Why are there so many 'secret' Buddhists?

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

Re: Why are there so many 'secret' Buddhists?

Postby Jechbi » Sat Mar 07, 2009 5:49 pm

Snowmelt wrote:Or, perhaps an explanatory answer would be good, such as "I want to become free of greed, hate, and delusion, and I follow the Buddhist path in order to do so".

That's a great idea! :thumbsup:
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: Why are there so many 'secret' Buddhists?

Postby nathan » Sun Mar 08, 2009 12:08 am

Ok, label-scorner here. Label me as you see fit.

Here is brief account of my last experience (one of many such 'gems') of what a 'buddhist' is: A 45 year old drunk, pawing through some book by Eckhart Tolle in between screaming at his girlfriend and cracking open beers while he attempts to convert me to 'his' way of seeing things. So, as I said, thanks but no thanks.

Yours,
no-label
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Why are there so many 'secret' Buddhists?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sun Mar 08, 2009 7:58 am

So you would abandon the 'Buddhist' label because of some bad eggs?

What about the 'human' label then?
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Re: Why are there so many 'secret' Buddhists?

Postby nathan » Sun Mar 08, 2009 9:00 am

Mawkish1983 wrote:So you would abandon the 'Buddhist' label because of some bad eggs?

What about the 'human' label then?
Thats more of a response to the almost total ignorance of the Dhamma that I find in probably 95 percent of all the people I've met face to face in the day to day world who are keen to tell me about how they are 'buddhist now' and everything is sorted out. There are a few people I know personally who study and practice well for sure but not many of those I have met outside of retreats or monasteries and so on and those who do are not particularly vocal about their thoughts or opinions either. Most people would have no idea that the Dhamma was very important to them.

I just find it easier to abandon the self being involved in labels, all of them. Then there's no issues about beings this or beings that.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Why are there so many 'secret' Buddhists?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sun Mar 08, 2009 11:41 pm

I understand what you're saying... but I myself take refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. As such I am a Buddhist by most definitions I have seen. I'm not ashamed of the title 'Buddhist'. If I encounter someone else who also labels themselves Buddhist and who engages me in conversation about Buddhism, I say I'm an Upasaka. If they're 'fashion Buddhists' it usually becomes clear.

Another thought: if I met someone from a country where people generally hates folk from the UK (or the West in general) and they asked where I was from I wouldn't lie. By definition I'm British, I was born in Britian and I live in Britian. My parents are British etc. I label myself 'British' because conventionally I am! I'm not attached to being British, but I wouldn't lie about being British just because of the perceived behaviour of other British people.

By definition, I'm British. By definition, I'm Buddhist. I'm also a Scientist, a Man, a Husband, a Homeowner, a Scorpio (the list goes on and on).

I don't wish to antagonise here, my apologies if any insult is caused; that's not my intention... but maybe if more Dhamma-students / Triplegem refugees / vipassana Practitioners / whatever labelled themselves Buddhist, that 95% of 'fashion Buddhist' statistic would shrink?

On a personal note, the Dhamma saved my marriage. Whilst I know 'pride' is rooted in ego, I'm quite early on along the Buddhist path. At this time I can say honestly that I feel PROUD to have discovered Buddhism and PROUD to call myself Buddhist.

Maybe that means you who avoid the 'Buddhist' label have dispelled that pride and ARE further along the Buddhist path than I. In which case, well done :). This is 'where I'm at'.
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Re: Why are there so many 'secret' Buddhists?

Postby Individual » Mon Mar 09, 2009 12:47 am

Mawkish1983 wrote:So you would abandon the 'Buddhist' label because of some bad eggs?

What about the 'human' label then?

Yes, don't be human. Be a Buddha.
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: Why are there so many 'secret' Buddhists?

Postby clw_uk » Mon Mar 09, 2009 12:56 am

if more Dhamma-students / Triplegem refugees / vipassana Practitioners / whatever labelled themselves


I think this is a good point here, in conventional reality you always have to label so if they dont say they are buddhist thats fine, they just choose a different label but if they are practicing the eightfold path then they are following the Buddhadhamma the same as your are, they just prefer a different label for whatever reason



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Re: Why are there so many 'secret' Buddhists?

Postby jcsuperstar » Mon Mar 09, 2009 3:46 am

no offense to anyone here, but most people i meet who are "buddhist" but dont want the label, are of the type that all have sorts of non buddhists ideas they want want to keep and pass off as buddhist, and by not "attaching to a label" the allow themselves to do so.

theyll also put the words of rumi, or krishnamurti etc as just as important as anything the buddha said, and while they may have said some cool things here and there, i dont put much stock into their opinions outside of their own traditions so what rumi said is about as important to me as the words of george bush when it comes to making a point when talking about the dhamma.
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Re: Why are there so many 'secret' Buddhists?

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Mar 09, 2009 4:34 am

nathan wrote:Here is brief account of my last experience (one of many such 'gems') of what a 'buddhist' is: A 45 year old drunk, pawing through some book by Eckhart Tolle in between screaming at his girlfriend and cracking open beers while he attempts to convert me to 'his' way of seeing things. So, as I said, thanks but no thanks.
Yours,
no-label

Hi nathan (another label :o ),

"Buddhist" doesn't mean "Buddha" or Arahant or even Sotapanna. Buddhists are aiming for noble levels (or at least some are), but while not there yet, still carry around the raft.

But with that said, I'm not saying someone 'must' or 'should' call themselves 'Buddhist' but it works for me so far. :ugeek:
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Re: Why are there so many 'secret' Buddhists?

Postby nathan » Mon Mar 09, 2009 6:45 am

I'm neither ashamed nor proud of the label buddhist, that seems silly to me. It is a widely applied label, it can have utility or suitability or not in a given context. Same with nathan, the label has utility or not. I employ the word liberally when it is beneficial to use it. I'm simply pointing out that the label can be used and misused in many ways. There is always the potential misuse of the banner of buddhism by people ignorant about dhamma or its use as a political tool for polorizing a society and in other ways. From those who must always identify with everything related to the term in given contexts there will be buddhists who don't want to be identified with something said or done that they consider ignorance in the name of buddhism or they want to be particularly identified with something of merit in the name of buddhism. This is how we end up with 'big issues in buddhism' from not dealing with them as ordinary small issues in individual people. I'm not within the umbrella of buddhism out of a preeminent interest in it's social state of affairs. If the label is being applied to me in a suitable context I am willing to accept it, if it is in an unsuitable context I am not, that's all. If the term buddhism has to be applied to all kinds of stuff that isn't much related to dhamma then all of the contexts where there have to be references to this kind of buddhist and that kind of buddhist creates a kind of sectarianism on a false basis when it is a basis unrelated to important dhamma. Vegetarian buddhists vs. omnivorous buddhists. If we were to have to identify with buddhism as some kind of umbrella label covering everything done in the name of buddhism I doubt anyone would want to be identified with all of it. So it is a limited and provisional term that I would rather hold at arms length over all. With something like follower or practitioner of Buddhadhamma or refuge taker, precept keeper or upasaka or lay disciple or wherever specific commitments to various principles are more clearly implied in a terminology I am more willing to accept the label fully as identifying an important commonality between my inclinations and those of others I would consider truly like minded.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Why are there so many 'secret' Buddhists?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Mon Mar 09, 2009 8:40 am

With the utmost respect, nathan, whether you have an aversion to the label 'Buddhist' or not, by definition you ARE one. As I see it, saying 'I'm not a Buddhist' when you are is lying. That lie is rooted in aversion. Aversion comes from the ego.

In my opinion if, when asked what religion you are, you don't declare 'I am Buddhist' it's a lie by omission.

That's just how I see it.
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Re: Why are there so many 'secret' Buddhists?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Mon Mar 09, 2009 8:45 am

jcsuperstar wrote:no offense to anyone here, but most people i meet who are "buddhist" but dont want the label, are of the type that all have sorts of non buddhists ideas they want want to keep and pass off as buddhist, and by not "attaching to a label" the allow themselves to do so.

I suppose if they don't want the label and they are taking refuge outside the triplegem then they're not Buddhist after all, so in these cases maybe it's right for these people to not label themselves 'Buddhist'.

I wonder, is it possible to assign yourself a label without it being an attachment? I think it is.
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Re: Why are there so many 'secret' Buddhists?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Mon Mar 09, 2009 8:51 am

Individual wrote:Yes, don't be human. Be a Buddha.

1) The Buddha was still human biologically whilst he was alive. 2) I'm aiming for arahantship. I can't be a Buddha because I'm using the Buddhadhamma as a raft, not discovering the true nature of reality myself from scratch. 3) If I attain arahantship in this life I would still be biologically human myself. The label remains.

(I think I'm right here, but please correct me if I'm not!)
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Re: Why are there so many 'secret' Buddhists?

Postby nathan » Mon Mar 09, 2009 10:05 am

Mawkish1983 wrote:With the utmost respect, nathan, whether you have an aversion to the label 'Buddhist' or not, by definition you ARE one. As I see it, saying 'I'm not a Buddhist' when you are is lying. That lie is rooted in aversion. Aversion comes from the ego.

In my opinion if, when asked what religion you are, you don't declare 'I am Buddhist' it's a lie by omission.

That's just how I see it.
So I'm a lying egotist because I refuse to accept your label. This kind of talk is supposed to encourage me to be less adverse to identifying with the likes of you?

Cheese whiz. I'm not lying or aversive. Give me a break. Does it look like I'm adverse to being called a buddhist by you? Go ahead. It depends on the association of the term. Am I a buddhist who has taken refuge in the Buddha? Yes. Am I a buddhist who participates in this internet forum? Yes. Am I a buddhist who supports inequity, oppression or warfare with non-buddhist minorities? No. So in this last case I am not this kind of buddhist. That is an extreme kind of example where buddhist has significance in terms of identity by blood which it will never have for me with the kind of passion that it clearly does for some others. We are in vastly different relationships of one kind or many kinds with buddhism. We have that much in common, beyond that it is a mercurial term at best for a self identification which doesn't have the self with which to make good on the deal.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Why are there so many 'secret' Buddhists?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Mon Mar 09, 2009 11:17 am

nathan wrote:Cheese whiz.

Nathan, I hope you understand I didn't mean any offense and, of course, I'm not dictating to you what you should label yourself :). Still, I struggle to understand the aversion to the label 'Buddhist' based on the behaviour of other people who also label themselves 'Buddhist'. You say:

Am I a buddhist who supports inequity, oppression or warfare with non-buddhist minorities...


Buddhism doesn't teach inequity, oppression or warfare with non-Buddhist minorities. Avoiding the 'Buddhist' label sort of suggests to me that you associate Buddhism with inequity, oppression or warfare with non-Buddhist minorities. Of course Buddhists don't always get things right, we are all on the path (unless, of course, you're already enlightened... then I guess you're no longer a Buddhist, but an Arahant). Blaming acts of inequity, oppression or warfare with non-Buddhist minorities on the Buddhist religion is, in my opinion, crazy (especially when Buddhism so clearly teaches the opposite!).

So I'm a lying egotist because I refuse to accept your label

It's not my label, I didn't invent the English language. According to the Mirriam-Webster online dictionary, the word "Buddhism" first appeared in 1801. "Buddhism" is defined as: "a religion of eastern and central Asia growing out of the teaching of Gautama Buddha that suffering is inherent in life and that one can be liberated from it by mental and moral self-purification". According to that dictionary, someone who adheres to that religion is a "Buddhist". I adhere to that religion. I think you do to.

I didn't mean to suggest that you are a liar or egocentric, I am sorry of that's how it was perceived. I still stand by my statement: "saying 'I'm not a Buddhist' when you are is lying". Please don't make me find a dictionary definition of 'lie' :coffee:.

Unless you are enlightened you too are egocentric. I know I am! It's part of the human condition. I try to follow the practices outlined in the Pali Canon to help diminish that ego. I'm not perfect, I get things wrong... that will be true until I attain enlightenment (whenever that may be).

So, yes, you are a lying egotist <shrugs> so what? That's your baggage, not mine.

Anyway, to be perfectly clear, I'm not trying to attack you Nathan, I just would like to understand why people (not just you) tend to avoid the title 'Buddhist'. I think I've heard some good reasons here, so thank you :)

:anjali:
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Re: Why are there so many 'secret' Buddhists?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Mon Mar 09, 2009 11:18 am

nathan wrote:Does it look like I'm adverse to being called a buddhist by you?

(Actually, yes, it does rather seem that way)
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Re: Why are there so many 'secret' Buddhists?

Postby genkaku » Mon Mar 09, 2009 12:32 pm

FWIW.

I once went out to dinner with a woman I hadn't seen in a long time. It was a time when I was being pretty serious about Zen practice. We chatted through dinner, catching up and just enjoying ourselves. As we were about to part for the evening, I mentioned that I was interested in Buddhism. Somehow, she caught on immediately that it was something serious in my life and she chastised me for not bringing the matter up sooner: What the hell was the matter with me?!

And I thought she was right ... and I was sorry.
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Re: Why are there so many 'secret' Buddhists?

Postby nathan » Mon Mar 09, 2009 5:43 pm

Mawkish1983 wrote:
nathan wrote:Does it look like I'm adverse to being called a buddhist by you?

(Actually, yes, it does rather seem that way)
Why would being called a lying egotist or something similar every other day by 'buddhists' be offensive? Do you suddenly imagine that I have feelings now? How could that possibly be more important than your new bullsh-t dogma here? Or than yesterdays bs dogma was to the last guy? I think you have convinced me. I am probably even more unwilling to share a label with you. I'm not the least bit interested in being a buddhist like you or very many others I have encountered on the internet and elsewhere, not even for a moment.

You make my point. Thanks.
Your "non"-buddhist lying egotist friend.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Why are there so many 'secret' Buddhists?

Postby nathan » Mon Mar 09, 2009 7:02 pm

To underscore the absurdity of this whole line of thought I would like to add a quote here, post #30 from:
> E-sangha, Buddhist Forum and Buddhism Forum > Traditions > Theravada Buddhism > Modern Theravada > True Theravadins, Who qualifies?
http://www.lioncity.net/buddhism/index. ... 0080&st=20
:cookoo:
My only hope is that this kind of concern over who is a buddhist and who isn't will become as meaningless to everyone else as it has to me.
:toilet:
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Why are there so many 'secret' Buddhists?

Postby nathan » Mon Mar 09, 2009 7:48 pm

Posts #78 & #79 from the same thread quoted above:

Post #78

"I think what Kevin is trying to say is that he feels there is a broad pre-modern Theravada consensus and that that strikes him as normative Theravada.

Issues about whether Abhidhamma is to be followed or not, or whether one should rely commentaries or not are post-modern concerns that are not part of the received tradition and are largely (though not entirely) a product of the influence of western text critical scholarship. As such, he feels that people who argue against or try to select what they choose out of Theravada are not representing that school properly. In other words, he sees that there is a traditional Theravada that predates all these modern arguments.

However, this merely opens up a another can of worms in so far as the Theravadin countries themselves do not present a consistent spectrum of concerns and issues, and these vary from Shri Lanka, Burma and Thailand, etc.

I will note that from where I sit, the Abhidhamma way of reading the suttas seems to reflect the most normative approach to the Theravada school and that in general, this is where most of the post-modern discomfort is focused."

Kunga Namdrol


Post #79

"Greetings Namdrol,

I think you paint the situation accurately.

There is not a single religious tradition anywhere in the world where there is a totally homogenous picture of exactly what it entails. Different people will place emphasis on different aspects, some people will find more practical application for some bits over others, some will concentrate on perfecting different aspects of their leader's teachings etc. Theravada is no different in this regard...

Someone can practice the material and/or immaterial jhanas and be Theravadin, someone can practice vipassana and be Theravadin, someone can practice the meditations on the divine abidings and be Theravadin, someone can use the Abhidhamma as a roadmap to dhammas and be Theravadin, someone can do kasina meditations and be Theravadin, someone can watch the breath as it enters and leaves the nose and be Theravadin, someone can watch the rise and fall of the abdomen and be Theravain, someone can give alms and be Theravadin, someone can receive alms and be Theravadin, someone can have never seen a Theravadin monk in their life and be a Theravadin. Someone can practice like they do in Burma, like they do in Sri Lanka, or like they do in Thailand... even within each of these countries their are varieties and were so before Western scholarship began to even investigate Buddhism.

Someone could do all those things, or none of them, or something altogether different (paramitas, chanting, walking meditation, read suttas, learn Pali) and the list goes on and on. Different people using different aspects, finding that within the spectrum of the Theravadin tradition that they find benefit in. Some may even borrow practices from other traditions where they are compatible with the Theravadin way.

There will have never in the history of Buddhism be two people who have approached it in exactly the same way or valued particular teachings in the same way. Even in the Buddha's day you had some monks who taught and some who didn't, some who practiced the austerities, some who practiced in the wilderness, some who memorised the suttas, some who focused on meditation, some who adopted a more analytical approach, some who practiced alone, some who practiced with others and so on. Some support bhikkuni ordination, others don't. Some take the vinaya by the letter, others take it by what they consider it to be the spirit, some break vinaya, some hold it perfectly... layfolk don't take it at all. Some are vegetarians, some eat meat, some eat whatever they are given and other have a say in their diet....

The idea that any one single person's approach to Theravada Buddhism represents the "true Theravadin" is an absolute joke, incredibly intolerant, and is simply a case of someone trying to paint the tradition in their own image to the detriment of harmony within the entire tradition. Frankly it's no less insulting to Theravadins than it would be for Theravadins to turn around to Mahayanists and say they weren't 'true Buddhists' simply because they do things a bit differently and prioritize aspects of their Buddhist practice differently."

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But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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