This was inspired by the Big Mind thread, but I decided this was the bigger issue, thus it needed its own space.
One of the things that has always impressed me about Buddhism is how it embraces the concept of non-duality – no right/wrong, just being whole and not separate, etc. So I am always puzzled whenever I see Buddhists arguing amongst themselves over their different forms of practice, how one is right and another is wrong. Even Dogen (in Beyond Thinking, by John Daido Loori) railed against those that have wrong practice and how he was giving everyone right practice. Isn’t this attachment to duality? And besides, the Buddha said not to take his word for it (dogma) but rather a person needs to find out for him or herself. And since there are many different kinds of self out there in terms of physical makeup and personal experiences, it seems to me that there are lots of different “right” ways for people to practice, thus transcending this whole right/wrong practice issue. To say a practice is wrong or right seems dogmatic to me, and that’s not the Buddhism I signed up for. One of the main reasons I turned away from theistic religion was to get away from just this sort of right/wrong talk.
For example, take this Big Mind practice being promoted by Genpo Merzel and denounced by Brad Warner, among others (see other forum thread). I am not up to speed on this whole Big Mind controversy, if that’s the right word, but I don’t recall ever hearing about Genpo Merzel saying that other practices are wrong, just that his practice works for some people. Yet his detractors seem to try and discredit that practice as wrong. That seems petty to me… but that’s just me, and what do I know. Anytime someone says I am right and the other guy is wrong I get squeamish about that person (this includes Dogen). One of the things I like about Jundo is that he doesn’t get into this sort of petty stuff. I am aware that he has been the victim of it in the past, which might be one reason why he doesn’t get into it. Anyway, I believe it is to his credit that he stays above the fray.
Finally, it occurred to me this morning that Buddhists seem to get along better with other religions than they do with different practices within Buddhism. Jews, Christians, and Muslims fighting amongst each other is sort of similar to different Buddhist practices disagreeing with each other. Of course the scale of disagreement is much smaller in Buddhism, as I am unaware of any Buddhist Crusades such as Pure Land vs. Zen, for example.
There’s a koan in here somewhere… Ah, yes, I think I see it.
But anyway, please enlighten me with your thoughts on Buddhist infighting?