David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Sam Gentile, modified 9 Months ago.

David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

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I already spent an hour and 1/2 on this but lost it all. Trying again.


I have become fascinated by the work of the well known David Chapman who this site links to. Specifically I am interested in his work on Consensus Buddhism (the Western Buddhism of the Boomers, Goldstein etc.) and why its dead, and being replaced. I can't do justice to hundreds of web pages in this one post but I hope to jar your interest because this place and Pragmatic Dharma are one of the replacements. So some highlights:
Unfortunately, niceness does not define Buddhism, or have anything much to do with it. To give the impression that the Consensus is what Buddhism naturally should be, it has to suppress all alternatives (which are not about niceness).Of course, the Consensus doesn’t describe itself as “nice.” Instead, it talks about peace, healing, sharing, caring, compassion, connection, concern, and ethics. Especially, it sells itself by implicitly claiming a monopoly on ethicalness. This is nonsense, for multiple reason

  • "Nice" Buddhism has these problems
Now the problem is, traditional Buddhism doesn’t actually have anything distinctively useful to teach Westerners about ethics. There’s no single ethical system in Buddhism; it has a slew of contradictory half-systems. Worse, they are mostly quite conservative, often downright horrid, unacceptable to Westerners, and overall no better than the narrow Christianity the hippies rebelled against.So, Consensus Buddhism quietly swapped out traditional Buddhist ethics, and replaced it with “nice” vintage-1990 liberal Western ethics. Which is, roughly, “political correctness,” or the “green meme.”This means Consensus Buddhism has more in common with progressive Christianity (Unitarian Universalism or Liberal Anglicanism) than it does with any form of Asian Buddhism

Bill Hamilton’s famous description of meditation instruction in Consensus Buddhism as “like growing mushrooms: keep them in the dark and feed them bullshit.”

The “Mahasi method” is the most-practiced vipassana nowadays. It is considered faster and easier than the Thai method, and than the other Burmese method I describe later. Proponents of those methods consider it bogus, however.It was developed by Mahasi Sayadaw (1904-1982), but does have antecedents.Mahasi’s teacher was Mingun Sayadaw (1868-1955), also known as U Narada. Many sources count Mingun as the originator of the lineage.Mingun’s teacher was Ale-Tawya Sayadaw, whose teacher was The-lon Sayadaw. According to Strong Roots, cited below, “The-Lon Sayadaw… put this textual guidance [the Visuddhimagga] into practice without a personal teacher to guide in mindfulness practice” (p. 110). This is based oral history from a traditional Burmese monk in The-lon Sayadaw’s lineage. I can’t find dates for The-lon or Ale-Tawya.It appears that The-lon Sayadaw developed some method based on the Visuddhimagga, which was learned and then substantially modified by Mingun, which was learned and then substantially modified by Mahasi.As background, in the late 1800s, Burma, under King Mindon, tried to follow the same path of modernization that successfully held off the British in Thailand. It failed, and the British seized it in 1885, and ran the place until 1948. So Western ideas were common in Burma throughout the period the Mahasi lineage developed.Mahasi made several innovations. The most important was skipping samatha and the development of the jhanas (concentration states) and going directly to vipassana. He thought that samatha would take care of itself, if you practice vipassana correctly. The jhanas are not ends in themselves, so bypassing samatha is a practical shortcut.Mahasi taught that one should aim directly for sotapatti, a first taste of nirvana. Experiencing sotapatti guarantees you cannot be reborn other than as a human or in heaven, and no more than seven more times. He said that sotapatti could reached by newcomers in a month.Mahasi aimed his teaching particularly at lay people, rather than monks. He imported from the West the “meditation center” idea (not a traditional Asian institution). He eliminated ritual and minimized textual study.Mahasi’s best-known Asian student was Anagarika Munindra (1915-2003). Munindra was also a student of S.N. Goenka, from the other Burmese lineage. Munindra therefore joined the two Burmese vipassana systems. Munindra was the teacher of Dipa Ma.Many influential American teachers, including most of the main figures in what I call “Consensus Buddhism,” were students of Mahasi, Munindra, and/or Dipa Ma. They include:
  • Joseph Goldstein
  • Jack Kornfield (who first studied Ajahn Chah’s Thai method)
  • Lama Surya Das
  • Sharon Salzberg
  • Sylvia Boorstein
I'll leave it at that for now. Anybody want to look into it and discuss?
Sam Gentile, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

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Really? 89 of you have read the post. No interest?
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Pepe, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

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Not that the subject isn't interesting Sam, but it has already been discussed in DhO before. Check this thread. I thought that there would even be a thread with the same title, but I was wrong. So probably that's why you didn't find it first. Also, you may be interested to know that David Chapman was an active poster in the early DhO years, though I don't know his username. There's also a thread about him and his Tibetan teachings
Sam Gentile, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

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Pepe:
Not that the subject isn't interesting Sam, but it has already been discussed in DhO before. Check this thread. I thought that there would even be a thread with the same title, but I was wrong. So probably that's why you didn't find it first. Also, you may be interested to know that David Chapman was an active poster in the early DhO years, though I don't know his username. There's also a thread about him and his Tibetan teachings
Thanks. I had no idea. i have to look at that thread as there still could be things that this thread has of interest.
Sam Gentile, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

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Sam Gentile:
Pepe:
Not that the subject isn't interesting Sam, but it has already been discussed in DhO before. Check this thread. I thought that there would even be a thread with the same title, but I was wrong. So probably that's why you didn't find it first. Also, you may be interested to know that David Chapman was an active poster in the early DhO years, though I don't know his username. There's also a thread about him and his Tibetan teachings
Thanks. I had no idea. i have to look at that thread as there still could be things that this thread has of interest.
Pepe,

I checked out that thread and it mostly sticks to the ethics part of Chapman's arguments. I would suggest that some parts of his discussion from my thread are still to be addressed. These are summarized in the masterpiece thread The Crumbling Buddhist Consensus: A Summary:
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Pepe, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

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Sam Gentile:

1. "Different practices are really different"
It is not that there are practices that are simply better than others, but that there are practices that are effective only if there were other preliminary practices that paved the way, or if the meditator's personal circumstances (health, time, and money) are conducive. Also, sometimes a very good teacher with not so good technique is preferable to a bad teacher (or no teacher) with very good technique. 

2. "Missing out on good (though 'boring') things"
Brahma Viharas, morality and some kind of faith are 'boring' stuff to some guys, but that should be part of the practice too, IMO.

3. "Renunciation"
There are renunciations that one consciously or unconsciously makes throughout life, due to personal maturation or life circumstances. A renunciation makes sense to the extent that it points to a blindspot that prevents maturing and therefore advancing in practice, not because the scriptures say so. There may be renunciations from small things (like giving up coffee in your case, or earplugs in mine) to big things (leaving a professional career, moving to another country, leaving toxic relationships, etc). But it must also be remembered that Siddhārtha Gautama himself made renunciations in excess (like food, health, shelter and his relationship with his son) and precisely his discovery was the Middle Way. 

4. "Rituals as an enactment of connectedness"
Going to a retreat is participating in a ritual. Active or passive participation in a virtual community like DhO is also a ritual. Rituals change as societies change.

---

That's my take, what is yours? 
Sam Gentile, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

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Pepe:
Sam Gentile:

1. "Different practices are really different"
It is not that there are practices that are simply better than others, but that there are practices that are effective only if there were other preliminary practices that paved the way, or if the meditator's personal circumstances (health, time, and money) are conducive. Also, sometimes a very good teacher with not so good technique is preferable to a bad teacher (or no teacher) with very good technique. 

2. "Missing out on good (though 'boring') things"
Brahma Viharas, morality and some kind of faith are 'boring' stuff to some guys, but that should be part of the practice too, IMO.

3. "Renonciation"
There are renonciations that one consciously or unconsciously makes throughout life, due to personal maturation or life circumstances. A renonciation makes sense to the extent that it points to a blindspot that prevents maturing and therefore advancing in practice, not because the scriptures say so. There may be renonciations from small things (like giving up coffee in your case, or earplugs in mine) to big things (leaving a professional career, moving to another country, leaving toxic relationships, etc). But it must also be remembered that Siddhārtha Gautama himself made renunciations in excess (like food, health, shelter and his relationship with his son) and precisely his discovery was the Middle Way. 

4. "Rituals as an enactment of connectedness"
Going to a retreat is participating in a ritual. Active or passive participation in a virtual community like DhO is also a ritual. Rituals change as societies change.

---

That's my take, what is yours? 

I think I would take your list as is with the caveat that Brahma Viharas have not been left out. They are completly taught in the Vipassana traditon especiially at IMS. They are completly boring to me at least. I think everyone is looking to add ritual even if it is coming to DhO.
Sam Gentile, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

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Sam Gentile:
Pepe:
Sam Gentile:

1. "Different practices are really different"
It is not that there are practices that are simply better than others, but that there are practices that are effective only if there were other preliminary practices that paved the way, or if the meditator's personal circumstances (health, time, and money) are conducive. Also, sometimes a very good teacher with not so good technique is preferable to a bad teacher (or no teacher) with very good technique. 

2. "Missing out on good (though 'boring') things"
Brahma Viharas, morality and some kind of faith are 'boring' stuff to some guys, but that should be part of the practice too, IMO.

3. "Renonciation"
There are renonciations that one consciously or unconsciously makes throughout life, due to personal maturation or life circumstances. A renonciation makes sense to the extent that it points to a blindspot that prevents maturing and therefore advancing in practice, not because the scriptures say so. There may be renonciations from small things (like giving up coffee in your case, or earplugs in mine) to big things (leaving a professional career, moving to another country, leaving toxic relationships, etc). But it must also be remembered that Siddhārtha Gautama himself made renunciations in excess (like food, health, shelter and his relationship with his son) and precisely his discovery was the Middle Way. 

4. "Rituals as an enactment of connectedness"
Going to a retreat is participating in a ritual. Active or passive participation in a virtual community like DhO is also a ritual. Rituals change as societies change.

---

That's my take, what is yours? 

I think I would take your list as is with the caveat that Brahma Viharas have not been left out. They are completly taught in the Vipassana traditon especiially at IMS. They are completly boring to me at least. I think everyone is looking to add ritual even if it is coming to DhO.
He says:
Traditionally, the main path in Buddhism was renunciation. The point was to get rid of bad emotions, especially desire.
“Consensus Buddhism”—the Western mainstream—started from a renunciative tradition: 
Thai and Burmese Theravada. It abandoned the path of renunciation, but kept some of its methods. I find the result incoherent.
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

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Dear Sam,

A nice summary for beginners and those new to these debates, but old news to those of us who have been doing this since the 90's, as those were hot topics in my circles then, and they were hot topics going back to the 1940's in SE Asia when Mahasi started doing his thing more popularly. Still, a fun summary for those just starting to get a sense of the topic.

Thanks for posting it.

Daniel
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

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Dear Tim,

Yes, David's style is definitely "journalistic", in that he likes a touch of hyperbole, drama, spark, spice, and zing to his rhetoric. He likes catchy headlines. He wants to make people react to his writings. This is nothing new. It does make his writings interesting. The exaggeration also makes things a touch imbalanced. I entirely get this style of writing, being occasionally somewhat prone to it myself, as MCTB clearly shows.

I agree, he doesn't offer much in the way of concrete, pragmatic solutions or immediately applicable tech in that discussion, or often, for that matter.

Best wishes,

Daniel
Tim Farrington, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

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Daniel M. Ingram:
Dear Tim,

Yes, David's style is definitely "journalistic", in that he likes a touch of hyperbole, drama, spark, spice, and zing to his rhetoric. He likes catchy headlines. He wants to make people react to his writings. This is nothing new. It does make his writings interesting. The exaggeration also makes things a touch imbalanced. I entirely get this style of writing, being occasionally somewhat prone to it myself, as MCTB clearly shows.

I agree, he doesn't offer much in the way of concrete, pragmatic solutions or immediately applicable tech in that discussion, or often, for that matter.

Best wishes,

Daniel

Hi Daniel,

Thank you for your note. I was fascinated with David Chapman's writings from the moment i stumbled upon him through the DhO link in 2018. He is as you say very entertaining, and he sent me on some good reading threads, particularly along the theme of the "roots" of "modern" buddhism in the US and the West. He seems to feel he has exposed something bad, by tracing it to a few guys going out into the forest in southeast Asia in the mid-to-late 1800s and trying to figure out, from scripture, under the influence of colonialism and the rise of modernity, what all the spiritual fuss was about, and finding their own living spark of fuss-worthy practice. To me, this is simply how living traditions renew themselves and stay alive. This is how you did it yourself. I am not sure how he proposes to do it, without a pretty deep re-reading of the Tibetan scriptures of the tradition he has embraced, in the environment in which he and his peers find themselves. That he ends up in his own path devoting himself entirely to a lama and putting on the costumes is sort of hilarious, but i think he feels his obvious sense of irony and playfulness about it all keeps him safe from fuddy-duddy traditionalism somehow. And it sounds like a lama with a particularly high tolerance for sex, drugs, and rock and roll, so i'm sure it will continue to glamorize some people until the scandals start rolling in.

I do think that his best stuff, his no-bullshit take-downs of various spiritual sacred cows, was much like the lightning bolt passages in your own works, but i love that stuff, lol, and that is one of the main reasons I've been immersed in MCTB since 2011. Also, in a way that Chapman doesn't, you emphasize actually doing the practices, lol. Maybe it's unhip-and-happening, but to me this emphasis on actual pragmatic  real-time practice, ass on the asana, is all the difference between a really good bullshitter among by-the-book bullshitters, trying to outbullshit them all, and an occasionally gnarly guy in touch with the pulsing authentic vein of a living tradition growing in its baffling and facinating ways,

love, tim
Martin, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

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Sam Gentile:
Really? 89 of you have read the post. No interest?


For my part, it was more a case of having nothing useful to add, rather than no interest. I think Stirling has it right.

Here's an interesting talk on the roots of Western Buddhism by a guy who provides an excellent resource on the more historical/academic take on Buddhism with an easy-to-understand presentation style.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2kuztpY9hA
Sam Gentile, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

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One of the points is the hegemony set up by Consensus Buddhism. There was simlply no going outside it.
Sam Gentile, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

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Martin:
Sam Gentile:
Really? 89 of you have read the post. No interest?


For my part, it was more a case of having nothing useful to add, rather than no interest. I think Stirling has it right.

Here's an interesting talk on the roots of Western Buddhism by a guy who provides an excellent resource on the more historical/academic take on Buddhism with an easy-to-understand presentation style.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2kuztpY9hA
It's not so much the actual "roots" of American Buddhism but the Consensus Buddhism brought back by Goldstein, Kornfield, Salzberg, and others that form a hegemony for many years that blocked out any other ways of practice,
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Milo, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

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Sam Gentile:
Really? 89 of you have read the post. No interest?

Ok I will bite.

Consensus Buddhism has, IMO, been absorbed on two fronts simultaneously:

1) into the mindfulness movement as some have attempted to make it approachable and marketable, at the cost of superficiality.

2) Into more traditional or hybrid-traditional forms as information and teachers have become more accessible. This provides probably deeper and more authentic traditions at the cost of dealing with the 'mystical' aspects that can be off putting to westerners who have tended to seek these traditions as an oppositional to Christian tradition.

In short, consensus buddhism is losing market share as students and teachers gravitate towards these other brands, IMO.
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Ni Nurta, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

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Milo:

2) Into more traditional or hybrid-traditional forms as information and teachers have become more accessible. This provides probably deeper and more authentic traditions at the cost of dealing with the 'mystical' aspects that can be off putting to westerners who have tended to seek these traditions as an oppositional to Christian tradition.
To me pragmatic dharma community seems to be mostly atheistic.
I was an atheist when I found MCTB and I immediately liked no-bullshit approach. Over time however my horizon broaden enough to include all the supermundane stuff and there went my atheism, thus gone emoticon

For western culture current pragmatic meditation approach with simply not concentrating on supermundane aspects is imho the right one.
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Pepe, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

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Scattered in different threads along the years, those at 3rd Path or more admit they can no longer elude/evade the spiritual/supramundane stuff, that it just happens. Probably some/most just don't post that stuff here, just to not look lunatic or else.

IMO the best place to start in David Chapman's writtings is Protestant Buddhism and The Crumbling Buddhist Consensus: Summary .

Zachary:
Have you read Buddhist Romanticism by Thanissaro Bhikku? I think you would find it very interesting as it covers a lot of what you're mentioning in great detail. It's available from Metta Forest Monastery on a dana basis. Highly recommended! 
The Roots of Buddhist Romanticism by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. 

As a Catholic, I find the debate doubly interesting, as I know little of both Protestant and Buddhism own evolutions. In many ways, it remainds me how Christianity jumped from a small jew sect to a wide spread religion when diaspora jews and greeks got in touch with Jesus teachings and created/recreated their own communities with their interpretations. Most of the early debate in Christianity is about that.

Back to the present, IMO the real clash will be when Buddhism ideas/practices enters to Roman Catholic realms. In this, the adaptation that Protestant crew has being making of Buddhism (that includes Pragmatic Dharma too) could pave the way for an easier assimilation in Catholic countries, or otherwise could mean a collapse or brutal change within Catholicism. Just remind that inacceptance of diaspora christian interpretation of Trinitarian Theory within Minor Asia regions is what eventually paved the way to the rise of Islam. 

   
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Stirling Campbell, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

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Pepe:
Scattered in different threads along the years, those at 3rd Path or more admit they can no longer elude/evade the spiritual/supramundane stuff, that it just happens. Probably some/most just don't post that stuff here, just to not look lunatic or else.

Insight into no-self, or into sunyata (emptiness of phenomena) is ABSOLUTELY supramundane when contrasted with the conventional viewpoint. It is a fundamental shift in the understanding of how things are. Of course, once it is an insight into reality, it becomes an utterly mundane and practical perspective. As you suggest, it isn't something you can overlook. 

It is a shame that there isn't more direct conversation about it here, I agree. 
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Pepe, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

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Stirling Campbell:
Insight into no-self, or into sunyata (emptiness of phenomena) is ABSOLUTELY supramundane when contrasted with the conventional viewpoint. It is a fundamental shift in the understanding of how things are. Of course, once it is an insight into reality, it becomes an utterly mundane and practical perspective. As you suggest, it isn't something you can overlook. It is a shame that there isn't more direct conversation about it here, I agree.

Here's a very interesting down to earth somatic description of No-Self  in Angelo Gerangelo's channel. 
Sam Gentile, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

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Stirling Campbell:
Pepe:
Scattered in different threads along the years, those at 3rd Path or more admit they can no longer elude/evade the spiritual/supramundane stuff, that it just happens. Probably some/most just don't post that stuff here, just to not look lunatic or else.

Insight into no-self, or into sunyata (emptiness of phenomena) is ABSOLUTELY supramundane when contrasted
with the conventional viewpoint. It is a fundamental shift in the understanding of how things are. Of course, once
it is an insight into reality, it becomes an utterly mundane and practical perspective. As you suggest, it isn't something you can overlook. 

It is a shame that there isn't more direct conversation about it here, I agree. 
What does supramundane mean in this sense? I think I looked up supermundane and got "above and beyond the nature or character of the worldly or terrestrial.
Tim Farrington, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

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Sam Gentile:
Stirling Campbell:
Pepe:
Scattered in different threads along the years, those at 3rd Path or more admit they can no longer elude/evade the spiritual/supramundane stuff, that it just happens. Probably some/most just don't post that stuff here, just to not look lunatic or else.

Insight into no-self, or into sunyata (emptiness of phenomena) is ABSOLUTELY supramundane when contrasted
with the conventional viewpoint. It is a fundamental shift in the understanding of how things are. Of course, once
it is an insight into reality, it becomes an utterly mundane and practical perspective. As you suggest, it isn't something you can overlook. 

It is a shame that there isn't more direct conversation about it here, I agree. 
What does supramundane mean in this sense? I think I looked up supermundane and got "above and beyond the nature or character of the worldly or terrestrial.

I think "supramundane" goes in a couple of directions, with genuine meaning. The first is the classic samsara view of the world: lemme outta here, this world sucks. The goal of Buddhism, nirvana, is supramundane, pure and simple: beyond the world of dukha is where "i" want to be. that "i" gets exposed and left behind along the way is just the cost of doing business here, and cheap at that. Jesus often talks about not being of this world, as e.g. in John 16:33" "These things I have spoken unto you that you might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." When challenged by Pilate, at his sentencing hearing, Jesus answers, "My kingdom is not of this world." (John 18:36) It is the old fashioned path of world-loathing and "renunciation," which is precisely what David Chapman says most Americans can't do. But it is the only way out, lol. Most people of any age can't or won't do it, they are not miserable enough yet. This is why i say Chapman is largely about marketing, in the end: he is selling a false solution just like everyone else. The only people who could pull of his perfect solution have already achieved that capacity through "renunciation" of the world. He is selling the impossible, like most spiritual teachers, God bless us all.

The second meaning of "supramundane" that has some substance to it in my experience is miracles, or whatever you want to call the inexplicable occurences that one meets along the path: something manifesting from beyond any known conception of causality.
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Milo, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

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Ni Nurta:
Milo:

2) Into more traditional or hybrid-traditional forms as information and teachers have become more accessible. This provides probably deeper and more authentic traditions at the cost of dealing with the 'mystical' aspects that can be off putting to westerners who have tended to seek these traditions as an oppositional to Christian tradition.
To me pragmatic dharma community seems to be mostly atheistic.
I was an atheist when I found MCTB and I immediately liked no-bullshit approach. Over time however my horizon broaden enough to include all the supermundane stuff and there went my atheism, thus gone emoticon

For western culture current pragmatic meditation approach with simply not concentrating on supermundane aspects is imho the right one.

Ni Nurta,

To your first point, I've met a surprising number of "closet Christians" (And Hindus) in pragmatic dharma communities, both here and in person in communities I would class as pragmatic dharma.

Although such coexistence of these different traditions does not bother me personally in the slightest at this point in my spiritual development, I am genuinly curious how people balance that tension early on and whether it's conceived as a competitive thing, Buddhism being non-religious, the "jealous God" bit not taken literally, syncretism, having first advanced far enough in Christian spirituality that this tension of undertaking multiple traditions can be framed in an acceptable way, being from the more liberal and cosmopolitan branches of Christianity, or some other way to make it work. I'd be very interested to hear from people on this particular journey and whether that made them more or less open to the mystical parts of Buddhism.

That being said, Buddhism has had ways of approaching more skeptical/rationalist people since the the time of the discourse to the kalamas.

Personally, I think however relying on an ultra rationalist approach exclusively will limit the audience for Buddhism to a select few. This has also been recognized in Buddhism for a very long time and led to different diaspora schools teaching at different points on the rationalist-ritualist axis depending on the perceived reception for their particular audience (Traditionally divided on caste). Hence why we have schools like Nichiren. Once upon a time I would have regarded chanting nam-myoho-renge-kyo as your path to awakening to be a ridiculous project doomed to fail by lack of any sophistication. Having advanced enough along a different path however, I now look at this tradition and realize how cleverly such a method works.

Now on to whether pragmatic dharma doesn't concentrate on supermundane aspects. Perhaps not in some forms. Here, however, we come right out with the powers and magick in the same book as our hardcore rationalist approach, even if we sort of tiptoe around that in discussion. So we are open to such things but don't tend to lead with them or talk about them without some feeling of taboo. But we do discuss them.

Mindfullness movements, on the other hand, go to great lengths to sanitize any of that out and strongly wall it off. This functions not for the purpose of attracting rationalists, IMO, but to avoid offending, or losing market share when it is presented to people of non Buddhist faith, who may be curious but would become uncomfortable if it feels like we are getting into 'jealous God' territory. Yet we rarely see people awakening from mindfullness alone. The question is, what does mindfullness lack that ritualist traditions like Nichiren possess?
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Ni Nurta, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

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Interresting points... somehow I see them as very inspiring emoticon

Thank you emoticon
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Milo, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

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Ni Nurta:
Interresting points... somehow I see them as very inspiring emoticon

Thank you emoticon

You're very welcome, Ni Nurta. Glad they could serve as inspiration.
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Pepe, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

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Hi Milo, I think your post implicitly address also to me when you wrote: 
Milo:
Ni Nurta, To your first point, I've met a surprising number of "closet Christians" (And Hindus) in pragmatic dharma communities, both here and in person in communities I would class as pragmatic dharma. 

Although such coexistence of these different traditions does not bother me personally in the slightest at this point in my spiritual development, I am genuinly curious how people balance that tension early on and whether it's conceived as a competitive thing, Buddhism being non-religious, the "jealous God" bit not taken literally, syncretism, having first advanced far enough in Christian spirituality that this tension of undertaking multiple traditions can be framed in an acceptable way, being from the more liberal and cosmopolitan branches of Christianity, or some other way to make it work. I'd be very interested to hear from people on this particular journey and whether that made them more or less open to the mystical parts of Buddhism.

I don't know in which country you live, perhaps in the US or Central Europe? In Latin American countries, protestants are the 'jealous' kind of worshipers while catholics are 'meh', short of being atheists (at least in the big cities) (**). A family member is protestant, and he describes that the US situation is just the opposite. So in my case, there's no tension at all using buddhist methods while considering myself catholic. Proud of its legacy in Western civilization development despite all the suffering and destruction they have made. Wouldn't through the baby out with the bathwater. 

There's some history in XX Century of catholic priests learning meditation from Zen monks. The Catholic contemplative tradition was almost wiped out during the 1500's, and there are some moves to recover/redevelop it. In my country, priests are humble when speaking with parishioners about spiritual experiences, methods and such. They certainly admit that parishioners might be more spiritual developed than them, them being more of a kind of social worker with some psichological tools to confort distressed people.   

Regarding the oppeness to mystical parts of Buddhism, consider that 80% of the population consider themselves as christians (70% catholics, 10% protestants) but 60% believe in "energy", though probably differ in what 'energy' is/mean. Healing, clairvoyance, past lifes and the like was always admitted as a parallel thing for centuries. Catholic countries had tortured 'heretics' in the Inquisition, but there were little burning of 'witches' like in protestant countries... And in Latin American countries, add to that some sort of background syncretism with aborigine and african cults. 

 (**) As a funny anecdote,recently I was involved in a friend's catholic confirmation ritual. Previously there was a kind of speech to prepare the participants. The ones in charged of the talk (not priests, but highly involved parishioners) openly talked about their theological beliefs. Non of them where what the Catholic church states, in fact all of them would have been considered heretical !! Kind of saying that the 4 noble truths, the three characteristics or dependent origination are not part of the Buddhist scriptures...
 
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Milo, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Posts: 365 Join Date: 11/13/18 Recent Posts
Pepe:
Hi Milo, I think your post implicitly address also to me when you wrote: 
Milo:
Ni Nurta, To your first point, I've met a surprising number of "closet Christians" (And Hindus) in pragmatic dharma communities, both here and in person in communities I would class as pragmatic dharma. 

Although such coexistence of these different traditions does not bother me personally in the slightest at this point in my spiritual development, I am genuinly curious how people balance that tension early on and whether it's conceived as a competitive thing, Buddhism being non-religious, the "jealous God" bit not taken literally, syncretism, having first advanced far enough in Christian spirituality that this tension of undertaking multiple traditions can be framed in an acceptable way, being from the more liberal and cosmopolitan branches of Christianity, or some other way to make it work. I'd be very interested to hear from people on this particular journey and whether that made them more or less open to the mystical parts of Buddhism.

I don't know in which country you live, perhaps in the US or Central Europe? In Latin American countries, protestants are the 'jealous' kind of worshipers while catholics are 'meh', short of being atheists (at least in the big cities) (**). A family member is protestant, and he describes that the US situation is just the opposite. So in my case, there's no tension at all using buddhist methods while considering myself catholic. Proud of its legacy in Western civilization development despite all the suffering and destruction they have made. Wouldn't through the baby out with the bathwater. 

There's some history in XX Century of catholic priests learning meditation from Zen monks. The Catholic contemplative tradition was almost wiped out during the 1500's, and there are some moves to recover/redevelop it. In my country, priests are humble when speaking with parishioners about spiritual experiences, methods and such. They certainly admit that parishioners might be more spiritual developed than them, them being more of a kind of social worker with some psichological tools to confort distressed people.   

Regarding the oppeness to mystical parts of Buddhism, consider that 80% of the population consider themselves as christians (70% catholics, 10% protestants) but 60% believe in "energy", though probably differ in what 'energy' is/mean. Healing, clairvoyance, past lifes and the like was always admitted as a parallel thing for centuries. Catholic countries had tortured 'heretics' in the Inquisition, but there were little burning of 'witches' like in protestant countries... And in Latin American countries, add to that some sort of background syncretism with aborigine and african cults. 

 (**) As a funny anecdote,recently I was involved in a friend's catholic confirmation ritual. Previously there was a kind of speech to prepare the participants. The ones in charged of the talk (not priests, but highly involved parishioners) openly talked about their theological beliefs. Non of them where what the Catholic church states, in fact all of them would have been considered heretical !! Kind of saying that the 4 noble truths, the three characteristics or dependent origination are not part of the Buddhist scriptures...
 

Pepe -

Thanks for sharing! I reside in the US. The situation here IMO is that protestants and catholics are divided into conservative and liberal camps, the same as our political parties. In a lot of ways a conservative catholic and a conservative protestant would seem to have more in common with each other than either of them would with the liberal branches of their coreligionists.

The liberal branches in general are more open to interfaith dialogue, hence my speculation about that. I myself once spent some time exploring liberal branch Quakerism, which traditionally has a worship form similar to communal zen sitting, but understood as a direct communion with God. That was the first time I started to understand all that business about Paul's conversion and how something like that could happen (We call it the A&P here)!

As for Latin American catholicism, I have some friends who are Latin American type catholics who moved from Miami. The amount they like to talk about Santeria and witchcraft, and how seriously they take it, always surprises me. I think there is a big difference in attitudes towards these things between European type US catholics and Latin American ones, at least in my limited experience.

I'm glad to hear though that catholics are working to recover contemplative traditions. It adds a lot to spiritual experience.
Tim Farrington, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Posts: 2461 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Milo:
Pepe:
Hi Milo, I think your post implicitly address also to me when you wrote: 
Milo:
Ni Nurta, To your first point, I've met a surprising number of "closet Christians" (And Hindus) in pragmatic dharma communities, both here and in person in communities I would class as pragmatic dharma. 

Although such coexistence of these different traditions does not bother me personally in the slightest at this point in my spiritual development, I am genuinly curious how people balance that tension early on and whether it's conceived as a competitive thing, Buddhism being non-religious, the "jealous God" bit not taken literally, syncretism, having first advanced far enough in Christian spirituality that this tension of undertaking multiple traditions can be framed in an acceptable way, being from the more liberal and cosmopolitan branches of Christianity, or some other way to make it work. I'd be very interested to hear from people on this particular journey and whether that made them more or less open to the mystical parts of Buddhism.

I don't know in which country you live, perhaps in the US or Central Europe? In Latin American countries, protestants are the 'jealous' kind of worshipers while catholics are 'meh', short of being atheists (at least in the big cities) (**). A family member is protestant, and he describes that the US situation is just the opposite. So in my case, there's no tension at all using buddhist methods while considering myself catholic. Proud of its legacy in Western civilization development despite all the suffering and destruction they have made. Wouldn't through the baby out with the bathwater. 

There's some history in XX Century of catholic priests learning meditation from Zen monks. The Catholic contemplative tradition was almost wiped out during the 1500's, and there are some moves to recover/redevelop it. In my country, priests are humble when speaking with parishioners about spiritual experiences, methods and such. They certainly admit that parishioners might be more spiritual developed than them, them being more of a kind of social worker with some psichological tools to confort distressed people.   

Regarding the oppeness to mystical parts of Buddhism, consider that 80% of the population consider themselves as christians (70% catholics, 10% protestants) but 60% believe in "energy", though probably differ in what 'energy' is/mean. Healing, clairvoyance, past lifes and the like was always admitted as a parallel thing for centuries. Catholic countries had tortured 'heretics' in the Inquisition, but there were little burning of 'witches' like in protestant countries... And in Latin American countries, add to that some sort of background syncretism with aborigine and african cults. 

 (**) As a funny anecdote,recently I was involved in a friend's catholic confirmation ritual. Previously there was a kind of speech to prepare the participants. The ones in charged of the talk (not priests, but highly involved parishioners) openly talked about their theological beliefs. Non of them where what the Catholic church states, in fact all of them would have been considered heretical !! Kind of saying that the 4 noble truths, the three characteristics or dependent origination are not part of the Buddhist scriptures...
 

Pepe -

Thanks for sharing! I reside in the US. The situation here IMO is that protestants and catholics are divided into conservative and liberal camps, the same as our political parties. In a lot of ways a conservative catholic and a conservative protestant would seem to have more in common with each other than either of them would with the liberal branches of their coreligionists.

The liberal branches in general are more open to interfaith dialogue, hence my speculation about that. I myself once spent some time exploring liberal branch Quakerism, which traditionally has a worship form similar to communal zen sitting, but understood as a direct communion with God. That was the first time I started to understand all that business about Paul's conversion and how something like that could happen (We call it the A&P here)!

As for Latin American catholicism, I have some friends who are Latin American type catholics who moved from Miami. The amount they like to talk about Santeria and witchcraft, and how seriously they take it, always surprises me. I think there is a big difference in attitudes towards these things between European type US catholics and Latin American ones, at least in my limited experience.

I'm glad to hear though that catholics are working to recover contemplative traditions. It adds a lot to spiritual experience.

i don't think that the "more liberal and cosmopolitan branches of Christianity" did a thing for me, honesty, as a kid who was pissed off, as an altar boy during Vatican II, that i had to relearn the damn mass in English after getting it down in Latin, lol. Matthew Fox, as a flamboyant but substantial example of that liberalizing thread is instructive: his earlier work translating Meister Eckhart (idiosyncratically, but interestingly) was influential on me, but he became, to me, increasing vapid with that ecumenical syncretistic Cosmic Christ crap over the years) (may all souls forgive me) I just hit the road on principle, almost, basic adolescent metaphytical angst, in my teens, and hit Buddhism first, because I was in Hawaii and Buddhist temples were as common as Baptist churches in the South. I didn't think much about God except the basic spohomoric fuck that old man in the sky stuff until i ended up in a Hindu-ish ashram by pure karmic chance (a hot waitress, an available cleap apartment across the street, a slippery slope into heathen polytheism). Once I started uising god language again it was probably just a matter of time before some reckoning, and it was my first conscious dark night that led me into the Cloud of Unknowing and John of the Cross. So it was actually radical, not liberal
Christianity, at that point: digging up the old stuff. John of the Cross is as renunciatory and world-loathing as any old school Buddhist determined to have nothing to do with samsara, and the dark night wrecked my Christian suppositions as throughly as
it wrecked everything else. So I had no problem seeing the relativity and approximate value of all traditions, since at the deepest level none of it meant shit, really, except for that whatever-the-fuck tthat happened when none of it meant shit and i accepted that completely. I could say arising from the void as easily as i could say not i but christ in me. But I am less a pragmatic meditator than a desperate one, stylistically. Any port in a storm, lol.

Protestants in the US think any kind of meditation is opening the door to demons, basically, and a surprising number of Catholics agree. The Quietism heresy of the 1500s still scares people off Catholic contemplation, and the Centering Prayer movement, which is the mildest and most modest attempt to re-introduce a prayer of simplicity into the Church is still haunted by being unable to say the word "mantra" without setting off a firestorm of backlash. The baby does get thrown out with the bathwater, as Pepe suggested, often enough. The Eastern Orthodox traditions have done a much better job on contemplation, with heyschasm accepted and the Philokalia and its successors widely known, but even there the authorities get uneasy with contemplative fervor sometimes. Destroyers were sent to Mt. Athos in 1913 to quell a big enthusiast movement that had gotten out of hand, the infamous (and still unsettled, i believe) possible heresy of "The Name IS God." Stubborn dug-in monks were blown out of their cells with firehoses, and exiled across the Russias. Sort of sorry I missed that.

Pepe's observations on the varieties of Catholicism and Protestantism in the world differing so dramatically are fascinating to me. Pepe's also right that in most pastoral situations, the sanest, wisest people are almost casually heretical, lol. This has been true throughout history, I suspect, in every tradition. Thank God. And, uh, dependent origination.

love, tim
 
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Milo, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Posts: 365 Join Date: 11/13/18 Recent Posts
Tim Farrington:
Milo:
Pepe:
Hi Milo, I think your post implicitly address also to me when you wrote: 
Milo:
Ni Nurta, To your first point, I've met a surprising number of "closet Christians" (And Hindus) in pragmatic dharma communities, both here and in person in communities I would class as pragmatic dharma. 

Although such coexistence of these different traditions does not bother me personally in the slightest at this point in my spiritual development, I am genuinly curious how people balance that tension early on and whether it's conceived as a competitive thing, Buddhism being non-religious, the "jealous God" bit not taken literally, syncretism, having first advanced far enough in Christian spirituality that this tension of undertaking multiple traditions can be framed in an acceptable way, being from the more liberal and cosmopolitan branches of Christianity, or some other way to make it work. I'd be very interested to hear from people on this particular journey and whether that made them more or less open to the mystical parts of Buddhism.

I don't know in which country you live, perhaps in the US or Central Europe? In Latin American countries, protestants are the 'jealous' kind of worshipers while catholics are 'meh', short of being atheists (at least in the big cities) (**). A family member is protestant, and he describes that the US situation is just the opposite. So in my case, there's no tension at all using buddhist methods while considering myself catholic. Proud of its legacy in Western civilization development despite all the suffering and destruction they have made. Wouldn't through the baby out with the bathwater. 

There's some history in XX Century of catholic priests learning meditation from Zen monks. The Catholic contemplative tradition was almost wiped out during the 1500's, and there are some moves to recover/redevelop it. In my country, priests are humble when speaking with parishioners about spiritual experiences, methods and such. They certainly admit that parishioners might be more spiritual developed than them, them being more of a kind of social worker with some psichological tools to confort distressed people.   

Regarding the oppeness to mystical parts of Buddhism, consider that 80% of the population consider themselves as christians (70% catholics, 10% protestants) but 60% believe in "energy", though probably differ in what 'energy' is/mean. Healing, clairvoyance, past lifes and the like was always admitted as a parallel thing for centuries. Catholic countries had tortured 'heretics' in the Inquisition, but there were little burning of 'witches' like in protestant countries... And in Latin American countries, add to that some sort of background syncretism with aborigine and african cults. 

 (**) As a funny anecdote,recently I was involved in a friend's catholic confirmation ritual. Previously there was a kind of speech to prepare the participants. The ones in charged of the talk (not priests, but highly involved parishioners) openly talked about their theological beliefs. Non of them where what the Catholic church states, in fact all of them would have been considered heretical !! Kind of saying that the 4 noble truths, the three characteristics or dependent origination are not part of the Buddhist scriptures...
 

Pepe -

Thanks for sharing! I reside in the US. The situation here IMO is that protestants and catholics are divided into conservative and liberal camps, the same as our political parties. In a lot of ways a conservative catholic and a conservative protestant would seem to have more in common with each other than either of them would with the liberal branches of their coreligionists.

The liberal branches in general are more open to interfaith dialogue, hence my speculation about that. I myself once spent some time exploring liberal branch Quakerism, which traditionally has a worship form similar to communal zen sitting, but understood as a direct communion with God. That was the first time I started to understand all that business about Paul's conversion and how something like that could happen (We call it the A&P here)!

As for Latin American catholicism, I have some friends who are Latin American type catholics who moved from Miami. The amount they like to talk about Santeria and witchcraft, and how seriously they take it, always surprises me. I think there is a big difference in attitudes towards these things between European type US catholics and Latin American ones, at least in my limited experience.

I'm glad to hear though that catholics are working to recover contemplative traditions. It adds a lot to spiritual experience.

i don't think that the "more liberal and cosmopolitan branches of Christianity" did a thing for me, honesty, as a kid who was pissed off, as an altar boy during Vatican II, that i had to relearn the damn mass in English after getting it down in Latin, lol. Matthew Fox, as a flamboyant but substantial example of that liberalizing thread is instructive: his earlier work translating Meister Eckhart (idiosyncratically, but interestingly) was influential on me, but he became, to me, increasing vapid with that ecumenical syncretistic Cosmic Christ crap over the years) (may all souls forgive me) I just hit the road on principle, almost, basic adolescent metaphytical angst, in my teens, and hit Buddhism first, because I was in Hawaii and Buddhist temples were as common as Baptist churches in the South. I didn't think much about God except the basic spohomoric fuck that old man in the sky stuff until i ended up in a Hindu-ish ashram by pure karmic chance (a hot waitress, an available cleap apartment across the street, a slippery slope into heathen polytheism). Once I started uising god language again it was probably just a matter of time before some reckoning, and it was my first conscious dark night that led me into the Cloud of Unknowing and John of the Cross. So it was actually radical, not liberal
Christianity, at that point: digging up the old stuff. John of the Cross is as renunciatory and world-loathing as any old school Buddhist determined to have nothing to do with samsara, and the dark night wrecked my Christian suppositions as throughly as
it wrecked everything else. So I had no problem seeing the relativity and approximate value of all traditions, since at the deepest level none of it meant shit, really, except for that whatever-the-fuck tthat happened when none of it meant shit and i accepted that completely. I could say arising from the void as easily as i could say not i but christ in me. But I am less a pragmatic meditator than a desperate one, stylistically. Any port in a storm, lol.

Protestants in the US think any kind of meditation is opening the door to demons, basically, and a surprising number of Catholics agree. The Quietism heresy of the 1500s still scares people off Catholic contemplation, and the Centering Prayer movement, which is the mildest and most modest attempt to re-introduce a prayer of simplicity into the Church is still haunted by being unable to say the word "mantra" without setting off a firestorm of backlash. The baby does get thrown out with the bathwater, as Pepe suggested, often enough. The Eastern Orthodox traditions have done a much better job on contemplation, with heyschasm accepted and the Philokalia and its successors widely known, but even there the authorities get uneasy with contemplative fervor sometimes. Destroyers were sent to Mt. Athos in 1913 to quell a big enthusiast movement that had gotten out of hand, the infamous (and still unsettled, i believe) possible heresy of "The Name IS God." Stubborn dug-in monks were blown out of their cells with firehoses, and exiled across the Russias. Sort of sorry I missed that.

Pepe's observations on the varieties of Catholicism and Protestantism in the world differing so dramatically are fascinating to me. Pepe's also right that in most pastoral situations, the sanest, wisest people are almost casually heretical, lol. This has been true throughout history, I suspect, in every tradition. Thank God. And, uh, dependent origination.

love, tim
 

Tim,

Fascinating stuff. Thanks for sharing. I'll have to do some research into John of The Cross.

I've heard more conservative contemplatives talking about Eastern Orthodoxy, so that part isn't new to me.
Tim Farrington, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Posts: 2461 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
emoticon

Here's some hot air of mine from an old essay (on Flannery O'Connor, actually, lol), on the meditation/contemplative prayer situation in the Church:



            The Roman Church’s reaction to Luther and Calvin, the Counter-Reformation, began with the founder of the Jesuit order, Ignatius of Loyola, whose Spiritual Exercises, written between 1522 and 1526, are a systematized program of gradated prayer, moving from what the Church traditionally called mental prayer, or “meditation,” an active prayer involving the mind, imagination, emotions, and will, through affective prayer, a more spontaneous and simpler movement of the will as the fruit of these reflections, and finally to contemplation, in which the active will yields to passivity in infused prayer which has its supernatural source in God’s action. This simple prayer, or prayer of quiet, as Teresa of Avila called contemplation’s first stage, in her Interior Castle, was regarded as the normal development of a devoted prayer life; but already the pressures of a divided Christianity were hardening party lines across the board. This is also the period when the Inquisition came into its own, of course; orthodoxy inevitably grew narrower, by the light of the bonfires, and by 1574, Everard Mercurian, Loyola’s successor as Father General of the Jesuits, had forbade the bulk of Loyola’s exercises, allowing only the first stage of active mental prayer or meditation, a decision which effectively institutionalized an astonishing  and explicit anti-contemplative bias in the entire Catholic Church. In the seventeenth century, Miguel Molinos attempted a sort of contemplative renewal against the grain, based on the writings of Teresa of Avila, which brought him into conflict first with the Jesuits and then with the Inquisition itself; Molinos’s writings, stressing the passivity of Teresa’s prayer of quiet to a degree that seemed to undermine the more active foundations of prayer, were eventually condemned as what came to be termed the heresy of “Quietism,” and Molinos spent the last nine years of his life in the Spanish Prison of the Holy Office, where he died in 1696. By 1700, even the writings of John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila were beginning to be seen as dangerously Quietistic, and basically no one dared to really raise the issue of contemplative prayer in the western Catholic Church for the next two centuries. If anyone was praying during these centuries in a way that brought them to the frontier of silence in the cloud of unkowing, they generally had the good sense to keep quiet about it.
 
* * *
 
            It is worth dwelling on these recent centuries for a moment, and on the profound irony of the Church’s policy. The first stage of Ignatius’s exercises is the prayer we are all familiar with, an active prayer, consciously turning our mind and heart toward God, in the myriad ways, and with the myriad applicable techniques, that a long-term believing culture has devised; and it was here that the Church chose to draw its line in the sand. Ignatius’s second stage of prayer, affective prayer, which for a millennium and a half had been seen as the natural progression of prayer beyond words and techniques into a spontaneous movement of the heart and will, was banned; and the third stage, the further, radical simplification of the simple prayer of the heart and will into a silencing of all the faculties and the dawn of a passive infusion of the grace of contemplation, the divine gift of an intimate and supernatural encounter with God that had been seen as both the natural fulfillment of prayer and the desired goal of every praying Christian, was also banned.
            To put it baldly: At the very moment when the effects of not just the Reformation but of what we have come to think of as modernity began to be felt— at the moment, that is, when the culture at large began to move from it being nearly impossible to not believe in God to disbelief becoming not just easy but practically inescapable, as Charles Taylor put it— the Catholic Church formally shut down every avenue of prayer that was based on anything other than human will and knowledge and effort.
            It is almost impossible to exaggerate the degree of wrong-headedness here; it was the institutionalization of what amounted to a panic. If prayer does not lead beyond what may be accomplished by human effort into some meaningful encounter with That which is beyond all human accomplishment and comprehension, and bear its fruits through the astonishing and ever-renewing gift of that, then the whole God thing is much ado about nothing, which of course is exactly what the Enlightenment thinkers were beginning to say, and which our own era now takes almost as a matter of course. At the epochal, civilization-defining moment when faith began to be most deeply questioned, when the division of grace from nature began to acquire its full nihilistic force— hundreds of years before Nietzsche— the Church itself shut down all prayer that invited grace, for all the world as if it had lost its faith in grace’s unforeseeable efficacy in the surrendered soul, and retreated into enforcing a kind of prayer that was human, all-too-human, and nothing more.
 
* * *
 
            I hope my readers will forgive the apparent historical digression, and rant, in an essay on “the novelist and prayer.” I am trying to establish at least two points here, the first being that the kind of prayer I am talking about has never been an easy thing to practice, even if the Church itself wasn’t going to kill you for it, since Jesus flung himself down on his face and sweated blood through the night in the garden on the Mount of Olives, or Moses climbed alone through the thunder and lightning, into the cloud of darkness shrouding the mountain of God.
            The second point is that the writings of the great Discalced Carmelites, John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, which were never quite actually condemned and have reemerged in the last century as the epitomes of orthodox contemplative theology— John was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI in 1926, and in classic Catholic better-late-than-never fashion, Teresa, along with St. Catherine of Siena, was named the first female Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI in 1970— remain the gold standard for any Christian approaching contemplative prayer, to this day. When T.S. Eliot, beginning to lose his modernist audience as he moved toward the ever-fresh scandal of faith, asked, in “Ash-Wednesday,” “Where shall the word be found, where will the word/Resound?” he concluded, “Not here, there is not enough silence.” Seeking enough silence, after hundreds of years of nothing but talk on the part of even the Church’s finest, one of the few sure guides he found was John of the Cross. When Eliot says, in “East Coker,” “You say I am repeating/Something I have said before. I shall say it again./Shall I say it again?”, what he is repeating, and saying again, for the entire stanza, is John of the Cross 101, lifted more or less directly— with characteristically felicitous Eliot nuances— from some of John’s most dauntingly ascetic verses, in The Ascent of Mount Carmel, book 1, chapter 13.
 
* * *
 
            The thing is, it is not only possible, it is natural and almost inevitable, for a devoted soul, in all sincerity, to get good at Ignatius’s first stage of discursive prayer and meditation, and to enjoy all manner of relatively replicable comforts in such prayer. It is also natural and almost inevitable, human nature being what it is, that such a soul grows proud of this. The dark nights, as John of the Cross conceives them, are precisely God’s cure for this pride, and its associated faults. It is not a failure, to arrive at this point, John says; it is the simple and very real limits of human nature itself that we reach here: “No matter how much an individual does through his own efforts, he cannot actively purify himself enough to be disposed in the least degree for the divine union of the perfection of love. God must take over and purge him in that fire that is dark for him.” (The Dark Night, I, 3:3):
            What God does here first, John says, is take away the gratifications of prayer. The glow in the heart, the surge in the will, the lucidity and delight of the mind making sense of things: all the comforting evidence of our holiness and righteousness up to this point is removed by God’s purgative action of love, and we are left, quite literally, to our own devices, which are revealed to be entirely useless. After elaborating the spiritual logic of this abrupt and pervasive onset of God’s gift of the most desolate internal emptiness in these formerly contented souls, John adds, with what strikes me as a very dry touch of contemplative humor, “This change is a surprise to them because everything seems to be functioning in reverse.” (The Dark Night, I, 8:3)
            “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it emotionally,” Flannery O’Connor wrote (Habit of Being, 100). “A higher paradox confounds emotion as well as reason and there are long periods in the lives of all of us, and of the saints, when the truth revealed by faith is hideous, emotionally disturbing, downright repulsive. Witness the dark night of the soul in individual saints. Right now the whole world seems to be going through a dark night of the soul.”
            Indeed. But one of the points all those individual saints are making is that the dark night, for all its terrors and aridities, is in fact a supernatural grace. “God it is who is working now in the soul,” John says (Dark Night II, 8:1), “and for this reason the soul can do nothing.”
            This is, quite literally, the crux of the matter. The soul, at this point, seeing to its dismay that it can do nothing, by the incomprehensible grace of God, quite naturally feels abandoned. God, for all intents and purposes, has disappeared. And this disappearance, John assures us again and again, through all his writings, doing his pastoral best to help the souls under his care not freak out completely, is God’s living flame of love doing its deepest purifying work. It is part of John’s daunting reputation— and Flannery O’Connor’s, for that matter— how much he stresses the deep human horror of the dark night. But think of bougainvilleas, the beauty of a fence-full of fuchsia-colored glory. Why do we have to go so far south to see that beauty? It is not because of the summers that bougainvilleas don’t grow in Michigan, or even Virginia. It is the winters. John of the Cross is bearing witness to a variety of bougainvillea that blooms at the South Pole in the dead of the southern hemisphere’s worst winter. That he should dwell on what it takes for those flowers to appear under such conditions— speaking as a gardener here— seems eminently practical to me.
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Posts: 203 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
Tim Farrington:
emoticon
       What God does here first, John says, is take away the gratifications of prayer. The glow in the heart, the surge in the will, the lucidity and delight of the mind making sense of things: all the comforting evidence of our holiness and righteousness up to this point is removed by God’s purgative action of love, and we are left, quite literally, to our own devices, which are revealed to be entirely useless. 


Thank you for your essay.  I have been mystified of the use of the the term "Dark Night" by Buddhist teachers.  It seems to be made an equivalent of some kind of generalized depresive state without definite cause.  Your analysis and description is spot on. For contemplatives of any tradition, the Dark Night is the end of self congratulation, of the wonder of new experiences and the looking for states.  It's the last step towards normalization of practice, of everyday "enlightment".  Of course, the harder you try to hang on to all the "conforting evidence" the more difficult it will be. But eventually, when you let go and jump, you find yourself operating out of trust in the source of inteligence. As it has been called, the "Inconceivable".






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Pepe, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Posts: 352 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Hi Tim,

I'm a fun of your essays in Christian stuff. Thanks for sharing. I am no scholar in the history of Christianity, so my comments are only the opinions of someone vaguely informed. I'm going to play devil's advocate for the Vatican (if you'll allow me the irony).

The Vatican has played a role over the centuries, of containing centrifugal forces within Europe. This was done by being the bearer of the official religion and as administrator of the law, functioning as a court of appeals and arbitrator between the European kingdoms, although it was also an interested party in conflicts. I'm not saying if the Vatican's performance was good or bad, but simply saying what role it played. Its performance was not only at the palace level, but also at the popular level.

From the 9th century onwards, popular religious manifestations began to emerge, pilgrimages to visit religious relics, etc., which exceeded the capacity of the Church to contain it. In a static society, religion was the safety valve. And the subsequent reinterpretations of the scriptures and searches for direct religious experiences, without intermediaries, were seen not only as a danger to the status quo but also as a genuine concern for popular spillovers. Perhaps the historical memory of the abrupt collapse of the Roman Empire was burning in the back burner.

I think that with all this context, it is understandable (not justifiable) the intention of the Vatican to suppress any "populist" movement (excuse the anachrony) that expressed itself through religion. There are several historical examples of popular hysteria, which here we could perhaps qualify as massive A&P and their subsequent Dark Nights ...

It is a fight that the Church fought since the 1st century, just remember the personal crusade of Saint Paul against the infiltration of the Gnostics in the Christianity, not only for doctrinal issues but also for the show of charismatic powers, prophecies, etc. He kindly asked them not to act like lunatics so as not to scare other parishioners.

I believe that the compromise solution that the Vatican eventually found was to suppress at the popular level any development of a contemplative practice while internally calmed internal pressures by enabling the creation of contemplative monastic orders enclosed within walls, without connection with the common people.

That is why now in the 21st century, the likely expansion of Buddhist techniques within the Catholic public poses a new and much greater challenge for the Vatican, internally pulled by conservative inertia, charismatic movements, modernist secularism, and accelerating loss of parishioners, and externally by the impossibility of internationally condemning Buddhist techniques and beliefs.

edit: format editing
Tim Farrington, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Posts: 2461 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Pepe:
Hi Tim,

I'm a fun of your essays in Christian stuff. Thanks for sharing. I am no scholar in the history of Christianity, so my comments are only the opinions of someone vaguely informed. I'm going to play devil's advocate for the Vatican (if you'll allow me the irony). The Vatican has played a role over the centuries, of containing centrifugal forces within Europe. This was done by being the bearer of the official religion and as administrator of the law, functioning as a court of appeals and arbitrator between the European kingdoms, although it was also an interested party in conflicts. I'm not saying if the Vatican's performance was good or bad, but simply saying what role it played. Its performance was not only at the palace level, but also at the popular level. From the ninth century onwards, popular religious manifestations began to emerge, pilgrimages to visit religious relics, etc., which exceeded the capacity of the Church to contain it. In a static society, religion was the safety valve. And the subsequent reinterpretations of the scriptures and searches for direct religious experiences, without intermediaries, were seen not only as a danger to the status quo but also as a genuine concern for popular spillovers. Perhaps the historical memory of the abrupt collapse of the Roman Empire was burning in the background. I think that with all this context, it is understandable (not justifiable) the intention of the Vatican to suppress any "populist" movement (excuse the anachrony) that expressed itself through religion. There are several historical examples of popular hysteria, which here we could perhaps qualify as massive A&P and their subsequent Dark Nights ... It is a fight that the Church fought since the 1st century, just remember the personal crusade of Saint Paul against the infiltration of the Gnostics in the Christianity, not only for doctrinal issues but also for the show of charismatic powers, prophecies, etc. He kindly asked them not to act like lunatics so as not to scare other parishioners. I believe that the compromise solution that the Vatican eventually found was to suppress at the popular level any development of a contemplative practice while internally calmed internal pressures by enabling the creation of contemplative monastic orders enclosed within walls, without connection with the common people. That is why now in the 21st century, the likely expansion of Buddhist techniques within the Catholic public poses a new and much greater challenge for the Vatican, internally pulled by conservative inertia, charismatic movements, modernist secularism, and accelerating loss of parishioners, and externally by the impossibility of internationally condemning Buddhist techniques and beliefs.

Pepe, Amen to all of this. It took me a long time to come to terms with the mixed wheat and tares legacy of Mother Church--- it can all seem like toxic weeds at times (cf, for instance, James Carroll's horrific and riveting study of 2000 years of Christian anti-semitism, "Constantine's Sword" https://www.amazon.com/Constantines-Sword-Church-Jews-History-ebook/dp/B004M5HKJI/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Constantine%27s+Sword&qid=1596959694&s=digital-text&sr=1-1 ). But in the end, what's burned into your nerves is what you have to work with, as I've come to see it. And i do understand the politics of mystical anomialism well--- the "Heresy of the Free Spirit" has been a particular fascination for me, and I've got this novel about Marguerite Porete and Meister Eckhart bubbling on the back burner of my mind (they were contemoraries, she was actually burned at the stake in downtown Paris while he was there early in his career). The Beguines, and all the popular non-official innovative groups and individuals through the centuries: the politics can be foreground or background, but they are always there. And the tension between them, so often tragic, seems built in, all the way. The stabilizing institutional function of the Chruch is without question, however often it serves oppressive regimes in that capacity. And remember Poland, and the Solidarity's Black Madonna and the Polish Pope, and the way the priests have factored in many liberation movements in Central and South American, as you know well. (Yes, our Argentine Pope is a mixed blessing--- he has EVERYONE mad at him, lol, which I take as a good sign, until someone poisons his soup or something). We have our human institutions, and they lean heavily toward inertial, and c'est la vie. God bless us all, lol. Thanks for your thoughts, it's such a joy.

love, tim
Sam Gentile, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Posts: 1089 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Tim Farrington:
Pepe:
Hi Tim,

I'm a fun of your essays in Christian stuff. Thanks for sharing. I am no scholar in the history of Christianity, so my comments are only the opinions of someone vaguely informed. I'm going to play devil's advocate for the Vatican (if you'll allow me the irony). The Vatican has played a role over the centuries, of containing centrifugal forces within Europe. This was done by being the bearer of the official religion and as administrator of the law, functioning as a court of appeals and arbitrator between the European kingdoms, although it was also an interested party in conflicts. I'm not saying if the Vatican's performance was good or bad, but simply saying what role it played. Its performance was not only at the palace level, but also at the popular level. From the ninth century onwards, popular religious manifestations began to emerge, pilgrimages to visit religious relics, etc., which exceeded the capacity of the Church to contain it. In a static society, religion was the safety valve. And the subsequent reinterpretations of the scriptures and searches for direct religious experiences, without intermediaries, were seen not only as a danger to the status quo but also as a genuine concern for popular spillovers. Perhaps the historical memory of the abrupt collapse of the Roman Empire was burning in the background. I think that with all this context, it is understandable (not justifiable) the intention of the Vatican to suppress any "populist" movement (excuse the anachrony) that expressed itself through religion. There are several historical examples of popular hysteria, which here we could perhaps qualify as massive A&P and their subsequent Dark Nights ... It is a fight that the Church fought since the 1st century, just remember the personal crusade of Saint Paul against the infiltration of the Gnostics in the Christianity, not only for doctrinal issues but also for the show of charismatic powers, prophecies, etc. He kindly asked them not to act like lunatics so as not to scare other parishioners. I believe that the compromise solution that the Vatican eventually found was to suppress at the popular level any development of a contemplative practice while internally calmed internal pressures by enabling the creation of contemplative monastic orders enclosed within walls, without connection with the common people. That is why now in the 21st century, the likely expansion of Buddhist techniques within the Catholic public poses a new and much greater challenge for the Vatican, internally pulled by conservative inertia, charismatic movements, modernist secularism, and accelerating loss of parishioners, and externally by the impossibility of internationally condemning Buddhist techniques and beliefs.

Pepe, Amen to all of this. It took me a long time to come to terms with the mixed wheat and tares legacy of Mother Church--- it can all seem like toxic weeds at times (cf, for instance, James Carroll's horrific and riveting study of 2000 years of Christian anti-semitism, "Constantine's Sword" https://www.amazon.com/Constantines-Sword-Church-Jews-History-ebook/dp/B004M5HKJI/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Constantine%27s+Sword&qid=1596959694&s=digital-text&sr=1-1 ). But in the end, what's burned into your nerves is what you have to work with, as I've come to see it. And i do understand the politics of mystical anomialism well--- the "Heresy of the Free Spirit" has been a particular fascination for me, and I've got this novel about Marguerite Porete and Meister Eckhart bubbling on the back burner of my mind (they were contemoraries, she was actually burned at the stake in downtown Paris while he was there early in his career). The Beguines, and all the popular non-official innovative groups and individuals through the centuries: the politics can be foreground or background, but they are always there. And the tension between them, so often tragic, seems built in, all the way. The stabilizing institutional function of the Chruch is without question, however often it serves oppressive regimes in that capacity. And remember Poland, and the Solidarity's Black Madonna and the Polish Pope, and the way the priests have factored in many liberation movements in Central and South American, as you know well. (Yes, our Argentine Pope is a mixed blessing--- he has EVERYONE mad at him, lol, which I take as a good sign, until someone poisons his soup or something). We have our human institutions, and they lean heavily toward inertial, and c'est la vie. God bless us all, lol. Thanks for your thoughts, it's such a joy.

love, tim
Hey, how did you guys turn my topic into a history of the christian church topic? emoticon
Tim Farrington, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Posts: 2461 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
emoticon

sorry, sam. It morphed into the death of consensus Christianity, lol. my bad.

I do think the broader dynamic of evolving faiths is relevant here. Chapman's critique of the contemporary Buddhism is very sharp and has so much to it, but in the end it is political, and adversarial: he is selling something here, his new synthesis of modernity (and even post-modernity), social analysis, and ancient ritual. But his costumed Tibetan tantra and his absolute submission to his master are as indigestible to the contemporary psyche as anything he has critiqued, in the end, if you follow him all the way. He thinks you can do the spiritual path with sex, drugs, and rock and roll, and a good strong sense of irony, and maybe he can. He seems to have his shit together, to produce such volumes of intricate intellectual output that is almost always interesting, is often true, and is always in the conversation. But he hasn't solved anything, and his new paradigm is a non-starter for anyone who knows their shit, to be honest. There was a reason for the horrifying Renunciation the old school religious and spiritual traditions insisted on, and it is that samsara dukha. Deep dukha. He wants to privilege parts of dukha somehow as indulgeable within reason, or whatever his criteria for the sex, drugs, and rock and roll are, but a whole generation of hippies failed with that, spectacularly, as every generation does. The eightfold path and John of the Cross's ascent of Mount Carmel are both sutrayana paths, in Chapman's scheme, dismissed up front as non-starters for the contemporary psyche. But they were non-starters for everyone when they were formulated too. You're either desperate for this wheel of shit to stop spinning by any fucking means, or you're not. The way you pretty up the doomed-to-fail compromise doesn't really mean shit. Chapman doesn't seem to be making a living off his pretty, false solution path, which is to his credit, and i am quite sure he is sincere. But the bottom line remains the First Noble Truth, this world sucks bad, and that desire to escape the suffering through means that are themselves dukha-generating is doomed to fail. The Buddha, and Jesus, and others, have said there is a way out of the bind of samsara, out of "the world," and their words have become scripture, and been used for liberation for thousands of years. I'll stick to that path, for lack of anything else that doesn't seem like smoke being blown up my ass: good old sutrayana, more orthodox in its way than the fucking Pope, or Analayo, for that matter; and more radical than a drunken lama partying in a goofy camp costume.
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Siavash, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Posts: 1243 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
2 cents: emoticon

David Chapman doesn't like Joseph Goldstein, so he has created some concepts to justify blaming Goldstein emoticon .Simple!
Sam Gentile, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Posts: 1089 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Siavash:
2 cents: emoticon

David Chapman doesn't like Joseph Goldstein, so he has created some concepts to justify blaming Goldstein emoticon .Simple!
I know yo're kidding but Joseph Goldstein is not ALL of Consensus  Buddhsism. There are many others responsible or he doesn't like emoticon
Tim Farrington, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Posts: 2461 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Sam Gentile:
Siavash:
2 cents: emoticon

David Chapman doesn't like Joseph Goldstein, so he has created some concepts to justify blaming Goldstein emoticon .Simple!
I know yo're kidding but Joseph Goldstein is not ALL of Consensus  Buddhsism. There are many others responsible or he doesn't like emoticon

Sam, you called me back to the topic, with rigor, and then answer two cents worth only!? I put a nickel in, man! I want change back!
Sam Gentile, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Posts: 1089 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Tim Farrington:
Sam Gentile:
Siavash:
2 cents: emoticon

David Chapman doesn't like Joseph Goldstein, so he has created some concepts to justify blaming Goldstein emoticon .Simple!
I know yo're kidding but Joseph Goldstein is not ALL of Consensus  Buddhsism. There are many others responsible or he doesn't like emoticon

Sam, you called me back to the topic, with rigor, and then answer two cents worth only!? I put a nickel in, man! I want change back!
Actually Slavesh is the culprit with his 2 cents that drew me back in emoticon But I'll give you a nickel for coming back emoticon
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Chris Marti, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Posts: 3881 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Siavash
P S, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Posts: 2 Join Date: 8/12/20 Recent Posts
Tim Farrington:

this world sucks bad, and that desire to escape the suffering through means that are themselves dukha-generating is doomed to fail.

Tim, would it be any less true to say that the greatest miracle that will ever happen is unfolding right here and now? To evaluate it as 'sucking bad', instead of considering it beyond price and beyond evaluation, isn't that already a dukkha-generating activity?
Tim Farrington, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Posts: 2461 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
P S:
Tim Farrington:

this world sucks bad, and that desire to escape the suffering through means that are themselves dukha-generating is doomed to fail.

Tim, would it be any less true to say that the greatest miracle that will ever happen is unfolding right here and now? To evaluate it as 'sucking bad', instead of considering it beyond price and beyond evaluation, isn't that already a dukkha-generating activity?

Dear P S, welcome to the DharmaOverground, lol. You're off to a lovely running start and really probably have nothing whatsoever to do here beyond enjoying the greatest miracle that will ever happen as it unfolds right here and now before our eyes.

First, I would like to take refuge in the Buddha and the Dharma and say that "sucks bad" is simply a (possibly poor to the point of counter-utility, granted) translation of "dukha" in "samsara dukha," the first Noble Truth of Buddhism. I consider the dukha to be a given, and am steering with the skid here. But I think you are correct in pointing out that being primed to find that the world sucks bad is often a self-fulfilling prophecy, lol. Where were you forty years ago? Shit, all my escape attempts were doomed to fail! Now I'm completely confused and will have to start over.

Second, Niels Bohr said that the opposite of a normal truth is a falsehood, but the opposite of a profound truth is another profound truth. I think your "samsara is nirvana" miracle, the greatest ever, unfolding right here and now, comes under that vast umbrella. And I bow to your lotus feet, mahatmaji.

Again, welcome to the playground of DhO. I think you'll have fun here.

love, tim
P S, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Posts: 2 Join Date: 8/12/20 Recent Posts
Hey Tim, thanks for your reply and warm welcome. I can see you already get the flavour of what I wanted to convey "being primed to find that the world sucks bad is often a self-fulfilling prophecy" and also that the ineffable nature of "the world" is beyond our limited and limiting appraisals. It's an interesting theme to me, and I hope we'll take it up elsewhere sometime, but won't hijack this thread. Thanks again, and best wishes.(I've enjoyed all your posts).
Tim Farrington, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Posts: 2461 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
P S:
Hey Tim, thanks for your reply and warm welcome. I can see you already get the flavour of what I wanted to convey "being primed to find that the world sucks bad is often a self-fulfilling prophecy" and also that the ineffable nature of "the world" is beyond our limited and limiting appraisals. It's an interesting theme to me, and I hope we'll take it up elsewhere sometime, but won't hijack this thread. Thanks again, and best wishes.(I've enjoyed all your posts).

Hey P S, stop by and have a drink or ten sometime at the Bar of Last Resort, and we can discuss The Death of Consensus Everything!

love, tim
Sam Gentile, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Posts: 1089 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Tim Farrington:
P S:
Hey Tim, thanks for your reply and warm welcome. I can see you already get the flavour of what I wanted to convey "being primed to find that the world sucks bad is often a self-fulfilling prophecy" and also that the ineffable nature of "the world" is beyond our limited and limiting appraisals. It's an interesting theme to me, and I hope we'll take it up elsewhere sometime, but won't hijack this thread. Thanks again, and best wishes.(I've enjoyed all your posts).

Hey P S, stop by and have a drink or ten sometime at the Bar of Last Resort, and we can discuss The Death of Consensus Everything!

love, tim
Yah, Off to the bar with you two emoticon Stoop hijacking my topic emoticon
Tim Farrington, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Posts: 2461 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
emoticon
oops, my bad, sorry Sam!

How about this: In the notion of "Consensus Buddhism", David Chapman has cleverly set up a straw man, a myth, a big bright stupid nonexistent target to tear down, with broad unusable generalities, few of which hold up at almost any local level, and none of which hold up as a package. He does this because he is a very smart guy who likes social commentary with an eye toward in crowds and the Latest Thing, and also because he is selling his own, ostensibly hipper flavor of Buddhism. As Nietzsche declared the Christian God of his Lutheran youth dead, without any real grasp of the vast array of God practices beyond his asshole father and the local hypocrites, so Chapman declares "Consensus Buddhism" dead. Meanwhile, we all go on practicing, somehow surviving both Nietzsche's and David Chapman's declarations.

love, tim
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Ni Nurta, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Posts: 664 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
Milo:

Fascinating stuff. Thanks for sharing. I'll have to do some research into John of The Cross.

I've heard more conservative contemplatives talking about Eastern Orthodoxy, so that part isn't new to me.
St. John of the Cross books are great. They give entirely different taste to Christianity than your normal run-of-the-mill people versions.
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Pepe, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Posts: 352 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Milo,

Thank you for your explanation of conservative and liberal trends in Protestantism and Catholicism in the US, and their meeting points. In my country (Argentina), there is a certain ecumenical connivance between religions, and that includes also Judaism and Islam, given that immigrants from Asia Minor arrived more than a century ago and their communities were well integrated into the mainstream before the 6 days war in 1967 and the revolution in Iran. Protestantism here is an ally of Catholicism on some religious issues (e.g. abortion) but otherwise they diverge.

Protestantism (which is a conglomerate of small pastors, without superstructures) is increasingly important for its capacity for political mobilization, it can coordinate the mobilization of 500,000 people in a few days, so that political parties have weaved alliances to take advantage of that.

On the other hand, Catholicism is totally assimilated with the political class and priests are used alternately as an access point to the poorest neighborhoods for food distribution, and detect general health issues, domestic violence and armed violence, and drugs distribution. But they can also be persecuted precisely for this, given the collusion of the political class and the police with the drug cartels. To all this, add that the Pope is Argentine, who has not only not condemned the scandalous cases of local corruption, but has also received the accused with hugs and smiles at the Vatican.

On the other hand, Protestantism is viewed with some disdain within Catholicism in general, since in its preaching it appeals in many cases to emotional explosions, charismatic 'wonders', circular reasonings, and selling that the Protestant religion as a 'religion of economic prosperity', with a community that can help you lift you out of poverty.

 
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Stirling Campbell, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Posts: 598 Join Date: 3/13/16 Recent Posts
Buddhism is constantly being re-written by new Arhats and Buddhas, as well as charlatans. It's just what happens.

There has never been a stable, stick-a-pin-in-the-map definition of Buddhism has there? If Buddhism disappears some new teaching will arise about no-self and non-duality because they are an experience everyone has even if few recognize it for what it is. Those that do will be compelled to talk about it as they always have been. 

Remember, the Buddha WASN'T a Buddhist. He was simply compelled to talk about his journey, just as our host and any number of those with insight have. Is any teachers work ONLY Buddhism, or ONLY in the words of the Buddha? Of course not. Buddhism aside, there are already a number of other religions, traditions and practices aiming to expose this simple misapprehension about reality, and there are always more. 

I personally think it is pointless to ring our hands over the purity of the Buddha's teachings. The first written accounts appear 500+ years after his death. How pure are even these teachings? If they have value it is because they are tested by us personally, not verified by some fictional set of values. 
Sam Gentile, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Posts: 1089 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Stirling Campbell:
Buddhism is constantly being re-written by new Arhats and Buddhas, as well as charlatans. It's just what happens.

There has never been a stable, stick-a-pin-in-the-map definition of Buddhism has there? If Buddhism disappears some new teaching will arise about no-self and non-duality because they are an experience everyone has even if few recognize it for what it is. Those that do will be compelled to talk about it as they always have been. 

Remember, the Buddha WASN'T a Buddhist. He was simply compelled to talk about his journey, just as our host and any number of those with insight have. Is any teachers work ONLY Buddhism, or ONLY in the words of the Buddha? Of course not. Buddhism aside, there are already a number of other religions, traditions and practices aiming to expose this simple misapprehension about reality, and there are always more. 

I personally think it is pointless to ring our hands over the purity of the Buddha's teachings. The first written accounts appear 500+ years after his death. How pure are even these teachings? If they have value it is because they are tested by us personally, not verified by some fictional set of values. 

Thanks for your reply. I took these writings to mean more that the hippies that went to India and elsewhere and came back and defined Consensus Buddhism in 1970's had fumbled up and had ceated a closed system that did not allow newer alternatives like Pragmatic Buddhism.
Sam Gentile, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Posts: 1089 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Sam Gentile:
Stirling Campbell:
Buddhism is constantly being re-written by new Arhats and Buddhas, as well as charlatans. It's just what happens.

There has never been a stable, stick-a-pin-in-the-map definition of Buddhism has there? If Buddhism disappears some new teaching will arise about no-self and non-duality because they are an experience everyone has even if few recognize it for what it is. Those that do will be compelled to talk about it as they always have been. 

Remember, the Buddha WASN'T a Buddhist. He was simply compelled to talk about his journey, just as our host and any number of those with insight have. Is any teachers work ONLY Buddhism, or ONLY in the words of the Buddha? Of course not. Buddhism aside, there are already a number of other religions, traditions and practices aiming to expose this simple misapprehension about reality, and there are always more. 

I personally think it is pointless to ring our hands over the purity of the Buddha's teachings. The first written accounts appear 500+ years after his death. How pure are even these teachings? If they have value it is because they are tested by us personally, not verified by some fictional set of values. 

Thanks for your reply. I took these writings to mean more that the hippies that went to India and elsewhere and came back and defined Consensus Buddhism in 1970's had fumbled up and had ceated a closed system that did not allow newer alternatives like Pragmatic Buddhism.
Also, In short, it showed that American Buddhism, in even its most “traditional” and “authentic” forms, consists mainly of European ideas that were imported into Asia in the late 1800s, lightly sprinkled with Buddhist jargon, and then re-exported to the West in the 20th century.3 Particularly, our “Buddhism” synthesizes aspects of European Enlightenment rationalism, Romantic Idealism, and Protestant Christianity. These are three pillars of “modernity,” the system that long ruled the developed world.
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Zachary, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Posts: 197 Join Date: 3/16/18 Recent Posts

Also, In short, it showed that American Buddhism, in even its most “traditional” and “authentic” forms, consists mainly of European ideas that were imported into Asia in the late 1800s, lightly sprinkled with Buddhist jargon, and then re-exported to the West in the 20th century.3 Particularly, our “Buddhism” synthesizes aspects of European Enlightenment rationalism, Romantic Idealism, and Protestant Christianity. These are three pillars of “modernity,” the system that long ruled the developed world.

Have you read Buddhist Romanticism by Thanissaro Bhikku? I think you would find it very interesting as it covers a lot of what you're mentioning in great detail. It's available from Metta Forest Monastery on a dana basis. Highly recommended! 
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Stirling Campbell, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Posts: 598 Join Date: 3/13/16 Recent Posts
Sam Gentile:

Thanks for your reply. I took these writings to mean more that the hippies that went to India and elsewhere and came back and defined Consensus Buddhism in 1970's had fumbled up and had ceated a closed system that did not allow newer alternatives like Pragmatic Buddhism.

As much as I love to blame hippies (I was a teenage punk rocker), it probably started in the 19th century or even earlier with people poorly translating texts from a great number of traditions and reassembling them into what they thought were cohesive philosophies. I don't think things were particularly closed in the 70's - there were a great many teachers recombining pieces of Buddhism (or parts from a variety of Buddhisms) into their work and rebranding it for better or worse. My teacher is Zen, but she can talk about Vajrayana, or the Pali Canon until the cows come home. Does that make her any less Zen? Further, if you read the Upanishads you see that many things we might consider "pure" Buddhism are already there, just with different terminology in some cases. Ever notice how the much the precepts look so much like a subset of the later Ten Commandments? I doubt it is coincidental. If something enabled so-called "Pragmatic Buddhism" it was the internet.
Sam Gentile, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: David Chapman on the Death of Consensus Buddhism

Posts: 1089 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Thanks for engaging. You make some good points that I need to think about, particuarly:
f Buddhism disappears some new teaching will arise about no-self and non-duality because they are an experience everyone has even if few recognize it for what it is. Those that do will be compelled to talk about it as they always have been. 

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