Susan Sarandon, tractors, etc. (rocket) Fri 8 Jun 12 08:56
I confess that I find the reincarnation stuff highly implausible, both from a mechanical standpoint (how would that work, exactly?) and from a qualitative standpoint (what in the world is the point of such a nightmarish scenario?), but as metaphor it's very powerful.
Patrick Madden (padlemad) Fri 8 Jun 12 08:59
(paulbel) I had no idea you were a Shambhalian. I've found the concept of basic goodness so helpful. Surviving the death process? Well, that's a very interesting question but, basically, you aren't going to. That matters very much, but only to the process we call the self. I understand the Christian idea of "eternal life" to have validity only insofar as eternal means "outside of time" and not "infinite temporal duration". A total dwelling in the present, or a letting-go of concrete reference points, would be an eternal life in that sense.
Scott Underwood (esau) Fri 8 Jun 12 08:59
> from a qualitative standpoint (what in the world is the point of such a nightmarish scenario?) I think if you accept it as fact, it cetainly changes your attitude toward death.
Scott Underwood (esau) Fri 8 Jun 12 09:00
those Andropovian bongs (rik) Fri 8 Jun 12 09:03
"A total dwelling in the present, or a letting-go of concrete reference points, would be an eternal life in that sense." I heard exactly that from a Christian philosopher. Jesuit trained, no less. But he wound up leaving the church.
Paul Belserene (paulbel) Fri 8 Jun 12 09:07
I do have to say that I made it a point to go to Seattle to see the 17th Karmapa :-) I don't believe in any "mechanism" of reincarnation, but I also don't reject out of hand the Tibetan stuff around tulkus (where you can have a lineage, and you can even have, say, five different "emanations" of someone like Khyentse Rinpoche. Some teachers I deeply respect have said that you know you're on the right track when you're dealing with deep paradoxes.
Joe Flower (bbear) Fri 8 Jun 12 09:09
> I've found the concept of basic goodness so helpful. As a person raised in Catholicism, I found this notion astonishing and wonderful. It's interesting how many American Buddhists are former Catholics or Jews.
Renshin Bunce (renshin-b) Fri 8 Jun 12 09:12
Paulbel, I didn't know you were a Shambala teacher. Wonderful! Another of my standard lines is, Life is so difficult, I can't believe that we go around once and then that's the end of it.
Paul Belserene (paulbel) Fri 8 Jun 12 09:59
hey, Renshin :-) As a Catholic (or was one), I've contemplated Genesis and come to the conclusion that it's actually a non-theistic story. We don't actually have original sin - eating the apple was the development of dualism, or ego. Our true nature is without that. Of course, the way that religion was and is taught is completely the opposite and is the source of much suffering in our world. But I bet a lot of contemplative Catholic monks and nuns know the real score.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 8 Jun 12 10:38
I wonder if reincarnation is about the persistence of karma. Re whether Buddhism is a religion or not, my two cents: I think religion is faith-based and close to what we call superstition. Buddhism hasn't asked me to take much on faith, though maybe in some schools there's a belief system with that aspect. The concept of reincarnation, taken literally, seems to require faith, to have a supernatural aspect, but I never felt that reincarnation was fundamental to Buddhism.
Paul Belserene (paulbel) Fri 8 Jun 12 11:08
From what I've heard, Buddhism in Thailand looks a lot like a religion, at least from the point of view of the laity. Monks do the practice and people pay the monks. Buddhism takes many forms in different cultures, and theism and superstition are thick on the ground in this world. It even seems that at some levels, buddhism makes use of deities and theistic-appearing practices in order to undo them. that is: "you think there are beings who can intercede for you and demons who can harm you? Here, work with these guys"
Chris Marti (cmarti) Fri 8 Jun 12 12:03
So what is, what's going to be, different about Buddhism in the West? Will the religion-like trappings (yes, popular in Asia) translate to the west? If not, what will Buddhism look like?
(fom) Fri 8 Jun 12 12:48
My favorite takes on death are -- from Dzongsar Rinpoche, whom I saw give a brief talk in 1991 at Pema Osel Ling, where he made an unscheduled visit. There was lots of Q&A, and one person asked how it had affected him when his root lama, Dudjom Rinpoche, died. Dzongsar said that he was so sad when Dudjom died, and he asked a senior lama how to deal with it, and the senior lama said that when Dudjom was alive, he was in just one place, and you had to travel to see him. But now that he has died, he is everywhere. -- from I forget which teacher, also paraphrased: When you're alive, you're in small mind. When you die you go into big mind.
Eric Rawlins (woodman) Fri 8 Jun 12 13:55
>I've contemplated Genesis and come to the conclusion that it's actually a non-theistic story. We don't actually have original sin - eating the apple was the development of dualism, or ego. The Garden story can be interpreted in various ways (like all really good mythic tales). My own is that it's about humanity's unique curse as the only animal that knows it will die. The road of knowledge is a dangerous one, full of stuff you'd be happier not knowing. What's for sure about the Garden story is that there's no notion in it of Original Sin, which was invented in the 4th Century by Augustine as part of his assignment to convert Christianity from a minority cult into the official religion of the state.
Patrick Madden (padlemad) Fri 8 Jun 12 15:00
> eating the apple was the development of dualism http://www.hark.com/clips/qwvtwwwlsb-you-think-as-i-do
Paul Belserene (paulbel) Fri 8 Jun 12 15:41
:-) As for your question about what will Buddhism be in the West, I agree that it will probably not have so much of the religion-like trappings. Trungpa Rinpoche took off his robes to teach in the west, so that we wouldn't be misled by the exotic. What I'm hearing now is that Buddhism is returning to Asia from the West and revitalizing it.
those Andropovian bongs (rik) Fri 8 Jun 12 16:31
Now that's interesting.
Renshin Bunce (renshin-b) Fri 8 Jun 12 17:17
Once I said to my techer, Isn't it exciting that we're creating Buddhism in the West? He answered, We're living Buddhism in the West.
Pseud Impaired (mitsu) Fri 8 Jun 12 23:06
My own teacher thinks it will take several centuries for the impact of Buddhism with the West to work itself through to the development of whatever it is that it develops into (presumably many different things). I personally think there's some potential in looking at the ways in which art and Buddhist insights might collide, creating something which may be in many ways radically unrecognizable even as Buddhism yet nevertheless in some ways carry on the Dharma. For me, Buddhism has been inspirational and vast in its implications for me in so many aspects of my life and thinking, my work, my thought --- there are philosophical implications, aesthetic, implications that stretch out into life, interactions with people, ethics, direct being, even the way one moves one's body and breathes. But, at the same time, I'm also attracted to the very simple notion that Renshin posted above, that it's just sitting. Which is right? They're both right, and wrong, and neither right nor wrong. Definitions aren't important, but insight and direct, practical engagement with these issues is in some sense important. Definitions don't matter because in the end Buddhism, and life, for that matter, isn't about categories and definitions but rather about a direct, lived participation with what is at issue here, which can be pointed at with ideas and words but never really captured, of course.
Chris Marti (cmarti) Sat 9 Jun 12 06:49
That's a great comment, <mitsu>, and a great thing about Buddhism. It is many things and a Big Idea, and yet is is almost nothing, all at once. It has changed my life in so many ways but when I think about how and why that happened it's enigmatic. I just sit alone quietly a few times a day. And just that has created all this awareness, all these changes and all this authenticity in the way I experience and interact and live. I think the intersection of technology and Buddhism in the West is going to be something to pay attention to, especially as Western science delves into how the mind is changed by meditation practices. I know there are smart people working on this at Yale, Harvard and Wisconsin Madison. Folks like the Dalai Lama and Peter Baumann are helping both fund and guide the research.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 9 Jun 12 07:18
What happens when we're sitting is internal and difficult to communicate at an insight level, words aren't deep enough. The experience of "just sitting" can be so different from one person to the next. I could imagine a person sitting for years without gaining any depth or insight, and I could imagine another perason sitting for minutes and having a powerful insight or experience that could be life-changing. My point being that "just sitting" is not just sitting. The "direct, lived participation" Mitsu mentions is essential. I considered Buddhism with strictly intellectual process for decades and feel that I learned nothing useful about it. Then someone said "you have to sit" in the right context to be a blow to my thick skull, shaking something loose. Thinking about Buddhism is like thinking about basketball, no amount of thinking about it will help you make the hoops. You have to dribble and shoot.
Eric Rawlins (woodman) Sat 9 Jun 12 07:35
"Just sitting" has never appealed to me, but I think I get a lot of the same benefits from doing Tai Chi. It slows me down, relaxes me, focuses me on the right now, make me aware of my body.
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Joe Flower (bbear) Sat 9 Jun 12 09:35
> Thinking about Buddhism is like thinking about basketball Exactly! The talking about, theorizing about it, writing on the Well about it, none of that is Buddhism. Buddhism is be|here|now, it is mindfulness, whether that is accomplished through sitting, or walking meditation, or Tai Chi or whatever. It is the moment of being here.
Pseud Impaired (mitsu) Sat 9 Jun 12 09:43
Well, like all things, that's both true and not true. It's true that without some direct participation in THIS (whatever THIS is), you won't have any real understanding or access to what these guys are talking about --- and it's also true that you can't say what it is about in a complete or comprehensive way. Yet, at the same time, philosophy (a la Nagarjuna, for instance) was and continues to be a major element in Buddhism both historically and today, and as my own teacher put it, thinking very clearly and precisely about philosophical considerations can become a practice in itself. From my point of view, the point of philosophy should be, primarily, to point at the limits of thought, to see clearly what can and cannot be said, what can be hinted at, pointed at but not directly expressed. Understanding these things more clearly can be a very powerful complement to practice because it helps you stabilize what insights one might glean from sitting or any other practice, help harmonize your everyday thoughts with what is at issue in Buddhist practice. Many times we sit, then go off an think our way into various dead ends... carefully thinking about what thinking is, what perception is, what meaning and objects and so forth are... can help one avoid this trap. In the end, it does all come back to THIS. But everything is included, even thinking, in THIS.
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