inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #26 of 151: Scott Underwood (esau) Sun 27 Jan 02 10:59
    
Five slips!
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #27 of 151: (fom) Sun 27 Jan 02 11:05
    
wow!
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #28 of 151: I'm a tourist (chrys) Sun 27 Jan 02 11:11
    
Practice.  For me this is the thing that distinguishes Buddhism from
'western' spirituality, though I recognize that there are veins of
practice is western spirituality.

I was brought up Catholic, but early on was troubled by the hypocrasy
between word and deed of most fellow parishioners. (Support for the
Vietnam war, racism, etc. etc.) I remember deciding as an adolescent
that I couldn't trust most of the role models I was offered and when in
search of new ones.  One Sunday afternoon I heard a recording of a
talk by Alan Watts....

slipped by slippage reports
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #29 of 151: Chris Florkowski (chrys) Sun 27 Jan 02 11:12
    
That should read 
    'went in search'
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #30 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Sun 27 Jan 02 15:07
    
What a wonderful environment in which your buddha-nature was nourished from
an early age, Felicity!  No doubt thorny at times, but you're very lucky to
have such supportive models.  Have you thought of founding a Celtic Buddhist
order?

And, along the way, from there to here, have you had to make adjustments
within your mysticism?  I mean, have you found confirmation of things you
already knew?  As well things that you didn't.

And I don't know, but unless a Catholic renounces, isn't a Catholic always a
Catholic?  How does that play out in terms of Buddhism?

And I'm grateful again to hear I have a reader.  I hope you enjoy, Scott;
keep me posted.  (Actually -- as an aside, I invite all readers to tell me
what they'd suggest might be changed as well as what they liked.  I'm
working on revisions for future editions, as we speak, and incorporating
also in the website.)

And I recognize your conundrum.  And <chrys> slipped in with the answer.  We
can discuss of course, but I'd unhesitatingly say the $64,000 Answer is
practice.  Without that, the majority of books and tapes and even retreats
and such will be just that ... "over there," somewhere, while the present
moment remains in front of our nose.

Actually, the topic of practice is occurring in a wider phenomena, right
now, only within the past five years:  people now making real *for
themselves* rather than repeating by rote.  I think you see it in the
revival of interest in prayer, for example:  making a space for the sanctity
of life, throughout our lives, in our everyday lives.

I'm not knocking armchair anything, mind you.  I'm one myself; like right
now, dig?  Armchair laptop keyboard flatscreen horizon.

Just to put a slightly finer point on it, the path is not trod by intellect
alone.   That's one of the essential natures of it.  Yet there's a
tremendous investment in that intellectual identification as being "it,"
that we can think our way through.  (I always smile when I see people put
their hand to their brow, in concentration:  like, is that where mind is?)

There's no hurry.  & everything is at stake.

It might take time to find a teacher and a community that feels *warm."  Not
necessarily light but warmth.  And you might already be practicing in ways
that you don't quite realize already.

So if there's too much noise in your life for you to reduce the noise in
your life ... well, just reach in and carve out five-ten minutes a day to
sit with that.   Making that space for that chance to take place that less
noise is possible even in your current set of circumstances.  And seeing if
returning to it regularly, and nourishing it ... making it ten to fifteen
minutes, say ... creates MORE space in your life.

So?

Oh, before I go (a meeting of The Turning Wheel), I'm sure we're all (also)
waiting for Chris to drop the other shoe ... and tell us, when in search,
went in search, hearing that phenomenal laughter of Watts ... ...  ...
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #31 of 151: Scott Underwood (esau) Sun 27 Jan 02 16:03
    
>  And I don't know, but unless a Catholic renounces, isn't a Catholic
>  always a Catholic?

Well, I opted to not get confirmed at 12 years old. Seemed like a
renunciation at the time.
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #32 of 151: nape fest (zorca) Sun 27 Jan 02 17:11
    
the nuns told us that you could never be an ex-catholic. you could only be a
lapsed (read: BAD) catholic. i've clearly opted for the latter. and when
forced to espouse a belief, now say buddhist. not for any ritual or
structure but in some harmonic with general beliefs. it fits oddly well with
my papist upbringing.
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #33 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Sun 27 Jan 02 19:39
    
Wow, Scott!  You were unlearning before you were a teen.  I don't know what
the church position on confirmation is, as to having a choice about it.
Spinoza was my hero in Hebrew school, but I 'spoze if I'd never gone on and
been bar mitzva I might not still identify as a jew.

& so how does Buddhism fit in with your upbringing, Zorca?  (I don't 'spoze
*your* parents told you not to pay any attention to the nuns ... )
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #34 of 151: the invetned stiff is dumb (bbraasch) Sun 27 Jan 02 21:08
    
My oldest daughter blew off confirmation.  The rev really tried to work 
her over, but that gave her more courage.  

I think for a lot of catholics it's a pretty automatic thing, but the 
doctrine says that it is a point where you can and do make a choice.
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #35 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Sun 27 Jan 02 22:16
    
Ah, kids!   Our future!!

Has anyone heard of "emotional intelligence" being taught in the schools?
It's a simple process of being able to observe / be aware of one's feelings,
rather than have them pull one by the nose.  The founder, Daniel Goleman,
studied in India, but hasn't mentioned such-like.  It seems to be spreading
quite well ... quite usefully.

Oh, and this just in ... someone in the Buddhist Peace Fellowship mailing
list (www.bpf.org) just passed along this website:

      http://www.udabuddha.com/

musical, animated, show 'n tell.  I haven't mined the whole thing, but the
opening was quite nice.    (tell me, does it proseyletize).
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #36 of 151: (chrys) Mon 28 Jan 02 12:42
    
Like <esau>, I only got your book a few days ago and have only browsed
it thus far.  One thing that creates a kind of dissonance on first
glance is the impression that Buddhism is 'easy'. This is no doubt in
part the result of the format of the 'idiot' books have, and I don't
wish to suggest Buddhism is hard to grasp, but my clearest
apprehensions of what Buddhism has to offer have been deep and complex
and not what I'd consider graspable.  In fact - an hour later, I might
be hardpressed to even describe the experience.  The other thing - most
of these experiences have been in a sangha, that it, in the presence
of others making an effort. Now that sangha may have been the aikido
dodjo, or a retreat, or the grocery store.  Daily practice is a
support, but hasn't bore fruit (for me!) as much as a sangha has.
brought. 

On the other other hand, I think the methods *are* graspable.
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #37 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Mon 28 Jan 02 15:55
    
                   <deep bow>

I'm honored by that response, <chrys>. 'Tho

  * I'd appreciate if you explain a little more about what's
    graspable / ungraspable

  * I don't know exactly how to respond to your sense of dissonance.
    Of course I didn't write the cover copy ("enlightenment has never
    been easier") and turned red in the face when I read it, fresh out
    of the box.

Now or eventually I probably ought to unpack the "Idiot's" bundle.  But,
sticking with this thread, a major part of my writing the book was with a
motto by Albert Einstein written over my head:

"Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler."

For "things" read "Dharma."  There's a wide range in Buddhism, you know,
between easy-as-pie ///
                         snow flake ///
                                        birdcall in an empty valley ...
and conundrum-like propositions, such as "sunyata."  This latter, usually
translated "emptiness," I've tried to make easier to comprehend, for
example, by explaining how it means "empty OF [any separate permanent
identity"]

and doing so in a context of other related concepts (impermanence, suchness,
interbeing).  "Interbeing," the word coined by Thich Nhat Hanh, is another
example:  perhaps easier to grasp "dependent co-arising."

And I tried arranging things in order of easy, intermediate, more advanced.
And that's my unpremeditated, spontaneous response --

-- really eager to hear more on your reaction.  Initial, and otherwise.



And I think you'd packed a second thread in there, <chrys>, no less
interesting.  I wonder if you might elaborate a bit more about practice and
community (sangha).  They're separable?
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #38 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Mon 28 Jan 02 16:11
    
(Is it self-slippage when I backtrack myself in?)

There might be something, like a chord, in between something <chrys> and
<esau> said, that might be worth my noting.

When I addressed the conundrum, <esau>, I didn't want to sound like I was
prescribing any kind of Self-Improvement Regimen.   I should be very
cautious about doing so.  Not entirely because this raises the philosophical
infinite regression of what self is improving what self; moreover, going in
with a notion of getting something out of it is a recipe for
dissatisfaction.   Like a romantic obsession that's a set-up for
disillusionment.   Ok?

You practice to practice.  You breathe to breathe.  You sit to sit.
Becoming more aware of them, in a one-pointed way, you see for yourself how
that investment in attention and awareness rewards itself.

And I wonder if such avoidance of any self-improvement scheme is what you've
just referred to <chrys>, at least in part?     If so, you'll find that the
text makes it very clear:  while there are things you can try, and news you
can use, the book states it isn't a Do-It-Yourself Manual, and couldn't ever
be.  Ultimately, if you want to go beyond armchair buddhism, you'll find a
sangha and engage in everyday practice.

Yes?
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #39 of 151: the invetned stiff is dumb (bbraasch) Mon 28 Jan 02 16:11
    
I enjoyed reading your use of the Rolling Stones' Satisfaction lyrics, 
'you can't always get what you want' and 'you get what you need'.

Who'd a thunk that Jagger and Richards were channeling the Buddha?

The Buddha nature is indeed everywhere, if you know how to look.
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #40 of 151: (chrys) Mon 28 Jan 02 16:48
    
Graspable:  I guess I mean something that can be 'explained'.

I started reading this afternoon and see the huge task you took on -
*explaining* the immensity of Buddhism - not just it's cultural
incarnation and history, but it's essence.  You took on the role of
teacher. And a teacher who is dissadvantaged - being unable to assess
whether understanding is taking place.  Yikes! Blessings on you for
rising to this tremendous task.
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #41 of 151: Scott Underwood (esau) Mon 28 Jan 02 18:15
    
Looking back, I'm not exactly certain what I was asking.
Maybe--thinking of this part of your answer:

>  You practice to practice.  You breathe to breathe.  You sit to sit.

At what point is one no longer meditating and instead "practicing
Buddhism"?  I think the friends I referred to might say, well, I
enjoyed my sitting but I'm not a *Buddhist.*
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #42 of 151: (fom) Mon 28 Jan 02 18:37
    
You guys are asking such great questions...

I'm curious what Gary has to say about that practice versus practice 
question, too. That is, I go to my little group and sit and sing and ring 
a bell and so forth, but their teaching is that (even though all beings 
are from the very beginning enlightened, of course) one isn't really 
practicing Buddhism until he or she has signed on with a teacher and 
started practicing in a focused, structured way -- not just dropping in on 
Wednesday nights and participating.

I believe it's Khenpo Konchog Rinpoche, a wonderful Drikung Kagyu lama, 
who says it's OK to take up to 19 years (and in some cases more) to find 
your "root teacher." So if you're not really practicing until you have 
accepted a root teacher, and you're in the 19-year period, what ARE you 
doing?
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #43 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Mon 28 Jan 02 18:45
    
Thank gawd for the Well:  one single mouth isn't enuf to say it all.  Not
even one crazy enuf to try, like mine.

Thanx for the blessings, <chrys>.  I hope you find them returned; and soon.

Many paths have little road signs about this too.  "The finger pointing at
the moon is not the moon."  "Where shalt thou turn if thou dost not seek the
light within?"  (We're back to billboards, again.  Now what if they a
billboard for a saying of Blake, or Lao-tzu!?)  Now as a writer, it becomes
an interesting question to be able to speak of it -- and then even more so
to be able to give each reader a sense of how to ... on their own.

And those dawg-gone Stones!  It just shows to go you!  Buddhanature is, like
you say, (bbraasch), everywhere.  -- One of the really interesting projects
in thist light, for me, was, in my previous book, an anthology, sharpening
my ability to discern the buddha nature.

Took me five years, and it still continues (http://word.to/whatweb.html).
For instance:  what makes one haiku resonate more with the Buddha, and
another more with, say, circus life; and what difference?

I invite any and all such poems, haiku, song lyrics, ad copy, slang
expressions, etc.

(I recently heard one in a movie you wouldn't think to be Buddhist at all,
"Monsters, Inc." ----:  "Oh, no!  Once you give a name to it, you become
attached!")

And this links in to <esau>'s excellent question:  but is it Buddhist?

Well, I don't know if the Taliban, say, is Buddhist -- 'tho without non-
Buddhists there wouldn't BE Buddhists (if you follow the logic of that;
like, yin-yang).

Big question <esau>, and this is largely why I wrote the book.  There are,
for example, excellent books on meditation, which incorporate all sorts of
traditions.

But, while we hash this around, may I make one essential distinction?  When
we say "meditation" here, we do a disservice to the eight-fold path by
saying that meditation is the whole path.   It's not.  Along with meditation
(effort, mindfulness, and concentration) there comes wisdom (outlook/view,
and thought), and let's not forget conscious conduct (ethics) -- (speech,
action, and livelihood).

So maybe you never sit at all, but concentrate on your habits of speech.
Begin wherever; where you are.   ... the idea, the ideal, the practice is
... not to divide meditation to "over there" on a cushion, leaving all the
rest, somewhere else.

Anyway, so we continue ...
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #44 of 151: Scott Underwood (esau) Mon 28 Jan 02 21:05
    
> So maybe you never sit at all

I think it's in the early part of "Writing Down the Bones," one of the
first books on Zen that I read, where she recounts her teacher telling
her that writing can be her practice. It made me think that there's a
lot you can do that isn't meditation and yet might still be a form of
mindful practice. Digging a ditch or building a fence. Maybe a life
spent in subsistence farming is the embodiment of the eightfold path --
all without having any knowledge of Buddhadharma (to use your term).

(In fact it was this thinking that led me away from Christianity, since
I couldn't understand how a completely moral farmer living in, say,
rural China and living a thoroughly "Christian" life without having
ever heard of Christ would be denied heaven.)
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #45 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Mon 28 Jan 02 22:04
    
Ah, so!   Exactly, <esau>.

Washing the dishes, putting the keys in the car, answering the phone -- it's
all an opportunity for practice.  Meditation: one-pointed concentration;
mindfulness.

Eating an orange, being aware of eating an orange.  Slice-
by-slice. Bite-by-bite.  Only eating an orange; nothing else.  (Ever notice
people pulling off one slice while they're eating another?)

                                   (Too easy?  Too hard?)

You'll find too legend and lore along the path of the Buddha replete with
tales fully ascended masters you might not recognize 'cos they're cobblers
and housewives  ...  ...

... some I shoe-horned into the book ... such as Hui Neng, the Chinese zen
patriarch who was reportedly an illiterate woodcarrier and attained
enlightened on the spot one day, Shazam!, just like that ...

... I couldn't fit in the lifestory of Shinran Shonin, who left the
priesthood (renounced renuncation?) -- having found TEnlightenment' too
difficult for the common person ...
& went on to become a patriarch of the Pure Land tradition;
http://shinmission_sg.tripod.com/honganmissionsg/id14.html .)

So!
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #46 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Mon 28 Jan 02 23:03
    
tales OF fully ascended ... and
found 'Enlightenment'
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #47 of 151: Chris Florkowski (chrys) Tue 29 Jan 02 04:56
    
Gary, the book has an almost conversational pace and feel.  Part of
this comes from the insertion of many personal anecdotes and examples. 
I'm wondering how it feels to have your personal life so revealed in
the context of a book on Buddhism. 
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #48 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Tue 29 Jan 02 09:09
    
(so ... well, the last half of the book, 7 chapters, are devoted just to
various applications ... work, relationships, arts, etc.)


& too, that example of a farmer in China <esau>, I wonder too about anyone
who'd have him or her wait till after death to reach the Kingdom of G-d.
The kingdom of the spirit, the sacred realm(s), the pure land, is now.
("It not now ------------ when?")

(Is that waiting due to the Fall?  Adam & Eve having eaten of the apple,
their ancestors now must plough and farm the Garden....?)




Gee, these questions are all so gooood:  Thank you!  Well, as you've
surmised by now, <chrys>, I like talking / writing about the creative
process ... about equally with talking/writing about the Buddha.  Like the
writer, Natalie Goldberg ("Writing Down the Bones," "Wild Mind") who <esau>
mentioned, I've found writing to be an essential of my particular path.  The
Path of poetry, or writing. (I think Natalie's teacher to whom you refer
would be Katagiri Roshi:  a beautiful teacher!)

Anyway -- gosh! -- come to think of it, I never thought so clearly about
your question as you've stated it, #47, till now <chyrs). Or if I did
before, reconstructing afterwards is different. So I guess I felt no
difficulty about revealing anything personal.  E.G., I think it's chapter 8
where you get the mystic vision from when I was four.  Is there anything
that feels *too* personal?

If it makes reading more conversational, then -- as long as there isn't more
chatter than matter,  and that it's civic, nothing embarassing to anyone,
etc. -- I've accomplished my aim.

I hope it doesn't show, but you know writing this kind of book entails a
number of genres, logistically:  the chapter on the life of the Buddha is
biography, the next chapter on the spread of his teachings is history, and
so on.  I wouldn't call my book a memoir, by any stretch -- any more than
any other life activity.

I guess it was never an issue for me because in the context of Buddhism ...
my personalizing the material might encourage the reader to do so too,
hopefully ... I've found that to be true for me .... like the most
personally revealing book by Thich Nhat Hanh, "Fragrant Palm Leaves -
Journals 1962-1966" is one of his most enlightening  ...

... and, in this context, unconditionally trust the sangha of my readers ...
the essential supportiveness of sangha, community ...

...like, here we all are, with each of our hard drives like all on each
other's hard drives, in the Web, talking, amongst ourselves ... about life-
decisions, turning points, deep beliefs, etc. ... the sangha of the Well ...
the Well as sangha ...


... (what's the #1 motto of writing workshops?  "Write about what you know."
... now if someone would teach be to be terse ... ) ...

... and, lastly, because in this context there's no duality, E.G., personal
vs. public, episodic vs. panoramic, etc.  At least, I'd tried to find that
balance.

Pace -- I don't know.  You'd have to tell me about your sense of that.
please.
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #49 of 151: Linda Castellani (castle) Tue 29 Jan 02 19:08
    

Also, just out of curiosity -

What's in the table of contents?
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #50 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Wed 30 Jan 02 00:52
    
Hi, <castle>!  Well, short answer -----:
the table's online <http://awakening.to/table.html

A little longer answer, for here -------:
the basic architecture is modeled after what's known as Triple Gem, -- that
is, the Buddha (the one who awakens us in this life); the Dharma (the
teachings of the Buddha and the path to them); and the Sangha (the community
who follow the Path).

So, first, there's the life of the Buddha; how the teachings spread to
various countries; American Buddhism; and interfaith (comparisons with yoga,
Christianity, Judaism, etc.).

Then there's the essential teachings.  the Three Jewels and the Four Noble
Truths; the Eightfold Path; the Precepts; and such concepts as impermanence,
interbeing, emptiness (transparence).  Etc.

Next, after an introduction to setting up your own practice, and some basics
of meditation, the major traditions are set forth:  Vipassana (also known as
Insight); Zen; Vajrayana (Tibetan), and Pure Land.

Plus -------- there's a fourth section (the second half of the book, in
length), showing these things in action in various contexts:
          relationships, work, food (consumption),
          popular and fine arts (sports, music, movies,
          painting, literature, etc), science (psychology,
          new physics), engagement (feminism, deep ecology,
          prisons, race, the dying), and events and places
          (celebrations and destinations for pilgrimages).

Plus the usual amenities of forewords, glossary, etc -- including a one-
pager tear-out at the front the encapsulates the essential teachings that I
call a one-page book (how Buddhist!).
  

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