One Dharma? Joseph Goldstein's Perspective

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Re: One Dharma? Joseph Goldstein's Perspective

Postby Sanghamitta » Wed Jan 13, 2010 6:42 pm

I think that the Dhamma tends to find ways of expressing itself ( sorry if that comes across as all anthropomorphic ) in each of the cultures it takes root in.
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Re: One Dharma? Joseph Goldstein's Perspective

Postby Sanghamitta » Wed Jan 13, 2010 6:55 pm

I realise that my last but one post might read as dismissive, which wasnt the intention, so let me rephrase. What do you see as lessons that a Theravadin can take from the Mahayanist ?
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Re: One Dharma? Joseph Goldstein's Perspective

Postby LauraJ » Wed Jan 13, 2010 10:46 pm

Aloka wrote:.

My own view is that if people want to stick with one tradition that's fine - and certainly I think its probably a good idea to try to understand one tradition properly first, before skipping about between the different traditions. One could end up getting confused and not really be practising any of them - whilst perhaps even attempting to be a 'jack of all trades' in a purely superficial way.(not sure if that expression is known outside of the UK !)

However, contradicting my previous statement to some extent, as an offline practitioner of Vajrayana for many years, I can honestly say that investigating Theravada recently and reading the Pali Canon is very pleasurable - and I am constantly delighted by what I'm discovering. I see this as enhancing my practice at the moment, rather than detracting from it.

I'm not saying that the different traditions should be mixed up into one pot called 'new buddhism' though, just that there should be general appreciation and understanding rather than rigidity.

.


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Re: One Dharma? Joseph Goldstein's Perspective

Postby christopher::: » Thu Jan 14, 2010 1:10 am

meindzai wrote:
Sanghamitta wrote:I am unsure what you mean by "benefiting from a tradition as a form of practice ".

I am also unsure how to answer without seeming simply unfriendly. You see I cant talk for the other Theravadins on the forum Christopher, but I have studied the Mahayana Sutras in some depth. I have met Zen teachers and Lamas.
I have read quite a number of books including commentaries by well known Mahayana teachers including Nagarjuna and so on. Those things that you mention are all found in the Theravada. The 4nt's The 8 FNP. Dependant Origination, mindfulness etc etc .They are examined in great depth in the Pitakas and in the commentaries. I can see that a Zen Buddhist or Vajrayana student would get great benefit from going to the source of these teachings. But what, and dont misunderstand me, this is neither triumphalist nor rhetorical what would you see a Theravadin gaining from Zen or the Vajrayana ? You see I dont accept after examining the evidence that the historical Buddha taught anything remotely like Buddhadhatu or Bodhicitta, so what else is there that we can learn from ? Seriously ?


I think we're along the same lines here. My interest actually started in Mahayana and I delved into Theravada for more background. When I studied Mahayana Sutras I felt like I was starting in the middle of a movie and couldn't grasp the plot.

As far as the benefit going the other way around - I think it's possible, but not quite in the same way. The benefits of cross-polination I've seen have less to do with traditions and Sutras than with the cultures and attitudes that have developed around the different schools. For example, I've found that Zen masters are actually very good people-readers and psychotherapists, often with a very deeply cultivated sense of stillness and equanimity. Tibetan masters are often very cultivated in the Brahma viharas in a way that seems palpaple. (Though I also feel the same way about Bhante Gunaratana)

Zen stories seem to find their way into Theravada teacher's talks. Not because they're mahayana, or even because they are zen. They're just really good stories. We're not just dealing with doctrinal stuff but culture here.

I might say we are forming a single Buddhist culture - which is ok. But that's not the same thing as saying that the differences in the doctrines and teachings of the various schools are negligable.

-M


Excellent observations, meindzai!

Sanghamitta wrote:I realise that my last but one post might read as dismissive, which wasnt the intention, so let me rephrase. What do you see as lessons that a Theravadin can take from the Mahayanist ?


Well, Goldstein answered that for himself. He's a Vipassana teacher of some depth, who has studied with both Theravadin and Tibetan Buddhist teachers, in some depth. There was benefit there for him, in his practice. You perhaps did not find any benefits, or different benefits.

Reflecting back on my own experiences, i feel there was a benefit each time i met someone from another tradition (even nonBuddhists) who practiced their tradition with integrity and sincerity. Each time that happened i observed commonalities in spiritual practices that i hadn't been aware of, came away with some stereotypes challenged. Which is always a good thing, imo.

Not that all paths are the same, i don't believe that. But spiritual practice done with sincerity, with an open mind and heart, with kindness and metta, does share commonalities.

:anjali:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
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Re: One Dharma? Joseph Goldstein's Perspective

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:19 am

I think that to approach other sentient beings with metta and karuna and mudita in a spirit of upekkha, is clearly in keeping with the teachings of the Buddha. If they are human sentient beings then this is true whether they are Buddhists, Athiests, Mormons or whatever. And that is a practice in itself of great value.
What I was wondering though is what do you think in terms of practice, of skillful means, a Theravadin can learn from Zen or the Vajrayana ?
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Re: One Dharma? Joseph Goldstein's Perspective

Postby christopher::: » Thu Jan 14, 2010 12:06 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:What I was wondering though is what do you think in terms of practice, of skillful means, a Theravadin can learn from Zen or the Vajrayana ?


Well, i can't say. Again, Goldstein provided his perspective there, in the interview and in the book he wrote, One Dharma. I guess we'd have to hear from others who had practiced Theravada and then gone to the Vajrayana, and experienced some benefits.

:anjali:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
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Re: One Dharma? Joseph Goldstein's Perspective

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Jan 14, 2010 1:23 pm

Actually what I was interested in is examples of Theravadins using Mahayana skillful means, i.e. upaya kaushala not found in the Theravada. I am not assuming that it doesnt happen.
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Re: One Dharma? Joseph Goldstein's Perspective

Postby christopher::: » Thu Jan 14, 2010 2:59 pm

Again, I just don't know.... but here's an excerpt from a Tricycle interview with Goldstein - where he discussed these topics more extensively, back in 1999 (i think). I hope this will be helpful...

:smile:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Excerpt from "An Interview with Joseph Goldstein"
By Amy Gross; in Tricycle- The Buddhist Review

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In recent years you've been studying with some Tibetan teachers. What inspired that?

In the early nineties, our old friend Surya Das, whom we knew from India, had come back from two three-year Tibetan retreats. He told us about his practices and encouraged us to meet his teachers, particularly two great dzogchen masters, Tulku Urgyen, who died recently, and Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche. Surya Das had done some vipassana practice before his Tibetan retreats, so I think he felt that we would also have a connection with the dzogchen teachings.

What's the connection?

The connection is awareness and freeing the mind. In vipassana, there's a great emphasis on the objects of awareness and being mindful of them. We pay attention to the breath, to thoughts, to sensations, and notice their impermanent, insubstantial nature. In dzogchen there's less emphasis on the object and more on recognizing the empty nature of awareness and resting in that.

What do you mean by the "empty nature of awareness"?

In different traditions this phrase might be explained in different ways. One way of understanding it is that when one looks for awareness, there's nothing to find. It's invisible, formless, groundless, and yet there is a cognizant capacity-there's knowing. In dzogchen, this is the union of awareness and emptiness. The "pointing-out instructions" that a qualified dzogchen master will give in a variety of ways help the student to recognize this nature of their own mind.

Is empty awareness the same thing as mindfulness?

In the dzogchen tradition a distinction is made between fabricated and unfabricated mindfulness. Fabricated mindfulness is the conditioned state of mind that takes note of an object. Unfabricated mindfulness is the nature of mind itself. We can use fabricated mindfulness to bring us back to the recognition of the mind's empty, aware nature.

What was your experience of Surya Das's teachers?


We went to Nepal and met Tulku Urgyen, a really wonderful teacher. He was crystal clear and very generous in offering the essential teachings of dzogchen. This was a little unusual, since often, in the Tibetan tradition, you have to go through a much longer process of commitment to the teacher and many preliminary practices. Around the same time, Surya Das also set up a two-month retreat with Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche at Dai Bosatsu, the Zen monastery in upstate New York. Khen Rinpoche exemplified the "crazy wisdom" aspect of practice-spontaneous, unpredictable, and wonderfully humorous. There we were, in this beautiful, classical Zen monastery, with Zen, vipassana, and Tibetan practitioners all learning from a great dzogchen adept, each in our own style.

Two major things happened to me at that retreat. One is that I really struggled with the differences between vipassana and dzogchen. Because even though the dzogchen teachings, just like vipassana, felt resonant with my experience, it was saying quite different things about the nature of awareness and the mind.

What was the difference?

In the Burmese system, liberation involves transcending awareness. In dzogchen, liberation is recognizing that the nature of mind is awareness itself. These are two quite different ways of expressing things. I spent a month of that retreat trying to figure it out, trying to decide who was "right." I finally came to realize that I could understand both systems as skillful means rather than as statements of absolute truth.

Well, that was a huge relief. But, of course, then the question arises, "Well, skillful means for what?" What I've come to understand more deeply over the years-and what I think is supported by the teachings in all of the Buddhist traditions-is that the liberated mind is the mind that does not cling to anything. In one discourse the Buddha said, "Nothing whatsoever is to be clung to as I or mine. Whoever has realized this has realized all the teachings."

All the different methods and metaphysical systems can be seen as skillful means to accomplish the mind of no-clinging. This understanding really freed me from attachments to metaphysical models that I didn't even know I'd had. I'd been so completely immersed in the model of the Burmese teachings that when I came into contact with a different model, it became a huge conflict. I had just assumed that the particular way we speak of things was the truth, forgetting that the words were just skillful means for experiencing the mind that doesn't cling to anything. That's where the freedom is.

The other thing that was very transformative was Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche's teachings on bodhicitta, the enlightened heart/mind (in some Asian languages the word for heart and mind is the same). He gave one talk on relative and absolute bodhicitta and something clicked in a way that I had not understood before. Relative bodhicitta is the aspiration to get enlightened in order to liberate all beings. Absolute bodhicitta is the nature of the mind itself, that union of emptiness and awareness. What opened me was seeing that relative bodhicitta-the Bodhisattva Vow-was the expression of the absolute. Previously, I had understood the Bodhisattva Vow from the place of someone doing something to liberate all. I could appreciate the Buddha's doing it, but I could not imagine that I would ever have the capacity or the strength or the perseverance to save all beings! So I put it aside as just a nice idea.

On this retreat, by seeing that relative bodhicitta was the expression of the absolute, I could understand the Bodhisattva Vow in a way that made sense to me personally. I understood that compassionate activity is the expression of the wisdom-mind of selflessness. It wasn't me taking on all beings. The task is just to get the self out of the way, and simply let the heart-mind of wisdom and compassion express itself. Well, that was just wonderful.

From that retreat on, I've been trying to bring more of the bodhicitta aspiration-may our practice be for the benefit of all, may we awaken for the benefit of all-into the vipassana teachings.

Do you see it making a difference?

I feel it's made a really big difference. In vipassana teachings there's the implicit understanding that the practice will benefit not only oneself but others as well. In the bodhicitta teachings, this is made explicit and becomes the very motivation for practice as well as being its outcome. The bodhicitta aspiration makes the vipassana teachings tremendously expansive, and emphasizes the compassionate aspect of emptiness. So it's been very enriching for my own practice and teaching.

And you've resolved the seeming conflict between the two traditions?

When I could bring all the teachings back to the mind of no-clinging it felt like a great refuge. I don't think any school of Buddhism would argue with that. There's no school that says, "Cling." Liberation is about cutting, or dissolving, or letting go of, or seeing through-choose your image-the attachment to anything. The description of the mind of no-clinging may be different in the different schools, but the experience of the mind of no- clinging is the same. How could it be different?

How did you settle the contradiction between the Burmese and dzogchen notions of awareness? You said the Burmese aims to transcend awareness into the "unconditioned," or "nirvana," which they would describe as the cessation of consciousness. But in dzogchen, there's no possibility of transcending awareness since it's the very nature of mind.

I've had intimations that perhaps at a certain point these concepts of awareness and of transcending awareness are themselves no longer applicable: The actual experience may be beyond that duality. On one level of experience what may seem to be a conflict, on another level may be resolved through a deeper understanding.

How have your teachers responded to this intermingling of traditions?

Within each tradition there's a liberal-conservative spectrum. Some teachers emphasize preserving the purity of a tradition, and others are more open and engaged with other perspectives. I genuinely don't believe that one approach is right and one is wrong. They each serve different types of people and temperaments, and each approach may also be appropriate at different times in one's practice. There are dangers and strengths in each.

What is the danger of openness?

Confusion. People can pick a little of this and a little of that and not go deep. Or we can begin to pick and choose what parts of the teachings we like or are comfortable with and discard the rest. This could lead to diminishing of the power and scope of the teachings. But if we integrate aspects of different traditions from a deep place of practice, then the traditions can support each other and be wonderfully harmonious.

You often suggest that students be aware of awareness itself, of knowing. Yet you never use the dzogchen word for awareness, "rigpa." Is it the same as bare attention?

This is a good example of the potential for confusion, of bringing terms from one tradition into another. Early on in my dzogchen practice I went to see one of the great dzogchen masters, Dodrup Chen Rinpoche, and I asked him some question about rigpa and nirvana: Are they the same? Are they different? He said that it's very difficult to make these comparisons, because each system may use the same words in different ways. Within the Tibetan tradition, the word "nirvana" may be used very differently than the same word in the Theravadin tradition. So care is needed.

There is an awareness in the dzogchen view that is the nature of mind. It's completely free of identification with anything, free from any fixation on an object. There's another aspect in dzogchen of knowing where there is some level of identification with, or attachment to, something. It could be attachment to some object of experience, or it could be a fixation on awareness itself. But it's no longer just the naked face of awareness, the innate wakefulness of the nature of mind.

One of the images used in some Tibetan texts is that of water and ice. Water is used as an image for the awareness that is the nature of mind (although as an image water is still too much of a thing). Ice is the mind that's solidified in one way or another. Great care is needed in distinguishing between water and ice, because sometimes what we thought was water turns out to be slush-there's a little bit of ice in there. And yet at the same time-and this is what's so interesting-the nature of ice is water. The nature is the same, though it's not manifesting in the same way. This is another way of saying that even the hindrances of mind like desire, fear, or doubt are themselves essentially selfless and insubstantial.

In vipassana, with regard to bare attention, in its purest, freest form, one could equate bare attention with this mirror-like wisdom of the mind: It just simply knows. But bare attention can also refer to an equanimous observer, someone who is being attentive. Well, if there's a sense of an observer, no matter how subtle, it's ice, not water. So even with a phrase like "bare attention" you would have to be precise about what you mean.

Why do you "never" use the word rigpa?

I have enormous respect for the different lineages and traditions, and I don't at all consider myself a dzogchen teacher. Some of the teachers I studied with particularly made the point that rigpa is a term that's part of the context of the whole dzogchen teaching, so to take it out of that context feels wrong.

I feel more comfortable using the phrase "the nature of mind" as an expression of my own experience and understanding. I like that because, first, it implies that it's not a thing; it's the nature of the mind-it doesn't reify it. And it's poetic and deep and inviting of exploration. It's just the nature of mind-it's not Tibetan or Burmese or Indian.

How do you relate to aspects of dzogchen that seem to be at odds with the liberal edge of vipassana? For instance, that what makes it possible to enter the spacious mind of dzogchen is devotion to the guru.

Guru devotion is a major aspect of that tradition, and it's a tremendously effective way of surrendering the sense of self and the sense of "I." It's a more refined expression of what I was talking about before with U Pandita and the quality of obedience. That's really what the obedience is about. In the act of surrender, you let go of your ego struggle.

But within the Tibetan tradition, it's said that rigpa-the union of emptiness and awareness-is the true guru. So on that absolute level of understanding, guru devotion is the surrender to this experience of the nature of mind itself. And on the relative level, there's the practice of guru devotion where the guru is the embodied Buddha.

We can be limited by attachment to either of these perspectives. The real maturing of practice, I think, is understanding both the relative and absolute levels, understanding their differences and understanding their union-exactly like water and ice. They're different on one level, and yet they're the same. The relative is not different from the absolute. And yet each has to be respected and practiced from its own side.

Over the years, your joy in the dharma seems more and more apparent. What sums it up for me is a Tibetan word you use about the dharma, "Emaho!"-"how amazing!"

Well, the more I've gotten out of any particular metaphysical model, the more I have this wonder at the nature of our minds, at the possibility of freedom in the very middle of our suffering. It is truly amazing.

And yet for many people, these models are immutable and unbridgeable.

Oh, there's tremendous sectarianism. That's why I'm working on a book now tentatively called One Dharma. I am inspired by my experience of how different traditions can come together in practice and want to try to communicate that. Because I don't think there really is just one approach. There are different facets of this great jewel of the dharma. At different times, different aspects become relevant. But there's a way of holding them as a unity. That's really exciting to me. I'm just now beginning to teach from this place. And, for all the unresolved questions about the ultimate nature of the fully enlightened mind, I use a surefire magic mantra- "Who knows?"

But I would like to reiterate that I think there's enormous value in preserving each tradition in its own purity, with its own integrity. And I think there's a way, as well, of having them meet.

You've written about a few experiences that made you think you'd gotten it! -enlightenment-and the point of the stories is that there's always further letting go.

Absolutely. It feels to me that practice is a process of ripening, like a fruit ripening on a tree. Chinul, an eleventh-century Korean Zen master, described the path as "sudden awakening, gradual cultivation." He gives value to those moments when we suddenly awaken to the nature of mind, but then we need a gradual and further cultivation of wisdom and compassion.

In a recent talk you said that the path to liberation "is a science as well as an art-it's a path that's open to everyone."

It is. The path of awakening is extremely well mapped, and it's mapped in different ways by different traditions. At certain stages maps can be useful; they point out the way. But at other stages they can be a big hindrance, because we often get caught up in interpretation and judgment: "How far along am I?" "Am I there?" These thoughts simply strengthen the sense of self, while the whole path is about dissolving it. And particularly in our Western culture, which is so competitive and judgmental, instead of adding more fuel to the fire of self-judgment-"Oh, where am I? I'm not good enough"-we could see our entire spiritual journey as this wonderful flowering of understanding. We just keep going; we just keep watering the Bodhi tree of wisdom.


:buddha1:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
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Re: One Dharma? Joseph Goldstein's Perspective

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Jan 14, 2010 3:14 pm

You see I think ( despite my liking for much of Goldstein's work ) a good example of "all animals being equal but some animals being more equal than others". I think that he is doing what I saw someone doing on a Zen forum recently, he is saying that there is One Dharma as long as that Dharma is what the Zen or in this case The Tibetans say it is. I know I am now going to be impossibly picky but I wonder if there are examples of Theravadins using Mahayana Upayas without being more or less absorbed into the Mahayana. That example actually makes me more, rather than less, dubious.
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Re: One Dharma? Joseph Goldstein's Perspective

Postby LauraJ » Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:00 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:I know I am now going to be impossibly picky but I wonder if there are examples of Theravadins using Mahayana Upayas without being more or less absorbed into the Mahayana. That example actually makes me more, rather than less, dubious.


Interesting, especially the word 'absorbed.' It's a good choice. I've never heard a personal story like that. Usually it's sort of one or the other.

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Re: One Dharma? Joseph Goldstein's Perspective

Postby meindzai » Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:54 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:Actually what I was interested in is examples of Theravadins using Mahayana skillful means, i.e. upaya kaushala not found in the Theravada. I am not assuming that it doesnt happen.


Do you mean teachings that have purposely and conscientiously been used by knowledgable Theravadan teachers and not just misunderstandings? I've seen emptiness (mahayana version) and Buddha Nature thrown around, but they are usually by people without much of a grasp of the Pali Canon.

-M
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Re: One Dharma? Joseph Goldstein's Perspective

Postby christopher::: » Thu Jan 14, 2010 11:17 pm

I think that he is doing what I saw someone doing on a Zen forum recently, he is saying that there is One Dharma as long as that Dharma is what the Zen or in this case The Tibetans say it is.


Where did he say that? What i get from him is these are different methods for liberating the mind, not that the descriptions of one school, Dzogchen, are "right"...



And you've resolved the seeming conflict between the two traditions?

When I could bring all the teachings back to the mind of no-clinging it felt like a great refuge. I don't think any school of Buddhism would argue with that. There's no school that says, "Cling." Liberation is about cutting, or dissolving, or letting go of, or seeing through-choose your image-the attachment to anything. The description of the mind of no-clinging may be different in the different schools, but the experience of the mind of no- clinging is the same. How could it be different?

How did you settle the contradiction between the Burmese and dzogchen notions of awareness? You said the Burmese aims to transcend awareness into the "unconditioned," or "nirvana," which they would describe as the cessation of consciousness. But in dzogchen, there's no possibility of transcending awareness since it's the very nature of mind.

I've had intimations that perhaps at a certain point these concepts of awareness and of transcending awareness are themselves no longer applicable: The actual experience may be beyond that duality. On one level of experience what may seem to be a conflict, on another level may be resolved through a deeper understanding.

How have your teachers responded to this intermingling of traditions?

Within each tradition there's a liberal-conservative spectrum. Some teachers emphasize preserving the purity of a tradition, and others are more open and engaged with other perspectives. I genuinely don't believe that one approach is right and one is wrong. They each serve different types of people and temperaments, and each approach may also be appropriate at different times in one's practice. There are dangers and strengths in each.

Over the years, your joy in the dharma seems more and more apparent. What sums it up for me is a Tibetan word you use about the dharma, "Emaho!"-"how amazing!"

Well, the more I've gotten out of any particular metaphysical model, the more I have this wonder at the nature of our minds, at the possibility of freedom in the very middle of our suffering. It is truly amazing.

And yet for many people, these models are immutable and unbridgeable.

Oh, there's tremendous sectarianism. That's why I'm working on a book now tentatively called One Dharma. I am inspired by my experience of how different traditions can come together in practice and want to try to communicate that. Because I don't think there really is just one approach. There are different facets of this great jewel of the dharma. At different times, different aspects become relevant. But there's a way of holding them as a unity. That's really exciting to me. I'm just now beginning to teach from this place. And, for all the unresolved questions about the ultimate nature of the fully enlightened mind, I use a surefire magic mantra- "Who knows?"

But I would like to reiterate that I think there's enormous value in preserving each tradition in its own purity, with its own integrity. And I think there's a way, as well, of having them meet.


:anjali:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: One Dharma? Joseph Goldstein's Perspective

Postby meindzai » Thu Jan 14, 2010 11:19 pm

Goldstein's point about non-clinging is actually quite good. My only problem with it is that a lot of people tend to say that Buddhism is all just about letting go, letting go, letting go... The *gradual* path of Theravada is one that understands that there are things to be abandoned but also things to cultivate. In just constantly letting go (as a practice) what is it we are cultivating? Do we let go of the precepts, the factors of awakening, the four great efforts? A zen teacher would say yes - let those go - because we have an innately enlightened nature. This is where Theravada differs greatly since it understands that some people are not ready to let go yet, and first have to cultivate things like good will, generosity, virtue, etc.

Now of course, this is not the same as clinging, which is why I say he makes a good point. But it's a bit like saying that all Buddhists agree that Nirvanna is a good thing. Well duh.

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Re: One Dharma? Joseph Goldstein's Perspective

Postby christopher::: » Thu Jan 14, 2010 11:30 pm

A Zen teacher who says "let go of the precepts, the factors of awakening and four great efforts" is not a Zen teacher i'd pay much attention to-- plus, Goldstein has never suggested this.

As soon as a teacher or student starts heading that way its.... :toilet:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
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Re: One Dharma? Joseph Goldstein's Perspective

Postby LauraJ » Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:03 am

christopher::: wrote:A Zen teacher who says "let go of the precepts, the factors of awakening and four great efforts" is not a Zen teacher i'd pay much attention to-- plus, Goldstein has never suggested this.

As soon as a teacher or student starts heading that way its.... :toilet:


Yes, that would be fishy....
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Re: One Dharma? Joseph Goldstein's Perspective

Postby meindzai » Fri Jan 15, 2010 1:00 am

Well let me clarify. In zen they don't say not to practic the precepts, though they are referred to as the "golden shackles." It's an entirely different way of approaching how they are taught.
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Re: One Dharma? Joseph Goldstein's Perspective

Postby Sanghamitta » Fri Jan 15, 2010 8:18 am

christopher::: wrote:A Zen teacher who says "let go of the precepts, the factors of awakening and four great efforts" is not a Zen teacher i'd pay much attention to-- plus, Goldstein has never suggested this.

As soon as a teacher or student starts heading that way its.... :toilet:

There is at least one Zen forum where one of its leading lights says exactly that about three times a week.
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Re: One Dharma? Joseph Goldstein's Perspective

Postby Sanghamitta » Fri Jan 15, 2010 8:24 am

christopher::: wrote:
I think that he is doing what I saw someone doing on a Zen forum recently, he is saying that there is One Dharma as long as that Dharma is what the Zen or in this case The Tibetans say it is.


Where did he say that? What i get from him is these are different methods for liberating the mind, not that the descriptions of one school, Dzogchen, are "right"...



And you've resolved the seeming conflict between the two traditions?

When I could bring all the teachings back to the mind of no-clinging it felt like a great refuge. I don't think any school of Buddhism would argue with that. There's no school that says, "Cling." Liberation is about cutting, or dissolving, or letting go of, or seeing through-choose your image-the attachment to anything. The description of the mind of no-clinging may be different in the different schools, but the experience of the mind of no- clinging is the same. How could it be different?

How did you settle the contradiction between the Burmese and dzogchen notions of awareness? You said the Burmese aims to transcend awareness into the "unconditioned," or "nirvana," which they would describe as the cessation of consciousness. But in dzogchen, there's no possibility of transcending awareness since it's the very nature of mind.

I've had intimations that perhaps at a certain point these concepts of awareness and of transcending awareness are themselves no longer applicable: The actual experience may be beyond that duality. On one level of experience what may seem to be a conflict, on another level may be resolved through a deeper understanding.

How have your teachers responded to this intermingling of traditions?

Within each tradition there's a liberal-conservative spectrum. Some teachers emphasize preserving the purity of a tradition, and others are more open and engaged with other perspectives. I genuinely don't believe that one approach is right and one is wrong. They each serve different types of people and temperaments, and each approach may also be appropriate at different times in one's practice. There are dangers and strengths in each.

Over the years, your joy in the dharma seems more and more apparent. What sums it up for me is a Tibetan word you use about the dharma, "Emaho!"-"how amazing!"

Well, the more I've gotten out of any particular metaphysical model, the more I have this wonder at the nature of our minds, at the possibility of freedom in the very middle of our suffering. It is truly amazing.

And yet for many people, these models are immutable and unbridgeable.

Oh, there's tremendous sectarianism. That's why I'm working on a book now tentatively called One Dharma. I am inspired by my experience of how different traditions can come together in practice and want to try to communicate that. Because I don't think there really is just one approach. There are different facets of this great jewel of the dharma. At different times, different aspects become relevant. But there's a way of holding them as a unity. That's really exciting to me. I'm just now beginning to teach from this place. And, for all the unresolved questions about the ultimate nature of the fully enlightened mind, I use a surefire magic mantra- "Who knows?"

But I would like to reiterate that I think there's enormous value in preserving each tradition in its own purity, with its own integrity. And I think there's a way, as well, of having them meet.


:anjali:

I dont understand a concept like " liberating the mind ". What does that actually mean ? It sounds more like an idea from the Vedanta.That something remains after liberation which is "the Real Mind". Can you phrase that in terms of gaining Insight into the nature of the kandhas ?
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: One Dharma? Joseph Goldstein's Perspective

Postby Dan74 » Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:14 am

meindzai wrote:Goldstein's point about non-clinging is actually quite good. My only problem with it is that a lot of people tend to say that Buddhism is all just about letting go, letting go, letting go... The *gradual* path of Theravada is one that understands that there are things to be abandoned but also things to cultivate. In just constantly letting go (as a practice) what is it we are cultivating? Do we let go of the precepts, the factors of awakening, the four great efforts? A zen teacher would say yes - let those go - because we have an innately enlightened nature. This is where Theravada differs greatly since it understands that some people are not ready to let go yet, and first have to cultivate things like good will, generosity, virtue, etc.

Now of course, this is not the same as clinging, which is why I say he makes a good point. But it's a bit like saying that all Buddhists agree that Nirvanna is a good thing. Well duh.

-M


You may be right that some Zen teachers say this, but to say that this is Zen Buddhism is not correct, I think.

Cultivating the Paramitas through arduous daily work and life at a traditional Zen monastery as well as performing functions for the community has always been important training for the monks. In fact if you read about the monastic life, you'll find how many aspects of it are there to aid cultivation of virtues and the "letting go" happens in its due course.

As far as lay Zen practice goes, my teachers puts a great deal of emphasis on how we live, how we function day-to-day, rather on the intellectual gymnastics and interminable emptiness talk that one tends to find on the web.

I guess web fora should not be taken as being representative of any tradition and Zen in particular seems to attract big talkers (seeing that it is a wordless doctrine apart from the scriptures).

I will shut up now.

:toilet:

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Re: One Dharma? Joseph Goldstein's Perspective

Postby Sanghamitta » Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:20 am

Are you in your first sentence making a distinction between Zen, and Zen Buddhism Dan 74 ?
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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