
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Sep 24, 2009 11:27 am

pink_trike wrote:The Dharma stands on it's own just fine without the container and institution of Buddhism.

But it is strange when people claim that their container is less sectarian, and by implication superior, to other containers.

Mike
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Sep 24, 2009 11:36 am

Or that they dont have a container, and that the absence of a container is superior. There is nothing tentative about the Buddha's Dhamma, because he was a Samasambuddhassa, only about our sometimes faltering realisation of it. I am quite happy to accept the appellation of nitwit.
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby genkaku » Thu Sep 24, 2009 11:39 am

appicchato wrote:Around and around we go... :popcorn:



I always knew you were a good dancer. :smile:
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Sep 24, 2009 11:54 am

Clearly the idea that someone who has in fact been meditating for a good few years is quite happy to call themselves a Buddhist, and does not consider that a concept to be grown out of or abandoned this side of Enlightenment seems to be a matter of strong emotions for you genkaku. I wonder why that might be..Its not as though anyone is conducting raiding parties on other Buddhist groups at the point of a sword. I am puzzled. I am quite happy to persue my Theravadin practice as instructed by the Sangha, and not bother anyone else. And for you to practice according to your lights. Why does that bother you ?
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby genkaku » Thu Sep 24, 2009 12:03 pm

Dear Sanghmitta -- No disrespect intended from here. It's not a matter of what bothers me. It's a matter of what actually works ... which is something you will find out for yourself and I will find out for mine. I just hope neither of us becomes too content.
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Sep 24, 2009 12:12 pm

I have/am finding that for myself. I am content with the Dhamma. I am content that it pretty much represents what the Buddha rediscovered. I am not content with my own realisation of it. Its the work of lifetimes. I have no interest in telling anyone else that they should practice as I do. I am very interested in the views of other people whose practice is also based in the teachings of the elders. And also in the views of those who respect those teachings for what they are.
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby appicchato » Thu Sep 24, 2009 12:43 pm

genkaku wrote:I always knew you were a good dancer. :smile:


'Were' is the operative word here...you're good Adam... :smile:

Here's the deal folks...let's ask ourselves: 'Did the Buddha get out there and drum up business?'...no, (to my knowledge) he didn't...he made himself available to those interested in what he had to say...it's a personal journey to even find (interest in) the path...to (attempt to) drag someone, anyone, on to it is a futile endeavor...from personal observation it would seem ALL of us have more than enough on our own plates concerning our own liberation before attempting to 'save' (unsolicited) everyone else...if I were asked...

Be well... :smile:
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Sep 24, 2009 1:38 pm

I am reminded of verse 50 of The Dhammapada, in edited form it goes, " Let no one find fault with others, let one see one's own acts done and undone." Which I think shows the model for being an example, and the huge challenge that represents.For many people in the west still we will be the first Buddhist that people would have met..personally I find that a big responsibility and keep my own council unless asked.
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby pink_trike » Thu Sep 24, 2009 6:15 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:
pink_trike wrote:The Dharma stands on it's own just fine without the container and institution of Buddhism.


So you would prefer " Dhammaism " ? Its got to be called something. Just calling it the Dhamma, which is essentially what the Buddha did, has no resonance in our culture as it did in his. We cant just talk about " that thing we do " like we are members of the Cosa Nostra.. :smile: I think the attempt not to call Buddhism Buddhism is a bigger waste of energy than any possible danger of instutionalism. As to spreading it, I think example is both the most effective and the most challenging.


The OP asked about the most effective way to evangelize the Dharma. Imo, the most effective way to do this in our modern world would be to drop the "ism" and "ist" impulse that seems to bring many self-identified "Buddhists" comfort and structure. The term "Buddhist" has only very little resonance in our modern global society of 6.5 billion people and is of interest to only a very small number of people. For most folks in the world today it's in the same category as Mayan mysteries, Catholicism, tarot readings, and New Age visualization. Or it's regarded as an indulgence of a certain privileged class. Calling it Buddhist keeps the Dharma in a dark, hidden, archaic, cultural box that most people in modern society have no interest in. This box hides the Dharma under layers of institutionalism, jargon, cultural obfuscation, religiosity, and simulacra. If we're really interested in sharing the Dharma then peeling away the institution, obfuscation, jargon, religiosity, and simulacra is the most effective way. By living according to the teachings and practicing we begin to naturally model the Dharma in our daily life. We'll attract people who are attracted by the presence of the Dharma (truth) in our lives. We can then talk about the Dharma (truth) in ways that they can easily hear and assimilate into their own life...without the cultural froth and unnecessary simulacra.To reach the greatest number of people, it makes sense to speak about our _experience_ of the Dharma (truth) in their language within their cultural reference points, not in some secret society language of abstractification, religiosity, and mystification. The essence of the Truth found in the Buddhist container and institution is a pure wisdom and compassion that transcends all forms of culture, tradition, and language. It can be transfered to any cultural if the overgrowth is weed wacked away. However, this can't be done effectively if we cling to form and structure.

The key to awakening is that no matter how important something is, it must be thrown away. Siddhārtha Gautama didn't talk about "Buddhism", he talked about "The Truth"..."The Law"". It seems like we can do the same...we can simply talk about the experience of Truth. In my experience, this attracts people like ants to honey.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Sep 24, 2009 7:38 pm

I think that people vary and have different needs. You have described what appeals to you. And I am sure that many would agree and will or are finding new ways or different ways to present the essentials. I dont require any different way. I am not alone in that. I belong to a very traditional group within a very traditional Sangha setting with a large " "congregation" of several hundred people, many of them young. Just a few weeks ago there was an open day and in terms of numbers and in terms of hunger for something substantial, ants to honey would be a fair way to describe the attendence. I think you may be underestimating the fact that people are very different in their needs pink trike.
From the time I first became interested in the Buddhadhamma it was only the traditional forms of that which interested me. I am part of a large Sangha which is represented by a wide cross section of the population in terms of social and income groups etc, and we all have that in common. I would not dream of denying the validity of less traditional ways to present the Dhamma per se. I think it is not asking too much to expect a degree of mutual respect.
:anjali:
Last edited by Sanghamitta on Thu Sep 24, 2009 8:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby pink_trike » Thu Sep 24, 2009 7:50 pm

Sanghamitta wrote: I am sure we can agree to differ in a mutually respectful way.

:anjali:

Yes. I think we have.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Sep 24, 2009 7:59 pm

Sorry I did a bit of editing while you were posting yours P T. :thinking:


:anjali:

Valerie.
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby pink_trike » Fri Sep 25, 2009 1:07 am

mikenz66 wrote:
pink_trike wrote:The Dharma stands on it's own just fine without the container and institution of Buddhism.

But it is strange when people claim that their container is less sectarian, and by implication superior, to other containers.

Mike

Not superior, just a broader accessibility and effectiveness. For example: I live in a town of approx. 50k in S. California that is very influenced by Hollywood culture...I like it here because it's quiet and small with great weather year round, but it is an extremely superficial town - style rules absolutely over substance. People are very externally-focused and materially-goaled. All of which makes it a fairly accurate if slightly magnified microcosm of the United States as a whole.

I don't mention anything about "Buddhism" here, because it wouldn't be well received. But I talk about the Dharma all the time, in plain English with no strange terminology or concepts. I describe Dharma (truth) in everyday conversation. For example: I apparently model a bit of calmness that causes people to take note of it and when they ask how I do it, I tell them that I make it a point to just sit quietly for a while each day so I can stop thinking so much...and then go on to discuss it in more depth if they're interested, not mentioning the words "meditation, concentration, contemplation, mind states, etc...". Some of these people have now taken to "sitting quietly for awhile" every day and gradually I've gotten around to discussing postures that help, all the funny things that we hear and think about when we just sit still, a few things we can do to make just sitting still a little more beneficial, etc.. As a result, I know a great many people here who love to discuss this and "life" with me - because I never say anything that spooks them out of their comfort zone. Nothing strange, nothing from "foreign" cultures, no difficult concepts and terms. No "spiritual" materialism.

Imo, the entirety of the teachings could be described this way, if we make the effort. People are quite receptive to The Truth. In my experience even complex aspects of the Dharma can be conveyed as long as it's described to them in ways that they can easily hear it that doesn't challenge many of the beams that hold up the structure they've carefully constructed that helps them get through life. So, I'm not evangelizing "Buddhism" but I am evangelizing Truth (The Dharma).
Last edited by pink_trike on Fri Sep 25, 2009 2:11 am, edited 2 times in total.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby Thaibebop » Fri Sep 25, 2009 1:37 am

pink_trike wrote:
Sanghamitta wrote:
pink_trike wrote:The Dharma stands on it's own just fine without the container and institution of Buddhism.


So you would prefer " Dhammaism " ? Its got to be called something. Just calling it the Dhamma, which is essentially what the Buddha did, has no resonance in our culture as it did in his. We cant just talk about " that thing we do " like we are members of the Cosa Nostra.. :smile: I think the attempt not to call Buddhism Buddhism is a bigger waste of energy than any possible danger of instutionalism. As to spreading it, I think example is both the most effective and the most challenging.


The OP asked about the most effective way to evangelize the Dharma. Imo, the most effective way to do this in our modern world would be to drop the "ism" and "ist" impulse that seems to bring many self-identified "Buddhists" comfort and structure. The term "Buddhist" has only very little resonance in our modern global society of 6.5 billion people and is of interest to only a very small number of people. For most folks in the world today it's in the same category as Mayan mysteries, Catholicism, tarot readings, and New Age visualization. Or it's regarded as an indulgence of a certain privileged class. Calling it Buddhist keeps the Dharma in a dark, hidden, archaic, cultural box that most people in modern society have no interest in. This box hides the Dharma under layers of institutionalism, jargon, cultural obfuscation, religiosity, and simulacra. If we're really interested in sharing the Dharma then peeling away the institution, obfuscation, jargon, religiosity, and simulacra is the most effective way. By living according to the teachings and practicing we begin to naturally model the Dharma in our daily life. We'll attract people who are attracted by the presence of the Dharma (truth) in our lives. We can then talk about the Dharma (truth) in ways that they can easily hear and assimilate into their own life...without the cultural froth and unnecessary simulacra.To reach the greatest number of people, it makes sense to speak about our _experience_ of the Dharma (truth) in their language within their cultural reference points, not in some secret society language of abstractification, religiosity, and mystification. The essence of the Truth found in the Buddhist container and institution is a pure wisdom and compassion that transcends all forms of culture, tradition, and language. It can be transfered to any cultural if the overgrowth is weed wacked away. However, this can't be done effectively if we cling to form and structure.

The key to awakening is that no matter how important something is, it must be thrown away. Siddhārtha Gautama didn't talk about "Buddhism", he talked about "The Truth"..."The Law"". It seems like we can do the same...we can simply talk about the experience of Truth. In my experience, this attracts people like ants to honey.

Good post! Yes, I singled out the Dhamma over Buddhism simply because the Dhamma is the Dhamma but Buddhism changes as you travel the world. One person's Buddhism isn't anothers. Like all religions there is politics attached to some forms of Buddhism as well. The teaching of the Buddha are of more interest to me.
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Sep 25, 2009 1:46 am

Greetings pink_trike,

pink_trike wrote:Not superior, just a broader effectiveness.


But if your everyday man doesn't know what it is, because it is being non-conceptual and nameless, how is that more broadly effective? It sounds more broadly vague and intangible to me.

The road from ignorance to wisdom is best travelled initially with conceptual understanding, i.e. Right View, which can in time be transcended in the form of Right Understanding. Right View is by definition, a view, a conceptual notion... and the first and most primary step on the Noble Eightfold Path.

It's all very well to be an exemplar of the Dhamma, but if people don't know what it is, and the Dhammic structures that the Buddha defined... what is your behaviour and your Dhamma pointing to?

Or maybe I'm missing your point slightly...

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby pink_trike » Fri Sep 25, 2009 2:14 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings pink_trike,

pink_trike wrote:Not superior, just a broader effectiveness.


But if your everyday man doesn't know what it is, because it is being non-conceptual and nameless, how is that more broadly effective? It sounds more broadly vague and intangible to me.

The road from ignorance to wisdom is best travelled initially with conceptual understanding, i.e. Right View, which can in time be transcended in the form of Right Understanding. Right View is by definition, a view, a conceptual notion... and the first and most primary step on the Noble Eightfold Path.

It's all very well to be an exemplar of the Dhamma, but if people don't know what it is, and the Dhammic structures that the Buddha defined... what is your behaviour and your Dhamma pointing to?

Or maybe I'm missing your point slightly...

Metta,
Retro. :)

I'm curious to know what concepts found in "Buddhism" you think can't be described independent of buddhist jargon, the institution, the religious layer, and the simulacra. I'm not suggesting that I can do this but concepts aren't dependent on these things.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby Ben » Fri Sep 25, 2009 2:45 am

Hi Mike
mikenz66 wrote:
TheDhamma wrote:Hi
My thinking is that many Goenka retreat participants will learn of Buddhism later after the retreat (books and other sources) and see that there really is not much difference from Goenka's teachings and mainstream Buddhism (none really, just a matter of emphasis).

Actually, they learn a lot of Theravada Buddhism from his Retreat Dhamma talks. I personally found it first irritating, then merely amusing, that he claimed to not be teaching Buddhism. There's nothing I recall hearing in his Dhamma talks that would be out of place at any other Theravada retreat. Of course, it's difficult to find a balance in these matters.

Metta
Mike


I empathize with you. However, do remember that the ten-day course is really a ten-day introductory course! And the reluctance of Goenkaji to use the 'B' word is so that participants may focus on the teachings and practice which have universal application and not feel that there is a perceived barrier because of one's existing religious or spiritual affiliation.
Kind regards

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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Sep 25, 2009 2:55 am

Greetings Pink_trike,

pink_trike wrote:I'm curious to know what concepts found in "Buddhism" you think can't be described independent of buddhist jargon, the institution, the religious layer, and the simulacra. I'm not suggesting that I can do this but concepts aren't dependent on these things.


I don't think the 4NT or 8NP can be simplified any further than they are, without foresaking any important aspect of them. If the Buddha could have made it more self-evident then he would have taught in such a way. As it is, the Buddha had to expound the Dhamma through the conceptual medium of language, and I trust that he did so in the best way possible, in his capacity as a Buddha.

Yes, he adapted his style and method to match the knowledge and disposition of his audience but it was always to guide them from A to B... and the B was the Buddhadhamma, in its standardised and oft-repeated structure. It wasn't as encouragement for them to "reinvent the wheel".

I do not buy into the Zen transmission myth regarding Maha-Kassapa and Buddha holding up a lotus. The Buddha always explicitly taught the Dhamma through concepts, and implicity taught it by living the Dhamma. Both were, and still are, important.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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