Tensions within Modern Buddhism, Real or Illusory?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Will
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Re: Tensions within Buddhism, Real

Post by Will » Sat Jan 17, 2009 4:02 pm

There have always been debates between the followers of Buddha. Sometimes this "tension" leads to new schools or sects, but this is nothing out of the ordinary. At other times it is just a matter of differing emphasis or focus on some doctrines or practices that begin to define a new school of Buddhism. In this case there is no tension.

We Occidental adherents are more aware than many ethnic followers, of the vast field of the Dharma that produced such a variety of views and we are not sure if all are of equal value or not. This lack of real certainty makes some of us so uncomfortable that we strike out, either to defend what we "know" is the best form of Dharma or to attack that view which we also "know" is not the right way.

In addition, we converts, whether from secularism, indifference or another religon, are often ablaze with energy that will burn ourselves and others at times.
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- AN 10.1

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christopher:::
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Re: Tensions within Modern Buddhism, Real or Illusory?

Post by christopher::: » Sat Jan 17, 2009 5:09 pm

Thank you all for responding. So many wise and insightful posts!

Now, here comes the 20 thousand dollar question: what responsibility (if any) do those in positions of power have to be tolerant of their sisters and brothers who have no such power, when views of traditions and/or practitioners may differ?

How important within Buddhism is the value and practice of tolerance?

AND (finally) when tolerance is not being practiced by our fellow Buddhists, what can we do if anything?

Accept the situation as is? Scream loudly? Teach by example?

Just walk away?
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009

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jcsuperstar
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Re: Tensions within Modern Buddhism, Real or Illusory?

Post by jcsuperstar » Sat Jan 17, 2009 5:34 pm

well this place is here

and theres treeleaf for soto zen...

what happens when you have a party and its not fun for your guests?
they find new parties..
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

piper
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Re: Tensions within Modern Buddhism, Real or Illusory?

Post by piper » Sat Jan 17, 2009 6:53 pm

Hi Christopher:::,
christopher::: wrote:a) how do you view this
I've been thinking lately that such tensions might arise from the different approaches to Buddhist practice. The basic split being the direct path and the... uh, I don't know the proper term for the inverse... the indirect path? My understanding of the difference is shaky at best but for what it's worth I'll posit that it boils down to our basic drive for meaning. The indirect path provides an abundance of meaning and the direct path is more austere. Both paths can lead to transcendence, of course, I think it's a matter of whichever suites a particular individual rather than a matter of one being better than the other.
b)how should people respond
NEFP, of course. :smile:
c)is this a natural tension that should be expected
In the sense that we all seem to have an insatiable drive for meaning it may be expected to cause tension without, as well as within.
d)do you have any suggestions for how this tension might be neutralized or diminished?
NEFP, of course. :smile:

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Placid-pool
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Re: Tensions within Modern Buddhism, Real or Illusory?

Post by Placid-pool » Sat Jan 17, 2009 7:02 pm

jcsuperstar wrote:well this place is here

and theres treeleaf for soto zen...

what happens when you have a party and its not fun for your guests?
they find new parties..
:goodpost:

Dharmajim
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Re: Tensions within Modern Buddhism, Real or Illusory?

Post by Dharmajim » Sat Jan 17, 2009 7:52 pm

LisaMann wrote:Greetings and thanks for the invite! :D

As far as Tibetan vs Zen, this is nothing new... hey there've been issues for a millennium, and I guess some Tibetans still see Mo-ho-yen under every bed. "Ban the blasphemer!" Heck, back then we got the boot from the Tibetan plateau, now we just get the boot off a website.

It stinks, but we can choose to, or not to, participate. I'll leave my sandals behind, at least.
One of the most frustrating things for Zen, not just Soto Zen, practitioners is the way Tibetan Buddhism interprets their tradition through the lens of a single historical incident that took place over 1,000 years ago. As a former Zen practitioner I can attest to feeling like I was in some kind of strange surreal realm when talking to Tibetan Buddhists about Zen, unless they had previously practiced Zen. It is common, for example, for Tibetan Buddhists to state that Zen seeks to "eliminate" thoughts. The problem with this is that no Zen Master, no Zen Meditation manual, ever says this. I think this is one of the root sources for the kind of tension that people observe.

Please understand that I am not disparaging the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, I am only pointing out how that tradition treats a non-Tibetan tradition in such a way that it gives rise to tensions that have been observed and commented on by posters here.

Best wishes,

Jim

Element

Re: Tensions within Modern Buddhism, Real or Illusory?

Post by Element » Sat Jan 17, 2009 8:19 pm

I am curious. What are the issues with Soto Zen?

When I google Soto Zen, I come up with Dogen. I was under the impression Dogen was a great teacher.

What are the specific issues the Tibetans have with Soto Zen?

I have noticed on other sites, so-called Zen practitioners appear to repudiate all 'form', clinging to a doctrine of nothingness.

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tiltbillings
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Re: Tensions within Modern Buddhism, Real or Illusory?

Post by tiltbillings » Sat Jan 17, 2009 9:36 pm

One of the most frustrating things for Zen, not just Soto Zen, practitioners is the way Tibetan Buddhism interprets their tradition through the lens of a single historical incident that took place over 1,000 years ago.
Having seen modern day Tibetan Buddhist polemists wannabes in action, trying to put Zen, Theravada and any everyone else in their proper place, I do not wonder why master Madhyamakin polemist Aryadeva (3rd cent CE) got himself assassinated for being any annoying git.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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jcsuperstar
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Re: Tensions within Modern Buddhism, Real or Illusory?

Post by jcsuperstar » Sat Jan 17, 2009 10:56 pm

Element wrote:I am curious. What are the issues with Soto Zen?

When I google Soto Zen, I come up with Dogen. I was under the impression Dogen was a great teacher.

What are the specific issues the Tibetans have with Soto Zen?

I have noticed on other sites, so-called Zen practitioners appear to repudiate all 'form', clinging to a doctrine of nothingness.
theres a few lines of teachers that dont teach rebirth in soto zen, that see the buddha as more human than other schools etc.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

Element

Re: Tensions within Modern Buddhism, Real or Illusory?

Post by Element » Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:05 pm

jcsuperstar wrote:..theres a few lines of teachers that dont teach rebirth in soto zen, that see the buddha as more human than other schools etc.
Whilst studying little, I always gained the impression that classic Zen teachers like Bodhi Dharma, Dogen, Huang Po, etc, where mostly concerned about the here & now. This style of teaching is what I call 'minimalistic Zen'.

When I raised this once to a moderator from another site on another site who also drops into this site, that two-headed moderator stressed the Chinese sutras were the basis of his Zen or Chaan following. I simply replied he was a Tibetan in disguise. :spy: :spy:
Last edited by Element on Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Karma Dondrup Tashi
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Re: Tensions within Modern Buddhism, Real or Illusory?

Post by Karma Dondrup Tashi » Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:15 pm

Peter wrote:christopher:::,

I find tension arises when we assume we're all practicing the same religion. When we try to force things like that there is bound to be tension.

Conversely, when we assume we are practicing different religions we can talk civilly, compare similarities, contrast differences, and generally enjoy each other's company.
:goodpost:

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Cittasanto
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Re: Tensions within Modern Buddhism, Real or Illusory?

Post by Cittasanto » Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:28 pm

Peter wrote:christopher:::,

I find tension arises when we assume we're all practicing the same religion. When we try to force things like that there is bound to be tension.

Conversely, when we assume we are practicing different religions we can talk civilly, compare similarities, contrast differences, and generally enjoy each other's company.

To put it another way...

If I say "Buddha said this" and you say "No no no, Buddha said that" well then we've got a fight on our hands.
But if I say "In my tradition we learn this" and you say "That's interesting because in my tradition we learn that" then we have a civil and interesting discussion.
well it can happen even within the same tradition, especially when one thinks they are right and the other is wrong, even when the one who is believed to be always wrong is agreeing with the other they are wrong just by means of words used.
Dogma comes in many forms
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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retrofuturist
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Re: Tensions within Modern Buddhism, Real or Illusory?

Post by retrofuturist » Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:46 pm

Greetings Manapa,

Yes, that is a good point, yet intra-tradition tensions of that kind are unavoidable, and probably to some extent productive. I do wonder though in all sincerity whether there is anything to be gained by one tradition critiquing another. Can such critiquing ever be fully detached from proselytization? Does it improve anyone's practice and help them learn more about their own tradition, or does it simply lead to agitation and fertile soil for Wrong Speech? I tend to get along well with people from other Buddhist traditions, but we usually don't go about critiquing each other's tradition... merely explain and ask questions about what life is like on our own sides of the fence, so that we can understand each other better.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Cittasanto
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Re: Tensions within Modern Buddhism, Real or Illusory?

Post by Cittasanto » Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:31 am

HI Retro
retrofuturist wrote:merely explain and ask questions about what life is like on our own sides of the fence, so that we can understand each other better.
sometimes we can try but it can be unavoidable even within the same "sect"

I don't generally say I am a buddhist more often say seeker of truth but more incommon with buddhism than another religion, or with buddhists say theravada, but have looked at each tradition, so don't get into the same trifles as others myself, but this too has its draw backs as it can lead or be a reason for misunderstanding, etc
the words we use can cause as much confusion as the language
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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tiltbillings
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Re: Tensions within Modern Buddhism, Real or Illusory?

Post by tiltbillings » Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:39 am

Anders Honore,

[EDIT: Discussion on E-Sangha removed - Retro.]

We each belong to our little group, often thinking it is better than those other little groups, but what do we do with those thoughts? The problem is that the Mahayana has triumphalism and supersessionism built into its structure, which feeds right into the baser feelings. Always a choice.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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