inkwell.vue.444 : Buddhism on (and off) the WELL
permalink #26 of 214: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.444 : Buddhism on (and off) the WELL
permalink #27 of 214: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.444 : Buddhism on (and off) the WELL
permalink #28 of 214: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.444 : Buddhism on (and off) the WELL
permalink #29 of 214: Scott Underwood (esau) Fri 8 Jun 12 09:00
    
Slip
  
inkwell.vue.444 : Buddhism on (and off) the WELL
permalink #30 of 214: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.444 : Buddhism on (and off) the WELL
permalink #31 of 214: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.444 : Buddhism on (and off) the WELL
permalink #32 of 214: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.444 : Buddhism on (and off) the WELL
permalink #33 of 214: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.444 : Buddhism on (and off) the WELL
permalink #34 of 214: 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.
 
  
inkwell.vue.444 : Buddhism on (and off) the WELL
permalink #35 of 214: 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. 
  
inkwell.vue.444 : Buddhism on (and off) the WELL
permalink #36 of 214: 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"
  
inkwell.vue.444 : Buddhism on (and off) the WELL
permalink #37 of 214: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.444 : Buddhism on (and off) the WELL
permalink #38 of 214: (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.
  
inkwell.vue.444 : Buddhism on (and off) the WELL
permalink #39 of 214: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.444 : Buddhism on (and off) the WELL
permalink #40 of 214: 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
  
inkwell.vue.444 : Buddhism on (and off) the WELL
permalink #41 of 214: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.444 : Buddhism on (and off) the WELL
permalink #42 of 214: those Andropovian bongs (rik) Fri 8 Jun 12 16:31
    
Now that's interesting.
  
inkwell.vue.444 : Buddhism on (and off) the WELL
permalink #43 of 214: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.444 : Buddhism on (and off) the WELL
permalink #44 of 214: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.444 : Buddhism on (and off) the WELL
permalink #45 of 214: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.444 : Buddhism on (and off) the WELL
permalink #46 of 214: 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. 
  
inkwell.vue.444 : Buddhism on (and off) the WELL
permalink #47 of 214: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.444 : Buddhism on (and off) the WELL
permalink #48 of 214: Administrivia (jonl) Sat 9 Jun 12 08:37
    
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inkwell.vue.444 : Buddhism on (and off) the WELL
permalink #49 of 214: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.444 : Buddhism on (and off) the WELL
permalink #50 of 214: 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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