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A major flaw in pragmatic dharma

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A major flaw in pragmatic dharma
Answer
10/19/14 11:03 AM
So, I've been reading some articles on pragmatic dharma, and I keep running into people dismissing "niceness" as a kitschy or ignorant view of buddhism.  This seems to be a common thread here as well, both in how people treat one another and how they talk about attainment. I'd like to take a moment to defend niceness - in all it's kitschy glory - as not only a fundimental part of buddhism, but the actual goal and result of practice.

If we look at the three trainings - morality, view, and concentration - two of the three are aimed at cultivating and maintaining a positive and kind state of being.  In the suttas where the buddha talks about the full method (see any of the "in brief" suttas), he begins by explaining how right speech/action/livelihood are the ground of the practice, they should be perfected to create the "tranquility of blamelessness."  From here, only after this way of living has been "handed the reigns," a person begins to practice the jhanas - which arise specifically because of the tranquility of blamelessness.  Then, after reaching the 4th jhana, this person turns their mind to insight.

I think we forget that buddhism is a religion.  It is based on the belief that we are trapped by our karma, and the only escape is to stop accumulating karma and step out of the cycle of rebirth based on desires.  People who believe this sincerely would have been more interested in how they were treating other people - and how they felt about other people - than how they experienced the world personally.  Right speech and action - which make up 1/4th of the eight fold path - specifically say that we should only say things that are pleasant, and we should only do actions that have no possibility of hurting another person.  The point of cultivating concentration and following the training rules was to ensure that the practitioner could have complete control, not only over what they say and do, but also over how they feel.  Before insight practice is even mentioned by the buddha, he says that the four divine abodes should be practiced to a level of concentration where they simply go on effortlessly.

I think this kind of training is specifically designed to facilitate concentration and ease of living.  Because there is never a time when it is appropriate to be unpleasant, being nice, specifically, becomes an easy solution.  You are no longer required to defend yourself from other people, find an insult, match wits, etc.  You are no longer required to try to convince anyone of anything, hold a stong opinion, or feel there is any reason for malice to exist.  The buddha went so far as to say that, if you were being beaten by robbers in the woods, you should endeavor to feel compassion and kindness towards them.  There is even a sutta where he talks about being skinned alive and roasted over a pit.  He wasn't messing around!

I see this as just as much the "good news" of buddhism as the concept of non-duality.  The buddha is telling us to treat out anger, malice, and aversion as completely unnessiscary.  To watch ourselves for it and get rid of it as soon as we see it.  To treat it as a cancer to be removed.

This is why I think people have the view that buddhism is about niceness.  The monks who train sincerely, are training to be nice, kind, and loving in all circumstances.  I think we're going to miss the whole point of the practice if we don't make the endeavor ourselves.

EDIT: Maybe the main reason for this is that anatta is translated to "no-self," as in, there is no self. If there is no self, there is nothing to fix.

RE: A major flaw in pragmatic dharma
Answer
10/19/14 12:07 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Yeah, but nice is boring.

RE: A major flaw in pragmatic dharma
Answer
10/19/14 12:57 PM as a reply to Howard Maxwell Clegg.
Sorry there should be a second bit.

Yeah, but nice is boring and boring is this the death of practice.

There, I'm happy now.

RE: A major flaw in pragmatic dharma
Answer
10/19/14 1:51 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
So, I've been reading some articles on pragmatic dharma, and I keep running into people dismissing "niceness" as a kitschy or ignorant view of buddhism.  This seems to be a common thread here as well, both in how people treat one another and how they talk about attainment. I'd like to take a moment to defend niceness - in all it's kitschy glory - as not only a fundimental part of buddhism, but the actual goal and result of practice.


I think the critique of niceness is part of the critique of the "mushroom factor". So it is not against being nice and treating people respectfully, but rather against the "near enemy" of genuine niceness, the make-belief niceness. It's not arguing against making an effort to be nice. It is arguing against the stance that being nice is all there is to the Dhamma, and making an effort to meditate and try to get to the bottom if it all is somehow too extreme or even misguided or wrong.

Like you say, becoming nicer is a result of the practice, and part of the practice, but far from the only part. It is more of a description (of what tends to happen) than a pre-scription (of what to pretend).

Cheers,
Florian

RE: A major flaw in pragmatic dharma
Answer
10/19/14 1:54 PM as a reply to Howard Maxwell Clegg.
Yeah, but nice is boring.


I actually find it to be the foundation of what makes my practice interesting. emoticon  By learning to be kind, I can let go of old reactions that cause mental disturbance - there's a very refined contentment that can come from understanding you have no aversion or malice towards anything.

EDIT:
I think the critique of niceness is part of the critique of the "mushroom factor".


Don't you think it goes a little overboard the other way, though?

RE: A major flaw in pragmatic dharma
Answer
10/19/14 3:10 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
Florian Weps:
I think the critique of niceness is part of the critique of the "mushroom factor".


Don't you think it goes a little overboard the other way, though?


Sure. By then, it's more easily recognized emoticon It's much harder to confuse crankiness with genuine niceness. Not an excuse for being gratuitously cranky!

I think touching the taboo of "niceness" is one of the great merits of "pragmatic dharma" or whatever you want to call it. You know, calling out the shadow side of niceness, that of pretending to be nice, that of thinking that being nice is how Budddhist meditation practice is done.

So I don't think this is a major flaw at all.

Again, not an excuse for acting like an asshole. That would be just as misguided as acting like a saint.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: A major flaw in pragmatic dharma
Answer
10/19/14 3:15 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
Yeah, but nice is boring.


I actually find it to be the foundation of what makes my practice interesting. emoticon  By learning to be kind, I can let go of old reactions that cause mental disturbance - there's a very refined contentment that can come from understanding you have no aversion or malice towards anything.

You sure you're not just copping a Jhana or someting? 

EDIT:
I think the critique of niceness is part of the critique of the "mushroom factor".


Don't you think it goes a little overboard the other way, though?

RE: A major flaw in pragmatic dharma
Answer
10/19/14 5:55 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
See, the thing I don't like about this whole "niceness" thing is that it boils down to a policy. In other words: no matter the situation, be without aggression, or "act a certain way". I believe it's much better to be without aggression entirely, and thus act spontaneously and naturally, as opposed to restraining one's behavior.

Personally I'm entirely without aggression, (a very subtle against-ness, competitiveness, desire to prove oneself etc), this absence of aggression leads to absence of tension in the heart, and a sense of peace.

Moreover there is no need to battle myself when I feel aggression or emotions that don't match my image. This is all very fascinating for me, especially since I didn't realize some of these things until I wrote them down just now. This absence of aggression is Chogyam Trungpa's "indestructible wakefulness" or bodhicitta.

It leads to a flexibility and openness that is the opposite of seeing behavior in one's self that one doesn't like, and battling it for the sake of one's image.

Feel me?

-JJ

RE: A major flaw in pragmatic dharma
Answer
10/20/14 5:36 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
some thoughts on this topic:

-the spirit or underlying idea behind morality training is what is important, not necessarily the specific behavioral prescriptions mentioned in the texts

-in general, doing the right healthy habits or keeping the right structures in place can help with grounding which is important to prevent dark night bleedthrough

-morality training needs to be personalized/tailored to the individual... self-reliance applies in terms of using intuition, common sense and experience to figure out what is best for oneself at a given time

-shadow sides are important and major breakthroughs using psychotherapuetic methods can provide permanent or terminal release from certain forms of conventional suffering

-both the pragmatic approach of seperating/isolating the three trainings completely, and the traditional approach of more integrated development have unique merits and can be used side by side/in parallel with a little bit of ambiguity tolerance

-the insights implied by the three characteristics can be applied both on a micro-level through vipassana but also on a macro-level in shaping the content of one's attitudes in daily life... both are useful, especially in tandem

-morality training can be measurable just like the insight stages... see any Daniel Goleman interview where he talks about rewiring neural pathways related to emotional intelligence behaviors by replacing an automatic reaction with a new, better reaction at every naturally occuring opportunity in one's life... Goleman generally says that a new behavior can become automatic with 3 to 6 months of this type of effort

-I also relate this measurability with Daniel's (Ingram) talk at a Buddhist Geeks Conference where he discusses the possibility of mapping the human range of something like kindness or generosity... overall, there is definitely a need to explore more concrete, goal-oriented approaches to morality training with the same spirit of determined experimentation that so many here have done with insight training

RE: A major flaw in pragmatic dharma
Answer
10/20/14 6:19 AM as a reply to Florian.
Florian Weps (10/19/14 1:51 PM as a reply to Not Tao.)
"… Like you say, becoming nicer is a result of the practice, and part of the practice, but far from the only part. It is more of a description (of what tends to happen) than a pre-scription (of what to pretend)."

'Nice' is a difficult word, as in falsity in glossing-over for sake of appearances. I can't think of a single word, but there are discussions in the Pali Canon (e.g.Vinaya) about cultivating presence that encourages a sense of safety and good-will. Probably describable in a framework of external action that reflects internal mental states, presumably peace, good-will, vision & knowledge, etc. In that crowd, especially when G.Buddha was still around, artificial external 'niceness' masking not-so-nice internals was probably quite transparent and would be dealt with.

" a result of the practice, and part of the practice, but far from the only part."
Does that mean it's separable?

One can try to defend, but would be hard put to deny that a lot of verbal behavior in DhO discussion reflects mental practices that would be problematic to align with CTB (as in 'MCBT' but meant more literally).

Further at (10/19/14 3:10 PM as a replyto Not Tao.)
"… calling out the shadow side of niceness,…"

The more obvious problem is the erupting of the shadow side with less innocuous attitudes.

" So I don't think this is a major flaw at all."

Agreed, all things considered. But indication that a lot of work is yet to be done in peoples' (our) practices, and awareness (sati) needs to be kept on it.

There's a certain kind of inverse 'niceness' to the penchant for indulging in inconsiderate behavior.

Again, not an excuse for acting like an asshole. That would be just as misguided as acting like a saint.

Case in point. 1) yes, play-acting vs behaving; 2) but, on the other hand, appearing 'holy' is just as bad as doing violence?

(The two of us seem to have natural mutual triggers.)

J J (10/19/14 5:55 PM as a reply to Not Tao.)
"… without aggression, (a very subtle against-ness, competitiveness, desire to prove oneself etc), this absence of aggression leads to absence of tension in the heart, and a sense of peace."

Thanks, that's apropos -- makes me consider deleting some of the comments above… maybe next time…

RE: A major flaw in pragmatic dharma
Answer
10/20/14 7:42 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
Chris J Macie:
Florian Weps:
… Like you say, becoming nicer is a result of the practice, and part of the practice, but far from the only part. It is more of a description (of what tends to happen) than a pre-scription (of what to pretend)."


'Nice' is a difficult word, as in falsity in glossing-over for sake of appearances. I can't think of a single word, but there are discussions in the Pali Canon (e.g.Vinaya) about cultivating presence that encourages a sense of safety and good-will. Probably describable in a framework of external action that reflects internal mental states, presumably peace, good-will, vision & knowledge, etc. In that crowd, especially when G.Buddha was still around, artificial external 'niceness' masking not-so-nice internals was probably quite transparent and would be dealt with.


Yeah, all true.

I was responding to how the critique of niceness was seen as a major flaw in pragmatic dharma by the OP.

To reiterate my response: the insistence that Buddhist practice be "nice" (however vaguely defined), yield only "nice" results, and thus Buddhist practitioners should aspire to be "nice" first and foremost, is totally stifling, in particular if disturbing things come up in practice and there is no framework to deal with these because they are not "nice", and only "nice" frameworks are allowable.

So a practitioner strives to abstain from murdering, from stealing, from harmful speech, from rape, and from drugs. His training in harmlessness might at times make him feel pretty miserable, and this might "bleed through" to his interactions with other people - let's say he has a drug habit, for example. Withdrawal is not nice! Confusing, if this possibility is not acknowledged, if the only way to deal with it were, "this can't happen! Drugs make you miserable, abstaining from them makes you nice! You're doing it wrong". With drugs, this is obvious, but other behavioral changes can be just as difficult to make and have them stick.

Chris J Macie:
Florian Weps:
a result of the practice, and part of the practice, but far from the only part."

Does that mean it's separable?


Of course it is separable. But to yield the kinds of results we're discussing, all factors of the noble eightfold path have to come together, not just the moral bits.

Also, training in harmlessness is a training (takes time and effort, and yields results eventually). Often, religious niceness is just scripting the results.

Chris J Macie:
One can try to defend, but would be hard put to deny that a lot of verbal behavior in DhO discussion reflects mental practices that would be problematic to align with CTB (as in 'MCBT' but meant more literally).


I think I'm confused:

MCTB = "Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha"

MBCT = Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy.

But the MCBT you mean is probably not the Mumbai Crocodile Bank Trust ... and CTB?

Chris J Macie:
There's a certain kind of inverse 'niceness' to the penchant for indulging in inconsiderate behavior.


Yes, huge problem.

One that is not solved by convering it with some veneer of niceness. It is this veneer of niceness, this "mushroom factor" (being kept in the dark and fed bits of manure) which is being critiqued by the "pragmatic movement". (We sit unmoving, what a pragmatic way to move! ;) )

Chris J Macie:
Florian Weps:
Again, not an excuse for acting like an asshole. That would be just as misguided as acting like a saint.


Case in point. 1) yes, play-acting vs behaving; 2) but, on the other hand, appearing 'holy' is just as bad as doing violence?


Examples of 2 which I think are just as problematic: saintly child-raping Roman Catholic parish priests (note every one, by any means, but they do cultivate this saintly, "nice" behavior), Amma (several critiques, which can't be dealt with because she is so nice).

Chris J Macie:
(The two of us seem to have natural mutual triggers.)


It certainly looks like it! We could just ignore each other with a nice, saintly smile on our lips, of course... emoticon I prefer to sort it out together, even if it does not immediately make me feel or appear nice.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: A major flaw in pragmatic dharma
Answer
10/20/14 9:31 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
As Florian so nicely put it, these things arose as a reaction to that sort of prevalent dishonest hyper-niceness that I found so prevalent in much of certain meditation communities. I believed and still do that it impairs honest communication, impairs even understanding what emotions we are feeling, as speaking that way goes hand in hand with simply suppressing emotions. I find it cloying, creepy and not helpful.

That said, there are definitely ways to be nice that don't go to that extreme. I have worked with this old Southern gentleman physician who has this remarkable ability to tell people extremely honest and important things and yet they respond so well to it, along the lines of, "If you keep eating twinkies and not exercising, you're just gonna' get fatter and die," except that something in the way he delivers it thrills his patients, as they feel deeply cared for. The problem with the internet is that you can't hear the warm tone in their voice, see the caring in their eye, feel their hand on your shoulder as they say it.

It is definitely also true that there are times when the DhO gets too harsh and that also impairs conversation and creating the open space to discuss deep things.

Hopefully, we will all work to find that balance that simultaneously promotes emotional honesty, caring, real critique, real understanding, without swinging too far and working to self-correct as a community when we do, realizing that there will be disargreement between us about exactly where those lines are and that is normal.

RE: A major flaw in pragmatic dharma
Answer
10/20/14 9:30 AM as a reply to Florian.
Florian Weps:
[quote=] I think I'm confused:


Chris J Macie:
One can try to defend, but would be hard put to deny that a lot of verbal behavior in DhO discussion reflects mental practices that would be problematic to align with CTB (as in 'MCBT' but meant more literally).




I read it as "CTB"= Core Teachings of the Buddha. "Meant more literally" refers to the contrasting of prag dharma [exemplified by MCTB] on the one hand with traditional dharma as in the general context of the discussion of the thread. In other words, he is saying "a lot of verbal behavior on the DhO" is tough to align with traditional CTB but maybe gets a pass because of the attitudes associated with prag dharma's critique of the mushroom culture.

This is a very interesting conversation as it seems to point to some themes that have been prominant lately about finding a more gender-integrated way of interacting here that doesn't stray too far to the hyperfeminine or hypermasculine modes, each of which is problematic. In my view the hypermasculine strays into a gaurded pre-emptory competitive aggressiveness which is obviously not helpful and the hyoperfeminine mode is too uncomfortable with acknowledging and dealing with certain negative emotions, particularly anger/aggression.

 For instance, lots of women in my experience have an (undferstandable, given the level of violence they suffer collectively) reaction to the expression of anger, angry tone of voice, or angry body language. It makes sense for men to be sensitive to this becuase the reaction is understandable and men interact more aggressively with each other often but interpret it differently. For example at work if two men start talking over each other it seems to me they often don't take it very personally; interrupting and raising of voices or gesturing with hands can be a way of hashing something out (as long as it doesn't become bullying) whereas women often view that behavior as intimidating or domineering and just shut down in the face of it, which isn't fair to them, but is partly due to men and women having different communicative cultures (rather than it simpy being men's fault for having those communicative norms by which aggressive confrontation can be a way of resolving conflicts, which it can). Maybe it's good for men in general to be 'nicer' than all that as a rule.

On the other hand, in childraising in particular I notice that the aversion to anger can be extremely damaging, as I observe frequently mothers in my community of peers and from my mothers' generation struggling to parent young sons and essentially telling them (even overtly, explicitly and frankly telling them) "It is NOT OK to be angry" or even more perversely, "it is ok to be angry, but you must not look or sound angry when you feel angry". It's so important to give kids the tools for expressing anger in an open way though, because it is exactly this ability to say "I am angry!" in an angry tone of voice and then to be HEARD as angry and SEEN as angry that allows a kid to listen to an adult re-frame a situation or tell them how it's going to be "Yes, you are angry because you aren't getting what you want, that is totally normal, and you still need to do (X, Y Z whatever) and if you need a little space first to cool down that's fine too!" Or even "Wow, yes, that is totally normal for you to be angry with me because of (X, Y whatever) and I am going to make an effort not to do that any more becuase you are right! Thank you for telling me that made you feel angry instead of hitting me or being mean!"  

RE: A major flaw in pragmatic dharma
Answer
10/20/14 10:42 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Good topic Not Tao, I am not sure of there being a flaw, discussions are needed, and sometimes we all hear things we don't want to, that's part of aversion, and wanting to hear things we do want, attachment (craving defined)  Even if something doesn't seem nice at first, one may see the wisdom years later, myself included.

Nice and honest

Nice and wholesome

Nice and tough

Nice and tranquil

Nice and helpful

Nice and mindful

Nice and quiet

Nice and easy

Nice and thoughtful

Nice and serious

Nice and funny

Nice and friendly

But, fake niceness, like when a person's smile drops as soon as the other's back is turned...Well that's not honest niceness

Or, fake niceness, "My, don't you look nice today Mrs. Cleaver!" (Eddie wants a cookie)

Or, fake niceness, Telling someone it's gonna be fine, when you know the shit is comin' down, (best to be nice and silent?)

Maybe it's because being nice and helpful, sometimes hurts in the short run, As the Buddha said once, If a baby accidently put some glass in it's mouth, and it lodged in it's throat, it is better to pull out the glass and cause some bleeding, than to let the baby swallow the glass.

Tough it would be much nicer not to let babies play around broken glass...



Psi Phi


P,S.

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/alicecooper/nomoremrniceguylive.html

Lesson: Beware of Society, it is like the quicksand
Perhaps being mean is instinctual, or a reactin to our surroundings, or both.  When one is punched in the nose or stomach as a child by others , and sometimes there is no apparent reasoning behind this behaviour , it is indeed hard not to develop meaness and a desire for vengeance.  Pehaps one has to eventually forgive others for their lack of wisdom and try one's own best not to hurt others, and if we fail, to recoginze ill behavior and commit to re-training ourselves in what is wholesome, there is already enough evil in the world, why add to it knowingly, and if adding to it unknowingly, why not try to change?

Breaking the Cycle



RE: A major flaw in pragmatic dharma
Answer
10/21/14 3:30 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Maybe a better term, then, is "kindness." emoticon  I think Daniel's example of the fellow who can tell people they're fat without hurting their feelings is a good example.  We humans are very receptive to tone - so fake niceness is just as easily spotted as malicious advice.  I've been trying to watch my comments here for the "stink of aversion" - and a forum is a good practice for this because I can type out all the nasty things I want to say, then let myself cool down a bit and edit out the malice, haha.  I think that committing to "pleasant speech" in particular doesn't have to hold you back, it just requires a deeper look at the patterns we use to communicate.

Here's an interesting example: A while back I realized that about 90% of the jokes I was making were putting people down in some way.  I don't think I had any intent to hurt people, but it was such an ingraned speech pattern that I found myself memorizing people's faults for future jokes.  This has always been very common among people I know, too, so it must be cultural.  Anyway, what made me realize I was doing this was that I unintentionally did the opposite kind of joke.  We were talking about tetris and I said something like, "A tournament would be pointless, Alicia would beat us all with double points."  (I don't remember it exactly, but I promise it was funny in context, lol...)  It was the same kind of cynical humor everyone was using, but it was based on elevating a person's abilities rather than putting them down.  I decided to try to switch my whole "syle" to that kind of thinking, and I found myself appreciating other people more.  Now I was trying to memorize their good qualities instead.

So, I think my original critique in the first post is meant to point out that, just because some other people aren't good at being nice for real, doesn't exactly mean it's a good idea to be unkind to them.  Maybe by showing them geniune kindness and genuine niceness, they'll lose interest in pretending and want to be that way for real themselves.  Aversion just isn't good for anything, so it's too bad the pragmatic dharma scene is partly based on an aversion towards other people.  It's a bit like how Actual Freedom is partly based on an aversion towards spiritualism.  Or how a lot of political beliefs are based on aversion towards other parties.  Just earlier I was listening to a western buddhist monk talk about how this woman was a "nutter" because she believed the world was going to end in 2012.  He was trying to point out wrong view and ended up using wrong speech.  Wouldn't it be better to go in realizing that this was both a genuine fear and a real belief that the woman had?  She's not crazy, just misguided.  This is why, I think, focusing specifically on "niceness" is important.  You will help the most people, including yourself, realizing their own potential for kindness that way.

RE: A major flaw in pragmatic dharma
Answer
10/22/14 4:17 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
Before insight practice is even mentioned by the buddha, he says that the four divine abodes should be practiced to a level of concentration where they simply go on effortlessly.




Which sutta is this from?

RE: A major flaw in pragmatic dharma
Answer
10/22/14 9:21 AM as a reply to Pål.

RE: A major flaw in pragmatic dharma
Answer
10/22/14 3:15 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Thanks!

RE: A major flaw in pragmatic dharma
Answer
10/23/14 7:36 AM as a reply to . Jake ..
re: . Jake . (10/20/14 9:30 AM as a reply to Florian Weps.)

"I read it as "CTB"= Core Teachings of the Buddha. "Meant more literally" refers to the contrasting of prag dharma [exemplified by MCTB] on the one hand with traditional dharma as in the general context of the discussion of the thread. In other words, he is saying "a lot of verbal behavior on the DhO" is tough to align with traditional CTB but maybe gets a pass because of the attitudes associated with prag dharma's critique of the mushroom culture."


Thank you, . Jake . That's pretty much what was meant. My impression is Daniel's MCTB approach is accurately in line with the Theravadan sense of the matter – he knows what he's taking about – but it's skewed slightly (conditioned?) in, to my mind, a strange direction, and lacks some of the qualities I find more inviting in some teachers from the monastic lineages.

Your analysis of the male/female role issue is also very well put.

And yes, Florian, my mind gets all entangled up in the terminology and acronyms – MCTB, MBSR, MBCT, A&P, AF, PSE (no, PCE), OP, etc. Much more at home with the Pali (also conditioning). Thanks for your patience.

RE: A major flaw in pragmatic dharma
Answer
10/27/14 9:17 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
I read somewhere that the real reason to be nice or kind is because it helps the practice.
When you act in harmful ways, somehow the regret for what you've done hurts your practice.

That said, right speech, right action should not be considered "niceness". It's more like being a skill, an art.
Skillful is the most precise word.

So, sometimes being nice is not skillful and can even be harmful (mushroom factor).
The relationship between two (or more) persons when they communicate is very, very, very complicated.

So I think that trying to be nice or have good intentions is good because it helps practice (and you should work on it) but you should't push it too hard until you advance more in the practice.

When you say or do harmful things that keep you from staying in the moment, to practice, focus on them (and try to solve them).
When you feel that you are using those things as an excuse not to practice or to change the goal of the practice, do not focus on them and go back to practice. Attachment to those things are impediments.

Use your intuition. You can "feel" when what your are doing is harmful or not skillful (even if your are being nice).

Hope it helps.

RE: A major flaw in pragmatic dharma
Answer
10/27/14 11:25 AM as a reply to Ernest Michael Olmos.
The desire to correct people is, IME, the desire to glorify the ego by putting other people beneath me. Acting nice isn't nice, but not acting nice is also not nice. Consider what happens when you label someone as being part of the "mushroom factor." The name itself is rooted in aversion, so the teachers are being called either ignorant or malicious, and the students are being labeled as ignorant, lazy, or uncommited.

Isn't it conceit to believe we know better than someone else? The Budda's instructions on right speech are, actually, the only way to properly teach a person. If we haven't chosen the right time to tell someone something, or we tell them in a way they feel is unpleasant, or we tell them things that aren't true, they will not be receptive to what we say, or they will not get the correct information. If we spend time parsing the world into people who are good or bad, right or wrong, practicing correctly or not, then it won't be possible to speak in a way that is both pleasant, helpful, and true. If we endeavor to drop those things and cultivate an actual feeling of kindness towards other people, then our conversations will never put us above anyone else, and what we say will reflect our training in a way that teaches all by itself.

So, as I see it, being nice (as in, nice as a way of existing) is the easiest and most skillful way to help other people, and it does nothing to glorify our own ego - it's a win win. emoticon

RE: A major flaw in pragmatic dharma
Answer
10/27/14 12:00 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao, 

Mostly I agree with what you are saying.  It could be just the definition of being nice is the cause for confusion, you do have a way with using certain words that bring up debates and investigation.  

Nice in the sense that one is polite and respectful of others opinions, Nice with respect to not harming others intentionally, friendly, etc.  This is what I am assuming you mean by nice, and with that I do agree, one should be nice after that fashion, as much as our own development allows at any given time. And surely, alot of us have negative habits left to untangle, myself included.

But, the word nice also denotes other meanings, such as agreeable.  Being always agreeable, or a "yes" person, is not conducive to true investigation of reality, so in that type of niceness, no I do not agree with niceness in that sense, it is stagnating and detrimental to development.

Also, the non-genuine nicness is also inappropiate as it is based on being non-truthful.

So, mostly I agree with you that one should train to behave nice, though the word nice is probably not the most appropriate word to convey the meaning intended, as you stated in an earlier post.

But, as to people not being nice as being a major flaw in pragmatic dharma, I would have to disagree here.  

Personally, I have found this site to be supremely amiable and friendly, even during the most heated debates. (with the exception of some minor flare-ups, but the flare-ups are not representative of the overall community).  There is an overwhelming majority of extremely pleasant and nice people here in this online community.  People honestly trying to help each other out of compassion, but, no, not always in agreement.  This is all an on-going developing process, we are all changing moment to moment, the Psi Phi you discussed with weeks ago is not now the same Psi Phi today or in the future, and neither are you the same Not Tao, and so forth for the rest of the community.

So, to sum up, this pragmatic dharma community is full of wholesome people, but maybe not always considered nice (as defined by being agreeable), as we don't always agree, but that is due to the true nature of reality being covered over by viewpoints, and reality isn't always so nice and agreeable, no matter our wishes and dreams. Though it is what it is.

May we all find peace

Psi Phi

P.S.  I do wish you read this in a pleasant way, no ill will is intended.