Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

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Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun May 02, 2010 8:27 am

I came across this from a Zen website (third msg down):

Perhaps that distinction between a genuine delight in realization of the impermanance of things and the sense that one's delight must be infused with suffering is a basic difference between the Mahayana Buddhism and the Theravada Buddhism. The Mahayana doesn't require the realization of impermanance to be shown by a dour attitude. Buddha teaches the end of suffering. What is the end of suffering if not a realization of the joyful or blissful nature of reality?
The question here is not the naughty Mahayana ignorantly characterizing the Theravada; rather, is the highlighted an accurate reflection of the Theravada? Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys, scowling at the Mahayanists who gambol about with abandon in their realizations?.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby PeterB » Sun May 02, 2010 8:33 am

Personally I take quiet joy and sometimes noisier joy, from an uncluttered room that is light and airy. Personally I dont feel the need drag anything into it.
I guess if people are used to high colour and drama with their Buddhism it might look spare.
I dont see how adding makes one happier.
I find happiness and calm joy comes from shedding.
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby Goofaholix » Sun May 02, 2010 9:12 am

tiltbillings wrote:I came across this from a Zen website (third msg down):

Perhaps that distinction between a genuine delight in realization of the impermanance of things and the sense that one's delight must be infused with suffering is a basic difference between the Mahayana Buddhism and the Theravada Buddhism. The Mahayana doesn't require the realization of impermanance to be shown by a dour attitude. Buddha teaches the end of suffering. What is the end of suffering if not a realization of the joyful or blissful nature of reality?
The question here is not the naughty Mahayana ignorantly characterizing the Theravada; rather, is the highlighted an accurate reflection of the Theravada? Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys, scowling at the Mahayanists who gambol about with abandon in their realizations?.


He appears to have gotten the wrong end of the stick, not only of Theravada but Buddhism in general. Not to say that there aren't people who feel they must approach practice with a sense of dourness.

I'd say the realization of impermanance is joyful or blissful because we give up the need to continually try and manipulate some permanent security or pleasure out of our experience. The nature of reality is not inherently joyful or blissful, reality just is, if we seek to end suffering because we expect joy or bliss to replace it then that's just another craving.
"Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn't cause suffering." - Ajahn Chah
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby Kim OHara » Sun May 02, 2010 10:36 am

Some of us are, sometimes.
It's one of Ven Dhammika's criticisms of Theravadin Buddhism, if you remember the Broken Buddha thread - http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=2698.
And I'm sure you have the 'Sabbe sankhara dukkha' thread fresh in your memory, too. Lots of dukkha there, not much sukkha.

But a proverb about pots and kettles does come to mind. From what I know of Zen, their traditions are pretty pared-back. On the whole, I think the Tibetans have most fun.
:stirthepot:
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun May 02, 2010 10:42 am

Kim O'Hara wrote: On the whole, I think the Tibetans have most fun.
All that fun they get from contemplating the Viciousness of Samsara, which is a standard meditation/comtemplatuion of Tibetan Buddhism and a title of an early chapter in Gampopa's Jewel Ornament of Liberation.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby PeterB » Sun May 02, 2010 10:49 am

Not to speak of the endless chuckles to to be had in " Vajra Hell "....a special hell state reserved for those who commit to the Vajrayana and then change their mind ...

One of the most well known Vajrayana teachers in recent decades used to commence all of his talks with a side splitting half hour description of Vajra Hell...He had 'em rolling in the aisles..
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby Dan74 » Sun May 02, 2010 10:50 am

I've heard this view from some early Western books on Buddhism, I think, and occasionally from talk about how bad samsara is, how unwholesome our lay lives are, etc. I guess it can happen that one takes these kinds of teachings that are meant to loosen our craving and develop an aversion to what life has to offer. This is like replacing one sickness with another.

There is also various talk about it being bad to laugh and seemingly to enjoy anything. But from my limited experience with Theravadins offline, this Gregory's contention doesn't seem to hold.

Besides, it is only in some modern incarnations of Zen with ignorance or a radical reinterpretation of Mahayana that desires seem to have been brought back into the fold and we are meant to happily cavort our way to enlightenment. Traditionally the monks' and nuns' training was very focused on ethics and pretty austere. And in many places it still is.

Still, it is interesting to observe the dour reception much of Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings have received. He is someone who has tried to rehabilitate enjoyment and gratitude for experience and I think this is a valid way of letting go. In fact one can't truly enjoy until one lets go - when there is no need to enjoy and no notion of how it should all be.

As for Theravadins being sour grim killjoys, I think Ven Dhammica says something about that, the meditation on corpses, etc. I can't say. My Theravadin friend doesn't fit this description at all but maybe when I first met her 7 years ago, she was a little closer to it, not sure. Ajahns Brahm and Sumedho whom I have heard and read, also don't fit IMO. But no doubt for some people this is what the Buddha's injunctions on craving boil down to and for others it may be a stage in their practice before attaining equanimity. :shrug:
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun May 02, 2010 10:58 am

Greetings,

The more realization of impermanence, the less clinging, the less suffering, the more peace and happiness.

:buddha2:

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: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby PeterB » Sun May 02, 2010 11:12 am

I am not sure that that TNH 's version of Dhamma has been received dourly.

I find it amusing, and I know others who agree.

In my experience it is finding TNH amusing that is treated dourly. To the point of reporting posts critical of him.
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby m0rl0ck » Sun May 02, 2010 11:54 am

Two words: Ajahn Bhram :) Arguably the funniest spiritual guide around.

I do find the tone here a little more serious than i have seen at other boards, could just be my perception. Otoh there also seems to be a lower stupidity quotient here than i have seen elsewhere, but that might just be good mod and admin work.
Last edited by m0rl0ck on Sun May 02, 2010 11:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Even if you've read the whole Canon and can remember lots of teachings; even if you can explain them in poignant ways, with lots of people to respect you; even if you build a lot of monastery buildings, or can explain inconstancy, stress, and not-self in the most detailed fashion ... The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering.

"And you'll be able to gain release from suffering only when you know the one mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby m0rl0ck » Sun May 02, 2010 11:58 am

PeterB wrote:I am not sure that that TNH 's version of Dhamma has been received dourly.

I find it amusing, and I know others who agree.

In my experience it is finding TNH amusing that is treated dourly. To the point of reporting posts critical of him.


Yah i have been called to task for being critical of him too :) He seems to have some very devoted followers.
"Even if you've read the whole Canon and can remember lots of teachings; even if you can explain them in poignant ways, with lots of people to respect you; even if you build a lot of monastery buildings, or can explain inconstancy, stress, and not-self in the most detailed fashion ... The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering.

"And you'll be able to gain release from suffering only when you know the one mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby Phra Chuntawongso » Sun May 02, 2010 11:59 am

In my experience there are people of all traditions who appear to be stuck on the first noble truth and they tend to walk around looking like they have been sucking on a lemon.I also find that it is the westerners who are like this as opposed to the locals.I spend a lot of time in Thailand and really like the way that Thai people enjoy their Buddhism.All of my monk friends seem to be happy people including farang monks.I guess I have to say no,we are not ALL a bunchof sour,grim killjoys,just some of us. :smile:
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby appicchato » Sun May 02, 2010 12:25 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:...there...seems to be a lower stupidity quotient here...


Allll right!...
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby Ben » Sun May 02, 2010 12:29 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:Otoh there also seems to be a lower stupidity quotient here than i have seen elsewhere, but that might just be good mod and admin work.


No my friend, it is the membership that makes Dhamma Wheel what it is!
kind regards

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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby m0rl0ck » Sun May 02, 2010 12:39 pm

Ben wrote:No my friend, it is the membership that makes Dhamma Wheel what it is!
kind regards

Ben


Something else occured to me, it might be that the zen and vajra factions are siphoning off the dilettantes and those of diluted purpose before they get to theravadan buddhism. They are more popular and flashy. Being a zen guy myself maybe i should just shut up about that :)
"Even if you've read the whole Canon and can remember lots of teachings; even if you can explain them in poignant ways, with lots of people to respect you; even if you build a lot of monastery buildings, or can explain inconstancy, stress, and not-self in the most detailed fashion ... The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering.

"And you'll be able to gain release from suffering only when you know the one mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby christopher::: » Sun May 02, 2010 3:01 pm

I think sometimes "serious practitioners" forget to prioritize the brahmaviharas. When that happens, life is less joyful and loving, suffering is magnified, imo. Do Theravadins fall into this trap more then others? I haven't noticed that, at all, and as chiangmaigreg mentioned- if you know Thai folks, they're definitely not a bunch of sour, grim killjoys...

with the exception of some of the street protesters...
"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: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun May 02, 2010 3:06 pm

tiltbillings wrote: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys,


Yes, and that is why the Mahayana is far more popular than the Theravada. :D

Some 70 to 90 percent of all Buddhists are Mahayana (if you include Chinese folk religion who practice it with Daoism and mostly Mahayana Buddhism).

The different schools can be seen as skillful means for practitioners reaching the goal. But eventually all will have to realize the futility in chasing the joy and pleasure. I don't want to wait for the next Buddha, so Theravada it is, for me.
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby christopher::: » Sun May 02, 2010 3:26 pm

I must protest, David..! :heart:

I had the great pleasure of attending my first ever Theravadin Buddhist meeting today, with a teacher from Sri Lanka. He talked indeed of the futility of chasing "happiness" - believing that it comes with sensual pleasures, in getting this, attaining that, buying new things, etc...

BUT then his smile brightened and he talked of the joys of life, of mudita and of metta, of our relatedness to all living things. He rarely stopped smiling when he looked at us. So yes, chasing joy is futile, but happiness and joy can be experienced daily, in our lives.

Please don't let DW turn into the sour grey forum..!

:console:
"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: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby Anicca » Sun May 02, 2010 3:43 pm

From Ajaan Suwat as told by Ajaan Thanissaro in Generosity First:

After the second or third day of the retreat he turned to me and said, "I notice that when these people meditate they're awfully grim." You'd look out across the room and all the people were sitting there very seriously, their faces tense, their eyes closed tight. It was almost as if they had Nirvana or Bust written across their foreheads.

He attributed their grimness to the fact that most people here in the West come to Buddhist meditation without any preparation in other Buddhist teachings.


But the "real McCoys" of Buddhism are truly the happiest people on the planet and have a very healthy sense of humor in my opinion.
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby bodom » Sun May 02, 2010 4:29 pm

To anyone who has not already read Analayo's Satipatthana commentary, I highly recommend it as in the section on feelings he writes on the importance of joy in meditation practice. He gathers various instances throughout the tipitaka to illustrate this point. He writes:

Indeed, the early Buddhist monks delighted in there way of life, as testified by a visiting king who described them as "smiling and cheerful, sincerely joyful and plainly delighting, living at ease and unruffled." M 2 121; This description forms part of a comparison made by the king between the followers of the Buddha and other ascetics, whose demeanour was comparatively gloomy.


This passage is very inspiring to me.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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