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inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #51 of 151: Scott Underwood (esau) Wed 30 Jan 02 07:05
    
I read the one-page book, I'm in the appendix now!
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #52 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Wed 30 Jan 02 08:17
    
Cool.  But remember, if you stay in the appendix for too long, you may get
swept into the gall bladder!

(Ba-dum.  Ok:  I won't quit my day job.  Hey, wait!  This IS my day job!!)

Everyone who has a copy, you can tear out the one-sheet and use it as a
bookmark.  (And everyone who's a Buddhist can tell me what they think of my
wording of these things -- the Three Jewels, the Four Noble Truths, the
Bodhisattva Vows, etc.

For instance, I'm still debating about changing the first Vow; from
     " Beings are numberless;
          I vow to awaken them."
to
     " Beings are numberless;
          I  vow to awaken with them."


This may be one of the last of the Idiot's Guides, by the way, to have one
of these stiff tear-out reference cards; I argued in favor of having one in
mine because so much of the Buddha's teachings are short simple numbered
lists -- which form a complex, living web.

And, for what it's worth, I liken the tear-out sheet, this one-page book, to
the film of a diposable camera.  You buy the camera for the film, and when
it's exposed you throw away the camera; in this metaphor, the book is like
the apparatus that over time helps develop the sheet, until eventually
(maybe) the sheet is all you need.  But I'm smiling when I say that, so you
have to take it with a grain of salt.
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #53 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Wed 30 Jan 02 09:19
    <scribbled by ggg Fri 8 Feb 02 08:01>
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #54 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Wed 30 Jan 02 10:46
    
I just took a moment to re-read.  I see that <fom> slipped a question in
while I was replying to #s 39, 40, and 41, and so I didn't notice it until
now.   I'm glad the Well understands slippage as being *good* because I
don't want to seem churlish by not having responded to #42 until now.

Not to answer your question with a question, but I wonder if you might want
to say a bit more about Drikung Kagyu, for those who don't know.

Anyway -- if my understanding is correct, the question is what are you doing
if you haven't signed on with a teacher?  Is that practice, or what.  Yes?

If so --- I find this a very interesting kind of specific case, where the
Tibetan custom is to encourage a student to take time to find a teacher,
rather than (as is all too-often the case here in the land of instantaneity,
USA) meeting a teacher and, like a headstrong romantic, immediately falling
into a relationship.

I think this is very sage advice ... the searching-around period.  It's
doubly important in Tibetan tradition as the teacher becomes so integral to
the path, as opposed to, say, Vipassana (a.k.a. Insight; Theravada;
Hinayana).

I know someone who has been sitting with the Saturday morning beginner's
practice period at San Francisco Zen Center for quite some time; not 19
year, but quite some time:  having gotten to know the priests and
priestesses in the monastery rather well by then, it finally come up in
conversation, "why don't you consider coming on a more formal basis?"
And now she has.   And that story reflects the more spontaneous nature of
Zen.  When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

Ajahn Chah, the beloved teacher in the Theravada tradition (also known as,
or a.k.a., Vipassana, or "insight"), once said during a talk that people
could go from one teacher to another but they'd always have the same little
bundle of stuff to work on wherever they went so why not pick one and just
stick to it.

And in Pure Land, one simply has to recite the name of Amitabha Buddha,
mindful of his profound vow.

Personally, I may be one of the least Buddhist humans on the planet, in this
regard, in that my root teacher is Thich Nhat Hanh, who doesn't do any one-
on-one.  Lately, I was sitting with another sangha, another informal one,
led by a wonderful teacher named Gene Cash, who also teaches at Spirit Rock.
 And I also take my writing to be part of my practice.

All that said, maybe the most "useful" thing I might add to the conversation
about this (may it continue!) is that I've always used the criterion of
warmth as well as light in gauging where to sign on; in choosing which
teacher to study with.  That is, in addition to the light of the teachings,
I think it's important to fee at home, to feel warm.   Maybe this is
contained in our traditional phrase used to typify becoming a Buddhist:

taking refuge.
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #55 of 151: (fom) Wed 30 Jan 02 11:18
    
I am struck by this remark: "And that story reflects the more spontaneous 
nature of Zen."

Interesting, in that I regard zen as being much more formal and strict, at 
least as regards sitting practice, than the Tibetan tradition. My 
experience with Tibetan teachers/sanghas is that you can arrive any old 
time, there's hardly any such thing as being "late," you can sit in any 
position and move your legs around and cough or scratch an itch, and 
ambient noise is not only no problem, it is welcomed. In fact Ngakchang 
Rinpoche is known to occasionally produce a *gun* from beneath his robes 
and shoot it (blanks of course) to provide a little ambient sound shock. 
(I've never experienced this, and would probably jump several feet off my 
cushion and scream loudly.)

With zen, I have experienced strict starting and stopping times, strict 
adherence to formal ways of sitting, no itch-scratching, no coughing, and 
the less ambient noise, the better.

I think the immense elaborate baroque "trappings" of Tibetan Buddhism, in 
contrast with the spare aesthetic of zen, are perhaps regarded as a lack 
of spontaneity, an excess of formality, but that hasn't been my experience 
in real life.

OK this has been a digression, I guess. But where does Vipassana/Theravada 
fall on this chart?
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #56 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Wed 30 Jan 02 16:00
    
You're right:   Upon reflection, what I meant was how in Zen, there's an
inherent sense of "just do it."  Whatever the tradition, the techniques are
just that, "skillful means" to help you along.  And 'tho Japanese Zen has a
great deal of formal etiquette, there's a small array of formal "skillful
means."

Would you say that Tibetan practices have a greater array of skillful means
(ujpaya, in Sanskrit)?    Kind of like a big, horizontal array of different
colored flags.  Visualization techniques, prostrations, chanting, guided
meditations, etc.

You know the saying:  when you get across a big lake, you don't then take
your canoe and wear it on your head like a hat; it's just to get you across,
then leave it behind.

A rinpoche (that is a Tibetan teacher) recently said that when Tibetan
Buddhists talk about, say, seeing red, visualizing a certain part of the
body as red, they don't necessarily mean the literal color but the color as
a symbol; and that Western practitioners tend to take "red" too literally.

And, gawd yes, Zen can be rigorous to the max, 'tho when I think of Zen I
think also of the other lineages such a Chinese (Ch'an) and Korean (Soen)
which are more informal.   Like the tea ceremony; the Japanese version is
very ritualized, whereas in Korea or China it's very loose.

The best way I've found to understand the rigor of the Japanese is the
ricefield:  a grid with equally spaced grains of rice.  A basis for culture.

And the kind of Zen that's practiced in Vietnam (Thien) includes many
elements of Vipassana (for those of you just tuning in:  aka Theravada,
Hinayana -- the form of Buddhism practiced in the countries of South Asia,
like Ceylon [Sri Lanka], Burma {Myanamar}, Vietnam, Siam [Thailand];
"Insight" meditation in the some Western schools.)

My Vipassana experiences are of "Watch the itch, don't scratch it."  Or note
the sensation, watch the mind let it go, watch the impulse fade. One teacher
just has people sit and focus on the breath on the upper lip all day; and
nothing else.

For the first day.  Day two, an incremenetal addition to the task.

(Pure Land, you sincerely recite the name of Amitabha and he will take you
to his pure land, as he has vowed.  Come one, come all.)

Very interesting <fom>!

(Is this of interest to the armchair Buddhists, the curious buddhas, and the
non-Buddhists, etc.?)
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #57 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Wed 30 Jan 02 16:02
    
                            [ that should be  " upaya " ]
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #58 of 151: David Dawson (dawson54) Wed 30 Jan 02 18:37
    <scribbled by dawson54 Mon 26 Aug 02 13:21>
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #59 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Wed 30 Jan 02 22:35
    

Yea, you're right:  I conflated (smeared) 2 Stones songs together.  This
Sanskrit word "dukha" is usually translated as suffering  -- Buddha teaching
the nature of it and the way to become liberated from it -- but it also
means just dissatisfactory.  Quite a spread between anguish, angst, and
"can't get no," but it all amounts to the same thing here.

Now, your question.  You're not, like, about to enlist, are you?
 For me to mull over your question, a very good
one, let's take a step back, to discuss this here.

(The discussion you sparked where you already posted it, in the Well's
venerable Buddhist conference area (don't you just love the name?:
<Wonderland>), is mighty fine.  But we can have one here too; one big web.)

Are you really asking, "What's the Buddhist policy towards war?"  ---
Because "holy war" implies Abrahamic traditions (E.G., crusades); some of
which have internal dimensions (E.G., jihads).  On the other hand ---

I'm not an expert at "just war" theory (I.E., Thomist _justum bellum_) but
as I take it it's different from "holy war": A current example might be the
debate
as to whether the prisoners at Guantanamo should be treated as "prisoners of
war," (I.E., recognize "just war" conventions).

So, are the qualifiers key?  Or  is the question more general, E.G., "Does
Buddhism ever ally/align itself with the military?  If so, when?"  Or,
"Would the Buddha bear arms or go to war?  If so, under what conditions?"
"If not, why not?"

Maybe you might rephrase it, again.  Please.
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #60 of 151: David Dawson (dawson54) Thu 31 Jan 02 09:19
    <scribbled by dawson54 Mon 26 Aug 02 13:21>
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #61 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Thu 31 Jan 02 13:47
    
Ah!, now I see your question much better.  Thank you.  Very much.

Since we're not constrained by time or space here on this elastic medium,
I'd like to invite this question to take shape as it may wish.

My initial response:

Personally, I've felt warm feelings towards your faith.  A perhaps under-
recognized path, of great value.  In my chapter encouraging readers in their
own practice, I say that if they can't find a Buddhist sangha in their
neighborhood, to look in the phone book and see if there's a Quaker group in
the yellow pages, with whom to sit.

My first encounter left a deep impression on me, when I was in junior high
school, attending a retreat sponsored by the Quakers, for young people.
At the synagogue where I was raised, I could never undertand why the silent
meditation only lasted about two minutes -- with organ accompaniment -- and
the rabbi's  words about devotion and peace and such:  at the Quaker
retreat, I experienced sitting in silence, with a group, for an extended
period, as a positive real occasion.

My copy of Simone Weil's book about the Greeks (and their stance towards
war), an important work for me, was published by the Quaker press, Pendle
Hill.  And at my root sangha, about two years ago, the talk for the evening
was once given by Quakers, who explained their process of peacework,
somewhat, including "not standing between," I think it's called.  (Please,
correct me!)  I was fascinated to learn that, rather than the majority
consensus, the operative criterion was that if one person objected the group
would not wish to stand in their way (please, correct, or clarify for us):
they told of a group of people who had gone to Iraq to bear witness.  And
when they'd been there and wanted to stay on longer, one person didn't want
to, and so the group didn't stand between [sic], and so they left -- on what
turned out to be the last plane out of Americans from there before what
became the beginning of Desert Storm.

One more item:  if my understanding is correct, the Conscientious Objector
option was created solely because of the religious creed of the Quakers and
the Mennonites.

So
'tho you may feel ... unsure ... in your search for a response to the
tremenduum of our times, I hope I've expressed how vital, and viable, I
think it is, absolutelyh, for our present; and future.

To continue the dialogue -- short answer:

writing the book, one of the things that struck me was how important King
Ashoka was, and how little we in the West have learned of him; our study of
history of the world until now largely having been the history of the
Western world.  He's hugely responsible for the spread of Buddhism in India.
Permit me to quote a parapgraph from my page on him:

    Reigning from 272-236 (BCE), Ashoka ruled the southern tip of the
    Indian subcontinent and part of Persia [now Iran].  Following the
    atrocities of his bloodiest of war triumphs, he hung up his sword
    and took up the Dharma.  Ashoka replaced his former hunting
    expeditions with pilgrimages; military parades now became devotional
    processions.  A tree-hugger, he ordered that forests be preserved.
    Out of compassion, he not only had hospitals built but saw to it that
    animals had medical care as well.  Egalitarian, his citizenry could
    call on him anytime, day or night, whether he was in his carriage or on
    the throne.  In the dining room or in the boudoir.  It' interesting to
    note [ N B : ] under his peaceful reign nobody revolted and no
    outsiders invaded.

So he's not only comparable to Constantine the Great, in marking the rise of
a new faith / creed / religion -- but also a major figure in world history.
Imagine if we'd learned of him, as well as, say Alexander!

One other thing (which I mention in the book elsewhere, such as in the
section on how the Buddhist reponse to the issue of the death penalty differ
from *some* Christian responsa):  where the desert traditions tend towards a
dualist world-view, self and other (within which one can also find a more
mystical I-Thou interrelationship, if one looks deeper), the Buddhist world-
view is implicitly nondualist from the get-go.  This makes for a different
dimension, or approach, towards peacework.

Of course, Buddhism has not been immune to association with the military,
military regimes, and the juggernaut -- as the <Wonderland> discussion has
been so discussing so well.

Last night, I was a featured author for the evening at Monticello Inn, and
wonder if my reading of Thich Nhat Hanh's "Call Me By My True Names" rubbed
the wounds of the recent tragedy, it being a radical meditation (more than a
poem) of tremendous power:  please include it in your meditation on this
initial response to your excellent, *needful* question:

From a book, by the same name, which I *highly* recommend, the poem "Please
Call Me By My True Names":

     < http://www.allspirit.co.uk/nhathanh.html#names >

( Recently, Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat (editors of "Spirituality &
Health") used it as a basis for a poem called "Rest in Peace," which
circulated widely on the Net, shortly after the tragedy of 9/11 :

      < http://www.beliefnet.com/story/87/story_8744_1.html > )

Thanks.  Let's talk.
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #62 of 151: Gail Williams (gail) Thu 31 Jan 02 15:19
    

A small technical aside:  with a password you can go directly to the WELL's
"Wonderland" with this link:   <wonderland.>   The dot at the end shows that
it is not a member of the WELL named wonderland.

Gary, the True Names poem is tremendous.
What an excellent find.
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #63 of 151: David Dawson (dawson54) Thu 31 Jan 02 21:57
    <scribbled by dawson54 Mon 26 Aug 02 13:22>
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #64 of 151: (fom) Thu 31 Jan 02 23:54
    
What a great post.

I learned a lot about Quakers that I didn't know; and I thought for a 
non-Quaker I was relatively knowledgeable. (I've been to a couple of 
Quaker memorial services, three in fact, and I have several Quaker 
friends, but I've never been to an actual Meeting.)

Say...have you ever considered writing a Complete Idiot's Guide?
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #65 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Fri 1 Feb 02 00:52
    
Hey, <gail!>!  I just looked up your home page; wow!  I think if you only
learn one word from Buddhism it might be "sangha" -- other people,
networking, community, diversity, many potatoes boiling together in a pot,
bumping into each other and rounding each other out.   I mean, you're
already *there* and Buddhism just has a special word for it.

Thanks for the tech-tip.  And i heartily recommend the book of the same name
as the poem ("Call Me By My True Names").  A collection of poems, by Thich
Nhat Hanh; many of which deal with war and violence from a uniquely Buddhist
perspective; an engaged Buddhist perspective.  (Imagine Buddhist monks and
nuns putting bodies of their fellow countrymen into body bags as that form
of Buddhist practice to which theyUre called ... and not giving in to
despair.  The book really makes that very real.)

That one poem, of the 325 in my anthology, (What Book!?), is the central
one.  No, let me take that back, and sharpen the point on that:  in my
humble opinion (imho), it's one of the most important poems to come out of
the 20th century; (and taking a while to be recognized as such, as we re-
evaluate how poetry can tell us what we need, to live ... as we recover from
poetry splintering into myriad highways and byways around the early '70s,
and then pomo (postmodernism). And all that.
     Check it out.

http://www.parallax.org/cgi-
bin/index.pl?funct=title&id=**ID**&query=Call+Me+By+My+True+Names&x=37&y=3
0
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #66 of 151: Eleanor Parker (wellelp) Fri 1 Feb 02 01:07
    
Wow, two for the price of one!  I can learn about the Quakers at the
same time as learning about Buddhists.

I just received The Complete Idiot's Guide to Buddhism yesterday, and
dispared of being able to read it in time to contribute to the
discussion.  Fate handed me the opportunity when I left my purse at the
train station in San Jose yesterday, and got a call to come retrieve
it.  So I read on the train down and back, and am greatly enjoying it. 
I'm at p. 84, and will read some more tonight before bed.

I love your frequent comment "Why is this man (Buddha) smiling?"  The
thought that happiness is the actual goal of Buddhism is so contrary to
what I have learned about other religions in the past, which seem more
about judgement and punishment and suffering.  What happiness can be
attained may come in the afterlife, rather than here and now.  So as
one of the those who are "shopping" for some spiritual guidance, so far
so good for Buddhism from my perspective.

I'm finding the title a misnomer, though, as the reader cannot be an
Idiot.  I've never read any others in this series, so I don't know what
level they may be written for, but certainly I don't feel that you are
speaking to me as if I were an Idiot.  You are treating me, the
reader, with clear respect and honor.  I'm not just reading about
Buddhism, but I'm seeing it in action through your words to me.

So what do you want me to get out of your book?  Do you assume that
this book will be mostly for the spiritual shopper, or for those who
have already selected Buddhism, and are looking for guidance on how to
make it work for an American in 2002?

Lastly, is there any section you'd like me to read next in order to
provide comments and ask questions while this "interview" is ongoing?
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #67 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Fri 1 Feb 02 01:30
    

Thanks, Ten After Dave.  Mighty nice to hear I've got a reader in you, I'm
in good hands.  I hope it lives up to your
first impressions.   Keep me posted; questions, comments, suggestions,
criticism, corrections, etc. ThatUs true for you too <fom>, and all the rest
of the Inkwell.vue sangha.

Thanks too for the tour of the Quaker order.  <fom> is right: you have a
gift.  (Are there any jokes about how many Quakers it take to screw in a
lightbulb?)

Question:  Is "liberal Quaker" an accepted term, across the various brands?
Like, if I call up a local Quaker group on the phone and say, "Hi, I'd like
to sit with you and wonder:  not that it matters, but are you liberal
Quakers?" will I push any buttons?

As an artist -- well, writer -- I find it interesting how various
changes within the Quaker church during the lifetime of an American folk]
artist named Edward Hicks resulted in 60 versions of The Peaceable Kingdom
of the Branch, in less than 30 years -- with successive versions the animals
looking more and more uneasy about being so close to one another:  you'll
find the first version in my book.  "Original mind," so to speak; to use a
Buddhist phrase.  In color, itUs very luminescent.)

In your tour, I was really struck by how you say honesty made Quaker
businessmen very successful!  Not merely because our immediate, historical
world is awash with the shadow of corporate crime.   But because of the
evidence that honesty IS the best policy -- capitalist success being almost
sacred evidence in our society.   That is, I'm struck by how kindness and
honesty and so on aren't necessarily impositions from any ideology (as
cynical people would often see them), but simply human nature operating at
its best, its most excellent capabilities.  And good business
is something people in our society can all understand; presumably.

I treat Buddhism and work to some degree.  And my publisher has just brought
out an entire book an spirituality in the workplace.

Not to belittle in any way any of the other themes you mentioned
(egalitarianism, simplicity, silence, etc.)  Your fine description of a
Quaker meditation ...  brings back all the vivid details of my own
experience.  Hey, everyone!  The secret is out:  Quaker meetings are wayyy
cool!

A point of possible contrast with Buddhist sitting in silence is that
"quieting the mind" isn't a "goal."  You seem to get at it good, but there's
a Buddhist sense of *listening to and accepting the chatter* as part of the
process.  (Maybe you are taught that and just left it out.)

To quote Susan Moon from in a cool new anthology ("Wisdom of the East:
Stories of Compassion, Inspiration, and Love"  compiled by Susan Suntree
<http://www.susansuntree.com) ...

... of her chagrin, at the Tassajara Zen Monastery, in Big Sur California,
come there to practice zen for 3 months ... having left behind

     " ... meetings or deadlines or returning phone calls
     or e-mail messages or getting the oil in the car changed,
     [still] my mind raced wildly through the emptiness, looking
     for something to do."

She then describes (to great laughter of recognition by anyone who's been
there) the whole catalogue of busyness of the mind  bereft of its usual dose
of drama and content ... (what Judy Bunce once called something like the
endless search for content) ... at one point saying, "My mind was like a dog
that needed a bone to chew on, but there was no bone, and so my mind gnawed
on itself."

This is continual practice, mind you, over days and weeks and months.  And
eventually she's released from her torture, and comes to see how rest and
motion are a kind of inseparable yin-yang, and how to summon rest -- allow
it to manifest -- and use it properly.

Slight difference in emphasis perhaps? I make the point because this is a
big stumbling block for many who try silent meditation; and how Buddhism
doesn't really "erase any tapes" as commonly misperceived.

(A common pattern I know of in Buddhist practice is for a sangha to sit
together, and then listen to a Dharma talk, followed by Q&A, and then some
socializing before everyone leaves.  Sometimes breaking up into small groups
to discuss things and then share with the group as part of the process.)

"Centering down" is a very apt way of putting silent meditation; and very
American.  "Speaking from silence" is ... wayyy rad, I think.  AsiaUs tended
to be more traditional about rules such as keeping silent when walking from
the main hall back to the residences; but it IS possible to speak from a
nondualist place (a place of neither silence nor speech) and from time to
time we're really called upon to, to speak to each other, to call out to
each other, to tell of what's happening that others might know.

"Letting your life speak"!  Now I hear the lion's roar of the Dharma.

No, by "standing between" I was trying to recall "standing aside," and again
your case for it is so fine.  I'd just add, in addition to it giving room
for the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, it's a powerful
recognition that each part matters; each (living) thing.  Like when a
baseball goes over the fence and hits a windshield, every rivulet of cracked
glass is an essential part of the pattern.

The differences between the path of the Quaker and the Buddha may be
negligible on a practical level.  As to how Buddhism can contribute to a
pacifist  approach, as any different from a Quaker one, I think, yes:  the
differences will be about the size of a single strand of dust, or one lone
dandelion seed, but it's how it  addresses just such things that Buddhism
may be unique.

Thinking of all you've said ... so far ... and "Call Me By True Names,"
again ------ the recognition that the 12-year-old boatperson & the sea-
pirate are one ... isnUt exactly a statement of unity ... or equality, both
part of the Light ...

... without the sea-pirate there'd be no suicide, but the sea-pirate is
still here, to be dealt with:  his heart waiting to be awakened to seeing
deeply and awakening to compassion ... ... ... without the dark there'd be
no Light (in our temporal dimension ... for us to see).

Note how in the progression of stanzas in which the poet identifies with
both "sides" of a yin-yang ... light / dark ... 12-year-old girl / sea-
pirate ... child / arms merchant, etc. ... the  poet "flips" the pattern and
starts out with "dark" then goes to "light": with politburo / prisoner. (not
prisoner/politburo).

Tou can see this too in the beginning when one line sets it all up with " to
laugh / to cry " -- then the next line reverses the order, with " to fear /
to hope " -- -- ending on the more positive of the two, 'tho (hope).  And
the poem enacts this affirmation as a whole,ending with the door of the
heart opening to ... compassion.

When Jack Foley reviewed my book, he compared the poet Thich Nhat Hanh to
Walt Whitman, correctly.  What I'm pointing to (just pointing, to) here is
the Buddhist-monk-perspective of Thich Nhat Hanh (TNH) in his identification
with the cosmos (or, more accurately, with its elements and their
interactions, and inter-reactions).

TNH is describing (and enacting) a moral element, akin to King's long moral
arc of the universe, but one that insistently names the immoral (he does not
say evil) in the same breath as the moral; dives into suffering while at the
same time affirms that we are not put on earth to suffer; affirms the innate
joy in life.

(I hope I'm making sense.)  What I hear in the poet's call for us to get the
*names* right, (Confucius called it: rectification of names) is a fearless
encounter with the Worst while maintaining one's  innate dignity, one's
inherent Buddha nature, one's Light ... and so be *true* to life.  To live
authentically.

And this because (Dr. King's rather Eastern phrase again) of the
inextricable web of mutuality in which we're all part & parcel.

Maybe not so different Quakerism.  (TNH has often quoted the Quaker AJ
Muste:  There is no path to peace: peace is the path.)


One final example (for tonite) of  particular emphasis that may also be
Quaker:  in my chapter on engaged Buddhism, there is a brief account of a
death row vigil:  Christians there often casting the scene into a recreation
of the Passion, the warden as Rome, the prisoner as Christ, etc., while the
Buddhist priest there seeing life extinguished in the name of the State
(with his own two eyes) as a profoundly meaningless action ... a violence of
which he is a part ...  ....

... and an account of the Buddhists leading a retreat at Auschwitz, with
Arabs, Jews, Germans ... all coming to a recognition of the enormity of
suffering ... by the guards working there, then and now, as well as the
lives extinguished ... and out of that compassionate awareness coming the
seeds of reconcilation.

Listening deeply.    Bearing witnes.
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #68 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Fri 1 Feb 02 02:25
    
Hey, <wellelp>!  Yes, we're having a doubleheader here!

I'm glad to hear someone was *kind* enuf to return your purse, contents
intact.  And  too that  you whiled a train ride  pleasantly    with my book.
  And that you *are*.

You're right, I skipped out on the "idiot's" thing in #7.  Time to faced the
music.  Here's the deal:

In the beginning, there was the complete idiot's guide to volkswagon repair.

Then came computers, with manuals from hell.  So some bright entrepreneur
"outsourced" the manuals, publishing a guide to DOS called "for Dummies"
(because, quote: "Technology makes dummies of us all."  Un-quote).

And it outsold Grisham and King and Schwartzkopf.

And as a company has to do when it is taking in that much revenue, it grew.
And there were Dummies (yellow and black covers) and Complete Idiot's Guides
(orange and blue on the outside), and they began doing ... Spanish ... and
poetry ... and philosophy.

And this was happening within a context of "niche marketing": let's see how
many UFO buffs there are out there ... letting each book find its own market
(or niche) ... rather the way the Internet is scalable for various affinity
groups ...  .... ... and also within a context called "branding":

you don't go into the store and look for Knopf Books, or Parallax Press or
Shambhala or Wisdom or Conari or Random House or Copper Canyon or Yale
books.   But IF a publisher were to make their name a household word, then,
badabing badaboom, they create a brand, brand loyalty, a following.

And so the brands keep their color scheme covers and their titles that were
true for computer technology ...

... and now I come along.  And so I make my peace with this albatross my
publisher wears valiantly around their neck.  I want to marry the popularity
of the brand with the popularity of Buddhism.

And it would take a complete idiot to be a Buddhist and take the leap into
the unsurety of changing one's mind about everything and maybe not being so
attached to the soap opera of life and actually enjoying life at a more ...
intimate ... level; experiencing reality directly; etc.

And "idiot" means self-centered (id, ios), private:  and Buddha says there
is no private self separate from the public self separate from all of life
all around ... don't get so hung up on the tiny package of self ...

And there are Buddhist equivalents of "idiot" that are acknowledgments of
certain facts of mind:  that we can exist in a state of no mind (mu shim);
in the morning chant at Zen Center, there's a reference to us carbon-based
bipeds that's "idiot" in English.

And so not to take one iota away from the sacredness of anything, or
denigrate, or anything.

And I don't know who my audience is until they send me e-mail or log in to
the Inkwell or tell me that they saw the book at their neighbor's.  And
someone told me tonight (a Buddhist) she wants to get it 'cos it maps the
different schools (Insight, Zen, Tibetan, Pure Land) about which a lot of us
Buddhists are ourselves unsure completely ... (fodder for another thread)
... and 'cos it treats its various other subjects by bringing all of these
schools to bear, rather than just that of the practitioner-author ...  ...
maybe a reality check, or a reference, for those already on the Path ...

... and for those who maybe live on a farm somewhere in Virginia or
somewhere ... and some neighboring acres have recently been bought by some
people who wear orange robes and ring bells and bow ... and they want to
know more about their new neighbors ...  or their friends or relatives or
workmates ... and at least become armchair afficianadoes ...

... and, my own hope, for anyone who wants to lead a contemplative life, in
2002 ... to live genuinely ...  ...  whether fitting whatever news the
Buddha has for them into their wicca or Tolec shamanism or Catholocism or
Judaism ... or just discovering how the Buddha would describe and explain
things they've already experienced ... ... ...

... and for Franny and Zooey and the fat lady ... and Seymour Glass ...

... and hopefully "To ease the pain of living / evertying else, drunken /
dumbshow" (- Ginsberg)

and ... Hooray! ... my emphasis on the Buddha's smile has worked!  Aim
accomplished!

I didn't get it either, until I met the Buddha.  In all honesty, although
the rabbis DID tell me that this life is where it's at, you can't take it
with you, etc., I never heard about singing and joy until later, when I
studied under Rabbi Carlbach (a Hassid) of blessed memory; a rare occasion
in Judaism.  (A jewish friend of mine once summed our holidays and festivals
as all boiling down to: "They persecuted us.  They tried to kill us.  We
suffered, terribly.  But we prevailed.  Let's eat!")

Suffering is not enough.

(It's a common misconception that Buddhism is about suffering.)

And ... ... to answer your last question ... with a question:  may I hold
that as a wild card, if I want a carte blanche, for self-interview?  I.E., I
trust you'll read on to page 85, and skim, hop, and skip ... and sparks will
fire off in your imagination ... and you'll find a terminal ...

... ... ... ... by the way, does everyone here know?  This conferfence can
go on indefinitely.  It officially will end in about a week, but then can
continue indefinitely ... thanks to the good graces of our hosts of the
Inkwell.vue.
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #69 of 151: Scott Underwood (esau) Fri 1 Feb 02 07:56
    
Tremendous conversations here, thanks all.
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #70 of 151: David Dawson (dawson54) Fri 1 Feb 02 13:21
    <scribbled by dawson54 Mon 26 Aug 02 13:22>
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #71 of 151: David Dawson (dawson54) Fri 1 Feb 02 13:22
    <scribbled by dawson54 Mon 26 Aug 02 13:22>
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #72 of 151: Scott Underwood (esau) Fri 1 Feb 02 13:33
    
> And it's not like I'm a complete newcomer to Buddhism -- I've
>  read plenty, from Alan Watts to Jack Kornfield

That's it, I'm starting my own school of armchair Buddhist practice called
La-Z-vada, the path of the chair. Or maybe Comfyana, the pleasant vehicle.
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #73 of 151: David Dawson (dawson54) Fri 1 Feb 02 13:45
    <scribbled by dawson54 Mon 26 Aug 02 13:22>
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #74 of 151: La-Z-vada, the path of the chair (chrys) Fri 1 Feb 02 14:47
    
David, what do you know of the Friends Meeting House in Palo Alto?
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #75 of 151: David Dawson (dawson54) Fri 1 Feb 02 16:26
    <scribbled by dawson54 Mon 26 Aug 02 13:23>
  

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