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Thread: "A Serious Engagement"

  1. #1

    "A Serious Engagement"

    I saw this quote on a zen Buddhist Sangha website this morning, entitled " A Serious Engagement":
    When we engage seriously with the Buddhist tradition we learn other ways of construing the world, other stories we can tell about the way things are, and these can be cogent, coherent, and compelling in their own way. This is not to argue for a naive acceptance of Buddhist epistemology and cosmology. But we won't see what Buddhism has to offer if, at the outset, we twist it out of shape to make it conform to contemporary norms.- Robert Sharf, "Losing Our Religion"
    I think there are positives and negatives here but difficult to articulate. What do others think?

    Gassho

    David

  2. #2
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Thanks David, let's just let the river flow

    as one called over to the other on the other shore, "Can you tell me how to get to the other side ?"

    the other's bewildered answer was, "But, you are on the other side!"


    gassho,
    Last edited by Shokai; 10-08-2013 at 01:30 PM.
    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

  3. #3
    Both bullshit and true, dear David. The point is not what we make of this practice, but how much this practice undoes us.Buddhism can be very seductive, mesmerizing, a whirling pool of dynamics, much more exciting than a sufi at it or plain good sex, but that's not the point.So the idea of Buddhism has to offer and contemporary stuff are just plain f...... Rhetoric.How and what it is undoing is valid yesterday and today although we are different people with different mindsets.The bottom line is that a guy like you, a guy I see as my flesh and blood, has much more to offer.You and I we are going to play with the Hokyo zan Mai. That's the plan isn t it?Well I am sure that many here would like to hear your ramblings and silences about it.

    Gassho
    Last edited by Taigu; 10-08-2013 at 01:44 PM.
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  4. #4
    As my teacher and Master Tozan say I will look at myself, not look at others, keeping my mind free from all methods and concepts. Gassho

  5. #5
    Hi David,

    I only speak for myself, but zazen, the heart of our practice, through sitting and silence, drops the constructs that my over-active mind seeks to build. I am personally not interested in seeking "new ways" or paradigms to view the world. I simply seek to see and be the world as it is. But what do I know?

    _/\_
    Shinjin datsuraku, datsuraku shinjin..Body-mind drop off, mind-body drop off..

  6. #6
    I am not sure that I fully understand the Robert Sharf quote, but I would say that a vital aspect of Zen Practice is to replace certain models of reality with other alternative models of reality. Of course.

    Most people go through life experiencing the world via various mental images (created in the brain from incoming sense data) that divide the world into "me" vs. "everything not me", "good things and bad", "nice things and scary things", "beautiful" and "ugly", and all the other divisions, categories, names and judgments we impose on reality and use to "chop up, label and box up" reality by such models. We also are driven by desire, aversions and attractions, other emotions, feel friction between the "me" and much of that "not me".

    Via Zen Practice, one learns to experience various alternative mental models (still created in the brain from incoming sense data ... because that is the only way that humans can interact with the world) in which the barrier between "me" and "not me" softens or fully drops away, in which divisions, categories, names and judgments are dropped away into Wholeness or replaced with other ways of judging which are more positive and less driven by greed, anger and ignorance, more by Wisdom and Compassion.

    Sure. This is Basic Buddhism 101.

    Even "Kensho" ... which is the radical dropping and inverting of the "subject-object" divide ... is only at heart a mental experience because it is simply an alternative way of experiencing and interpreting all the incoming sense data. (Zen folks of old claimed that it was an "unmediated" experience of Reality, but they also knew that actually it can't be truly "unmediated". It is still a mental experience created based on the treatment of the incoming sense data). The world is encountered with the barrier between "me" inside and the "not me" outside as one transcendent of "inside" and "outside", but that encounter has to be inside the human brain's model making. I believe that it is our temporal lobe that is primarily responsible for the creation of "self" whereby you feel that you are "you" inside the border of your skin and behind your eyes (with everything outside the skin and eyes "not you"). Kensho messes with the modeling process within the temporal lobe, such that "inside" and "outside" are no longer divided in such way.

    The only thing about replacing one mental model with another is to ask whether the new model is a good one. I believe the various ones we play with in Buddhism are very good ways of re-seeing and reevaluating this world-life-us.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-09-2013 at 03:33 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    I found more of the quote from Richard Sharf. He is a critic of aspects of what is called "Buddhist modernism", the losing or reinterpreting of some Buddhist traditions to make them compatible with modern social values, scientific views and such. He states the following. I agree with him to the extent that Buddhism lets us experience a new model in which the Cartesian dualist model of the world ... with a world "out there" and me "in here", and a world in which the world and our mental experience of the world are separate, can be replaced by an alternative model through Buddhism.

    Traditional Buddhist epistemology, for example, simply does not accept the Cartesian notion of an insurmountable gap between mind and matter. Most Buddhist philosophies hold that mind and object arise interdependently, so there is no easy way to separate one's understanding of the world from the world itself.

    What sort of critique of the scientific view might Buddhism otherwise offer? The naturalistic stance—the idea that there is an independent insentient world out there governed by scientific laws and impersonal processes—is ultimately a human construct, a powerful and effective human construct, but a construct nonetheless. This is not to deny the power of science, but it does call into question the way we approach scientific knowledge. Of course, there are many philosophers, scientists, and historians of science who have made a similar point. But Buddhism has its own insights and perspectives to offer. In other words, when we engage seriously with the Buddhist tradition we learn other ways of construing the world, other stories we can tell about the way things are, and these can be cogent, coherent, and compelling in their own way. This is not to argue for a naive acceptance of Buddhist epistemology and cosmology. But we won't see what Buddhism has to offer if, at the outset, we twist it out of shape to make it conform to contemporary norms.
    http://community.tricycle.com/forum/...for-buddhist-3
    Anyway ... I think I will leave this here, and go sit now. Too much mental wheel spinning perhaps.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  8. #8
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu View Post
    Both bullshit and true, dear David. The point is not what we make of this practice, but how much this practice undoes us.Buddhism can be very seductive, mesmerizing, a whirling pool of dynamics, much more exciting than a sufi at it or plain good sex, but that's not the point.So the idea of Buddhism has to offer and contemporary stuff are just plain f...... Rhetoric.How and what it is undoing is valid yesterday and today although we are different people with different mindsets.The bottom line is that a guy like you, a guy I see as my flesh and blood, has much more to offer.You and I we are going to play with the Hokyo zan Mai. That's the plan isn t it?Well I am sure that many here would like to hear your ramblings and silences about it.

    Gassho
    I appreciate your words and thoughts very much. Thx for posting


    Treena

  9. #9
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Well as a novice to SERIOUS ENGAGEMENT I personally see Sharf's point. I am not going to re-invent the wheel here because I like one thing and not another , and one point doesn't jive with me. I am not interested in being a "cherry picking" Buddhist. On the other hand there is no reason to believe that any way should become stagnant.

    When Taigu tells me that I shouldn't conform to this very stiff way of sitting, or Jundo talks about how our virtual Sangha is just as real as any other, I listen to them because they have a good deal of experience and knowledge.So their choosing to buck a tradition here or there means a good deal more.

    I do somewhat sympathize with Sharf's over-all position on completely trying to "modernize" Buddhism. I see the same kind of thing going on with Traditional Oriental Medicine. People in power over modern medical settings are trying to graft Traditional ways of seeing things to fit the Western Bio-medical model. In the process they are deluding themselves into thinking that the thing they are re-creating is the same thing. Then they wonder why they don't seem to think acupuncture is effective.


  10. #10
    Senior Member Bunny's Avatar
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    Hmmmm. Maybe I will skip chewing on that and just sit.
    Gassho
    Bunny

  11. #11
    Buddhist philosophy.
    Might that not be a contradiction in terms?
    "Know that the practice of zazen is the complete path of buddha-dharma and nothing can be compared to it....it is not the practice of one or two buddhas but all the buddha ancestors practice this way."
    Dogen zenji in Bendowa






  12. #12
    ahhh!! great thread!! when I come to this on my own mind or when I have to explain it to my meditation students I use a "hardware-software" analogy: our brain is the hardware and is our choice to use it just with the pre-installed software or to update it, add new software or even replace the software we find obsolete or harmful or not so good for us.

    Gassho

    kb
    Meditate and Defy.

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