Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby zavk » Wed Sep 25, 2013 3:51 am

chownah wrote:
chownah wrote:
zavk wrote:..........not to disparage 'Western Buddhism' as such, since I am participating in it too, but merely in hope of encouraging curiosity about the stories of other Buddhists that may be effaced/subjugated/denigrated, even if unwittingly, by the story 'Western Buddhism' narrates about itself.

Ok, then. Consider me to be encouraged to be curious about the stories of other Buddhists as you describe.......so where are these stories? Are you talking about stories from Buddhists alive today or are you just talking about stories about dead Buddhists?
chownah

Ok, we'll........seems like you are saying that your life is one of the stories.......seems like you are self making big time......are there other stories about other Buddhists alive today or are all the other stories about dead Buddhists?
chownah


Despite the OP starting with an overview of a study (including a link) on the historical and cultural processes conditioning the story of ‘Western Buddhism’ and what is sometimes excluded by its frame of focus….

Despite my sharing in a follow-up post six or seven links to books that shed light on the other sides of the story of ‘Western Buddhism’…

Despite my use of bold fonts to highlight certain phrases like historical and cultural process, so as to map my experience against a wider backdrop of conditioning forces that are external to the self but which shape our experience of ‘self’….

Perhaps I had wrongly presumed that I had put in sufficient effort in my long posts….

Perhaps I had wrongly presumed that it would be better to just offer general suggestions in a forum like this where one often encounters the celebration of such sentiments: ‘The Dhamma is all about “come and see for your self”…’ ‘You cannot tell people what to think, you can only offer suggestions and let them find out for themselves’, blah, blah, blah…. surely you know the rest….

Perhaps I ought to have been even more presumptuous and offered a link like this http://lmgtfy.com/ and specified search terms…

I am tempted to evoke the experience of others like Ben and Mike (I name this two simply because I have had contact with them) who may have encountered similar stories in their interactions with Buddhist communities that straddle cultural and traditional boundaries… but it would perhaps be too presumptuous of me to speak for others… I mean, after all, I am trying to be mindful of the problem of presumptuousness, aren’t I? And is there anything more presumptuous than to make claims about others?

Well, what can I say? Thank YOU for showing me that I have been overly presumptuous or not presumptuous enough. I am not quite sure which….

In any event, thank YOU for showing me how I am ‘making my self big time.’ Gee… now I really feel like I ought to reflect on the forces that have shaped my self.

It is sometimes customary to show appreciation for others’ contributions by saying ‘Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!’ But in this instance, it would not only be dishonourable to the Dhamma to do so - it would be more dishonest than having said ‘thank you’.
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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Sep 25, 2013 4:09 am

Greetings,

zavk wrote:In any event, thank YOU for showing me how I am ‘making my self big time.’ Gee… now I really feel like I ought to reflect on the forces that have shaped my self.

Alternatively...

MN 132 wrote:Do not recollect the past........

Bhikkhus, how do you recollect the past? You think interestedly, I was of such matter in the past. I was of such feelings in the past. I was of such perceptions in the past. I was of such determinations in the past. I was of such consciousness in the past. Bhikkhus, thus you recollect the past.

Bhikkhus, how do you not recollect the past? You do not think interestedly, I was of such matter in the past. I was of such feelings in the past. I was of such perceptions in the past. I was of such determinations in the past. I was of such consciousness in the past. Bhikkhus, thus you do not recollect the past.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby zavk » Wed Sep 25, 2013 4:36 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

zavk wrote:In any event, thank YOU for showing me how I am ‘making my self big time.’ Gee… now I really feel like I ought to reflect on the forces that have shaped my self.

Alternatively...

MN 132 wrote:Do not recollect the past........

Bhikkhus, how do you recollect the past? You think interestedly, I was of such matter in the past. I was of such feelings in the past. I was of such perceptions in the past. I was of such determinations in the past. I was of such consciousness in the past. Bhikkhus, thus you recollect the past.

Bhikkhus, how do you not recollect the past? You do not think interestedly, I was of such matter in the past. I was of such feelings in the past. I was of such perceptions in the past. I was of such determinations in the past. I was of such consciousness in the past. Bhikkhus, thus you do not recollect the past.

Metta,
Retro. :)


Well, what can I say, thank YOU too for reminding me what my own lived experience is really like, and for reminding me of the real cause of my plight as a postcolonial subject who has had to come to terms with my place in history all my life. You know... sometimes when I reflect on how the Australian Aboriginals, African Americans, Anglo-Indians, etc, and how other postcolonial subjects grapple with the same historical forces as I am, I often feel a sense of empathy and solidarity with them, even though I am also painfully aware that it would be presumptuous of me to say I know exactly how they feel or tell them how they ought to go about coming to terms with their own historical plight. But perhaps this is just a false sense of empathy. Perhaps myself and others are just holding ourselves back by refusing to let go of the past. Silly, deluded, aversion-filled us.

Given your demonstrated ability to evoke pertinent quotes and/or themes from the suttas, I shall – if I may be so presumptuous – take it that you have discovered a certain leverage in understanding the Dhamma. Now I really feel I ought to reconsider how myself and others have been encumbered by the baggage of the past. How presumptuous of me to think that we are products of history. Yes, I shall learn to ‘let go’.
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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Sep 25, 2013 5:52 am

retrofuturist wrote:
MN 132 wrote:Do not recollect the past........

Bhikkhus, how do you recollect the past? You think interestedly, I was of such matter in the past. I was of such feelings in the past. I was of such perceptions in the past. I was of such determinations in the past. I was of such consciousness in the past. Bhikkhus, thus you recollect the past.

Bhikkhus, how do you not recollect the past? You do not think interestedly, I was of such matter in the past. I was of such feelings in the past. I was of such perceptions in the past. I was of such determinations in the past. I was of such consciousness in the past. Bhikkhus, thus you do not recollect the past.


As far as I can understand it, this quote has no relevance to this thread. The sutta is about building a sense of self from the past (or present or future).

Developing an understanding the cultural accretions of the last couple of centuries that have shaped Western Buddhism is not such an activity. Any more than reading and evaluating suttas or ancient and modern analyses of the Dhamma is such an activity.

:anjali:
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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Sep 25, 2013 5:59 am

Greetings,

mikenz66 wrote:As far as I can understand it, this quote has no relevance to this thread. The sutta is about building a sense of self from the past (or present or future).

Indeed, that is what the sutta is about... so unless this is a purely academic exercise that zavk is facilitating here (and given his self-disclosures, it seems it's not), then it is relevant.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Sep 25, 2013 6:16 am

retrofuturist wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:As far as I can understand it, this quote has no relevance to this thread. The sutta is about building a sense of self from the past (or present or future).

Indeed, that is what the sutta is about... so unless this is a purely academic exercise that zavk is facilitating here (and given his disclosures, it seems it's not), then it is relevant.

Analysing sources in order to make informed decisions on how to apply the Dhamma is not what I understand that sutta to be warning against.

Furthermore, if your assertion is correct then it applies to almost any discussion (or thought) about how to interpret and/or make use of any sutta, commentary, etc. Unless one already has a perfect understanding of the Dhamma then such analyses (or advice from others) will be necessary.

:anjali:
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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Sep 25, 2013 6:30 am

Greetings,

mikenz66 wrote:Analysing sources in order to make informed decisions on how to apply the Dhamma is not what I understand that sutta to be warning against.

That's a very myopic view of what this topic is about. It may be what you wish it were only about, but have you read zavk's posts? Surely you don't need me to collate everything he has said thus far that doesn't fit your very narrow description of the topic.

mikenz66 wrote:Furthermore, if your assertion is correct then it applies to almost any discussion (or thought) about how to interpret and/or make use of any sutta, commentary, etc. Unless one already has a perfect understanding of the Dhamma then such analyses (or advice from others) will be necessary.

Not quite sure what you mean here, Mike.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby Dan74 » Wed Sep 25, 2013 6:31 am

I had a sense of deja vu reading through this thread - haven't we gone over this ground in the past and haven't we come up with the same conclusions?

I have a strong aversion to going around in circles, but the irony is of course that most of the time I don't recognise that I am. I suppose this situation is fairly universal.

"Let go of the past" is good compassionate and wise advice and 'let go of the past' is a glib selfish and useless advice. The past has conditioned who we are in very profound and subtle ways. Letting go, when the notion itself is shaped and refracted through what one attempt to let go of, is often a virtual impossibility. Which one of us here can confidently say to have let gone of all their past, emancipated him/herself fully of it?

It is hard to know what the right thing to reply is to zavk's posts, I guess when in doubt I say nothing and just listen, but in any case I hope that everyone pauses with reacting and reflects on all the sides of this discussion here (as no doubt many have already been doing).

Thank you, folks, for contributing, much has resonated from 'my past'.
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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby Aloka » Wed Sep 25, 2013 7:08 am

Dan74 wrote:.

"Let go of the past" is good compassionate and wise advice and 'let go of the past' is a glib selfish and useless advice. The past has conditioned who we are in very profound and subtle ways. Letting go, when the notion itself is shaped and refracted through what one attempt to let go of, is often a virtual impossibility.


I don't want to go off topic in this thread but I don't see how "let go of the past" is "a glib selfish and useless advice" to anyone who is a serious Dhamma practitioner. Why otherwise would we have something like this in the suttas ?


The Blessed One said:

You shouldn't chase after the past
or place expectations on the future.
What is past is left behind.
The future is as yet unreached.
Whatever quality is present
you clearly see right there,
right there.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.131.than.html


I have also found that even without meditation practice, calm reasoning along the same lines has been helpful to non-Buddhists I know, because they can catch themselves dwelling on the past (either collective or personal) and learn to let it go and bring their mind back to what's happening in the present.

:anjali:
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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby zavk » Wed Sep 25, 2013 7:12 am

Dan74 wrote:It is hard to know what the right thing to reply is to zavk's posts...


Ok I admit that I had indulged myself in being deliberately provocative in some ways, with the presumption (<-- yes, it is a stubborn habit) that generating discomfort can be a productive way of drawing attention (or not) to things that we may not typically pay attention to.

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

mikenz66 wrote:Analysing sources in order to make informed decisions on how to apply the Dhamma is not what I understand that sutta to be warning against.

That's a very myopic view of what this topic is about. It may be what you wish it were only about, but have you read zavk's posts? Surely you don't need me to collate everything he has said thus far that doesn't fit your very narrow description of the topic.


In an impossible ideal situation, the discussion would simply be about making informed decision to apply the Dhamma. But Retro is right, it is impossible to contain it that way. Whether it is intentional or not, the analysis of historical and sociocultural sources invariably bleeds into the question of how one relates the self to self to others to past to present to future. In which case, the Buddha's advice on not-clinging to the past for a sense of self is relevant.

HOWEVER, and I have raised the point previously, the tricky part is: given that one cannot get inside another's body/lived experience, how does one ascertain on the behalf of others that they are analysing sources in order to cling onto the past, or whether they are in fact doing it to allow the ongoing reverberations of the past to become otherwise?

It is easy enough, if advice is explicitly sought by others. But what if advice is not sought as such? When/how does one presume to be able to know if others are engaging in the Dhamma skilfully or not, or if they are not cultivating the right insights, or if their practice is impoverished/deviated, etc? (And more broadly speaking, when/how does one presume to tell those marginalised others who wish to interrogate history that they really ought to 'get over it'?)

This is the underlying issue of presumptuousness/taken for grantedness I have been highlighting. This presumptuous habit tends to go unnoticed if one feels that one has some unalloyed, direct access to the Dhamma, as if one's understanding of the Dhamma is not already conditioned by historical and cultural forces - in which case, there might be a greater tendency to correct others or regard others as not quite getting the Dhamma 'right', and hence, in need of 'intervention'.

Given the difficulty of actually catching hold of this presumptuousness, my feeling is that one strategic way to become more mindful of the habit of presumptuousness/taken for grantedness is to take a step back from the actual content of the Dhamma itself and pay attention to how we are conditioned in our approaches and attitudes towards the content of the Dhamma and what is excluded by the necessary framing process of these attitudes and approaches. It is not about replacing one set of practice with the other. They are complementary, mutually enhancing.
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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby Ben » Wed Sep 25, 2013 7:32 am

zavk wrote:Given the difficulty of actually catching hold of this presumptuousness, my feeling is that one strategic way to become more mindful of the habit of presumptuousness/taken for grantedness is to take a step back from the actual content of the Dhamma itself and pay attention to how we are conditioned in our approaches and attitudes towards the content of the Dhamma. It is not about replacing one set of practice with the other. They are complementary, mutually enhancing.


Indeed. And not just our own approaches and attitudes towards the content of the Dhamma is conditioned by cultural, social and political influences, but the Dhamma that has been handed down to us has been interpreted through the conditional matrices of others. Denying the overlapping and interconnected conditioning that affects our own perception and the perceptions of past translators, teachers and other practitioners that have had a role in propagating the sasana - doesn't mean it its not there - or does not have agency.
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sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Sep 25, 2013 7:50 am

retrofuturist wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:Analysing sources in order to make informed decisions on how to apply the Dhamma is not what I understand that sutta to be warning against.

That's a very myopic view of what this topic is about. It may be what you wish it were only about, but have you read zavk's posts? Surely you don't need me to collate everything he has said thus far that doesn't fit your very narrow description of the topic.

I've read his posts, and your replies. From my point of view your replies seem to be assuming that zavk needs help letting go of his past, and you're going to help him by quoting suttas to him.

I think that what he is saying about what shapes our perception of Dhamma is much more interesting than that.

See also: Did the Buddha teach us to dwell only in the present?
retrofuturist wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:Furthermore, if your assertion is correct then it applies to almost any discussion (or thought) about how to interpret and/or make use of any sutta, commentary, etc. Unless one already has a perfect understanding of the Dhamma then such analyses (or advice from others) will be necessary.

Not quite sure what you mean here, Mike.

That you could apply the same reasoning to most discussions here on Dhamma Wheel about how to interpret and practise Dhamma. For example, some here place great emphasis on using historical text-critical analysis to figure out which sutta passage are the real teaching of the Buddha, and which are cultural accretions. Should the retort: "Do not recollect the past........" be applied to those discussions? If not, what is the key difference between investigating cultural accretions in the suttas and cultural accretions in modern interpretations. "Modern interpretations" includes, of course, our own views on the Dhamma...

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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:21 am

Greetings,

mikenz66 wrote:I've read his posts, and your replies. From my point of view your replies seem to be assuming that zavk needs help letting go of his past, and you're going to help him by quoting suttas to him.

More generally, I'm assuming that as a Buddhist he is interested in liberation and the teachings of the Buddha, so I am sharing the Buddha's teachings that seem pertinent to the situation at hand, this being a Buddhist forum and all. Much like in a recent topic where Bhikkhu Pesala said, "What I think is of no consequence for you — it depends on what you think, say, and do that will decide whether or not you wind up in hell. My duty is just to teach what the Buddha taught, as far as I understand it, according to reliable sources"... the only difference being that I do not regard myself as a teacher... merely a fellow way-farer on the Buddhist path. Yet, as I said on page one of this topic... "People are of course welcome to dwell on whatever issues they like, but if they were to follow the teachings of the Buddha, they would be inclined to focus on subjects which give rise to wisdom, non-greed, and non-aversion which are sukha, rather than subjects which give rise to ignorance, greed and aversion which are dukkha. People are of course welcome to ignore the Buddha's teachings if they like, too." I can't stop him bringing dukkha unto himself - that's for him to do.

Just one last thing on that, I haven't once mentioned the phrase "let go"... I've addressed the matter with reference to jati (identification), asmi-mana ("I am" conceit), and wise attention on appropriate objects of attention, as that is where the "letting go" (or most specifically, the potential "not taking up") of these things takes place. This isn't about repression or denial - it's about non-appropriation.

In the Buddha's time, there were people from various walks of life who found their way to his teaching - from businessful businessmen, to lepers, to physicians, to god knows what else. The Buddha taught the Dhamma irrespective to anyone who respectfully wished to know it... the only exception I can think of is where he insisted that a hungry man was fed first before he received the Dhamma. He would explain it in terms that these people would understand, but he didn't encourage them to find liberation in regular dissection and disentanglement of one's past - he encouraged it through application of the Noble Eightfold Path and seeing with the Dhamma eye (i.e. seeing in accordance with the Dhamma). Much of this socio-cultural analytics actually goes against viewing with the Dhamma eye - because it's deliberately framing things in the horizontal/objective/abstracted sense rather than the vertical/subjective/phenomenological sense. i.e. framing it outside loka, outside sabba, beyond range.

mikenz66 wrote:I think that what he is saying about what shapes our perception of Dhamma is much more interesting than that.

Perhaps - I'll reserve judgement until I see some practical Dhammic (i.e. non-academic) application for it, that accords with the suttas.

mikenz66 wrote:That you could apply the same reasoning to most discussions here on Dhamma Wheel about how to interpret and practise Dhamma. For example, some here place great emphasis on using historical text-critical analysis to figure out which sutta passage are the real teaching of the Buddha, and which are cultural accretions. Should the retort: "Do not recollect the past........" be applied to those discussions? If not, what is the key difference between investigating cultural accretions in the suttas and cultural accretions in modern interpretations. "Modern interpretations" includes, of course, our own views on the Dhamma...

"The past" in the sutta I quoted is used in a strictly phenomenological sense vis-a-vis the aggregates - not history. It's about avoiding unwise attention - particularly that which leads to "I-making".

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby zavk » Wed Sep 25, 2013 9:44 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

mikenz66 wrote:I've read his posts, and your replies. From my point of view your replies seem to be assuming that zavk needs help letting go of his past, and you're going to help him by quoting suttas to him.

More generally, I'm assuming that as a Buddhist he is interested in liberation and the teachings of the Buddha, so I am sharing the Buddha's teachings that seem pertinent to the situation at hand, this being a Buddhist forum and all.... People are of course welcome to ignore the Buddha's teachings if they like, too." I can't stop him bringing dukkha unto himself - that's for him to do.

...Much of this socio-cultural analytics actually goes against viewing with the Dhamma eye - because it's deliberately framing things in the horizontal/objective/abstracted sense rather than the vertical/subjective/phenomenological sense. i.e. framing it outside loka, outside sabba, beyond range.

mikenz66 wrote:I think that what he is saying about what shapes our perception of Dhamma is much more interesting than that.

Perhaps - I'll reserve judgement until I see some practical Dhammic (i.e. non-academic) application for it, that accords with the suttas.


I appreciate you trying to clarify my position, Mike. But I really do not wish for there to be a debate about the actual texture of my Dhamma-practice and experience on my behalf.

As for whether I am adequately appreciating the import of the Buddha's teachings on the liberation from dukkha or not... whether I am merely engaging in an exercise of papanca that deliberately goes against viewing with the Dhamma eye... whether there is no actual practical application that accords with the suttas, etc ....

Ok, I won't say never, since I am committed to anicca. But such as it is, as far as my ongoing Dhamma practice is concerned, I have no desire to participate in and would even actively distance myself from the particular mode of approaching the Dhamma indicated by Retro's interpretations, insofar as it turns on the idea that there can be some self-evident 'untainted', 'pure' or 'pristine' way to engage with the Buddha's teachings.

The metaphor of 'white' comes to mind again (if you haven't read my earlier posts, please do so for clarification on my use of the term). 'White' can be taken as a 'pristine', 'untainted', 'pure' colour.... I have attempted to show in this thread and previous threads, how a 'white' approach to Buddhism can generate, even if unwittingly, an effect of 'whitewashing' - symbolic violence that extends beyond Dhamma or Buddhist contexts. But of course one may not agree with a claim of 'whitewashing' if 'whiteness' is regarded as 'pristine', 'untainted', 'pure'.... But I won't harp on this point about the so-called 'colour-blindness' of 'white'.

Perhaps, my approach to the Dhamma is 'deviant' or 'bastardised' (I know, no one is using these terms on me, but you get my drift). As I have tried to show in my personal reflections, throughout my life my very mode of un-becoming-in-this-world is predicated on my being a 'deviant' or 'bastardised' 'Chinese', 'Christian', 'Buddhist', etc, etc.... It doesn't bother me - and in fact, I'd happily embrace the reality - if I were regarded, implicitly or explicitly, as that yellow bastard who is turning his back on, betraying, bastardising, the pristine 'whiteness' of 'white' Buddhism.

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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby chownah » Wed Sep 25, 2013 10:23 am

zavk wrote:
chownah wrote:
chownah wrote:
Ok, then. Consider me to be encouraged to be curious about the stories of other Buddhists as you describe.......so where are these stories? Are you talking about stories from Buddhists alive today or are you just talking about stories about dead Buddhists?
chownah

Ok, we'll........seems like you are saying that your life is one of the stories.......seems like you are self making big time......are there other stories about other Buddhists alive today or are all the other stories about dead Buddhists?
chownah


"...........

Despite my sharing in a follow-up post six or seven links to books........

Well, what can I say? Thank YOU for showing me that I have been overly presumptuous or not presumptuous enough. I am not quite sure which….

In any event, thank YOU for showing me how I am ‘making my self big time.’ Gee… now I really feel like I ought to reflect on the forces that have shaped my self.

zavk,
You are entirely welcome but I should point out that it is no just your own sense of self that you are making, it is also selves for others and even for groups of others......and I agree that you would benefit from reflecting on the forces you see that have helped to shape your false sense of self.....or using whatever means you have to learn whatever you can about what the Buddha called the fetter of self.

I looked at your links and they are not to books. They are to book sellers. I read the abstract and really did not get the impression that they would say much about Buddhists who felt effaced/subjugated/denigrated......seems they are mostly about various scholars who studied religion and gave their views on Buddhism. I'm really wanting to find about some Buddhists who feel that way as per the stories you mentioned. I really do think that you are presenting yourself as one such person even though you have not commented on my saying so. Perhaps your malaise is not as common as you think and that is why when specifically asked to bring examples you don't provide any......I don't know..... I live in a village where most everyone is Buddhist and I really don't think that any of these people feel that way.

Maybe you should change your signature to exclude me from the metta.
chownah

To everyone,
Can anyone please come up with some stories of effacement, subjugation, or denigration as per the above. Hard for me to be sensitive to these stories if I never see them.
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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Sep 25, 2013 10:26 am

Hi zavk,
zavk wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:I appreciate you trying to clarify my position, Mike. But I really do not wish for there to be a debate about the actual texture of my Dhamma-practice and experience on my behalf.

Sorry, I was trying to pick up on the general issue of cultural accretion in Western Buddhism (which I suspect affects all of us here). Clearly unsuccessfully. I'll bow out now...

:anjali:
Mike
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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby Dan74 » Wed Sep 25, 2013 10:27 am

Aloka wrote:
Dan74 wrote:.

"Let go of the past" is good compassionate and wise advice and 'let go of the past' is a glib selfish and useless advice. The past has conditioned who we are in very profound and subtle ways. Letting go, when the notion itself is shaped and refracted through what one attempt to let go of, is often a virtual impossibility.


I don't want to go off topic in this thread but I don't see how "let go of the past" is "a glib selfish and useless advice" to anyone who is a serious Dhamma practitioner. Why otherwise would we have something like this in the suttas ?


The Blessed One said:

You shouldn't chase after the past
or place expectations on the future.
What is past is left behind.
The future is as yet unreached.
Whatever quality is present
you clearly see right there,
right there.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.131.than.html


I have also found that even without meditation practice, calm reasoning along the same lines has been helpful to non-Buddhists I know, because they can catch themselves dwelling on the past (either collective or personal) and learn to let it go and bring their mind back to what's happening in the present.

:anjali:



Aloka, sometimes we let go and sometimes when told to let go, we hold on even tighter. It all depends.

But I agree with folks here who say that in order to let go, it actually helps to understand what it is one is letting go of and for that such explorations can be useful.
_/|\_
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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby zavk » Wed Sep 25, 2013 10:48 am

chownah wrote:I looked at your links and they are not to books. They are to book sellers. I read the abstract and really did not get the impression that they would say much about Buddhists who felt effaced/subjugated/denigrated......seems they are mostly about various scholars who studied religion and gave their views on Buddhism. I'm really wanting to find about some Buddhists who feel that way as per the stories you mentioned. I really do think that you are presenting yourself as one such person even though you have not commented on my saying so. Perhaps your malaise is not as common as you think and that is why when specifically asked to bring examples you don't provide any......I don't know..... I live in a village where most everyone is Buddhist and I really don't think that any of these people feel that way.


The actual number of people who feel like I do - and whether there are in fact people who feel like I do or not - does not invalid the principal theme/objective of this thread. As I have pointed out, and as Mike just attempted to underscore again, it is about how we can become mindful of the historical and cultural forces shaping 'Western' or more broadly 'modern' Buddhism.

I portray my experience in a certain way not to hold it up as a standard for evaluation, but to use it to draw attention to these broader historical and cultural forces, which are documented by those books I linked to. They do not investigate the personal feelings of large groups of people as such - how does one go about accomplishing this project? But they do give an insight into the conditioning factors of 'Western' or 'modern' Buddhism. Yes, it may be true that the people in your village do not experience disconnect, ambivalence, etc (and they could very well be very at peace). I am NOT expecting them to feel this way. What I am pointing to, rather, is how their lifeworlds and approaches to Buddhism may not be adequately recognised or appreciated by those deeply embedded in 'Western Buddhism'. In this sense, you are in a good position to actually live the other realities of BuddhismS. And that's my point - NOT to insist that there must be people who feel like I do - but that there could be greater recognition of different, multiple realities of BuddhismS. 'Western Buddhists', with their capacity to access to resources, are actually in a good position to learn about these other BuddhismS and become mindful of how one's embeddedness and framing within certain circumstances may exclude/marginalise these other realities.

And yes, the authors of the book may be scholars. But it does not logically follow that these authors are merely approaching Buddhism from the outside or that they are not living it - Richard Gombrich is one of the authors mentioned... others are committed Buddhists too.
With metta,
zavk
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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby daverupa » Wed Sep 25, 2013 11:16 am

zavk wrote:...there could be greater recognition of different, multiple realities of BuddhismS. 'Western Buddhists', with their capacity to access to resources, are actually in a good position to learn about these other BuddhismS and become mindful of how one's embeddedness and framing within certain circumstances may exclude/marginalise these other realities.


If there are social imbalances or civil imbalances, these can be addressed with dialogue and policy, but trying to ensure that Dhamma practice somehow "accounts" for the innumerable Other in its uniqueness is going too far, isn't it? This reference to "in certain circumstances", as with much of how you've framed this so far, is quite non-specific, and it seems as though the examples you are able to provide are either hypothetical or personal. So the issue you're trying to bring up is starting to look locally relevant while being framed in global terms, and this is serving to obscure the issue, I think, rather than clarify it.

:heart:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby zavk » Wed Sep 25, 2013 11:29 am

daverupa wrote:
zavk wrote:...there could be greater recognition of different, multiple realities of BuddhismS. 'Western Buddhists', with their capacity to access to resources, are actually in a good position to learn about these other BuddhismS and become mindful of how one's embeddedness and framing within certain circumstances may exclude/marginalise these other realities.


If there are social imbalances or civil imbalances, these can be addressed with dialogue and policy, but trying to ensure that Dhamma practice somehow "accounts" for the innumerable Other in its uniqueness is going too far, isn't it? This reference to "in certain circumstances", as with much of how you've framed this so far, is quite non-specific, and it seems as though the examples you are able to provide are either hypothetical or personal. So the issue you're trying to bring up is starting to look locally relevant while being framed in global terms, and this is serving to obscure the issue, I think, rather than clarify it.

:heart:


Whether there can be some macro-mode of dialogue or policy that comprehensively addresses these issues, I do not have the expertise to say. Am I insisting that Dhamma practice must be able to account for the innumerable Other in its singularity - well, as you point out, this is an unreasonable and impossible task, given that innumerable means, well, innumerable. But the ideal of innumerability can serve as an orienting horizon of inspiration, couldn't it, even if one doesn't actually pretend to be able to account for what is innumerable? Would it hurt to nevertheless endeavour to put out suggestions in the hope that it would generate curiosity in some? And you're right, this does point to a certain conundrum about the relation between the local and the global. As I have said, I do not claim to be able to comprehensively address the issues on a global scale. But if there's a possibility of prompting some interest in ways that may be relevant to some people in a specific, locally relevant way - why not? I do not want to claim to be able to offer an account that can clarify the issue comprehensively. But I do feel that the resources are out there and are accessible for others to explore their curiosity, if they so wish. After all the popular adage goes: act local think global....

ps: I really appreciate where you are coming from with your allusion to the innumerable Other. :)
With metta,
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