Two Naked Buddhas

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Two Naked Buddhas

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sat Dec 26, 2009 3:16 am

Yes, I think that the entrance and naturalization of Buddhism in China is the best historical analogy for its entrance into the West - though they are not identical. This is much more the case than into south asia, or se asia, or from China to Korea and Japan, or likewise into Tibet. The main difference being that China was already a very powerful and advanced culture, the regional superpower, whereas the others have tended to be those cultures which took over a huge amount from India in toto. When one takes things in toto, then in some ways, less internal adaptation is needed.

The biggest difference, however, is that where Buddhism in India at that time was the science and religion of the day, from one superpower to another, at present, buddhism is the religion but not the science of several smallish cultures going to a couple of superpowers in the west. Unless of course China suddenly makes Buddhism it's national religion, in which case the 21st century will be a huge rennaisance for Buddhism. But I can't see that happening for the next generation at least. ... :P
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Re: Two Naked Buddhas

Postby pink_trike » Sat Dec 26, 2009 3:19 am

"Fee for service" is institutionalized here in the U.S. (or at least in metropolitan California). Many events and centers say "no one will be turned away for lack of funds", but they don't mention the pressure often given to work long hours to compensate for not making a donation, or the pinched, frowning facial expressions when asked, or the long lecture about how badly funds are needed. Or the cold, abrupt "I'm sorry, there's no space available" even though there is still space for paying folks. My psychological services staff used to regularly try to get scholarships to events and retreats for some of our low income clients, but eventually we gave up when it became apparent that our begging bowl remained empty nearly every time.
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Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

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Re: Two Naked Buddhas

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Dec 26, 2009 3:35 am

Hi Kim,
Kim O'Hara wrote:When Buddhism was brought to the modern Western world it entered into a deep dialogue with local religious and philosophical traditions ... I think ... and we're in the middle of it now.

I hate to sound argumentative, but what evidence to you have that this is the case?

Of course, there some specialised areas where there is dialogue, but my impression is that beyond those specialists, there is just some vague ideas about meditation (which may or may not be Buddist) being good for you, the Dalai Lama being a really nice guy, and jokes about one hand clapping on the Simpsons. The actual substance of Buddhism is practically unknown, with the possible exception of not having a "God" (though the Dalai Lama is often referred to as a "God-King"). Judging from my reading religious studies dilettantes such as Dawkins clearly know nothing about core dogma such as not-self. And non-specialist philosophers I've met don't seem particularly knowledgeable either.

Furthermore didn't Obama leave Buddhism out of his inaugural address?
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Re: Two Naked Buddhas

Postby pink_trike » Sat Dec 26, 2009 3:52 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Kim,
Kim O'Hara wrote:When Buddhism was brought to the modern Western world it entered into a deep dialogue with local religious and philosophical traditions ... I think ... and we're in the middle of it now.

I hate to sound argumentative, but what evidence to you have that this is the case?

I don't know about the whole modern Western world but at least here in California - Buddhism is permeating all areas of thought and discourse, including philosophical and religious traditions. There is a deep "dialogue" ( the word used metaphorically) taking place here.
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: Two Naked Buddhas

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sat Dec 26, 2009 4:50 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Kim,
Kim O'Hara wrote:When Buddhism was brought to the modern Western world it entered into a deep dialogue with local religious and philosophical traditions ... I think ... and we're in the middle of it now.

I hate to sound argumentative, but what evidence to you have that this is the case?

Of course, there some specialised areas where there is dialogue, but my impression is that beyond those specialists, there is just some vague ideas about meditation (which may or may not be Buddist) being good for you, the Dalai Lama being a really nice guy, and jokes about one hand clapping on the Simpsons. The actual substance of Buddhism is practically unknown, with the possible exception of not having a "God" (though the Dalai Lama is often referred to as a "God-King"). Judging from my reading religious studies dilettantes such as Dawkins clearly know nothing about core dogma such as not-self. And non-specialist philosophers I've met don't seem particularly knowledgeable either.

Furthermore didn't Obama leave Buddhism out of his inaugural address?
http://blog.beliefnet.com/stevenwaldman ... liver.html

Metta
Mike


I don't think that we are in the middle of it, but maybe the start of it. But, as I mentioned earlier, the discussion will not reach the same significance as that between Buddhism and Confucianism (say), because whereas Indian Buddhism at the time was at it's height, that is really not the case with Buddhism at present, as it meets science. And other western religions are also on the way out in general - some exceptions, though.

Still, in many areas such as psychology and mind sciences, Buddhism is definitely making an impact and influence.
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Re: Two Naked Buddhas

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Dec 26, 2009 6:01 am

Hi PT,
pink_trike wrote:[
I don't know about the whole modern Western world but at least here in California - Buddhism is permeating all areas of thought and discourse, including philosophical and religious traditions. There is a deep "dialogue" ( the word used metaphorically) taking place here.

That's interesting. I see little evidence of it in New Zealand.

I'm sure there is some deep dialogue, but when I look up a few random people who I know are interested in the mind, (such as Searle or Dennett) they don't appear to understand very much about Buddhism. Similarly when I converse with the philosophers who I know.

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Re: Two Naked Buddhas

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat Dec 26, 2009 7:10 am

oh but California is California and not america or the west per say, it's of in it's own little world in a way.
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Re: Two Naked Buddhas

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Dec 26, 2009 7:46 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi PT,
pink_trike wrote:[
I don't know about the whole modern Western world but at least here in California - Buddhism is permeating all areas of thought and discourse, including philosophical and religious traditions. There is a deep "dialogue" ( the word used metaphorically) taking place here.

That's interesting. I see little evidence of it in New Zealand.

I'm sure there is some deep dialogue, but when I look up a few random people who I know are interested in the mind, (such as Searle or Dennett) they don't appear to understand very much about Buddhism. Similarly when I converse with the philosophers who I know.

Metta
Mike

Hi, folks,
I think that in terms of my Buddhism-enters-China analogy we're still in the early days, the first and second generation of missionaries and students, numerically small but claiming space in the public arena, locally prominent in some places (e.g. California) but not in others (e.g. outback Australia :tongue: ), and still learning how to talk to the natives in their own language/s.
At this stage, I would expect that we have to make more compromises than the mainstream culture does: we need their acceptance more than they need ours. Of course, we need to make sure that our compromises don't harm our values or core message - and that is where I can loop back to 'Naked Buddhism', which is an attempt to separate 'core' teachings' from non-core' institutions to make them more understandable to the natives.
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Re: Two Naked Buddhas

Postby pink_trike » Sat Dec 26, 2009 9:04 am

jcsuperstar wrote:oh but California is California and not america or the west per say, it's of in it's own little world in a way.


Yes. Its very unique. Especially Northern California.
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: Two Naked Buddhas

Postby Thaibebop » Fri Jan 08, 2010 6:26 am

jcsuperstar wrote:i've found that most authors who do this "stripped down" buddhism thing are really just promoting their own little agenda, which is selling us a buddhism devoid of whatever aspects the author him/herself doesnt like or want to believe

the only good examples of people being able to take buddhism back to it's "roots" or whatever you want to call it, have been lp buddhadasa, who tried to ween thai people away from all the superstitious add-ons to buddhism that thai culture has thrown in, and ajahn chah & his monks which (i may be wrong but i have a feeling i'm not) were kinda following , directly, lp buddhadasa's lead.

the main difference is that with these thai (and western followers) monks they just used the pali canon to see what the buddha taught and sifted off the thai additions, whereas with most western authors you see them just tossing out anything in the canon they dont like, "oh the buddha couldnt have said that", "oh when he mentions gods etc its just metaphor" "that was just added later" etc.

I agree with you that we need to be careful when reading such things, but I must say that was one of the things that brought me to Theravada. The myths that surround the other sects of Buddhism was too much for me. Sometimes I found them to be too close to Christian ideals of someone else coming down from the heavens and saving poor lost sinners. I say we tear down what we take in of Buddhism and find the real bones ourselves.
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Re: Two Naked Buddhas

Postby salty-J » Mon Jan 11, 2010 6:08 am

pink_trike wrote:
jcsuperstar wrote:oh but California is California and not america or the west per say, it's of in it's own little world in a way.


Yes. Its very unique. Especially Northern California.

.....and Southern California..... :jedi:
(heheh, just kidding. Northern California does seem to have the majority of cool Buddhist centers from what I can find... :cry: )
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Re: Two Naked Buddhas

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Jan 19, 2010 6:41 am

Beware the Mamayānists.

The Mamayāna

Those who follow this school are not really followers at all, but leaders. They regard all schools as inferior to their own views and opinions. Picking what they like, and rejecting what they don’t approve of, they construct their own form of Buddhism, with bits and pieces they find in other philosophies and religions. In general, they reject any teaching about rebirth, recollection of previous lives, or psychic powers because their approach is pragmatic and scientific. “Seeing is believing” as the saying goes, so they believe whatever they see as right, and dismiss anything that they cannot understand.
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Re: Two Naked Buddhas

Postby PeterB » Tue Jan 19, 2010 9:31 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Beware the Mamayānists.

The Mamayāna

Those who follow this school are not really followers at all, but leaders. They regard all schools as inferior to their own views and opinions. Picking what they like, and rejecting what they don’t approve of, they construct their own form of Buddhism, with bits and pieces they find in other philosophies and religions. In general, they reject any teaching about rebirth, recollection of previous lives, or psychic powers because their approach is pragmatic and scientific. “Seeing is believing” as the saying goes, so they believe whatever they see as right, and dismiss anything that they cannot understand.

:namaste:
Hear hear.
Speculation about how Buddhism might or might not develop in the west is just that, speculation, Even worse is ponitificating about how it should develop. The Dhamma will find its way to the degree that our bums wear out our cushions. 'Twas ever thus.
The idea that the Dhamma was idling until our arrival on the scene in Idaho or Manchester or Paris or Bucharest or Darwin is entertaining but probably delusional.
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Re: Two Naked Buddhas

Postby Kim OHara » Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:55 am

Hello, Peter,
PeterB wrote:Speculation about how Buddhism might or might not develop in the west is just that, speculation, Even worse is ponitificating about how it should develop. The Dhamma will find its way to the degree that our bums wear out our cushions. 'Twas ever thus.

I'll agree with all that, except the implication that speculation is always bad.
PeterB wrote:The idea that the Dhamma was idling until our arrival on the scene in Idaho or Manchester or Paris or Bucharest or Darwin is entertaining but probably delusional.

Where did you ever hear that idea?
:cookoo:
But - just to reciprocate - the idea that any philosophy or set of cultural practices (and Buddhism is both) could ever be transplanted holus-bolus, lock-stock-and-barrel, from any traditional Asian setting into a modern Western setting is idealistic but (you guessed it) probably delusional.
That being the case, I think we need to think about the transition, evolution, naturalisation or whatever you like to call it. The two Naked Buddhas which prompted me to start this thread are two such attempts.

:namaste:
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Re: Two Naked Buddhas

Postby PeterB » Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:01 am

I think we need to practice The Dhamma. Not develop strategies. As Cooran's sig says, " the trouble is you think you have time".
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Re: Two Naked Buddhas

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:22 am

PeterB wrote:I think we need to practice The Dhamma. Not develop strategies.

Of courrse!. That's what I was trying to get at with my quote from Daniel Ingram. If one is interested in liberation then the instruction manuals that we have that have come out of Asia over the last century on how to develop sila, samadhi and panna are perfectly adequate.

Speaking for myself, the most serious obstacle I have is putting in the effort to apply it, not working out what is needed...

We don't need to worry about strategies for developing western cultural trappings to replace the eastern ones. They are already arising naturally...
In the West, this translates to people “practicing Buddhism” by becoming
neurotic about being Buddhist, accumulating lots of pretty books and
expensive props, learning just enough of some new language to be
pretentious, and by sitting on a cushion engaged in free-form
psychological whatnot while doing nothing resembling meditative
practices. They may aspire to no level of mastery of anything and may
never even have been told what these practices were actually designed to
achieve.


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Re: Two Naked Buddhas

Postby PeterB » Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:35 am

Quite so Mike.
I remember Luang Por Sumedho talking about when he was sent to the UK by Luang Por Chah to develop a centre. Some time had gone by and he had no idea how to proceed. One day he was on alms round in a London suburb, which in those days was largely fruitless in terms of feeding the monks, but he wanted to maintain the tradition. On this particular day he was approached by a young man who was jogging past. He asked Luang Por what he was doing. When he discovered what was going on he said " I have just inherited a forest and a house in Sussex, would you like them ? "
That was the beginning of Chithurst/Wat Cittiviveka. Lung Por said, " What I drew from that is if we are true to what we are given, we dont need to worry about the future".
Or to quote John Lennon. " Life is what happens while we are busy making plans.."

:anjali:

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Re: Two Naked Buddhas

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:47 am

PeterB wrote:One day he was on alms round in a London suburb, which in those days was largely fruitless in terms of feeding the monks, but he wanted to maintain the tradition. On this particular day he was approached by a young man who was jogging past. He asked Luang Por what he was doing. When he discovered what was going on he said " I have just inherited a forest and a house in Sussex, would you like them ? "

It didn't happen quite like that. The jogger only offered the forest. The English Sangha Trust sold the Hampstead Vihara to finance the purchase of Chithurst House.

How the Buddha Came to Sussex
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Re: Two Naked Buddhas

Postby Kim OHara » Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:50 am

Hello, Mike and Peter,
You are both quite clear about what you don't want modern western Buddhism to become - and I agree with you - but less clear about what you do want it to become.
Do either of you seriously think Buddhism can thrive in our societies as a monastic tradition supported by a lay population whose practice consists largely of the five precepts, dana and devotion?

:namaste:
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Re: Two Naked Buddhas

Postby PeterB » Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:59 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
PeterB wrote:One day he was on alms round in a London suburb, which in those days was largely fruitless in terms of feeding the monks, but he wanted to maintain the tradition. On this particular day he was approached by a young man who was jogging past. He asked Luang Por what he was doing. When he discovered what was going on he said " I have just inherited a forest and a house in Sussex, would you like them ? "

It didn't happen quite like that. The jogger only offered the forest. The English Sangha Trust sold the Hampstead Vihara to finance the purchase of Chithurst House.

How the Buddha Came to Sussex

I stand corrected Bhante, thank you.
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