And so?

And so? Al B 2/18/08 11:03 AM
RE: And so? Hokai Sobol 2/19/08 2:04 AM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 2/25/08 7:26 AM
RE: And so? Gozen M L 3/3/08 8:17 AM
RE: And so? Mike L 3/3/08 9:07 AM
RE: And so? Hokai Sobol 3/3/08 11:41 AM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 3/4/08 12:39 AM
RE: And so? Nathan I S 3/4/08 2:55 AM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 3/14/08 7:48 AM
RE: And so? Hokai Sobol 3/14/08 10:44 AM
RE: And so? Stuart Lachs 3/18/08 6:18 AM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 4/8/08 9:16 AM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 4/8/08 9:44 AM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 4/8/08 10:53 AM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 4/9/08 10:47 AM
RE: And so? Stuart Lachs 4/11/08 5:52 AM
RE: And so? Stuart Lachs 4/11/08 6:02 AM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 4/14/08 5:52 AM
RE: And so? Stuart Lachs 4/30/08 3:55 PM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 5/6/08 3:45 AM
RE: And so? Stuart Lachs 5/6/08 12:07 PM
RE: And so? Stuart Lachs 5/6/08 12:14 PM
RE: And so? Stuart Lachs 5/6/08 12:17 PM
RE: And so? Gozen M L 5/9/08 8:29 AM
RE: And so? Hokai Sobol 5/10/08 3:54 AM
RE: And so? Gozen M L 5/10/08 9:43 AM
RE: And so? Stuart Lachs 5/14/08 5:37 PM
RE: And so? Stuart Lachs 5/14/08 6:01 PM
RE: And so? Hokai Sobol 5/26/08 3:13 AM
RE: And so? Stuart Lachs 5/26/08 4:22 PM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 6/5/08 12:54 PM
RE: And so? Tim Farrington 4/29/20 7:44 AM
RE: And so? Chris M 4/29/20 8:05 AM
RE: And so? Tim Farrington 4/29/20 8:26 AM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 6/5/08 12:58 PM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 6/5/08 1:06 PM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 6/5/08 1:15 PM
RE: And so? Hokai Sobol 6/10/08 4:52 AM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 6/15/08 8:29 PM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 6/15/08 8:32 PM
RE: And so? Stuart Lachs 6/16/08 5:44 AM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 6/16/08 7:05 AM
RE: And so? Stuart Lachs 6/16/08 1:46 PM
RE: And so? Stuart Lachs 6/16/08 2:11 PM
RE: And so? Stuart Lachs 6/16/08 2:26 PM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 6/23/08 1:17 AM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 6/23/08 1:22 AM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 6/23/08 3:03 AM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 6/23/08 8:10 AM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 6/24/08 2:04 PM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 6/24/08 2:07 PM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 6/24/08 2:34 PM
RE: And so? Hokai Sobol 6/25/08 2:17 AM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 6/25/08 2:56 AM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 6/25/08 5:48 AM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 6/25/08 6:16 AM
RE: And so? Hokai Sobol 6/25/08 6:53 AM
RE: And so? Stuart Lachs 6/26/08 9:14 AM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 6/27/08 1:31 AM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 6/27/08 1:41 AM
RE: And so? Hokai Sobol 6/27/08 4:46 AM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 7/7/08 7:03 AM
RE: And so? Stuart Lachs 7/8/08 4:41 PM
RE: And so? Stuart Lachs 7/8/08 5:03 PM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 7/9/08 9:10 AM
RE: And so? Stuart Lachs 7/9/08 2:41 PM
RE: And so? Stuart Lachs 7/9/08 2:47 PM
RE: And so? Wet Paint 7/10/08 12:52 AM
Al B, modified 16 Years ago at 2/18/08 11:03 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 2/18/08 11:03 AM

And so?

Posts: 9 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Forum: Zen and West

I've looked through these articles, briefly, and I can see the themes. I cannot say that I am terribly surprised by them.

I'm not sure what you would like people to take away from reading them though I do find them to be potentially valuable. Buddhism in the West is in an interesting place and likely to be there for quite some time.
Hokai Sobol, modified 16 Years ago at 2/19/08 2:04 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 2/19/08 2:04 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 4 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
Hi Al. I'd like people to take away the whole thing, actually.:-) There's a host of issues contained, not necessarily elaborated, starting from problems of idealization and collective projection and naive perfectionism, to Oriental cultural mainly premodern attitudes, to the Western postmodern "non-judgmental" ambient of anything goes, to serious inadequacies in models of training and confirmation, to lack of public knowledge (by public, I mean the actual members/practitioners) about the real meaning(s) of transmission and/or realization, to a recognition by Western Buddhists that Western Buddhism has its own way of not dealing with molesters and frauds when in position of theocratic power, to issues surrounding much needed institutional reform and control/correction mechanisms, to the role(s) of roshis, gurus, lamas, acharyas, senseis etc. etc. The "place" where Buddhism (or in this case Zen) in the West is, is not just interesting, but in certain ways problematic, facing huge challenges. "And so?" doesn't change that, but is one of crucial components of the status quo compound. The historical, documented approach offered by Lachs (or by Brian Victoria in "Zen at War") is the first step in determining and acknowledging what happened and is still happening, and understanding better the silence concerning such events (and other unpublicized ones) by those in position of authority today.

But I believe Lachs made all these points quite clearly. Anyone, feel free to share your feedback on that.
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 2/25/08 7:26 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 2/25/08 7:26 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: woman_alone

It's an old story, really, don't you think? Even in Buddhism, where the underlying principle is the authentic experience and 'clear seeing', people would rather simply follow leaders of purported ability and achievement. Even in Buddhism, practitioners are quicker to look for spiritual solutions outside of themselves, and if that means overlooking some questionable behavior of your roshi, that is certainly less challenging than really getting down to the work.

These issues are real, and do need to be discussed publicly. A little myth busting is good for any organization, new or old. But I have to say that I believe that much of the responsibility lies in the hands of the followers. If we ask the right questions of ourselves and our masters we are bound to meet the inconsistencies head-on and that opens the door to a better path for the practitioner and the organization as a whole.

Thanks for posting these, they were interesting.
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Gozen M L, modified 16 Years ago at 3/3/08 8:17 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 3/3/08 8:17 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 5/12/09 Recent Posts
What Lachs reports is, indeed, an old story. But it must be told again and again, because too few people in Zen (or American Buddhism in general) know it. In one sense, as "woman alone" said, much of the responsibility lies in the hands of the followers. Yet most of the followers are not exercising their responsibilities in this regard. The false notion of the infallibly wise teacher / roshi /guru is still alive and well--and that's the way most leaders want it!

By the way, I am a Zen priest in the Soto lineage, an American who runs a local Zen Center while holding down a full-time job and raising a family. I'd like to see opening up and reform in the hide-bound, Japan-worshipping orientation that is all-too-common in American Zen. For a supposedly down-to-earth, no-nonsense, iconoclastic group of practitioners, many Zennies are awfully attached to titles, robes, and oriental obscurantism. It makes me want to ask "What is the sound of one hand slapping?"
Mike L, modified 16 Years ago at 3/3/08 9:07 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 3/3/08 9:07 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 75 Join Date: 5/13/09 Recent Posts
For anyone who hasn't come across it, your one-stop disillusionment center is at: http://www.strippingthegurus.com/
Hokai Sobol, modified 16 Years ago at 3/3/08 11:41 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 3/3/08 11:41 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 4 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
Concerning the "stripping the gurus" website, there's a huge difference between taking back the false projection, while protecting authenticity and realness, and taking down any notion of greatness, which seems to be Falk's mission most of the time. The cynicism there is scorching, as opposed to Lachs' sober and honest treatment of problems. Falk's attitude reminds me of the vicious attack on the Dalai Lama by the Trimondi couple. On the other hand, I can understand why such vitriolic rants may appear attractive in a climate where spiritual leaders and communities are doing very little in order to address these issues openly and transparently. Modernity is long overdue in spiritual traditions, and Buddhists are no exception. But a strongly balanced, constructive, comprehensive approach is surely something to insist on.
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 3/4/08 12:39 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 3/4/08 12:39 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: AlG

Re the Japan worshipping. My wife is a native Japanese, and doesn't take Buddhism very seriously - have to remember that buddhism to her is the equivalent of christian church on sunday for many of us. It was just a part of her life growing up. Whenever she joins me at the dharma center (Tibetan Gelukpa lineage) many members fawn over her and are extremely obsequious- she feels like the token asian exotic. I don't know if her presence brings legitimacy to converted buddhists or maybe I am being too harsh, and they are just curious. But the irony is, she only shows up as a kindness to me (from her educated point of view, religious experiences are most likely brought on by neurological disorders), and we don't have the heart to tell these folks that between the two of us it is her American husband that is the one committed to the path. We keep a sense of humor about it. But it shows how easily Americans go silly over all things eastern. There is a blindness and a tendency to romanticize.
I of course also fell blindly in love with my wife - and will romanticize her for the rest of our lives, so I suppose I should be more understanding. ;-)
Nathan I S, modified 16 Years ago at 3/4/08 2:55 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 3/4/08 2:55 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/26/09 Recent Posts
I did browse through much of "Stripping the Gurus," and it's a good scandal sheet but a bad work over all. The author, a devoted pseudoskeptic, seems to operate from some theory that all "religions", be they mainstream Christianity or the most exotic Tibetan secrets, are inherently salvationary and obsessed with magical phenomena.... It's very clear he has a superficial understanding.

On the other hand the Trimondi couple's work never ceases to amaze me. Whenever I feel paranoid I just start reading their comic-book fantasy opera account of the Dalai Lama employing demons as his foot soldiers in a millennium-old Vajra war against women, Christians, and Muslims.

That said, where does this leave groups that aren't embroiled in scandal? At times I honestly harbor a suspicion that there's something wrong with Theraveda on account of the lack of teachers i'm aware of abusing their power.
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 3/14/08 7:48 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 3/14/08 7:48 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: abuergle

Hi Hokai, thanks for posting this. I also share the feeling of importance of this discussion. Also Gozen's account is very close to what I have seen myself in the Zen community. Now Hokai, what do you mean by: "I'd like people to take away the whole thing, actually", just to make sure I get you right...
A lot of things have been said now, all of it focusing on the situation that can be observed. None of it actually asking for how to deal with it or how to start approaching the problem. Or are we still so early in tackling the issue that we are still in the phase of making the assessment? As any problem, it might be good to have a starting point which could help in changing the situation. The feeling remains that the 10 odd points you mentioned, Hokai, are a bit much of being solved all at the same time.
I would very much like to hear more voices about about how these issues are independent or related from/with each other. Is there a single core problem or are there various issues to be handled separately, may be even in a separate thread?
Hokai Sobol, modified 16 Years ago at 3/14/08 10:44 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 3/14/08 10:44 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 4 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
Hi Adrian, you're welcome. "The whole thing" refers to the whole set of points/arguments in Lachs' articles. Yes, we are just beginning in a sense, but once we renounce spiritual naivete, without renouncing authenticity, we're bound to run into solutions almost instantly. The problem is complex, though not that complicated as it may seem. I hope Stuart Lachs will join us in the discussion here and share his thoughts on this later. Meanwhile, I would employ some of the integral methodology (i.e. AQAL) to dismantle this monster. Clearly, there are at least three sets of issues: first, the institutional set of issues (what is roshi/rinpoche as a title, what is implicit and explicit, how are decisions made, the structure of governance etc.); second, the cultural set of issues (both the premodern cultural code sometimes being transmitted as "the true dharma", and the postmodern relativism which allows it to go virtually undetected); third, the psychospiritual set of issues (stages of ego development, stages of awakening, styles of practice, types of mystical experience, therapy and shadow issues, relational and group dynamics etc.). Every one of these is hard on its own, but its their mutual reinforcement that makes it a tough nut (still, it's quite doable). At any rate, solution can only be conceived in a definite framework. Just for example, the first set of issues can be tackled with holacracy, a great system for improving governance and organizational intelligence. The second set, requires developing a healthy contemporary dharma practice and discourse, immune to enlightened machismo and anti-intellectualism, integrated the best from premodern, modern and postmodern traditions. The third set is one that concerns each and every one of us.

Judging from the "Big Issues" intro page, these issues seem widespread. Sure we can start different threads to tackle each question in turn, that's the idea!
Stuart Lachs, modified 16 Years ago at 3/18/08 6:18 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 3/18/08 6:18 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 5/13/09 Recent Posts
Hi gang. Thanks to Hokai for posting my papers and to the group for joining in a discussion. Essentially, I am writing about the intersection of Zen institutional self definition, legitimacy, and power and people who practice in Zen groups. I think much of what I write about could be applied to Tibetan Budd. groups as well, though I stick strictly to Zen, which I have a long history with both in practice, leadership positions, and academic study. I try to supply a more realistic history, and some ideas and ways of thinking about what is going on at most Zen centers I have witnessed first hand.

I believe it is really hard to realize the power that institutions have in defining reality. Most westerners do not believe in this power because we think we are open free thinking people. Institutions have a way of defining themselves in such a way to make their privileged positions and power seem natural. So in Zen, we have fake history and falsely defined meaning of Dharma transmission and a falsely constructed idea of unbroken lineage going back to the historical Buddha and beyond. All this serves to make the student view the teacher with unquestioned obedience and authority and to set the teacher (roshi/Zen master) apart from the students as a special being acting from the point of enlightenment and hence beyond the student's understanding

It is only when practicing in a group that one can see how strong an institutions legitimizing story effects people. Gozan in his reply is clearly aware of what is going on as is Hokai. In my papers, I try to give examples to show this power. The best example to my mind was the San Francisco Zen Center under the reign of Richard Baker. Really hard to believe what happened and how hip, well educated, modern people were effected once they bought into the Zen legitimating fantasy fueled in good part by the revered Suzuki roshi

I would love to take part in further dialogue and to answer any comments and questions.
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 4/8/08 9:16 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 4/8/08 9:16 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Abe_Dunkelheit

My wife is British-Indian; I am German, and we live in Germany. It came as a complete shock to her (and me) that a lot of people actually consider her to be 'spiritually advanced' and one even adressed her as 'avatar' for no other reason than her being Indian!!! Of course, she is also good looking, and smart, and good natured, but what has happened in Germany borders on madness. I even know of a Christian monastery where they do workshops on tai chi, ayurveda, yoga, you name it --- but they never ever speak about Christ!

Book Recommendation:

The Age of Insanity: Modernity and Mental Health

http://www.amazon.com/Age-Insanity-Modernity-Mental-Health/dp/0275970523/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1207685490&sr=8-1
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 4/8/08 9:44 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 4/8/08 9:44 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Abe_Dunkelheit

Among the 10 most important books I've read in my life are

Escape from Evil by Ernest Becker
The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker [Pulitzer Prize 1974)
The Corruption of Reality - A Unified Theory of Religion, Hypnosis, and Psychopathology by John F. Schumaker

All institutions are essentially 'immortality projects'; human beings do not want to be 'free'; they want 'immortality'.

Like U.G.Krishnamurti said:

"Can you give me immortality?" - "No?!" - "Bye, bye!"

Some Becker quotes:

"Men fashion unfreedom as a bribe for self-perpetuation."

"Who has the power to mystify, how did he get it, and how does he keep it? (...) All power is sacred power, because it begins in the hunger for immortality; and it ends in the absolute subjection to people and things which represent immortality power."

"Transference is the only ideality that man has."

"There can never be a way of relieving or eliminating the domination of structures of power without coming to grips with the spell of power, a spell that explains voluntary self-alienation. Men are literally hypnotized by life and by those who represent life to them."

"Why are men so eager to be mystified, so willing to be bound in chains? The bind is explained by one idea: the phenomenon of transference." People take the overwhelmingness of creation and their own fears and esires and project them in the form of intense mana onto certain figures to which they then defer. (...) But there is no way of avoiding the fatality of it: the thousand hearts palpitating, the gallons of adrenalin, of blood rushing to the cheeks - it is all lived truth, an animal's reaction to the majesty of creation. If anything is false about it, it is the fact that thousands of human forms feel inferior and beholden to an identical, single human form."
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 4/8/08 10:53 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 4/8/08 10:53 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: abuergle

Hi Abe Dunkelheit

Welcome to this thread. You are making a lot of points here, although I wonder in the end how this all relates to "Zen in the West". I see little connection of your comments to this topic. How about you start a different thread where the issues you raised can be treated accordingly?
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 4/9/08 10:47 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 4/9/08 10:47 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Abe_Dunkelheit

My point is that the problems that are discussed with regard to "Zen in the West" are not specific or particular problems of "Zen in the West". They are part of a bigger picture, or symptoms of a universal pattern, which I tried to point to with my short comments above.

For example, every spiritual tradition has a fake history; not just Zen. And there are very good psychological, biological and sociological reasons for that, which are, among other things, outlined in the three books I mentioned. Then there is the romanticization of the exotic and unfamiliar. It serves better as a transference object than that what is known. Funny enough, Master Nan in Basic Buddism - Exploring Buddhism and Zen writes on p. 32: "The common saying has it that: 'A monk from far away chants the sutras better.'" People in teh West turn towards the East, and the East towards the West. For example, Christianity is highly successful within India, while everything Indian is highly successful within the West. And finally, we have the serious issue of charisma, power and authority, which is also dealt with in the aforementioned books.

There is a big picture here, which I was pointed at. That was all.
Stuart Lachs, modified 16 Years ago at 4/11/08 5:52 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 4/11/08 5:52 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 5/13/09 Recent Posts
Part 1.
Abe- thanks for your comments. I agree 100% that what I write about Zen is not unique to Zen. What is unique to Zen is the particular way they have chosen to legitimate themselves and their official delegates, the Zen master/roshi and how this impacts its followers into closing their minds quite often to what is happening in front of their eyes. Of course there is a price to pay! Read "Shoes Outside the Door," by Michael Downing to see just how crazy things can get at the San Francisco Zen Center, a modern Zen center, populated by hard working, sincere, educated, hip, modern people. As I have written, "Never under estimate the power of institutions to define reality."

In America, we have just spent years watching deplorable actions coming from Catholic priests and the hierarchy protecting them and the "good" name of the Church. Of course, the church members figured little in the cares of the Church hierarchy when it came to thoughts of protection. Some time before that it was the televangalists turn to be in the spotlight.
Stuart Lachs, modified 16 Years ago at 4/11/08 6:02 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 4/11/08 6:02 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 5/13/09 Recent Posts
Part 2
To date, by and large Zen has skated free. That is, though there have been many scandals through out the last forty years, it has been kept pretty much out of the main stream media. In my articles, I point out that there are problems that have continued over decades. I also try to analyze how the Zen institution functions from over empowering its leaders to then getting its followers to bow to these self defined leaders pretty much without question. It is all made to seem natural, like gravity. I look at it mostly from the institutional side using historical analysis and sociology. I am taken with the views of the French sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu and the American sociologist, Peter Berger. There is much written in academic circles on the realistic history of Chan/Zen, that is quite different from Zen's anticeptic sectarian presentation.

What I am doing is applying sociology and history to look at Zen as a religious institution, underlining problems that have arisen as it moves from Far Eastern cultures based on order, hierarchy and knowing your place to Western cultures that value freedom, equality, and openness. This is not to say that there were not problems in the East. Brian Victoria's books "Zen At War" and "Zen War Stories" point out some in Japan from 1900 thru WWII and beyond. Zen/Buddhism has a long history of questionable behavior. My quess is Tibetan Budd. does too, but I leave that to some one else to discuss.

Once we understand the how and why of some of the problems, we can begin to look to improve the situation. Zen/Buddhism is about change and Zen will certainly change as it settles in the West, just as Chan/Son/Zen changed as it moved from China to Korea and Japan . These forms are all different with Korean and Japanese Zen being almost opposite in many of their forms and understanding of practice and how a monastery is to be ordered.
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 4/14/08 5:52 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 4/14/08 5:52 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Abe_Dunkelheit

Hi Stuart,

I definitely think you would benefit tremendously from Ernest Becker's writings:

Birth and Death of Meaning (less so)
Escape from Evil (more so)
Denial of Death (his master work)

It's all in these books. I have read each of these books at least 3 - 5 times and am still learning. You can have a look at Amazon.com online reader, to see if it is of further interest to you. Becker was a multi-disciplinary social theorist who had figured it all out, in my humble opinion, but his untimely death in 1975 and the disconcerting research topic in itself made him quickly forgotten.

*

Interesting, I googled for Peter Berger. He is mentioned here in a hyper-critical article together with Ernest Becker:

"A decade before Becker worked out his psychoanalytic version of melancholic existentialism, Peter Berger (1963, 1965) had developed a sociological version."

"Like Becker, Berger grounded his perspective upon..."

http://www.yorku.ca/dcarveth/Becker.html

*

There is also a great reader review on Amazon.com for the other outstanding book The Corruption of Reality (John F. Schumaker), plus online preview of the books is also possible. It builts upon Becker's work.
Stuart Lachs, modified 16 Years ago at 4/30/08 3:55 PM
Created 16 Years ago at 4/30/08 3:55 PM

RE: And so?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 5/13/09 Recent Posts
Hi Abe,

Some years ago some one recommended Becker's "Denial of Death." I think I have the book, though I have not read it. I will have to give it a look see now.

Thanks,

Stuart
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 5/6/08 3:45 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 5/6/08 3:45 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: abuergle

Abe, I still do not quite follow how you want to reduce the problems of "Zen in the West" to an inherent problems of institutions in general. It does not help either in a discussion to eventually evade the critical points and just refer to books you have read and others have not (of course I am curious now, what he has too say). All good books I have read so far do make profound but simple statements about what they are trying to convey. Would that be the case as well with Becker's works?

Besides, I am quoting you and would like to you to develop a bit how you understand the difference between "fake history" and history based on myth. Would you classify myth as fake or is there another distinction?

I personally do not find it useful to generalize in such gross ways saying that every spiritual tradition has a fake history, while a lot of it is just pure myth, due to the simple fact that most people in the past did not have access to education or reliable information, but does that necessarily reduce all (I am being simplistic here) history as fake?

Most institutions I have seen in my young life do not quite compare to what I have experienced in Zen circles, so I maintain that there is a difference Hokai and Stuart Lachs are pointing to.
Stuart Lachs, modified 16 Years ago at 5/6/08 12:07 PM
Created 16 Years ago at 5/6/08 12:07 PM

RE: And so?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 5/13/09 Recent Posts
Part 1
abeuergle wrote, "I personally do not find it useful to generalize in such gross ways saying that every spiritual tradition has a fake history, while a lot of it is just pure myth, due to the simple fact that most people in the past did not have access to education or reliable information, but does that necessarily reduce all (I am being simplistic here) history as fake?"

I will stick strictly to Zen, but the fake history I am referring to had nothing to do "with access to education or reliable information." The fake history was intentionally constructed over hundreds of years by very well educated people to match ideological and other needs. For example, the story of Mahakasyapa silently smiling when the Buddha held up a flower and thus beginning the supposed mind to mind transmission of Chan/Son/Zen is well described by Albert Welter in a paper titled "Mahakasyapas Smile" in the book "The Koan" edited by Heine and Wright. The is closely connected to establishing the idea of Chan as “a special transmission outside the teaching” as put forth by some masters in the Lin-chi lineage in the early eleventh century.

Essentially, as the credibility of the Chan tradition formed it became necessary that the “special transmission” begin with Sakyamuni. A version of the story from a Chan text of 801 had Mahakasyapa absent when the Buddha entered nirvana and made him his dharma heir. In this early version of the story, the “the treasury of the true Dharma eye, the true teaching of the Buddha, was the collection of the sutras preached by the Buddha, recited at the assembly by Ananda. There was an ambiguous understanding of what was transmitted to Mahakasyapa. On one hand it was supposedly formless and subtle alluding to the mind to mind transmission which became the identifying mark of Chan, yet on the other hand, it was identified with the canonical texts compiled through Ananda.
Stuart Lachs, modified 16 Years ago at 5/6/08 12:14 PM
Created 16 Years ago at 5/6/08 12:14 PM

RE: And so?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 5/13/09 Recent Posts
Part 2
A later important Chan transmission text of 1004 has the transmission from the Buddha to Mahakasyapa, but no mention of the episode of the flower and Mahakasyapa’s smile.
The first mention of the transmission between the Buddha and Mahakasyapa along with the flower and Mahakasyapa’s smile is in a transmission text of 1036. This should not be surprising when one sees that this text was known for highlighting the Sung Chan identity as “a special transmission outside the teaching.” Chan masters associated with the Lin-chi lineage were transforming Chan’s identity in the early eleventh century. “A special transmission outside the teaching” was the subject of a great controversy throughout the Sung Dynasty. This text of 1036 was the first record to emphasize Chan as a tradition independent of Buddhist scriptural teaching while associating “a special transmission outside the teaching” with the teaching of prominent Chan masters active in the early Sung Dynasty.

The most explicit connection between the Buddha silently holding up a flower and Mahakasyapa’s smile occurs in a text of 1077. After this the story gets repeated in Chan transmission records connecting it with “a special transmission outside the teaching. It was through the unique Sung Dynasty literary form, the koan collection that combined Chan scriptural authorization with an interpretation of Chan as “a special teaching outside the teaching” that the full popularity Chan was realized. Thecollection, The Mumonkan of 1228 has the Mahakasyapa smiling story as case 6, following the version of 1077. This version of the story has continued down to today.

As mentioned earlier, “a special transmission outside of the teaching” was a contested idea in the Sung, especially by those in the Yun-men lineage of Chan. Chan master Huai remarked that many people speak frequently of abandoning the scriptures and regard silent sitting as Chan. “They are truly the dumb sheep of our school.”
Stuart Lachs, modified 16 Years ago at 5/6/08 12:17 PM
Created 16 Years ago at 5/6/08 12:17 PM

RE: And so?

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Part 3
This is just one small part of the fake lineage story. For example, early versions did not have enough transmissions to match the time span. There was also much “appropriating”
lineage connections and stories of others that seemed to work well. It is a long and complicated story.
It also shows what was important to the people constructing it.
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Gozen M L, modified 16 Years ago at 5/9/08 8:29 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 5/9/08 8:29 AM

RE: And so?

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What Stuart (slachs) is pointing out here is very important, both as a matter of fact and as something which should be understood in the context of one's spiritual practice. As a matter of fact, the provenance and reliability of any written text is problematic. Western scholars who have been trained in critical textual analysis have applied their techniques to the Bible, the Koran and to Buddhist scriptures. These investigations have revealed that none of these sets of religious writings was the work of a single individual (or even necessarily of the purported groups that allegedly wrote them), nor are these works each internally consistent. One would be mistaken to view these works as histories in the modern sense. For example, the Mahayana sutras that appeared many centuries after the Buddha's Parinirvana contain sermons and dialogs by the Buddha which had supposedly been kept hidden up until that time. This is utterly false. Those sutras, while valuable as guides to practice, were clearly written by anonymous authors not long before they began circulating in the Buddhist community. But the perceived need for authenticity led the writers to attribute their works to the Buddha himself. Thus is fake history born.
Hokai Sobol, modified 16 Years ago at 5/10/08 3:54 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 5/10/08 3:54 AM

RE: And so?

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Thanks, Gozen, good points. Critical textual analysis may prove a crucial component: one cannot use merely "intuitive" navigation to sort out as allegory and metaphor that which sometimes plays a pivotal role in establishing legitimacy, or else dogmatically adhere to traditional interpretation just because the very text says so (this text is true because it explicitly says it's true). However, we need a developmental perspective to make sense of things. I wouldn't go so far to discard mythic elements as "utterly false". It makes more sense to recognize their adequacy in terms of their culture and age. Structural shifts from magic to mythic to rational to relativist, and now further, provide us with new standards and new challenges of establishing legitimacy ("cultural fit") and authenticity ("spiritual depth") at each stage adequately, retaining the inevitable tension between the two. Text, institution, and transmission reinforce each other in pursuit of legitimacy and should do so in accordance with the wider context of their culture and age, but in pursuit of authenticity, on the other hand, realization (represented in transmission) brings scrutiny to both institution and text/scripture, offering reform and reinterpretation - and new vehicles, texts, schools, lineages etc. when necessary.

While the example of Zen is beautiful, especially due it its later insistence on "not relying on scripture" while creating its own textual authority to legitimize the move, no school or lineage is exempt from this challenge of updating their claims to resonate with our contemporary horizons and new means of establishing both authenticity and legitimacy, here and now. Looking forward to hear more from Stuart Lachs.
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Gozen M L, modified 16 Years ago at 5/10/08 9:43 AM
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RE: And so?

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Hokai, as always your balanced, nuanced and deeply enlightening discussion is of great value. I tend towards hyperbole sometimes, as when I characterized the mythic elements of some Mahayana texts as being "utterly false." I should have said that their value derives from the practice lessons and philosophical insights they provide, despite their lack of correspondence to actual historical events. As you pointed out "realization (represented in transmission) brings scrutiny to both institution and text/scripture, offering reform and reinterpretation - and new vehicles, texts, schools, lineages etc. when necessary."

It seems likely to me that the Theravada/Mahayana split was caused by resistance in the Theravada camp towards "new vehicles, texts, schools, lineages" which in turn prompted the Mahayana camp to invent a mythic history in order to justify the new texts and lend them authenticity. If we regard authenticity as meaning "authentic spiritual practice and understanding" then I think we can regard those texts as authentic. But if we define authenticity as possessing objective historical reality, then clearly those texts are deficient. This bifurcation of definitions splits Theravada from Mahayana in the same way that it splits "objective" modern Western scholarship from the "subjective" approach to spiritual practice of anyone who sincerely wishes to undergo the transformation known as Awakening. Practitioners don't really care where the practices and teachings come from, just so long as they actually work in practice and yield good fruit.

Your turn, Stuart.
Stuart Lachs, modified 16 Years ago at 5/14/08 5:37 PM
Created 16 Years ago at 5/14/08 5:37 PM

RE: And so?

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Part 1
Thanks Gozan and Hokai for the invitation, though you are a tough act to follow
Gozan wrote, “Practitioners don't really care where the practices and teachings come from, just so long as they actually work in practice and yield good fruit.”

I don’t know if this true. It seems that practitioners are quite concerned to know where the practices come from while traditions oblige them with well constructed myths of legitimacy and authority. If one is a devoted and serious practitioner, most practices will yield some fruit. What we mean by “fruit” is of course a complex issue. Brian Victoria has shown us that most/many of the leading Zen figures in Japan from the beginning of the 20th century through and after WWII, backed Japan’s imperial policy of expansion, war, killing, and the worship of the emperor. Clearly, by some measure, they were accomplished men, yet by other measures, they were severely lacking.

I think most Mahayana sutras are of the form that Hokai describes, “it is true because it says it is true.” Zen texts purport to supplant or replace the sutras by trumping them as a higher or more authentic source. The Chinese Chan sect created their own sutra (The Platform Sutra), supposedly the words of a Buddha, a position which classical Zen claimed for its Dharma transmitted masters. Tibetan Buddhism does the same game with Vajrayana supposedly trumping the sutrayana, that is, all of Theravada and Mahayana Budd.. Within Chinese Buddhism, while the various p’an-chiao of different Budd. Sects feign inclusiveness; they always privileged their favored text as the highest. So we see there is a constant attempt through texts to trump other sects. Mahayana and Theravada is just one more example of this constant trumping game. Chan is ironic in claiming a “separate transmission outside the teaching” and transcending words and letters all the while turning out perhaps the largest collection of texts to authenticate these claims.
Stuart Lachs, modified 16 Years ago at 5/14/08 6:01 PM
Created 16 Years ago at 5/14/08 6:01 PM

RE: And so?

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Part 2.
Whatever we can say of the authenticity of texts, I think their value, whatever their provenance, is as pointers or aids in the practice. Perhaps the trouble with the constructed Chan/Zen texts that are purporting to describe the words and actions of Chan/ Zen figures, in reality are telling (prescribing) how a Chan man of the times should act. I recently read (Albert Welter again) that "we should not look at the Lin- chi yulu (The Recorded Sayings of Lin-chi) as the words of an actual man, but rather, as the development of a movement." The movement being the development of the Lin-chi identity and lineage. I think this is a wonderful saying that condenses a large and complex story. In a sense, what may look today like the iconoclastic behavior of a free, supposedly enlightened person, is in reality, an acquired act scripted a thousand years ago and still being played out today..

I think it is essential that we do not forget the Kalama Sutra; to have the faith to doubt as Stephan Batchelor says. I think myths can be very useful, but like all of religion, needs to be handled with care. Myths can certainly add an emotional level to practice.

Hokai, I think you once asked for our favorite books.

My two favorite Chan/Zen books:

"The Collected Works of Chinul" translated with an introduction by Robert Buswell

"The Swampland Flowers: The Letters and lectures of Zen Master Ta Hui" trans. by J.C.Cleary

I also like "Buddhism in the Sung" edited by Peter Gregory and Daniel Getz Jr. This is a collection of essays from a conference in 1996.
Hokai Sobol, modified 16 Years ago at 5/26/08 3:13 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 5/26/08 3:13 AM

RE: And so?

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To everyone: Buddhist Geeeks have released Part One of the interview with Stuart Lachs. Good stuff!
It's Episode 72: Zen Masters: Dressing the Donkey with Bells and Scarves.
LINK: http://personallifemedia.com/podcasts/236-buddhist-geeks/episodes/3770-zen-masters-dressing-donkey-bells
You can listen it online and/or download. Part Two to follow.
Stuart Lachs, modified 16 Years ago at 5/26/08 4:22 PM
Created 16 Years ago at 5/26/08 4:22 PM

RE: And so?

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Hokai,

Thanks for posting the link to the Buddhist Geeks interview. I believe next week they will post Part Two.
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 6/5/08 12:54 PM
Created 16 Years ago at 6/5/08 12:54 PM

RE: And so?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Abe_Dunkelheit

Hallo Adrian,

I am sorry for my late response; I had to stay away from the Dharma Underground for some time due to a complete loss of libido.

*

As to your questions:

(1)

Reducing the problems of “Zen in the West” to an inherent problem of institutions in general.

In a few short generalized terms:

Religious and political institutions are power structure; they distribute and negotiate power over life and death, hence, are all structurally equivalent, and therefore subject to comparative study.

Religious and political institutions are death defying ‘immortality systems’, they trade ‘security’ for ‘freedom’. The psychological equation that underlies the structure of all institutions that succeed in perpetuating themselves in time can be reduced to three terms: BELONG & OBEY or DIE.

(2) Good books make profound but simple statements etc. How about Becker?!

Becker argues that man’s innate and all-encompassing fear of death drives him to attempt to transcend death through culturally standardized hero systems and symbols. Becker shows that man’s natural and inevitable urges to deny mortality and achieve a heroic self-image are the root cause of human evil.
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 6/5/08 12:58 PM
Created 16 Years ago at 6/5/08 12:58 PM

RE: And so?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Abe_Dunkelheit

(3) Fake history / history based on myth / all history fake?

History is not so much ‘faked’, as it is ‘made’ or ‘invented’ or ‘constructed’ to serve psychological and bio-physiological ‘needs’.

The ‘first constructivist’, G. Vico wrote as early as 1744 (New Sciences):

“The first science to be learned should be mythology or the interpretation of fables; for, all the histories of the gentiles have their beginnings in fables, which were the first histories. By such a method the beginnings of the sciences as well as of the nations are to be discovered. (…) The fables] had their beginnings in the public needs or utilities of the peoples and were later perfected as acute individuals applied their reflection to them. This is the proper starting point for universal history, which all scholars say is defective in its beginnings.”
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 6/5/08 1:06 PM
Created 16 Years ago at 6/5/08 1:06 PM

RE: And so?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Abe_Dunkelheit

(4) You wrote: “It does not help either in a discussion to eventually evade the critical points and just refer to books you have read and others have not.”

First, I recommended certain books to Stuart Lachs because I truly believe they will enrich his (otherwise excellent) research. Second, I apologize if my postings sounded evasive, but it is often painful (and even impossible) for me to condense my understanding into a few sentences. I have been reading across the whole spectrum of human knowledge several hours a day for some 20 years to understand my personal experiences. Third, to do justice to a seemingly innocent question (like ‘Is all history fake?’), one would have to write whole essays, or run into massive risks of being misunderstood.

Finally, I distinguish between ‘understanding’ and ‘opinion’. Discussions usually revolve around exchanging opinions (read: identity-based beliefs), which tends to be divisive.

Instead, I am offering the opportunity to gain understanding by reading some books (or at least a synopsis on Amazon Online Reader), but of course, if you nail me down and ask bluntly,

“Abe, what is your opinion on X, I can give you an answer too!”

All the best!
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 6/5/08 1:15 PM
Created 16 Years ago at 6/5/08 1:15 PM

RE: And so?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Abe_Dunkelheit

Instead:

...if you nail me down and ask bluntly,

“Abe, what is your opinion on X, I can give you an answer too!”

Please read:

... if you nail me down and ask bluntly,

“Abe, what is your opinion on X?",

I can give you an answer too!
Hokai Sobol, modified 16 Years ago at 6/10/08 4:52 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 6/10/08 4:52 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 4 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
To everyone: Buddhist Geeeks have released Part TWO of the interview with Stuart Lachs. Again, good stuff!
It's Episode 73: The Darker Side of Zen: Institutions Defining Reality
LINK: http://personallifemedia.com/podcasts/236-buddhist-geeks/episodes/3771-darker-side-zen-institutions-defining
You can listen online and/or download. Of course, comments are welcome.
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 6/15/08 8:29 PM
Created 16 Years ago at 6/15/08 8:29 PM

RE: And so?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: abuergle

Hi Abe

Great that you are back. Hope you are doing well now. I have been a bit "rude" with the way I have asked my questions. I got the impression that everybody except me sort of totally follows what S. Lachs describes in his papers. I very much follow his observation of what is happening but I am not sure if I follow his interpretation of "cause and effect". And the subsequent discussion leads me to believe that there are more perceived differences of the problems in Zen than apparent in this discussion.

I have asked my questions to get a bit more out of you, simply because I found your statements (same applies to some others) not as sharp and to the point as they could be. Gozen was an excellent example of how much more to the point a statement can become and this is why I find this discussion so good.

Basically I still wonder why did the problems of constructed / mythical (call it what you like) history become so problematic in Zen and much more so than in other traditions. I wonder wether there is still much more to what S. Lachs has said during the interview at Buddhist Geeks that was not said yet or if the seemingly simple but broad critique of his has a lot more depth that cannot be seen at first sight. What do you think?
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 6/15/08 8:32 PM
Created 16 Years ago at 6/15/08 8:32 PM

RE: And so?

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Author: abuergle

To S. Lachs

I have been unable to find information about Chan master Huai. Would you be able to provide some links about his works? I am interested.
Stuart Lachs, modified 16 Years ago at 6/16/08 5:44 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 6/16/08 5:44 AM

RE: And so?

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Hi abuergle,

Do you mean Master Hua? If so, look for the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Master Hua died a few years ago, though the monastery continues. It is in Ukiah,CA.

Please let me know if that is who you meant and how your search turns out.. We can discuss this further if you like.
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 6/16/08 7:05 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 6/16/08 7:05 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Abe_Dunkelheit

Hi Adrian,

(1) "Basically I still wonder why did the problems of constructed / mythical history become so problematic in Zen and much more so than in other traditions."

Why would you say this? In general, I do not see Zen having a (much) more problematic past (in terms of constructed history) than other traditions.

(2) " believe that there are more perceived differences of the problems in Zen than apparent in this discussion."

I would think so too; do you have any in mind in particular? Can you point them out?

(3) "I wonder wether there is still much more to what S. Lachs has said during the interview at Buddhist Geeks that was not said yet or if the seemingly simple but broad critique of his has a lot more depth that cannot be seen at first sight."

Yes, I think that Stuart’s broad critique could be deepened much more;

that’s why I encourage anybody interested in the issue to read Ernest Becker (Denial of Death, Escape from Evil) and John Schumaker (Corruption of Reality).

For example, listen into Episode 73 (15 – 17min); Stuart admits he doesn’t understand (yet) how it happens and how it works that institutions have the power to define reality for (successful, independent, intelligent) people like the woman he uses as an example who got fooled again and again by her master.

“The thing that has to be explained in human relations is precisely the fascination of the person who holds or symbolizes power.” (E. Becker)

A great deal of the answer can be found in Denial of Death, ch. 7: The Spell Cast by Persons – The Nexus of Unfreedom, p. 127 – 131

http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0684832402/ref=sib_dp_pt#reader-link
Stuart Lachs, modified 16 Years ago at 6/16/08 1:46 PM
Created 16 Years ago at 6/16/08 1:46 PM

RE: And so?

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Part 1
Hi Adrian,

(1) "Basically I still wonder why did the problems of constructed / mythical history become so problematic in Zen and much more so than in other traditions."

Why would you say this? In general, I do not see Zen having a (much) more problematic past (in terms of constructed history) than other traditions.

I agree, it is not much more a problem with Zen than with other traditions. I just choose to right about Zen because I am familiar with it and have studied this particular tradition. I am pretty sure that the Tibetan tradition is as up to their noses with this stuff as Zen, as probably is the Vipassana traditions.

(2) " believe that there are more perceived differences of the problems in Zen than apparent in this discussion."

I would think so too; do you have any in mind in particular? Can you point them out?

What do you have in mind.
Stuart Lachs, modified 16 Years ago at 6/16/08 2:11 PM
Created 16 Years ago at 6/16/08 2:11 PM

RE: And so?

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Part 2

(3) "I wonder wether there is still much more to what S. Lachs has said during the interview at Buddhist Geeks that was not said yet or if the seemingly simple but broad critique of his has a lot more depth that cannot be seen at first sight."

Yes, I think that Stuart’s broad critique could be deepened much more;

Of course it could be deepened. I tried to present some different aspects of problems in Zen and some different ways of looking at them. There is always more to say. As it is, my paper was about 50 pages.

that’s why I encourage anybody interested in the issue to read Ernest Becker (Denial of Death, Escape from Evil) and John Schumaker (Corruption of Reality).

I would add that I hope people read the first 101 pages of Peter Berger's "The Social Construction of Reality" and Pierre Bourdieu's "Language and Symbolic Power," pp 1-31, pp 105-126, pp 203-219.
Stuart Lachs, modified 16 Years ago at 6/16/08 2:26 PM
Created 16 Years ago at 6/16/08 2:26 PM

RE: And so?

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Part 3

For example, listen into Episode 73 (15-17min); Stuart admits he doesn’t understand (yet) how it happens and how it works that institutions have the power to define reality for (successful, independent, intelligent) people like the woman he uses as an example who got fooled again and again by her master.

I did say that in the interview, though it was more an expression of awe at how powerfully that happens. I have a good sense about how it works, but that it works so well always leaves me a bit awe-struck. I think there are a number of lens one can view these phenomena from. None I think exhausts the subject. Each adds richness to explaining a very powerful human occurrence. Both Berger and Bourdieu deal with these happenings from a sociological perspective, just as Becker and Shumaker do from a different perspective.

“The thing that has to be explained in human relations is precisely the fascination of the person who holds or symbolizes power.” (E. Becker)

A great deal of the answer can be found in Denial of Death, ch. 7: The Spell Cast by Persons – The Nexus of Unfreedom, p. 127 – 131.

Again, I would add, there are many perspectives to view the dynamics of Zen, or any religion, for that matter.
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 6/23/08 1:17 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 6/23/08 1:17 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: abuergle

No that cannot be it. In your comment of May 6 2008, 7:14 PM EDT you are mentioning a Chan master Huai Yun-men lineage of Chan, Sung China. Who is he? You mentioned him citing about the "dumb sheep of the Chan tradition".

I am wondering about this because if the problem existed already there in that combination why not analyse that more in detail and see its relevance of today.
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 6/23/08 1:22 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 6/23/08 1:22 AM

RE: And so?

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Author: abuergle

Glad to have your precise page list of the book recommendations. Is the rest just not relevant to this discussion or is it not worth the read at all?
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 6/23/08 3:03 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 6/23/08 3:03 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Abe_Dunkelheit

Adrian & Stuart,

I am getting confused; what are we actually discussing?!

Yes, the whole book [Denial of Death] is worth reading;
yes, I read Berger's The Social Construction of Reality; it is a very important book (a friend of mine bases almost his entire constructivist philosophy on the content of this book);
no, I have not yet read Bordieu’s work (but probably will do); I did an internet search about Bordieu and find his perspective promising;
and yes, I read Stuart's paper and my comment 'Stuart's critique could be deepened' aimed at both – the Buddhist Geek interview and the paper; I provided a possible starting point of deepening the critique, which I think would be the explanation of the fascination of the person who holds or symbolizes power.

*

“I did say that in the interview, though it was more an expression of awe at how powerfully that happens. I have a good sense about how it works, but that it works so well always leaves me a bit awe-struck. I think there are a number of lens one can view these phenomena from. None I think exhausts the subject. Each adds richness to explaining a very powerful human occurrence. Both Berger and Bourdieu deal with these happenings from a sociological perspective, just as Becker and Shumaker do from a different perspective.” (Stuart)

I share your awe and also totally agree with the rest of your statement!

*

" believe that there are more perceived differences of the problems in Zen than apparent in this discussion." (Adrian) I would think so too; do you have any in mind in particular? Can you point them out? (Abe to Adrian) What do you have in mind. (Stuart to Abe)

One could have a look on ‘patriarchy’ (body-mind-split) and how it relates to various Zen philosophies.
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 6/23/08 8:10 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 6/23/08 8:10 AM

RE: And so?

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Author: ccasey

I haven’t read the books that slachs recommends, they sound interesting...

I remember a book called The Addictive Organization, by Anne Wilson Schaef and Diane Fassel, which I own, and read about 20 years ago. (In fact my teenage son, took it down to help him with his high school experiences, and found it extremely helpful and developed a group discussion with it at school.)

The issue, that I heard, over and over in Stuarts interview was internal referenting versus external referenting and being in dualistic thinking (versus multivariant thinking) around an experience. It is important for individuals to internally referent, (I hope I can say this correctly) --that is, keep aware of the sensate experience one is having in the present moment and note the "external environment" secondarily. The woman that Stuart talked about seemed to be referenting to her teacher, to what her teacher said, more than to her own sensate reality, her feeling her needs, her morality, etc first. She put her primary focus in the wrong direction. She wasn't looking primarily at her own participation, and how she was participating moment to moment. That was my take on it.
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 6/24/08 2:04 PM
Created 16 Years ago at 6/24/08 2:04 PM

RE: And so?

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Author: abuergle

Let us have a quick look at Koan practice in Zen. They are widely used as meditation technique and some of the Koans are based on stories that might be either not true at all, or a myth or never happened at all, and all that to see reality more clearly? I have not heard of another tradition incorporating "historic events" into the actual meditation techniques. I may be wrong about this, please clarify if you know more. Besides this, it should also be discussed why the technique might work any how even if the story is totally made up and why any other thought up story might not work as a Koan...
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 6/24/08 2:07 PM
Created 16 Years ago at 6/24/08 2:07 PM

RE: And so?

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Author: abuergle

I am sorry I do not understand your statement. Can you explain what you mean by "referenting"? My dictionaries do not know this word.
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 6/24/08 2:34 PM
Created 16 Years ago at 6/24/08 2:34 PM

RE: And so?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: abuergle

I would like to go come back to Hokai's comment on the first page. Three pages into the discussion there is still neiter a structured list of issues nor a discussion about how to tackle the actual problems in Zen, although naming the problems is already a good step forward. Well the books mentioned (I have not read them yet) hopefully clarify some issues and therefore make solutions available.

I feel like still getting lost in this discussion since there are so many issues plus the intertwined nature of them. Hokai has proposed an approach (first page) nobody picked up... why is that? Nobody interested / familiar with AQAL or Holocracy?

I also believe that solutions will come when a framework is build for it? How about a discussion about how to build one that will work for Zen? This should include the topics discussed of course. This also to make sure no issue gets less attention than it deserves.

So far the discussion was a lot about history of Zen and power of institutions. What about the others Hokai mentioned? Also, before going into more details about perceived differences of the problems in Zen (and may be get lost there) I find it more useful to step back once and look at the whole thing again.
Hokai Sobol, modified 16 Years ago at 6/25/08 2:17 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 6/25/08 2:17 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 4 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
Thanks for proposing to reboot this one, Adrian.

For starters, we can simplify by dividing various approaches to (1) institutional and organizational issues; (2) cultural issues, basically distinguishing traditional, modern, and postmodern conventions for establishing legitimacy and maintaining an intersubjective reality of values, meanings, and interpretations; and (3) psychospiritual issues, primarily differentiating between mystical experience (stages of awakening) and personal integrity (stages of psychological growth, including shadow) that tend to be blurred in traditional accounts. These are minimum components, imho.

The fact that Stuart Lachs discusses American Zen in his papers and BGeeks interviews should in no way stop us from considering the very same patterns in other settings, whether Tibetan Vajrayana, Theravada and/or Vipassana groups, and even non-affiliated teachers/communities. The patterns, whether healthy or pathological, are almost identical in their deep features.

The problem with Zen specifically is acerbated not so much with specifics of practice and ritual - though these may provide a context to reinforce the already existent problem - but instead by insistence on the unquestionable and therefore undemonstrable status of the Roshi's realization, plus the "beyondness" of his or her realization. But these are not exclusive to Zen, to be sure, as we may find somewhat equivalent qualifications in the Tibetan Guru/Lama ideal, complete with lineages originating in supra-historical mahasattvas and maintained by tulkus as lineage-holders. The degree of independence of the non-reproachable modern Zen master is, however, something rather peculiar to Zen. But it makes more sense to have a generalized view of the complex issue, with providing real life examples for what we consider to be important principles at play. I'll take a break here and see what others have to contribute.
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 6/25/08 2:56 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 6/25/08 2:56 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Abe_Dunkelheit

Adrian, I am not sure I understand your concern. The value of teaching stories or of Koans does not seem to depend on their historicity.

Teaching stories, fables, allegories, paradoxes, have been used widely in various traditions to provoke psychological and spiritual insight. (See for example the wide-spread 'Mulla Nasrudddin' teaching stories in the Middle East.)

In which sense would it be 'problematic' if these stories are not based on historical events?!

There are lots of scholars who don't even believe Buddha, Christ, Krishna, Moses, Mohammed, Ali, and others are historical figures;

but as there are people who believe Padmasambhava was born from a lotus, so are there people that believe Christ (Plato, Buddha, and others) were born by a virgin - LITERALLY!

Paranormal belief is rampant on all tradition; there is no tradition without it!

"Credo quia absurdum." (I believe because it is absurd.)

*

An example of the incorporation of 'historic events' (life of Jesus) in the Christian tradition are the Spiritual Exercises by Ignatius of Loyola (1491 - 1556).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiritual_Exercises_of_Ignatius_of_Loyola

Best,

Abe
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 6/25/08 5:48 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 6/25/08 5:48 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Abe_Dunkelheit

“The problem with Zen specifically is acerbated (…) by insistence on the unquestionable and therefore undemonstrable status of the Roshi's realization, plus the "beyondness" of his or her realization. But these are not exclusive to Zen, … The degree of independence of the non-reproachable modern Zen master is, however, something rather peculiar to Zen.” (Hokai)

Yes, very well!

And that’s why I think the key to the lock of the mystery is the explanation of the fascination of the person who holds or symbolizes power (as emphasized in my previous posts);

power tends to be rationally institutionalized (like the presidency of the nation state, or the corporate business leader, or the father as the head of the family);

but in Zen even more so than in other religious traditions, the power of the person depends on what Max Weber defined as ‘charismatic authority’.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charismatic_authority

That’s why I think Stuarts approach is slightly one-sided; that what is particularly mysterious about Zen is not so much its institutional aspects, which it has in common with other religions, but the unusal depth of the charismatic authority of the Zen master!

Or stated differently: the institutional aspect of Zen is analytically only of interest and importance to the extent that it helps to explain the Zen master's extraordinary charisma (in the eye of the true believer-disciple)! What has to be explained before anything else is the phenomenon of charisma itself!

To the extent that charisma is a bio-psycho-spiritual phenomenon an interdisciplinary approach is indispensable; any given phenomenon can be explained in different ways; the relative better explanation is the synthesis of all lesser explanations, which is the former's analysis; I have not found any better (more synthetical) explanation for the phenomenon in question than the "Denial of Death".
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 6/25/08 6:16 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 6/25/08 6:16 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Abe_Dunkelheit

I see that my previous post overstates my point; I do not mean to belittle the importance of the institutional aspect; the institional aspect is very important, because it creates, sustains, amplifies the authority of the Zen master by identification with the Buddha (= the original charismatic authority of the whole tradition), so that it becomes charismatic; it is of course of great interest to study and understand how the institution charismatizes the Zen master. What I mean to say is that the need in individuals and groups for charismatic (or heroic) authority should be scrutinized, and that this need is to be found in the denial of death (and what this all entails in detail can be found in Becker's book).
Hokai Sobol, modified 16 Years ago at 6/25/08 6:53 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 6/25/08 6:53 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 4 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
Thanks, Abe. I believe that's a valid point.
Stuart Lachs, modified 16 Years ago at 6/26/08 9:14 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 6/26/08 9:14 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 5/13/09 Recent Posts
Hi,

I am away at a conference until Sunday. I will reply next week.

Thanks,

Stuart
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 6/27/08 1:31 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 6/27/08 1:31 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Abe_Dunkelheit

Denial of Death is Desire for Permanence [Immortality];

when the true believer takes refuge in the Buddha, in the Sangha, in the Dhamma,

he is conning himself,

because what really happens is that his desire for permanence is transferred upon an immortality ideology [death-defying teaching] and upon the transference figure [death-defying hero], the Buddha and by extension the Zen Master, who himself is ‘magically’ protected by the institutionalization of permanence (= lineage, initiatic chain); he is symbolically rendered immortal and therefore bestows immortality (permanence) upon the true believer; he embodies what C. G. Jung called a ‘mana-personality’:

“A personified archetypal image of a supernatural force.”

“The mana-personality is a dominant of the collective unconscious, the well-known archetype of the mighty man in the form of hero, chief, magician, medicine-man, saint, the ruler of men and spirits, the friend of God.”

“Historically, the mana-personality evolves into the hero and the godlike being, whose earthly form is the priest. How very much the doctor is still mana is the whole plaint of the analyst!”

http://www.nyaap.org/index.php/id/7/subid/53

[As a side-note: in this context it is interesting to note that Daniel is a certified MD (Medical Doctor), which is the modern (read: rationalized & institutionalized) form of a healer-shaman-priest-magician = a death-defier!]

*

Yet neither the Buddha, nor the Sangha, nor the Dhamma, nor anybody else can save one from impermanence [death] in the way one desires it;

but that is the false promise and the false hope in all religious [read: death defying] ideologies!

The Zen Master embodies ‘Permanence’ [read: security, stability, immortality, perfection];

he is the very embodiment of the Denial of Death!
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 6/27/08 1:41 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 6/27/08 1:41 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Abe_Dunkelheit

I am still not convinced that enlightenment is for real, because if it was, how can it be that an enlightened Zen master can be literally taken over by the archetype of the Self [read: the Impermanent, the Deathless, the Immutable, the Perfect etc.]?!

Can a living organism [here: a human being] really realize “Impermanence” without being struck dead on the spot by the realization of the horror of the existential situation?! I would think that as long as a human being lives, wants to live, desires to live, he MUST deny death [impermanence]; whether a person is enlightened or not, does this really matter?! The living organism is narcissistic, that is, only interested in self-perpetuation; it does not want to die, to perish, to un-exist! A human being is only willing to let go of impermanence [read here: life] in exchange for something better, when he truly believes he will gain permanence [read: immortality] in ‘the beyond’;

but show me the Western (wo)man who really wants what the Buddha offers – to die and to stay dead! It is for maximum ‘being’ [organismic prosperity] that a human beings crave for, not for non-being!!!

It is rather hilarious that for Western man the idea of reincarnation sounds 'consoling', because, having lost hope in the Christian dogma of the immortality of the soul, he psychologically takes refuge in the idea of being impermanently permanent [read: being permanently reborn]; but this idea [to die and to be reborn] was the very horror of the early Hindu & Buddhist believer; he desired deliverance from rebirth, he desired to die and to stay dead (read: to be permanently non-impermanent)!

*

"The very best is quite unattainable for you, it is, not to be born, not to exist, to be Nothing (nicht geboren zu sein, nicht zu sein, Nichts zu sein). But the next best for you is - to die soon." [F. Nietzsche, The Birth of a Tragedy] --- and the Buddha adds: "... and to stay dead!"
Hokai Sobol, modified 16 Years ago at 6/27/08 4:46 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 6/27/08 4:46 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 4 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
Abe, you have presented the death denying argument before. If you have nothing new to contribute, you can state that very briefly, without detracting from a discussion that hasn't moved much anyway by producing new circular arguments. There are actually people who will take their time to read through the whole thing, so think of them.

Not everyone taking heartfelt refuge in Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, and practicing guru-yoga, is conning themselves, while they might be a true believer by any standards - still, their sincere commitment to authentic instructions and practices will take them far into the territory of awakening to their own fearless nature.

Quote: "The Zen Master embodies ‘Permanence’ he is the very embodiment of the Denial of Death!", or "But the next best for you is - to die soon, and the Buddha adds: "... and to stay dead!" - This is a Buddhist forum, remember? Our purpose here is not to convert anyone, but we are here because we have found the core teachings of the Buddha to be much more than dying and then staying dead, and the same goes for what the Zen Master embodies.

Further, try to situate your quotes into a coherent statement - instead of a copy/paste pastiche - relating to what other people have actually said on this subject. This is a conversation, and no one is forced to enter or stay in it. Thank you.
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 7/7/08 7:03 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 7/7/08 7:03 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: SANTTHOSH

hi Abe,
It is not the person who has to get enlightenment but it is the mind which has to get enlightenment that it is not a person, then only the enlightenment is possible. we views and judge the worldview without being aware of the fact that what is it that operates as a person and perceives the world. when the physical body is not the experiencer of the physical body what is it that functions as a person and perceives the world? Thus it is erroneous to view and judge the truth on the base of physical self or ego .
since most of these physical practice are based on ego and considered sacred and holy and seeker blindly believe in them without verifying their validity.
Until and unless one seeks enlightenment on the base of I' which is the false identity they will remain in all sort of doubts and confusion.. therefore it is necessary to verify one's own inherited or accepted belief based on the false self.

Whatever you are saying is true only on the base of 'I' which is the false self. but when you become aware of the true self the the man and his world and his belief or birth,life and death becomes mere illusion. same way dream become illusion when waking takes place the waking becomes illusion when the wisdom dawns.
with respect and regards
snatthosh.
have a blisful time in experince of duality.
Stuart Lachs, modified 16 Years ago at 7/8/08 4:41 PM
Created 16 Years ago at 7/8/08 4:41 PM

RE: And so?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 5/13/09 Recent Posts
Sorry to take so long to get back to you.
Chan master Huai (992 - 1064) was a master in the Yun-men branch of Chan. I do not believe he has been translated into English. The quote " that many people speak frequently of abandoning the scriptures and regard silent sitting as Chan. “They are truly the dumb sheep of our school” comes from Albert Welter's article in the book, "The Koan," p.98. The Yun-men branch of Chan contested "a special transmission outside of scriptures" favored by the Lin-chi sect which dominated Chan at the time (Sung dynasty). There was a reluctance among these Chan masters to deny the scriptural tradition. These masters saw Chan in terms of harmony with the teachings of the scriptures.
The rhetoric of Chan was inconsistent with its reality as it became more successful. The more successful it became the more dependent it was on scholastic teachings and rituals.
Stuart Lachs, modified 16 Years ago at 7/8/08 5:03 PM
Created 16 Years ago at 7/8/08 5:03 PM

RE: And so?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 5/13/09 Recent Posts
Hi ccasey,

I think you make some very good points. I think what you are pointing out with the woman I mentioned is a problem that is common around Zen centers. The whole of Zen’s legitimating process is to get one to focus on the Zen master/roshi as bringing forth the primordial truth-perfection of the Buddha. In addition, the roshi is supposedly only looking to save sentient beings while being selfless himself. Often there is an undermining of people that takes place at Zen centers. The feelings and needs and morality you mention that she should have been focused on is often denigrated around Zen centers as being selfish or “small minded.” One can read of the same process happening many times over at the San Francisco Zen Center under the leadership of Richard Baker roshi by reading the wonderful, though disturbing book, Shoes Outside the Door, by Michael Downing.
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 7/9/08 9:10 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 7/9/08 9:10 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: SANTTHOSH

hj slachs,
Buddha did not follow Buddhism to get enlightenment.. But Buddha is real inspiration to all the truth seekers of the world.. First thing one has to learn from Buddha is the courage to accept the truth and reject the untruth. Buddha rejected religion and scriptures and concept of god..
Even the great Advith masters have declared that the religion and god glorification and scriptural studies are not needed in pursuit of truth. Since understanding the mind is very much necessary to unfold the mystery of the experience of duality. Almost all the so-called spiritual teachings are based on the false identity or ego . So they will not be able to transport the seeker to the reality of one's own existence. It is necessary for one to investigate and verify why one is not getting the expected results even after long years of practice. what is obstructing them. Since every one is emotionally and sentimentally involved with their spiritual practice it becomes very difficult to accept anything else other than their accepted truth. It is better to practice the present practice until one finds it inadequate and useless, otherwise it becomes difficult to proceed further in pursuit of truth. the masters and tradition are not needed in spiritual pursuit. the self is the true master. Buddha did not have any master. It is better to follow Buddha then the Buddhism.
Stuart Lachs, modified 16 Years ago at 7/9/08 2:41 PM
Created 16 Years ago at 7/9/08 2:41 PM

RE: And so?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 5/13/09 Recent Posts
Part 1
Hi Santthosh

All we know of the Buddha is what we have read. It was mostly written many years after the Buddha died. Your ideas about the Buddha and his teaching are what you have read from Buddhist texts. Buddha was of course embedded in Indian culture and well aware of the teachings of his time. Many people view aspects of Buddha’s teaching as replying to or reaction to Hinduism.

It seems you are also familiar with Advith [Advaita?] texts and the teaching of masters in that tradition.

Chan makes rhetorical claims to being a "a special transmission outside of scriptures." Yet Chan developed a vast amount of its own texts. I would say that Chan texts worked to trump earlier Buddhist texts as the “heart” of the Buddha’s teaching as opposed to the Buddha’s words; translated words at best that are open to misunderstanding and mistranslation. Virtually all the great early Can masters of China were very well versed in the sutras. For instance, some talks of the great Ma-tsu are almost completely quotes from the sutras, tied together with connecting phrases, of course without quotation marks or citations of what sutra they come from.
Stuart Lachs, modified 16 Years ago at 7/9/08 2:47 PM
Created 16 Years ago at 7/9/08 2:47 PM

RE: And so?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 5/13/09 Recent Posts
Part 2
It is common today to think that reading scriptures or actually understanding what a religion/tradition says is not desirable or necessary. It is also common to think that all traditions are basically the same although each tradition makes a point of saying how different they are even from other sects within their tradition, let’s forget what they think of completely other traditions.

We are for better or worse kind of trapped into words and ideas. But that trap is not complete or beyond breaking out of. Your “Almost all the so-called spiritual teachings are based on the false identity or ego” comes from your background in reading and study.

In Buddhism, whether it be Chan /Zen or Tien-tai/Tendai or Pureland traditions , virtually all the greats of these traditions were well read in their respective texts. This is not to say that is all. But to say that you can t totally avoid the texts seems foolish to me. It is one thing to go beyond the texts and another to know nothing of them.

Of course in the end, we must let go of everything. This takes courage as I assume anyone who has wholeheartedly practiced knows first hand. Many times most of us back off out of fear of falling into a black void- to go puff and be no more, or perhaps worse, to take rest in a dead silence. Then it is time to renew our efforts, to recognize that we backed off in fear or in comfortable play or rest, and then continue with renewed effort and determination. With this renewed effort and determination it is possible to actually let go of everything and to enter a new world.

It seems to me that Christians have Christian experiences, Jews have Jewish experiences, Buddhists have Buddhist experiences and so on and they are not the same. Even some one claiming no tradition, has some ideas about “experience” or “spirituality” and a background that their insight arises from.
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Wet Paint, modified 16 Years ago at 7/10/08 12:52 AM
Created 16 Years ago at 7/10/08 12:52 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: SANTTHOSH


HISLACHS,
Buddhism is the foundation of non duality. Dual and no dual are state of mind not some teaching or theory. but only when one starts investigating the nature of the mind through inquiry ,analysis and reasoning we will become aware of the fact real teachings of Buddhism and Advith have been lost or mixed and messed up somewhere. Holding some teaching as sacred and valuable without verifying their is great obstacle in pursuit of truth.
In pursuit of truth no religion nor its scriptures nor any theories and path is needed. only realizing the fact that mind is whole experience of duality which includes the universe and tracing the invisible experiencer of the mind and unfolding the mystery of the mind is the goal of the truth seeker.
with respect and regards.
SANTTHOSH
Tim Farrington, modified 4 Years ago at 4/29/20 7:44 AM
Created 4 Years ago at 4/29/20 7:43 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 2464 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Wet Paint:
Author: Abe_Dunkelheit

Hallo Adrian,

I am sorry for my late response; I had to stay away from the Dharma Underground for some time due to a complete loss of libido.

*

As to your questions:


(2) Good books make profound but simple statements etc. How about Becker?!

Becker argues that man’s innate and all-encompassing fear of death drives him to attempt to transcend death through culturally standardized hero systems and symbols. Becker shows that man’s natural and inevitable urges to deny mortality and achieve a heroic self-image are the root cause of human evil.
Best Book on human mortality psychology/spirituality/anthropology/ deeply personally Ever. Bar none.

https://www.amazon.com/The-Denial-of-Death/dp/B000CCUVV4/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2JF5HJ4FE7PV8&dchild=1&keywords=the+denial+of+death+by+ernest+becker&qid=1588163992&s=books&sprefix=Ernest+Becker%2Cdigital-text%2C160&sr=1-1

love, t

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Chris M, modified 4 Years ago at 4/29/20 8:05 AM
Created 4 Years ago at 4/29/20 8:05 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 5331 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
And... that thread is an oldie but a goodie. It's nice to read cogent posts by Stuart Lachs, Hokai, and Gozen again.
Tim Farrington, modified 4 Years ago at 4/29/20 8:26 AM
Created 4 Years ago at 4/29/20 8:26 AM

RE: And so?

Posts: 2464 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
you and shiavash appear to be the only survivors, at this point, and he just passed out asleep.

Moderate THIS! or do you want to take turns?