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Thread: The Cult of Self

  1. #1
    Treeleaf Unsui Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    The Cult of Self

    Hi all,
    On Facebook I follow a feed from disciples of Thich Nhat Hanh. Everyday they post messages like "Make Time For Yourself; You Are Important" and "Forgive Yourself". So many of the quotes are self-obsessed. Is this Mindfulness movement appealing to a "Me" generation that amounts to a selfish and egotistical approach to the Dharma? Indeed, is it the Dharma stripped of Dharma?

    As much as Thich Nhat Hanh is himself an authentic teacher and a man of the way.

    Gassho
    Myozan
    Last edited by Myozan Kodo; 10-20-2013 at 01:14 PM.
    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
    Dublin, Ireland

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.
    "Here the way unfolds."

  2. #2
    Hello Myozan,

    my guess is that he isn't writing his own texts all of the time and that he trusts his senior students to run most of the day to day teachings.

    Who it is that should forgive a non-ultimately existent self is a funny avenue for further enquiry.

    The thing is that so many people have massive issues with themselves, so much that it might actually make sense to some teachers to "repair" and strenghten their egos, before they are ready to actually start with the real dharma part.

    You need a healthy and balanced sense of self, before you can safely proceed to demolish the self-floor we are basing our lives on.


    Gassho,

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

  3. #3
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Hi,

    What page is this from? I wanna see it for myself

    Gassho,
    Ben
    Last edited by Tiwala; 10-20-2013 at 03:13 PM.
    Gassho
    Ben

  4. #4
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    I've always felt that his approach was infused with a certain flavor of motivational stuff like that. I bet many of his books back in the day, and a lot of them came through as sugarcoated.


    (Posted from my iPhone; please excuse any typos or brevity.)

  5. #5
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Hi,

    Yes, I think the mindfulness movement is all about feeling good for you and yourself only. I have almost never found any reference to charity or compassion on the mindfulness material I have read.

    Master TNH is great, but I do agree. His quotes are posted by others and almost always out of context, resulting in selfish messages.

    But I could be wrong, of course.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  6. #6
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Hi,
    I don't personally like his style, but he's produced Cheri Maples, who seems like a cool teacher. Very sober, realistic, honest. I guess it works for some people. The world is full of different styles and none of them are perfect.

    I have nothing but respect for the man, though. I mean he's been through a lot and to think he managed to keep a sane mind despite all that is pretty laudable.

    Gassho,
    Ben
    Last edited by Tiwala; 10-20-2013 at 03:13 PM.
    Gassho
    Ben

  7. #7
    Hello,

    just a little reminder to point to the fact that a little "Hi" or "Hello" at the beginning of a post and a quick but heartfelt "Gassho" or "Kind regards" at the end of a post can go a long way towards creating and maintaining a good respectful mood, since we are not a Buddhist discussion forum, but a real Sangha where discussions can happen too.

    Gassho,

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

  8. #8
    Hello Myozan and fellow leafers,
    I dont know this posts first hand. To be honest, I think they are helpful. If someone asked me at the beginning of my "zen life" if i'ld like to leave myself behind and live for others I would have turned right away. People struggle with life, thats why they seek for relief. If you offer something to comfort them, you can pick them up right where they are. Moreover, there are many many people (sometimes including me) which are hardest to themselve. To open for the teaching you need to open yourself to yourself, be kind and gentle to yourself. To sum up, what Myozan is quoting might not be the full teaching, but loving oneself is very helpful (again the right amount is what makes all the difference). All my much biased view
    Gassho
    Myoku

  9. #9
    Hello everyone,

    I too have seen this kind of "mass quoting" on Facebook and I truly wonder the authenticity of the message(s). I believe it is very important to help and support everyone in the best ways we can, but we cannot forget to care for ourselves.

    Gassho
    Shingen



    If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?
    ~ Dogen Zenji

  10. #10
    Senior Member Bunny's Avatar
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    Thank you Hans for the reminder on posting etiquette. It does go a long way-I see that now that it's been pointed out. I will make a greater effort to be aware of what I do with words in our forum.
    Gassho
    Bunny

  11. #11
    Senior Member Heion's Avatar
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    Interesting topic,
    At least this is better than the official 'Buddhism' page! They post pictures of bodhisattva and of buddhas asking for likes in their honor. As Hans said, I believe this is what is going on at this page. I remember listening to a teaching by Sylvia Boorstein and saying that the people who need to most compassion sometimes are ourselves, since we can be so self disparaging.

    Gassho,
    Alex

  12. #12
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Hi, yes Alex this is an interesting topic.
    My thoughts are that this 'positive self-reflective' mindfulness seems to generate a tension with actually realising Buddhadharma for yourself. My observations are that the medium of Twitter and Facebook naturally generate soundbite-like quotes, which diminish any observation an/or realisation and create the impression of dumbing-down or commercialisation. The habit then is for others to sustain this model of expression.
    Just a reminder from the ParaNirvana Sutra: one of the 8 awakenings described by Buddha before he parted was,' Not to neglect mindfulness'. Perhaps we are not neglecting mindfulness, but taking it out of context with the other 7? Which are; have few desires, know how much is enough, enjoy serenity, make diligent effort, (not to neglect mindfulness), practice meditation, cultivate wisdom and not to engage in hollow discussions. Dogen discusses this in Shobogenzo Fascicle 84, The 8 awakenings.
    Enjoy your serenity!
    Gassho.
    Last edited by Heisoku; 10-20-2013 at 04:24 PM.
    Heisoku
    平 息

  13. #13
    Hi there,

    there are several feeds/links for TNH on facebook - would it be possible to say which one you are referring to Myozan?

    The two pages I looked at seemed fine to me. One was 'gems' - motivational quotes I guess. I don't think this does any harm - and we don't know whether someone might not think about a quick quote in more depth. The other page was links to teachings/recordings/events.

    I think Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings and the Mindfulness movement in general speaks to the part of us that is messed up. I feel this is no bad thing. Let's be honest - we all feel anger, shame, insecurity, sadness, etc. etc. and need to work on our emotions. It isn't selfish to give time to sorting ourselves/ our 'self' out. It's actually wise.

    TNH continually refers to the metaphor of using garbage to make beautiful flowers. His teachings can come across as sugarcoated and simplistic and lend themselves to being used as soundbites - but for many people that's not a bad starting place. IMHO starting someplace simple - taking a small step - isn't necessarily dumbing down or influencing people to be more egotistical. If Hahn's followers absorb a mere shred of their teacher's manifest equanimity the world must be a better place for it.

    Gassho

    Willow
    Last edited by willow; 10-21-2013 at 12:06 AM.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clarinetist! View Post
    Interesting topic,
    At least this is better than the official 'Buddhism' page! They post pictures of bodhisattva and of buddhas asking for likes in their honor. As Hans said, I believe this is what is going on at this page. I remember listening to a teaching by Sylvia Boorstein and saying that the people who need to most compassion sometimes are ourselves, since we can be so self disparaging.

    Gassho,
    Alex
    Yes, Alex, I completely agree with you. We can most definitely be our own worst critics.

    Gassho,
    Treena

  15. #15
    Hi,

    I cannot find the link to this page, can you point it out?

    But I want to offer a bit of caution here, as a Precept we will reflect on in a few weeks guides "To Refrain from Discussing Faults of Others". Nishijima Roshi says ...

    This is a precept pointing out that we should not be too critical or self-righteous when our Buddhist brothers and sisters, struggling as best they can to engage in Buddhist practice through the activities of their daily lives, stumble or fall off the path.
    On the other hand, as we saw on another thread today on Bankei, Zen Teachers like Hakuin, Dogen (even Nishijima Roshi very often) could be quite strong in their language when pointing out to their own students perceived weaknesses in the Buddhist Practice of others ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...l=1#post113239

    A bit of a Koan there. I suppose it depends whether one is speaking so in order to Teach one's own students rather than to denigrate someone when speaking to them, and whether one is trying to stick to constructive criticism while keepiing constantly in mind one's own weaknesses.

    In this case, as Myozan pointed out and whatever a few quotes indicate, Thich Nhat Hanh is a venerated and powerful Teacher of gentleness (with iron strength) and Compassion. A few quotes, possibly spurious or taken out of context, are not to be judged.

    It is true that Buddhism has always been centered on Transcending the little self, like a dream. It is also true that Mahayana Buddhists daily vow to "Save All Sentient Beings". We also have a way of seeing through time.

    Yet, simultaneously, Masters have taught that you (though not really "there" in one way) are also a precious jewel, the unique and only "you" in the whole universe, precisely perfectly you "youing" in this very moment. You are so and, in fact, every person, tree, grain of sand or mountain in all the cosmos is so ... each a Diamond in Indra's Net. Masters have also taught that, in order to have the energy and Wisdom to help others, one must also help oneself too ... thus we first offer Metta Chant to our own self before continuing on to others. So it is not really wrong to "Make Time For Yourself; You Are Important" and "Forgive Yourself" too.

    As Hans, Willow and others point out, someone with issues of excess self-reproach or excessively weak self worth may benefit from such a reminder. In fact, they and you and all our friends and enemies too ... as is each flower ... are each one precious center of the vast universe.

    We sit with our self, and should lose our self and find our Self ... all to make our selfless-self strong ...

    ... all to work to help our other self ... the others that are this Self too.

    Now, on the other hand ... I VERY MUCH AGREE that Buddhism in the West is often turned into a "feel good, Oprah-ized, what's in it for ME ME ME?" commodity. The profound Teachings of Buddha on non-self, impermanence, Dukkha and its causes, the Precepts and all the rest are sometimes lost, and Buddhism becomes a cheap and selfish "self-help" technique or entertainment. I am not the only Zen or Buddhist guy noticing this phenomenon with sadness. Here is a recent article from Tricycle on this very point.

    Who's Zoomin' Who? The Commodification of Buddhism in the American Marketplace
    http://www.tricycle.com/feature/whos...an-marketplace

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-21-2013 at 01:48 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  16. #16
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Thank you all for this interesting discussion.
    Gassho
    C

  17. #17
    Greetings,

    I'm looking forward to the discussion on refraining from discussing the faults of others. It's amazing how easily those thoughts creep up on us. Well, maybe it's just me, but I hope not.

    I would like to see the page in question. I'm not that familiar with THH but I may do some googling here momentarily. As a general rule, I tend to consider Facebook a terrible source of information about almost everything.

    Gassho

  18. #18
    Treeleaf Unsui Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Hi all,
    The quotes come to my Facebook feed from Mindfulness Ireland. Look them up on FB.

    In fact, I think TNH is a great teacher. I admire him greatly. I think his Dharma is somewhat misrepresented by many in the current Mindfulness, self-help movement. I just think what they do is fine. But it's misrepresenting things to present it as the Dharma. Just my opinion.

    I can see how addressing issues of self-hatred and low self esteem (as said above) can be the awakening to the Way. How that is needed by many people. But if it stops there it is something other than the teachings of the Buddha. Still, if it helps people it is a good thing too.

    I think our precepts do not require us to stop asking questions, by the way. I think we need to be judicious in our understanding of the precept not to criticise others. A restrictive reading of this precept can lead to an unhealthy, unquestioning attitude.

    That's just my take. And remember, I am a trainee priest around here, not a great teacher like TNH!

    Gassho
    Myozan

    PS: again, I am not saying this represents TNH's teachings (many of which I have read and admire.) Rather, the mindfulness movement that is inspired by him appears to be going in the direction I describe. They mash it all up through media like Facebook with self-help and inspiring, motivational stuff.
    Last edited by Myozan Kodo; 10-21-2013 at 08:16 AM.
    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
    Dublin, Ireland

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.
    "Here the way unfolds."

  19. #19
    Hello everyone,

    First off - I would like to thank Jundo for his measured response and in particular for drawing our attention to the precept of not discussing the faults of others. I also understand Myozan's point of view that we need to retain our critical faculties.

    I think there's an interesting point about perception here though. I looked up the Ireland facebook page and scrolled quite a way through to get a feel for it. I gave it a like tick

    In my personal view I can see nothing selfish/ self-obsessed or contra-Buddhism about the page. The page is inter-faith (one of Thay's strengths) and therefore not particularly buddhist. The posts draw from many teachers/sources.The 'I forgive Myself' quote is by Louis Hay - who has been writing about the human potential movement since the 80's. I liked the cheery picture of a clock face that has the caption 'make time for yourself'. Under one caption 'Memories never die' - there is a heartfelt discussion about dementia. The comments are far from cloying or self-obsessed - I spotted a lot of self-deprecation, irony and humour. I've read a lot of TNH's work and I honestly don't think he's misrepresented here at all.

    The site has a message statement about mindfulness = 'to water positive seeds by sharing ...'

    I actually felt uplifted by this site - how encouraging to think that thousands of people are starting their day by embracing some kind of positivity and trying to put that into their daily lives.

    Gassho

    Willow
    Last edited by willow; 10-21-2013 at 09:29 AM.

  20. #20
    Dear all

    This is an interesting discussion and I am sure that many have concerns about some aspects of Buddhism becoming watered down or (to use a botanical metaphor) cross-pollinated that they scarcely represent the Buddhadharma at all but are presented as such.

    Most people seem to come to Buddhism to help themselves. I have met few who are bodhisattvas from the word go. Several teachers have pointed out that the evolution from 'Hinayana' (a term I have never liked) to Mahayana motivation does not just occur in the history of Buddhism but in those who study it too. As we begin to look at the reasons for our own suffering and gain an insight into it, we realise that everyone else is suffering in the same way and want to do something about it. To my mind, this kind of entry level Buddhism is both useful in its own right and as a gateway into deeper teachings. Like Myozan, I can often react with concern about what is being presented as dharma but remember not so long ago when I was in need of developing kindness towards myself before I could do anything else.

    Teachers such as Thich Nhat Hanh (HH Dalai Lama also fits into this category) who present the teachings at both a populist and deeper level are bound to run the risk of criticism of diminishing the dharma and presenting too many relative rather than absolute teachings. Is not engaged Buddhism about helping where you can, though, even (or maybe especially) when presenting higher teachings is inappropriate or counterproductive?

    I don't like many of the self-focussed New Age teachings and worry when Buddhist teachers, or their students, stray into this territory but it is not for me to judge what is helpful to others. When people are going through stuff, if it helps them to move forward then I have only to believe it is a good thing. They may go on to study more serious Buddhist teachings or not. I just hope it makes them suffer a little less.

    Gassho
    Andy

  21. #21
    here it is, have a good read:

    https://www.facebook.com/MindfulnessIreland

    I quite agree with Myozan , this is a pretty pinky light golden lovely version of a would be Buddhism (New Age stuff with all the easy going motto) .

    Nothing like the original teachings of the GREAT TNH.

    a positive critical imput is a GREAT THING too.

    gassho

    T. (little T , for many years to come and centuries and hopefully, totally forgotten eventually)
    Last edited by Taigu; 10-21-2013 at 10:27 AM.
    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.

  22. #22
    Andy,

    Very clever post as always, and wise. Spot on.
    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.

  23. #23
    Hi there,

    This is my third edit on this post.

    I'm gradually moving away from my original reaction of 'what does it matter if there's fluffy pics and motivational stuff on the site and why does that necessarily mean it's influenced by New Age?'

    This is an interesting link to an article on the connection/differences between New Age belief/practice and Buddhism.


    http://www.westernbuddhistreview.com/vol1/new_age.html

    I'm needing to re-think after reading this (but I still feel the site's Ok for those who are being helped by it and it does say the emphasis is Mindfullness - which doesn't claim to be purist and isn't necessarily pursued for selfish reasons).

    Gassho

    Willow
    Last edited by willow; 10-21-2013 at 06:58 PM.

  24. #24
    I know that Myozan offered his thoughts for a fruitful discussion, and Jundo reminds us about honoring the precepts if we are to walk the Path, and to use our best judgement when offering our thoughts on a delicate situation such as this.

    We all, at one time or another, face the all too easy trap of elevating ourselves in our spiritual path, perhaps looking down or admonishing others that stray from the Path or one incompatible to our beliefs. I sure have. In times like this, I will remind myself to just sit and drop everything.

    Gassho,

    Lu
    Shinjin datsuraku, datsuraku shinjin..Body-mind drop off, mind-body drop off..

  25. #25
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    Very interesting read. Thank you all.

    Ghasso,
    Nengyo/Non-Nengyo
    "You yourself must strive. The Buddhas only point the way." - Shakyamuni Buddha

  26. #26
    Treeleaf Unsui Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Hi,
    There is no elevating oneself above others here, as suggested above. On the contrary, the suggestion is that the self should not be placed above everything else.

    We must engage with other sentient beings; move beyond our struggles with the self; re-enter the marketplace. Isn't that our way? Isn't it important not to lose that in the teachings as they are popularised and passed on?

    I'm sure TNH would see it that way. My only fear is that this vital part of the Dharma be discarded in the Mindfulness movement which is gathering apace.

    It is not finger pointing or contrary to the precepts to wish dearly that the Dharma isn't reduced to a self help technique only.

    Don't read this as being high and mighty. I am merely expressing a point of view. I believe everyone is entitled to do that. Or should we not discuss, for fear that we cause offence?

    Gassho
    Myozan
    Last edited by Myozan Kodo; 10-21-2013 at 08:23 PM.
    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
    Dublin, Ireland

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.
    "Here the way unfolds."

  27. #27
    Myozan,

    For clarification, I speak in reference to ALL spiritual seekers, and not just Treeleafers. I have placed judgement, and also have been the recipient of judgement by spiritual seekers thinking "this way or the highway." "This is right, that is not right".

    That is all.

    Gassho,

    Lu
    Shinjin datsuraku, datsuraku shinjin..Body-mind drop off, mind-body drop off..

  28. #28
    Treeleaf Unsui Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Hi Lu,
    Thank you for your clarification.

    Yes. Each to their own. We must respect that. But are all ways equal?

    Gassho
    Myozan

    PS: I am a trainee, with no authority. I'm just a guy discussing. Don't take this as preaching or teaching!
    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
    Dublin, Ireland

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.
    "Here the way unfolds."

  29. #29
    Hello again,

    I would like to come back to this thread because I've realised it's provoked quite a strong reaction in me. If you can bear with me I'd like to explain why.

    After reading the article I linked to above I do understand a little more that there is some kind of dialogue between Buddhism and New Age philosophy, and in more recent times a distancing between the two. I can see this is a useful discussion and that for anyone trying to find their way into Buddhism it is probably helpful to have some awareness of this.

    Having said that - over the past almost two years of being a member here - I can't help but notice that there is a tension around the Mindfulness movement that feels out of kilter with what I understand about it. Now I am quite happy to be corrected on this if my understanding is lacking or incomplete.

    I have never seen Mindfulness presented as 'the Dharma' - though many practitioners are Buddhists. The most a practitioner might say/teach is that Mindfulness is inspired by Buddhism, reflects buddhist principles, etc. The parallels are drawn - the inspiration is evident - but I don't understand where the fear comes from that what we understand as the Dharma will be reduced to a self-help technique?

    The whole point of the Mindfulness movement is that it is secular. I can however see that someone might be drawn to the more populist teachings of TNH on minfulness and draw the conclusion from that that they have become a buddhist. I can also see that the facebook site might be interpreted that way. But I don't surmise from that that the Dharma will be reduced to a self-help technique, because the Dharma can't actually be reduced. Sure - there might be a shift in semantics - but that doesn't have to result in a reduction in the amount of compassionate or loving energy put out into the world. There may well be an increase. I think TNH andthe Dalai Lama are aware of this. I feel they're true to the spirit of buddhism in recognising that people have different abilities in what they can take in and commit to.

    I might be wrong but I reckon if you asked TNH what he thought of the facebook site he'd say - it's really fine - it's all good.

    Gassho

    Willow
    Last edited by willow; 10-21-2013 at 10:06 PM.

  30. #30
    Hi there!

    What an interesting thread, thank you so much!
    First of all, I would not throw TNH into the same pot as the secular Mindfulness Movement. I don't want to say, that anybody claimed that, but we must be careful.
    Anyone delving into TNH's books will soon find out that he offers real Buddhist teachings - not watered down, but more accesible.
    The secular Mindfulness Movement has a whole different "tone" (not meant in a negative way!).

    I agree with Willow, I don't consider the Mindfulness Movement as watered down Buddhism, because it does not claim to be a Dharma teaching/Buddhism in the first place! It just says it's Mindfulness Training or something similar.
    Neither do I consider it as a "competition" to Buddhism.

    A friend of mine practices several "secular" Meditation techniques. He does not consider them Buddhist in any way. When I told him that some of his practices are obviously influenced by Buddhist practices, he was surprised.

    So my basic opinion is, when someone seeks Dharma, they won't look for it at the Mindfulness Movement anyway, because it does not present itself as Dharma in the first place.
    Furthermore, I would not describe one thing to be "better" than the other. I see it on an individual, personal level.
    For some people the Mindfulness Movement might be better suited, for others a Buddhist practice. And don't forget all those people who start with a secular practice and move on to the Dharma later on (I bet a lot!).

    To each their own, I say, nothing "better", nothing "worse" in an absolute way, just on a relative, individual level.

    Gassho,

    Timo
    Last edited by Daitetsu; 10-21-2013 at 10:47 PM.
    no thing needs to be added

  31. #31
    Myozan,

    Who am I to judge the path of an aspirant? I am just me. A nobody. I only know my zafu with certainty _/\_

    Deep Gassho, friend;

    Lu
    Shinjin datsuraku, datsuraku shinjin..Body-mind drop off, mind-body drop off..

  32. #32
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sittingzen View Post

    I am just me. A nobody. I only know my zafu with certainty _/\_

    Deep Gassho, friend;

    Lu
    Ahhh, yes, I can agree with this for sure, just trying to walk a humble path while being aware that we are all going up the same mountain, just following different paths.

    Gassho,
    Treena

  33. #33
    Different people. Different expressions. Not the words, what the words point to....

    For many who follow TNH, post such as these are the only fragrance of teachings they get, maybe its all they need. Maybe it will push them deeper. Maybe it won't. Who knows.


    just my ramblings,
    Humbly,
    Seiryu

  34. #34
    Different Paths suit different feet: A "Mindfulness" program stripped of many Buddhist Teachings and focused on stress reduction is fine for some, sitting Shikantaza is right for some, Koan Centered Zazen or Praying to Jesus or Amida are right for some, something else is right for some. All good. Some folks just need to relax and learn a touch of Compassion, and that is all they want or seek.

    I have nothing against the "Mindfulness Movement". It is only that, for some students, I think it a shame that they are being handed an aspirin or a cold ice pack, which is mildly comforting I suppose, but what they truly require is a Heart (Sutra) Transplant. A little relaxation or "stress reduction" is fine I suppose, but how sad that the True Power of the Way is missed when one fails to Pierce the Traditional Teachings such as Impermanence, Non-Self, Dukkha and its causes, the Precepts and all the rest. (Another concern, pointed out recently by David Loy and others, is that meditation is being kidnapped by corporations to "reduce stress" all the better to make passive, compliant and over-worked employees, by the military to make better and more cold hearted killers and the like).

    While a stripped-down, secularized technique -- what some critics are now calling "McMindfulness" -- may make it more palatable to the corporate world, decontextualizing mindfulness from its original liberative and transformative purpose, as well as its foundation in social ethics, amounts to a Faustian bargain. Rather than applying mindfulness as a means to awaken individuals and organizations from the unwholesome roots of greed, ill will and delusion, it is usually being refashioned into a banal, therapeutic, self-help technique that can actually reinforce those roots.

    ...

    The result is an atomized and highly privatized version of mindfulness practice, which is easily coopted and confined to what Jeremy Carrette and Richard King, in their book Selling Spirituality: The Silent Takeover of Religion, describe as an "accommodationist" orientation. Mindfulness training has wide appeal because it has become a trendy method for subduing employee unrest, promoting a tacit acceptance of the status quo, and as an instrumental tool for keeping attention focused on institutional goals.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ron-pu...b_3519289.html
    Let me mention that I see nothing wrong ... and it being perfectly justified ... to constructively critique and criticize even other Buddhists. In fact, it is necessary! I do so (I am doing so in the very post!) How else does one teach "good paths" from not so good paths? I think Myozan's original post was so, if anyone things I am saying otherwise. It is just that the Precept on "Not Criticizing Others" reminds all of us that we must stay constructive and remember that different patients need different medicine. It is too easy for criticism of another's faults to turn into blindness of our own, and so must be very cautious and humble in doing so.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-22-2013 at 02:20 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  35. #35
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Jundo, I totally agree with everything that you said. And, I know, for myself, I am in the middle of a Heart (sutra) transplant, and Treeleaf is the only place that has provided me the necessary means to do that. It has been very, very painful, and yet, necessary. Zen Buddhism, with it's teachings on mindfulness, impermanence, equanimity etc. etc. really has saved my life in so many ways. I have witnessed a lot of ppl looking for the aspirin, because it is easier and quickly reduces pain. But, Zen, it can be painful sometimes, and beautiful, and just all that it is. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

    Gassho,
    Treena

  36. #36
    Hello,

    a fascinating thread indeed. Once we agree on the fact that people are different and have different needs, discussions like these are not half as controversial as they might seem to be.

    To me personally Buddhadharma has to lead to radical places, uncomfortable places which may induce radical changes in one's life (or may not), or IMHO it's not Dharma but something else.

    People literally died to make sure the Dharma survived into the 21st century, I am not so sure the same commitment and passion is even wanted with regards to a lot of dharma derived practices.

    A great river may branch into many little streams that may in turn create beautiful landscapes full of life and wonder, but if we don't guard the river (and polish one another's living understanding of what this river of Dharma is), one of these days all that will be left is a dry river bed and some faded Eckhart Tolle pages.

    Maybe this whole topic might also be emotionally different for people who have become ordained (or feel the same kind of calling inside - it's not about a ceremony), because it is our job to make sure the Dharma survives with its full strength intact.

    We need self-help techniques, we need positive affirmations, we need gentle approaches to lead us to the source of this river, but Shakyamuni didn't leave his family and thousands of ancestors did not leave their "normal" lives behind for a bunch of breathing exercises.

    Now, if I believed one has to leave normal life behind in a structural sense, I'd be writing this from an Asian monastery. I believe we can walk the whole of the path in this life , where we are right now. I also feel that if we are not prepared to potentially face a radical and even scary re-appreciation of what our lives might be about, we are not truly surrendering to things as they are.


    Just my two cents.


    Gassho,


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

  37. #37
    Thank you Hans - it is clear that what you feel comes from the heart and not just the mind.

    I was also thinking to myself last night that a Priest or novice Priest in training would naturally feel very strongly about this issue because the essence of vocation is to preserve and pass on the Dharma intact.

    However - the central point of this thread for me is about not being too hasty in our judgement of others. I would also caution against the assumption that we are ever really in a position to know what defines a radical place of change in the life of another human being. How could we possibly know this?

    Otherwise we're in danger of adopting a holier than thou position - and that's the very reason I was relieved to leave the religion I grew up with behind. I saw, growing up, how kindness and good intention can so easily slip into a fundamentalism that clouds one's judgement - and induces judgemental attitudes.

    I look deeply into my own heart regarding this - because we all have this tendency. It is a tendency I feel I need to work on daily.

    I also feel I need to say (again ) Mindfulness is not just a bunch of breathing exercises.

    ... and that's enough words on this subject from me.

    Gassho

    Willow
    Last edited by willow; 10-22-2013 at 10:30 AM.

  38. #38
    Hello Willow,

    I agree, we are never in a position to know what's happening inside another human being. If something seems odd in any way to us, we can use this to reflect on our own practise depth, which is never deep enough.

    Gassho,

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

  39. #39
    I stumbled upon this quote this morning and thought it appropriate.

    "Whatever the teaching may be, the teaching confronts each in accordance with the circumstances."-Shunryu Suzuki

    ,

    lu
    Shinjin datsuraku, datsuraku shinjin..Body-mind drop off, mind-body drop off..

  40. #40
    That"s the real deal, Lu.

    And the beginning of acceptance.

    gassho

    T.
    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.

  41. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by sittingzen View Post
    I stumbled upon this quote this morning and thought it appropriate.

    "Whatever the teaching may be, the teaching confronts each in accordance with the circumstances."-Shunryu Suzuki

    ,

    lu
    Wonderful Lu, thank you.

    Gassho
    Shingen



    If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?
    ~ Dogen Zenji

  42. #42
    Yea! real interesting post and discussion. Nothing to add, gonna keep reading.

    Gassho.

    kb
    Meditate and Defy.

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