Spreading Buddhism

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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby pink_trike » Fri Sep 25, 2009 3:13 am

retrofuturist wrote: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.

Both were, and still are, important.
)


Here we agree. We may differ as to which is more initially beneficial when introducing it to people who are unfamiliar with Buddhism and have no interest it in (evangelizing, which was the OP's focus).
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 retrofuturist » Fri Sep 25, 2009 3:17 am

Greetings Pink_trike,

pink_trike wrote:Here we agree. We may differ as to which is more initially beneficial when introducing it to people who are unfamiliar with Buddhism and have no interest it in (evangelizing, which was the OP's focus).


There's standard Buddhist teachings that are appreciated even by such people though... the brahma-viharas come to mind, the notion of being able to :quote: let go :quote: of things that make us sad and angry etc.

All of which can of course be explained conceptually without recourse to the B word.

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


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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Sep 25, 2009 4:44 am

Hi Ben,
Ben wrote:I empathize with you. However, do remember that the ten-day course is really a ten-day introductory course! ...

Well, as far as I remember Goenka went though all of the Four Noble Truths, Dependent Origination, etc, and summarised the key ideas in more depth than I've seen on any single retreat with a Theravada monk. And there were plenty of Theravada chants. A couple of the participants in the course I was on (who were into Tao and Tai Chi) commented that they hadn't expected to have to sit through ten days of lectures on Buddhism. Hence my opinion that Goenka teaches a relatively standard, well run, Theravada retreat.

Getting back to the point, I do agree with Pink that there is value in presenting things in a way that is accessible and doesn't put people off. I think that can be very valuable.

Mike
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Sep 25, 2009 5:15 am

Greetings,

With all due respect to Mr. Goenka, I think his chanting is a bit counter-productive in the sense that if he's trying to appeal to anyone and everyone, regardless of their religious denomination, introducing a "religious" element such as chanting, when the meditation techniques you're teaching are not inherently religious and don't require it, will be a cause of possible concern to atheists and theists alike. Even as a dedicated Theravadin Buddhist, I did not feel that this was useful in the observance of vedana, so wondered what productive outcome he hoped it would achieve? Perhaps one of his students might know. Ben?

I love that Mr. Goenka wants to praise the Buddha, I'm just a little worried about the time and place for such things and any conflict with his primary objective of having people across the world experience the benefits that come from vipassana meditation.

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


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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby pink_trike » Fri Sep 25, 2009 5:49 am

retrofuturist wrote: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.


1. 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.


2. 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".


1. Not simplified. Translated.

2. Not "reinvent". Restate.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

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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 retrofuturist » Fri Sep 25, 2009 5:55 am

Greetings Pink_Trike,

If you think the Dhamma needs to be restated and translated (into non-Dhammic terms) then by all means do it.

My conviction in the Buddha (as both teacher, and enlightened being) combined with my absence of any Mahayana bodhicitta, render that pursuit unnecessary.

Nonetheless, I remain interested in spreading Buddhism, albeit primarily in what I consider to be its most original form.

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


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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby zavk » Fri Sep 25, 2009 5:58 am

Hi Retro

I can totally understand why some people would be uncomfortable with the chanting. Once, when I was serving as a manager at a course, a student requested to speak to the assistant teacher. So I brought him to the AT and I heard him telling the teacher, 'Goenka's chanting... it's very irritating!' :rofl:

The 'standard' answer to your question (that Goenka gives himself) is that the chanting is just a means for the teacher to generate the so-called 'good vibrations' for a conducive environment for practice. However, I can see how some people may not be satisfied with this answer. To be honest, if pressed further I can't say for sure if chanting does produce 'good vibrations' or not--although anthropological and/or scientific research into the functions of chanting would seem to support this.

I personally like the chanting and find it useful in helping me 'get in the zone'. Even though it has a certain ritualism to it, I don't see it as inherently 'religious'. I would draw a comparison with other 'ritualistic' activities that we are familiar with in everyday non-religious contexts. Take for example, a musical recital at a non-religious event like, say, the inauguration of a president. Before the president is sworn into office, there is usually a reading of poetry or a short musical performance (as was indeed the case with the inauguration of President Obama). These activities are performed at other events as well like the start of a major conference, start of the Olympics, even at non-religious funerals and weddings.

Now, the way I look at it, these events do not strictly require these 'ritualistic' activities. These 'ritualistic' activities serve a symbolic purpose. But this symbolic purpose, although not measurable or quantifiable, is an important (and even indispensable) part of those events. I can't imagine not having these activities at a wedding, a funeral, an inauguration of a president, and so forth. When we listen to and/or watch these activities, we feel part of the event, we are brought 'into the zone', so to speak. I'd even say that these activities help to 'set the vibe'.

But of course just as some people may not appreciate certain poetry or musical recital ('don't feel the vibe', they might say), so too would some people not appreciate Goenka's chanting.

This is how I would explain the chanting to new students anyway.
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Sep 25, 2009 6:04 am

Greetings Zavk,

zavk wrote:When we listen to and/or watch these activities, we feel part of the event, we are brought 'into the zone', so to speak. I'd even say that these activities help us 'get into the vibe'.

It is odd then, that he chants at the end of the meditation session rather than at the start.

Anyway, I don't want to deviate too far from the topic.

My main point is that I agree with the Mahayanists that there are 84,000 Dhamma Doors (or in other words, countless ways in which one might come into contact and then understand that Dhamma) but wonder whether these potential turn-offs run counter to the desire to open the doors to the deathless. I certainly don't want to criticise Mr. Goenka and his work - he is a champ... I'd just like for the potential end results of his dedicated efforts to be maximised. Just like when a couple of months ago I wondered whether the "anyone can go to heaven, just be good" philosophy was maximising Mr. Lee's excellent efforts to promote the Dhamma. Again, not to criticize but out of respect for their work, their impact, and their potential to bring even more people to the way of the Dhamma.

:buddha1:

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


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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby zavk » Fri Sep 25, 2009 6:07 am

retrofuturist wrote:I certainly don't want to criticise Mr. Goenka and his work - he is a champ... I'd just like for the potential end results of his dedicated efforts to be maximised.


Sure, I didn't think you were. :twothumbsup: Looking at how things have panned out, I'd say he has achieved a lot for the Dhamma with his dedicated efforts! :bow: :bow: :bow:

EDIT: Just want to add something that Goenka often says, 'We just have to put in our own effort. Dhamma will look after itself.'

SECOND EDIT: Will add something else here so that I won't clog up the thread.

retrofuturist wrote:It is odd then, that he chants at the end of the meditation session rather than at the start.


The chanting varies from day to day but Goenka does chant at the start of the session--particularly the three group sitting sesssions. There's also the chanting every morning, which seems to me can be interpreted as a kind of 'inaugural' gesture.
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Sep 25, 2009 6:08 am

Greetings zavk,

I didn't think you would interpret it that way... I just wanted to ensure that others wouldn't, too.

Metta,
Retro. :)

P.S. Go Saints!
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


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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby pink_trike » Fri Sep 25, 2009 6:47 am

It's interesting to consider the effect of ritualized sound on the patterns of the brain in relationship to receiving teachings and as a preparation for meditation. Chanting of words and sounds has been used in many cultures not just to place an idea or set of ideas in the mind-stream but it's also been used to modify the pattern of brain waves...to flatten or smooth them, clearing agitation and increasing receptivity in some cases, and others are toned to activate specific areas of the brain - a chant might start off calibrating one section of the brain and through a series of tonal/sound changes calibrate through several areas of the brain. The effects of chanting on brain patterns has been measured and verified by modern science. I don't know if Mr. Goenka is doing this, but I learned many years ago not to underestimate the skills of an accomplished teacher or to second guess the purpose of their methodology.
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 6:59 am

Hi Paul
I don't want to reiterate what Zavk said which I think answers your question - I hope!
Personally, I recoiled from the chanting when I first attended my first course many moons ago. In later years I had amassed a small cd-library of Goenkaji's sutta chants and group-sit chants (which I needed for organising group sits) and played one or other of them nearly daily while I meditated. The duration of the chants were convenient time-pieces and it did assist me to generate a meditative ambience whether it was meditating at home or while commuting. I also found that with the use of noise-reduction head-phones and the chant - I could block out distracting background noise and I could maintain my awareness on the principal object for longer periods with greater ease.
At the moment I'm inclined to silence and if I feel like it - use the Atanatiya Sutta or a recording of U Ba Khin's chant of the Tikapatthana.

And yes, may the Saints be victorious!
metta

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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby Sanghamitta » Fri Sep 25, 2009 10:09 am

On a personal note, I have no problem with the idea that the "ism" aspect of the Dhamma can be softened with no ill effects. Isms are a very western Greek Logic way of viewing things.
There are though those of us who have gravitated to a traditional expression through informed choice because it suits our temprement and interests and who knows? May be in keeping with our kamma. I am sure that no one intends to suggest that those who make such a choice need a reverse missionary effort to shake them into a different way of thinking, but at times it can feel like that......
When I chant Buddham Saranam Gatcchami, Dhammam Saranam Gatcchami, Sangham Saranam Gacchami, I have summed up my own path. I am not saying that others must do the same, but that is my vehicle and the same is true of most of my Buddhist companions on that path. In my experience there are those who are ready for the Dhamma and for them a full on exposure to unapologetic Buddhism with a capital B is just what the doctor ordered. :smile: Other people need other remedies at this time.

with metta to all.

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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby Zack » Sun Sep 27, 2009 8:17 pm

IMHO
Following the path and maintaining the precepts promotes the Dhamma to those who's kamma has allowed them be receptive to it.
Please support the Sangha however you can.
I am of nature to decay, I have not gone beyond decay.
I am of the nature to be diseased, I have not gone beyond disease.
I am of the nature to die, I have not done beyond death.
All that is mine, dear and delightful, will change and vanish.
I am the owner of my kamma, heir to my kamma, born of my kamma, related to
my kamma, abide supported by my kamma. Whatever kamma I shall do,
whether good or evil, of that I shall be the heir.
Thus we should frequently recollect.
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Oct 05, 2009 4:45 pm

In answer to the original question- buddhism does have it's own app- quite a good introductory one actually by an Indian company.

I think Buddhism is a lot about making information available- books, internet, meetings, podcasts, mp3 etc. It doesnt work very well with street corner shouting IMO- that is not the nature of the dhamma, not what we are trying to portray. But then again setting up a stall and quietly handing out free books for distribution- dont see anything wrong with that-and shows great compassion. Thinking of sri lanka- theres so much of it in the media that even people from other religions accept it- are drawn to the wisdom. But that will never be a model in the west, atleast not now. I am waiting for the day we see a Buddhist TV channel.

Setting up a small group to discuss teachings is a good way to go I think. If you can find like minded people- a bit of meditation- listen to a talk by ajhan brahm-have a discussion and a laugh-some food-socialize- its a good way to spend an evening! For someone to truly mature in the dhamma a group of kalyanamittas is necessary. Initially the 'fun' aspect is important to glue things together.

with metta

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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby Clueless Git » Mon Oct 26, 2009 11:06 am

Thaibebop wrote: This is a very typical view of most Buddhists and a respectable one I might add. I agree with waiting until someone comes to you and asks a qustion, yet I wonder sometimes how is Buddhism spreading if we all seem to be waiting to answer question instead of putting information out there?

On that and the subject of evangelising ..

During my years as a Christian hater I met a guy on holiday once who was so spectacularly 'sorted' that all I can remember thinking at the time was "I want to be like him!"

I kinda hammered the guy for any tips I could get on what made him 'tick' as he did.

Turned out that he was a Christian with the most powerfull form of 'evangelism' I ever came across; To-whit he had no need to tell anyone anything as his personal practice had made him the sort of chap that anyone interested in hearing owt, as I was, was guaranteed to ask.

Lesson I took forward from that is along the lines of is that if how you are doesn't impress people enough to have them come to you with questions then it is best to keep on practicing and keep ones mouth tight shut.
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby Clueless Git » Mon Oct 26, 2009 11:29 am

Not directly related to the topic, more of a 'confession' really ...

In contrast to the guy in my previous post. I was once pursued by a freind of my fathers who had made it his mission to convert me by masqerading as my freind.

Lost my temper with him I did. Took him through every aspect of what he was, what he did, what he had acheived, how he looked and just about everything in comparison to what I had going on at the time. (Materiasticaly, realtionship wise, career wise ... things were going well from me back then.)

Having done the dismantling, denegrating and ridiculing of the chap I stuck the knife in deep. "Ray" I said "Tell me just one thing that would be make ME want to be anything like YOU".

Clearly hurt he left and I never saw him again.

I kinda know now that, have it been misguided or no, his attempts to convert me were done out of kindess and I returned that with spite.

One day I hope to bump into Ray again so I can tell him "Ray, what I did back then made me a lesser man than you."
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby appicchato » Mon Oct 26, 2009 3:31 pm

Clueless Git wrote:...if how you are doesn't impress people enough to have them come to you with questions then it is best to keep on practicing and keep ones mouth tight shut.


:thumbsup:
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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:58 am

Greetings,

appicchato wrote:
Clueless Git wrote:...if how you are doesn't impress people enough to have them come to you with questions then it is best to keep on practicing and keep ones mouth tight shut.


:thumbsup:


True to a point, but what often impresses people aren't attributes that are consistent with the Dhamma.

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


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Re: Spreading Buddhism

Postby Individual » Tue Oct 27, 2009 7:26 am

Thaibebop wrote:I am not crusading here, but I do wonder about this topic from time to time. I see on campus when people set up stalls and TV, heck even on my my phone I can downloads apps that is nothing more than having the Bible or the Koran on my phone. I never see Buddhism though.

So, are people who practice not wanting to spread the Dhamma? I could understand this as I would be fearfull of being lumped into the same group as the pushy Bible beaters on street corners. Why else would someone not want to spread it?

Proselytizing is a shameful and despicable act of pure ignorance. You don't see people on the street corner preaching science. Buddhism, in the same way, is superior, because of its humility. Buddhism has no collective insecurity that it needs to seek out devotees to find validation.

The best way to spread the truth is by speaking the truth when the appropriate situation comes, and by acting as an example to others.

I'm a bit weary of the phrase "spread the Dhamma" because it sounds so much like proselytizing. Instead, I'd phrase things differently: Help spread happiness around the world. Phrasing it that way -- spreading happiness, compassion, truth, etc. -- simplifies things.
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