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Thread: Is a tradition really needed?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Heion's Avatar
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    Is a tradition really needed?

    Hello all!

    I would just like to say I have had a fabulous (and hectic) last week with school starting and other events happening. While I have almost been taking a well needed break from clarinet and seated practice, a question has came to my mind. Does one really need to tie themselves to a tradition? I have been thinking of this and I haven't been able to formulate an answer as well as most of you may, but let me explain. A few months back, I messaged Jundo asking whether or not one can practice two traditions at once. In short, he gave the great analogy that Buddhist schools are like sports: you can do multiples of them, but not at the same time. Recently, I have been doing mindfulness meditation taught by Yuttadhammo Bhikku (there is the video). while I love the approach, I think this is only the beginning of what this kind of meditation has to offer (any ideas where to luck to continue my studies in this field?) and would love to continue practicing this form (and Zen). In regards to my original question, I feel like I am more of a 'non-denominational' Buddhist. I do not know whether a tradition is entirely necessary or perhaps it is just a need to categorize myself.

    Thank you!

    Kind regards
    Alex

  2. #2
    I understand and to some point agree. But I find that for myself, I both like and am a stickler for tradition. Maybe just for myself and respect others choices to modernize. Just some thoughts

    Gassho,

    James

  3. #3
    A clarinet is a lovely traditional instrument, and one can learn to play it from a clarinet Teacher.

    A violin is a lovely traditional instrument, and one can learn to play it from a violin Teacher.

    One might even learn to play violin and clarinet at the same time.

    Together, all may blend and be swept up in the great harmony of the universal orchestra, where the sound of one resonates all ... sometimes each standing out, and sometimes separate sounds just one,

    However, as often happens to less musically gifted folks, receiving no or poor or mixed-up training may result in disharmony and frustration and gawd awful screeches when attempted by the ignorant or the half-taught.

    Be careful about horse-hair bowing a clarinet, or blowing into a violin. I would not learn clarinet from a violin Teacher. I would not put strings on a clarinet.

    Here, in our Treeleaf Music School, we teach clarinet, not violin (or violin, not clarinet ... take your pick). Perhaps you can learn each at once ... but please learn at least one well. Do not be an amateur at both.

    Gassho, J

    Ps - Our way of playing Shikantaza music is a bit special. It is playing an instrument making silence amid sound, no notes amid notes yet each note sounding all notes, no beginning or end to the concerto (though musicians appear to walk on and off stage), harmony in and as the greatest disharmony (yet only the well trained can realize such, for most people only know how to turn harmony into ugly disharmony, and cannot hear one as the other). Movements move and are still, the rests are silent yet move. We play each bar as sacred, and entire symphonies in each note and the space between. No goal, no scale or measures of time, yet we study our scales diligently, all in its time. We wildly improvise and free jazz, yet honor tradition and strict forms. Stravinsky is Bach is Coltrane is Philip Glass is You. No violin or clarinet, no bass or bassoon, no orchestra ... yet take one's seat and play well, in the good key at the right time, not mistaking sharps for flats.

    The fellow in the video is teaching a wonderful, ancient means to become aware of the impermanence and arising of various bodily and mental states in order perhaps to realize their illusion and feelings of peace and harmony or deep concentration, and to catch as they arise and free us from the harmful mental states of anger, jealousy, sloth, greed and the like.
    Last edited by Jundo; 08-23-2013 at 06:17 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  4. #4
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    No goal.

    Thank you.


    Gassho,
    Edward
    Practice with humility, respect all beings, avoid attachments, give rise to prajńa from your own awareness, put an end to delusions - Hui-neng

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by drocloce View Post
    No goal.

    Thank you.


    Gassho,
    Edward
    Well, that is so. Yet one should learn to play well. Don't be an untrained hack.

    So, go sit down and practice one's scales!

    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    It's all practice.^ ^


    Gassho,
    Edward
    Practice with humility, respect all beings, avoid attachments, give rise to prajńa from your own awareness, put an end to delusions - Hui-neng

  7. #7
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Here, in our Treeleaf Music School, we teach clarinet, not violin (or violin, not clarinet ... take your pick). Perhaps you can learn each at once ... but please learn at least one well. Do not be an amateur at both.

    This is beautiful and it applies to so much more in life than Buddhism. It took me an inordinate amount of time to figure it out.
    Try not to be a jerk-- one of the Buddhas

  8. #8
    Senior Member Heion's Avatar
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    Very wise and beautiful, Jundo. Insightful and meaningful, touching each base in music and life and applying it to our practice. The analogies are great, I learn well with them.

    Gassho,
    Alex

  9. #9
    Hello,

    I believe (and could be very wrong) that we are all different and all have differents needs. The trouble is that we often confuse "needs" with "wants". Some of us might actually need some parts of traditions that others don't need....some might want or not want certain parts of traditions, although, or in spite of the fact they need/don't need them.

    Best to dive in head first and truly swim for a decade...past the point where one got upset at the beginning. Endure f fair few cramps and become a proficient swimmer.

    If one then decides that the back stroke is not for oneself one stands a good chance of not fooling oneself of taking the way of least resistance.

    Thinking alone will never resolve such issues.

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  10. #10
    Hi Alex,

    First of all, I totally understand what you say.
    However, with time I've come to see it the other way round:
    I have not tied myself to a tradition, but I have found a home.

    Nowadays with internet and all we are in a very privileged situation. However, we have a real flood of overwhelming possibilities, but our time is limited.
    So there is a natural tendency to jump from one thing to the next, as there is always something new to discover.
    Two years ago I was in a supermarket and an old lady looked at the shelves with washing powder. She was a bit confused.
    Finally she told me: "You know, decades ago it was much simpler, we just had two or three products to choose from."
    While I prefer freedom of choice, she has a point.
    At the beginnig I experimented with different meditations, I also practiced different kinds of zazen.
    However, when it became clear to me what I wanted, it was a feeling of relief. I knew I had arrived. I had the freedom to focus on one path.

    So as often in life it depends also on your view: instead as tying you could see it as freedom.

    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Hans View Post

    Best to dive in head first and truly swim for a decade
    Our young clarinetist has only been in this life 15 years (though his wisdom indicates perhaps that's just this life)

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 08-24-2013 at 02:46 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  12. #12
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Our young clarinetist has only been in this life 15 years (though his wisdom indicates perhaps that's just this life) :-)

    Gassho, J

    I would totally agree with that!!!

    As for the original question, speaking from experience here, trying to do more than one tradition at a time can be very confusing and time consuming. There are wonderful things in various traditions, but it's just too much information. Too much good stuff, too much to even remember!! Sticking to one tradition, I find it easier to concentrate on the path before me.

    Gassho,
    Treena

  13. #13
    One of the reasons I chose to invest in a lineage tradition, however imperfect, is the human tendency to "cherry pick" from a variety of teachers only those teachings which one wants to hear, while dismissing those teachings one needs to hear. As Hans suggested, far better to stick with one practice, and go "past the point where one got upset at the beginning" and to endure some cramps along the way.
    May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of body and mind
    quickly be freed from their illnesses.
    May those frightened cease to be afraid
    and may those bound be free.
    May the powerless find power
    and may people think of befriending one another.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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  15. #15
    Junior Member gwz's Avatar
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    One of the reasons I chose to invest in a lineage tradition, however imperfect, is the human tendency to "cherry pick" from a variety of teachers only those teachings which one wants to hear, while dismissing those teachings one needs to hear.
    It seems to me that it's just as easy to "cherry pick" from within a single tradition as it is from many. Your choice of a lineage tradition (as opposed to, for example, following a random wild person) in itself would seem to imply a kind of cherry picking, at least WRT your comfort zone, & I think that that is OK.

  16. #16
    Jamgön Kongtrül, a Tibetan Buddhist master from the 19th century, had the following advice which I think is to be greatly recommended to young Buddhists such as Alex - at the beginning, study a wide range of practices to determine what can best suit your needs but then pick one and work it very deeply. It seems to me that Alex is exploring different types of meditation and tradition to see what they have to offer and I don't see a problem with that. Still doing it 5 or 10 years down the line would probably not be so helpful. It is not uncommon for younger people to play two instruments before they decide which to concentrate on. Multi-instrumentalists will rarely reach virtuoso levels though.

    In my experience, Theravadin practice is great to have some knowledge of, also Pali scripture, as it is the wellspring from which all Buddhism comes (or at least close to it). I agree with Jundo that you cannot practice two traditions at once, but I can't say I think there is any harm in experiencing shamatha and vipassana practice as taught by Yuttadhammo who seems to be an excellent teacher. It is just not shikantaza and should not be thought of as such.

    Gassho
    Andy

  17. #17
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Well said Andy
    Gassho C

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