Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Sep 25, 2013 12:03 pm

Greetings,

daverupa wrote: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.

Well said. It also helps me see more clearly why I feel no resonance with what zavk is saying.

Personally, I regard other people as directed to by the instructions of the Sutta Pitaka, and there's plenty in there about how we do this, if we care to look. That's it - I don't feel any obligation to "change the [external] world". I don't mind if other people do, but I don't fancy being roped up for any crusades when there are more important things to be doing - i.e. striving for arahantship.

Since the Sutta Pitaka doesn't engage in socio-cultural analytics or thought-exercises such as the "greater recognition of different, multiple realities of BuddhismS" being proposed here as part of the Noble Eightfold Path, then neither do I, as part of my application of the Noble Eightfold Path.

If this topic requires one to apply a scholastic or activist lens to the topic, which is independent of the Noble Eightfold Path, then I think it's time I bowed out too, as neither frame of reference interests me - because for the reasons outlined previously, such "horizontal" ways of looking strike me as being counter-productive.

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 dagon » Wed Sep 25, 2013 1:05 pm

What my perception of what the OP was saying is that there have been significant negative impacts on Asian people through the denigration of the cultures and Buddhism as part of the dis-empowerment process that was such a feature of colonialism. Furthermore that we should recognize these facts and reflect on them in what we say when we are finger waving at events in ‘traditionally Buddhist countries’. If we are brave (or stupid) enough to try and judge other people in other culture we should do so on all the facts – not just those that are convenient and acceptable to us.

In my view decolonization has been a blessing for those in the west because it has seen the erosion of many of the views of the past – liberating us to see the Dhamma with less dust in our eyes. The reality for many other peoples is that they still have to struggle with the legacy of the colonial past in the present.

There is no racial difference in Buddhism. Racism and Buddhism are mutually exclusive in that Buddhism is about truth, knowledge and understanding whereas racism is based on ignorance, belief is self. Truth cannot have ethnic or geographical boundaries and the same can be said of non-truth and ignorance.

Personally I find the terms Asian and western Buddhism somewhat perplexing and not useful. My belief is that the Buddha taught the truths that he discovered through his enlightenment – truths that are not limited by any direction or time. The only thing that I can perceive as being a difference is the so called secular Buddhism – nice that some are taking on some of what The Buddha taught but I don’t believe that it fulfills my needs to end my suffering.

To try and hold to account any group to what has happened in the past requires a belief in permanence. But this does not preclude the inter-generational effect of what has happened in the past (as I know too well from my interaction with the Aboriginal communities). If the body gets struck it hurts, if you touch the same spot even lightly afterwards it hurts, if you go to touch it again the pain response sets in even before contact.

If we are to be honest then we should acknowledge that there are posts made on DW that clearly touch bruises on the basis of race and culture. These are comments made by a few without proper reflection before, during and afterwards. Such comments are normally made in the context of generalizations about populations from actions of individuals or minorities. The important question is how we should respond to such comments. Clearly we should have love and compassion to both those who make the comments and those affected by the comments. If we ‘belong’ to a group that the comments are directed against we need to develop equanimity so that our own practice does not suffer. While we cannot change the past we should be mindful that our comments may not be skillful or wholesome. While the Buddha clearly taught us that we should not dwell in the past he did clearly teach us that we should reflect appropriately on the past to inform what we do now and in the future.



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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby ancientbuddhism » Wed Sep 25, 2013 2:36 pm

dagon wrote:Racism and Buddhism are mutually exclusive…


Rather, racism and Dhamma are mutually exclusive. Whilst ‘Buddhism’ is as racist as any, little of which has anything to do with the “West” or being “White” as “Asian Buddhism” has been doing this long before it ever came West.
Fingers walk the darkness down
Mind is on the midnight
Gather up the gold you've found
You fool, it's only moonlight.
If you try to take it home
Your hands will turn to butter
You better leave this dream alone
Try to find another. – Townes Van Zandt ‘Lungs’

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby dagon » Wed Sep 25, 2013 2:44 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:
dagon wrote:Racism and Buddhism are mutually exclusive…


Rather, racism and Dhamma are mutually exclusive. Whilst ‘Buddhism’ is as racist as any, little of which has anything to do with the “West” or being “White” as “Asian Buddhism” has been doing this long before it ever came West.


You are right - thanks

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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Sep 25, 2013 6:23 pm

zavk wrote: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.


We all come from a certain historical and cultural milieu; I don't think anyone is denying that. We all see the world through a sort of cultural filter or lens. But isn't the process of Insight and the Dhamma to move beyond that, to remove our cultural lens and see the world, Reality clearly without these accretions, be they East or West? Many so-called Western Buddhists want a practice devoid of too much rituals and ceremonies and cultural accretions, from any culture, including Western ones. I don't think that is 'marginalizing.'

zavk wrote: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'.


Thanks for clarifying your position and showing in conclusion what you are really pointing out -- that you feel that Asian communities are not adequately recognized or appreciated. Again, I must reiterate, that in most cases I do not see this. I see many Western Buddhists very appreciative of the Asian roots of our religion:

1. Most have Asian monks or nuns as their teacher who they greatly admire and respect.
2. Many visit and attend Asian-based communities and temples in their cities.
3. Some have spent time in Asia, living for extended periods with their teacher, in various temples, attending retreats.
4. Some have made pilgrimage to India and Nepal.
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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Sep 25, 2013 6:31 pm

dagon wrote:Personally I find the terms Asian and western Buddhism somewhat perplexing and not useful.


I agree. There is just Buddhism or the various schools, but divisions by race are not beneficial.

I have written as much as in this short article I wrote back in 2009:
Western Buddhism
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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby Jhana4 » Wed Sep 25, 2013 7:53 pm

I thought your point about the term "Western Buddhism" being code for "not the Buddhism Asians do" was a sharp one.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby rohana » Wed Sep 25, 2013 9:01 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:Many so-called Western Buddhists want a practice devoid of too much rituals and ceremonies and cultural accretions, from any culture, including Western ones. I don't think that is 'marginalizing.'

Isn't removing any overt rituals and ceremonies part of Western culture? Just as the Chinese may like to chant Sūtras, Westerners may like to remove rituals - both situations are examples of Buddhism's acclimatization to a new culture.

David N. Snyder wrote: Again, I must reiterate, that in most cases I do not see this. I see many Western Buddhists very appreciative of the Asian roots of our religion:

1. Most have Asian monks or nuns as their teacher who they greatly admire and respect.
2. Many visit and attend Asian-based communities and temples in their cities.
3. Some have spent time in Asia, living for extended periods with their teacher, in various temples, attending retreats.
4. Some have made pilgrimage to India and Nepal.

Hmm... isn't this equivalent to, when pointed out that there is ethnic segregation in Buddhist communities, putting your fingers in your ear and going "la la la la"?

Consider this blog post as an example: Not Your Normal Buddhist Conference. The author of the blog wonders why the speakers lineup of the Buddhist geeks conference is not as diverse as the general Buddhist population. One of the organizers of the conference posts in the comment section saying that they're simply not interested in any input from 'ethnic Buddhists' because their focus is on 'convert Buddhists' + geeks. The reasoning behind the segregation and to what extent it is justified/unjustified is a separate issue, but to deny that it exists in the first place seems rather naive.
"Delighting in existence, O monks, are gods and men; they are attached to existence, they revel in existence. When the Dhamma for the cessation of existence is being preached to them, their minds do not leap towards it, do not get pleased with it, do not get settled in it, do not find confidence in it. That is how, monks, some lag behind."
- It. p 43
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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Sep 25, 2013 9:28 pm

rohana wrote:Isn't removing any overt rituals and ceremonies part of Western culture? Just as the Chinese may like to chant Sūtras, Westerners may like to remove rituals - both situations are examples of Buddhism's acclimatization to a new culture.


On the contrary, there are numerous rituals in traditional Western religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

rohana wrote:Hmm... isn't this equivalent to, when pointed out that there is ethnic segregation in Buddhist communities, putting your fingers in your ear and going "la la la la"?


Yes, there is some ethnic segregation in Buddhist communities, but that doesn't mean that the so-called "Western Buddhists" are marginalizing or not appreciating the Asian roots. Some temples are also cultural centers and are not only mostly Asian, but also specific to certain ethnic Asian group / nationality. For example, there is one Sri Lankan temple where I live where there are some Sinhalese Catholics who attend poya services. They have no interest in Buddhism but just want the social benefits and comradeship of being with other SInhalese.

One of the organizers of the conference posts in the comment section saying that they're simply not interested in any input from 'ethnic Buddhists' because their focus is on 'convert Buddhists' + geeks.


That is bad. Where is that quote? I didn't see it at that link.

Consider this blog post as an example: Not Your Normal Buddhist Conference.


I never denied that segregation didn't exist. I never denied that there are some "Western Buddhists" who don't want to be associated with "Asian Buddhism." See my posts above. The Buddhist geeks are not the representatives of all convert Buddhists.
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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby zavk » Wed Sep 25, 2013 11:47 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:
zavk wrote: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'.


Thanks for clarifying your position and showing in conclusion what you are really pointing out -- that you feel that Asian communities are not adequately recognized or appreciated. Again, I must reiterate, that in most cases I do not see this. I see many Western Buddhists very appreciative of the Asian roots of our religion:

1. Most have Asian monks or nuns as their teacher who they greatly admire and respect.
2. Many visit and attend Asian-based communities and temples in their cities.
3. Some have spent time in Asia, living for extended periods with their teacher, in various temples, attending retreats.
4. Some have made pilgrimage to India and Nepal.


Again, let me emphasize the point I had made in earlier posts but left implied in this one. The issue of whether Asian (or any other) Buddhist lifeworlds are adequately recognised or appreciated or not is only A SUBSET, ONE MANIFESTATION of the larger underlying challenge I am highlighting.

The principal issue is the question of whether there is any unacknowledged presumptuousness, hubris, unacknowledged layers of immodesty, in one's approach and understanding of the Dhamma, and how one could develop ways to become more mindful of it.

Unacknowledged presumptuousness/hubris/unacknowledged layers of immodesty may prevent one from recognising and appreciating multiple Buddhism realities. But even if one engages with other Buddhist communities - Asian or otherwise - one could still harbour unacknowledged presumptuousness/hubris/unacknowledged layers of immodesty, etc. Whether one engages with Asian monastics, live in Asian communities, visit Asian cultures, etc, one may still have a pedantic or I-know-better-than-you attitude.

So I am not, as it has been suggested, trying to advocate some comprehensive way to address imbalances, discrimination, or inequality around the world. That is too much to ask of any one person. I don't expect that of myself, why should others expect that of me? The proverbial 'white messiah complex' comes to mind (I'm assuming that everyone is familiar with the broad connotations of this figure of speech). As can be observed, as someone who has been and who still is being spoken down to by the white messiah complex, I have no wish whatsoever to assume the white messiah complex.

If anything, with reference to historical and cultural analytical resources on the intercultural attitudes towards what is 'proper' to Buddism, I simply wish to raise the question: is there any unacknowledged 'white messiah complex' in our approach and understanding of the Dhamma and how can we become more mindful of it? Again, by 'white messiah complex' I am NOT referring ONLY to pedantic or discriminatory attitudes towards 'Asian Buddhism', but more generally, unacknowledged presumptuousness/hubris/unacknowledged layers of immodesty (which may generate not just discriminatory attitudes towards 'Asian Buddhism' but 'sexism', 'ageism', and so on and so on).
With metta,
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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Sep 26, 2013 12:48 am

Greetings,

zavk wrote:The principal issue is the question of whether there is any unacknowledged presumptuousness, hubris, unacknowledged layers of immodesty, in one's approach and understanding of the Dhamma, and how one could develop ways to become more mindful of it.

For what end?

One man's "unacknowledged presumptuousness" may well be another man's "actual knowledge" for all we know.

One man's "hubris" may well be another man's "actual confidence" for all we know.

One man's "unacknowledged layers of immodesty" may well be another man's "actual right speech and appropriate disregard for mawkish pedantry and false modesty" for all we know.

Really... what's it to us? Rather than fall sway to judgementalism and inferiority complexes, let's focus on our own minds - that's where positive change can happen.

So how much of this is unease is truly about unwholesome cittas in self or other, and how much of this is about unwholesome mana-influenced perceptions, projection and being weakly blown about by the eight worldly conditions?

At what point can we just be as how the Kalamas were instructed and 'when you yourselves know: "These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness," enter on and abide in them.'... and cease to be fettered by self-doubt, self-distrust, social rites/rituals, pedantry, and thickets of views? Does being fettered by self-doubt, self-distrust, social rites/rituals, pedantry, and thickets of views pass the Kalama's criteria - are these things good? - do they lead to benefit and happiness?

Personally I would rather a lion roar according to its actual nature, rather than squeak like a mouse out of concern that his roar might be disconcerting to others.

Unfortunately, Buddhism can all too easily become an excuse for being a big wuss, yet wussiness is a far cry from "Therefore, O monks, you should train yourselves thus: “Unremittingly shall I struggle and resolve: ’Let only my skin, sinews and bones remain; let the flesh and blood in my body dry up; yet there shall be no ceasing of energy till I have attained whatever can be won by manly strength, manly energy, manly effort!’” (AN 2:1.5)

Image

"Thus should you train yourselves."

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 dagon » Thu Sep 26, 2013 1:34 am

I see Buddhism as a bamboo grove. It started from a single plant deposited there by karma. As the bamboo grows out from the center the center tends to die and what mainly show are dry brittle canes. As the grove expands it meets different environments and can grow differently. In some places it is taller, in some it is thicker, greener …… In some places it meets barriers .. In other parts a child sees a small plant on the edge and is filled with wonder and plants it in their garden at home; or a farmer decides that I will take a plant and start my own grove so that I do not have to wall so far to collect canes. Some times when the center had died the bamboo starts to grow back to its origins. In all the situation the bamboo is the same but also different.

Which is the best bamboo?

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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Sep 26, 2013 2:22 am

retrofuturist wrote:Image
Well, that is just ugly and disrespectful and unfunny.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Sep 26, 2013 2:33 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

zavk wrote:The principal issue is the question of whether there is any unacknowledged presumptuousness, hubris, unacknowledged layers of immodesty, in one's approach and understanding of the Dhamma, and how one could develop ways to become more mindful of it.

For what end?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If one can become aware of such problems, one can then not let them color one's perceptions. in other words, the usual Dhamma end. Also, Zavk, if he is doing anything here, it is advocating a personal, internal exploration of these issues. The issue here is not judging others, but looking at one's self in relation to the issues raised.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Sep 26, 2013 2:55 am

Greetings,

SN 46:51 wrote:There are things causing doubt; frequently giving unwise attention to them — that is the nourishment for the arising of doubt that has not yet arisen, and for the increase and strengthening of doubt that has already arisen.

SN 46:55 wrote:When one's mind is possessed by doubt, overpowered by doubt, then one cannot properly see the escape from doubt which has arisen; then one does not properly understand one's own welfare, nor that of another, nor that of both; and also texts memorized a long time ago do not come into one's mind, not to speak of those not memorized.

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 tiltbillings » Thu Sep 26, 2013 3:00 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

SN 46:51 wrote:There are things causing doubt; frequently giving unwise attention to them — that is the nourishment for the arising of doubt that has not yet arisen, and for the increase and strengthening of doubt that has already arisen.

SN 46:55 wrote:When one's mind is possessed by doubt, overpowered by doubt, then one cannot properly see the escape from doubt which has arisen; then one does not properly understand one's own welfare, nor that of another, nor that of both; and also texts memorized a long time ago do not come into one's mind, not to speak of those not memorized.

Metta,
Retro. :)
And that probably explains the starwman approach/misunderstanding you have been taking of what zavk has been saying here as we see your Buddha muscleman msg.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby chownah » Thu Sep 26, 2013 3:03 am

tiltbillings wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Image
Well, that is just ugly and disrespectful and unfunny.

Context, tiltbillings, context.
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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Sep 26, 2013 3:05 am

chownah wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Image
Well, that is just ugly and disrespectful and unfunny.

Context, tiltbillings, context.
chownah
It is ugly and disrespectful and unfunny, and the context is based upon a strawman reading of zavk's msg.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby zavk » Thu Sep 26, 2013 3:45 am

Hey... no worries man. I appreciate it but I don't wish for the thread to get bogged down on what may or may not be disrespectful to me on my account.

So to allow for the possibility of thinking otherwise, for further questioning in this thread, I suppose what Retro asks below is inter-involved with the question I posed about learning to become aware of traces of hubris/presumptuousness, if they persist, in one's own approach and understanding.


retrofuturist wrote:So how much of this is unease is truly about unwholesome cittas in self or other, and how much of this is about unwholesome mana-influenced perceptions, projection and being weakly blown about by the eight worldly conditions?

At what point can we just be as how the Kalamas were instructed and 'when you yourselves know: "These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness," enter on and abide in them.'... and cease to be fettered by self-doubt, self-distrust, social rites/rituals, pedantry, and thickets of views? Does being fettered by self-doubt, self-distrust, social rites/rituals, pedantry, and thickets of views pass the Kalama's criteria - are these things good? - do they lead to benefit and happiness?


This response may be regarded as evasive or cowardly, but not a problem for me, since like 'smart' or 'funny' these tend to be labels attributed by others to oneself. But my answer to the above questions vis-a-vis the primary question of the OP is: shall we just let questions (of self) be questions (for self) and not answer them on other's behalf?

So, let's return to dagon's post in the succession of responses and let the thread continue from here, shall we?

dagon wrote:I see Buddhism as a bamboo grove. It started from a single plant deposited there by karma. As the bamboo grows out from the center the center tends to die and what mainly show are dry brittle canes. As the grove expands it meets different environments and can grow differently. In some places it is taller, in some it is thicker, greener …… In some places it meets barriers .. In other parts a child sees a small plant on the edge and is filled with wonder and plants it in their garden at home; or a farmer decides that I will take a plant and start my own grove so that I do not have to wall so far to collect canes. Some times when the center had died the bamboo starts to grow back to its origins. In all the situation the bamboo is the same but also different.

Which is the best bamboo?
With metta,
zavk
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Re: Book: 'Before we loved the Buddha'

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Sep 26, 2013 3:54 am

zavk wrote:Hey... no worries man. I appreciate it but I don't wish for the thread to get bogged down on what may or may not be disrespectful to me on my account.
I would say that context or no context, the picture is ugly and disrespectful.

shall we just let questions (of self) be questions (for self) and not answer them on other's behalf?
That is how I read your posts from the OP on.

So, let's return to dagon's post in the succession of responses and let the thread continue from here, shall we?

dagon wrote:I see Buddhism as a bamboo grove. It started from a single plant deposited there by karma. As the bamboo grows out from the center the center tends to die and what mainly show are dry brittle canes. As the grove expands it meets different environments and can grow differently. In some places it is taller, in some it is thicker, greener …… In some places it meets barriers .. In other parts a child sees a small plant on the edge and is filled with wonder and plants it in their garden at home; or a farmer decides that I will take a plant and start my own grove so that I do not have to wall so far to collect canes. Some times when the center had died the bamboo starts to grow back to its origins. In all the situation the bamboo is the same but also different.

Which is the best bamboo?
Okay.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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