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Thread: Maybe I shouldn't browse the 'Eastern Religion' section..

  1. #1
    disastermouse
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    Maybe I shouldn't browse the 'Eastern Religion' section..

    I got sort of disheartened while browsing the 'Eastern Religion' section of the book store yesterday. I looked to see if Hagen had written anything new (he hasn't). I skimmed Brad's new book for the controversial 'Jundo bashing' but got distracted by the sex before I could find it.

    And then I looked at the rest of the shelf and became mightily dismayed. There was some practical self-help (Pema Chodron writes the best of these) - and it occured to me that these smiling Buddhist authorities were all selling big 'h' HAPPINESS on the covers of their books. 'You too can be happy, all you're missing are the 500-5000 words contained between the covers of these books!'

    It isn't missing information that's the problem, of course - it's missing realization. No amount of reading can force that realization. It's not a technique or a belief that's going to help, in fact all techniques and beliefs ultimately must be let go. It's like people think they can 'effort' themselves into an extra-normal state..but in my experience, realization isn't EXTRA-normal - it's the natural state. In a way, it takes lots of effort to not realize it.

    Maybe I'm just a grump.

    Chet

  2. #2
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Maybe I shouldn't browse the 'Eastern Religion' section..

    You? A grump? No way :roll: :twisted:

    I think what you are seeing is western marketing at work. If those books said what you say here on the forum, no one would ever buy them. Just recall how folks here (especially the new people) often respond to you when you "tell it like it is" to them. No offense, Chet, but your first impression isn't always warm and fuzzy. No one wants to buy a version of reality that is so different than expected that it makes them uncomfortable or confused, so they give it the smiley soft sell. Then, maybe once people get into it a bit more, hopefully they will move on to the deeper stuff, the "it's already here" stuff.

    We're all conditioned to think this western way that you have to do something or acquire something in order to find peace and happiness, so in order to reach people you have to go to what they believe now and then change them later, not go to that new belief right away. It's also a long road when changing beliefs and perceptions so basic, but if people knew that up front they might never take the road in the first place. It helps to make people comfortable before hitting them with a club :mrgreen: Think of it this way: skillful means of using delusion now in order to help people perceive reality later.

    Lastly, Jundo is successful because he is (1) warm and fuzzy AND (2) he has meaningful stuff to say. The order is important, just as first impressions are important. Most of us (but not all) need a smile, lots of them actually, in order to deal with the kyosaku reality that comes later.

  3. #3
    disastermouse
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    Re: Maybe I shouldn't browse the 'Eastern Religion' section..

    I think that by the time folks get to Zen, they ARE ready. Some people come here because they ARE ready for some honesty. If you think about it, there are modalities other than Zen that can serve the other purpose better than Buddhism. Zen in particular is ill-equipped to feed the agendas of the egos of the upper middle class.

    This is what makes Zen Zen, and although it has kept true Zen on the fringe, it is also what's kept it from being lost all these many years. People don't need to be protected from reality by feel-good ego props. It only forestalls the problem.

    I also think my supposed curmudgeonliness is less than advertised.
    Chet

  4. #4

    Re: Maybe I shouldn't browse the 'Eastern Religion' section..

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    and it occured to me that these smiling Buddhist authorities were all selling big 'h' HAPPINESS on the covers of their books. 'You too can be happy, all you're missing are the 500-5000 words contained between the covers of these books!'
    I think that there is nothing wrong with a practice of Buddhism which makes us joyful and happy ... but it is a "joyful and happy" that may surprise some people ...

    ... because it is a "joyful and happy" when we feel joyful and happy ... and also a "joyful and happy" about the fact of our not always feeling joyful and happy. In fact, it is a kind of "joyful and happy" about sometimes in life (as is natural in life) feeling anything BUT "joyful and happy" ... when our alcoholic parent is hurting himself and those around us, when our marriages are strained, when we lose someone we love, when we are sick, a bit afraid.

    So, it is a kind of underlying, fundamental "joy" at just having the honor and privilege to be alive to feel all of that ... the bitter and the sweet.

    That is why some may refer to it as something like "Joyful and Happy", because it is a satisfaction and pleasure which sweeps in mere "joy, happiness, disappointment and sadness". It is the "Joy and Happiness" at being "at one" with what Daido Loori calls (I just love these words) "THE WHOLE CATASTROPHE" of this life-world.

    Yes, it is thus a kind of "Joy and Happiness" for grown-ups.

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse

    I also think my supposed curmudgeonliness is less than advertised.
    I do too.

    Gassho, J

  5. #5
    disastermouse
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    Re: Maybe I shouldn't browse the 'Eastern Religion' section..

    It's joy and happiness then that doesn't require a problem to be solved.

    My point wasn't that Buddhism shouldn't promote joy and happiness, it's just that common drives to happiness are no mean part of what keeps away happiness and the natural state.

    Chet

  6. #6
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Maybe I shouldn't browse the 'Eastern Religion' section..

    Here in rural Bible Belt Buckle Texas I am not sure if the local book store even has an Eastern Religion section. Books on Buddhism can only be found in the philosophy section. Apparently, here in the land of ONE Religion (to have another would be sacrilege), Buddhism doesn't even rate as a religion.

    I agree with Chet, for the most part, however. I have given up on looking for good Buddhist reading in the popular book store. I have used all that up. Well, maybe there might be something deeper than all the smiley stuff Chet talks about that I no longer have any use for. These days I read what's on our book list or what is current in our book club. I am a more targeting consumer, more mindful of what I read relating to Buddhism that whatever might be moving off the shelves in a store.

  7. #7

    Re: Maybe I shouldn't browse the 'Eastern Religion' section..

    I don't think it's necessary to go to books, much less buy them, anymore. If a person is serious enough to learn Zen, they will take the time and find the best teachings on the Internet. It is easy to get help. Treeleaf is a great example. Some might even find a good live teacher if they are lucky enough.

    If someone wants money to teach you how to live the best life you can, I think they should find a new profession. I would question their motives. I think helping without reward is better (and more rewarding).

    If the student is ready, promises have been abandoned and the work is being done.

    Cam

  8. #8

    Re: Maybe I shouldn't browse the 'Eastern Religion' section..

    Quote Originally Posted by Deadbuddha
    If someone wants money to teach you how to live the best life you can, I think they should find a new profession. I would question their motives. I think helping without reward is better (and more rewarding).
    Hi.

    I wonder what some people on the forum would think about that, being "coaches" and such...
    But maybe they agree, that it's better to do something just for the good of it, demanding "nothing" rather than charge for the session...

    We had another discussion not long ago about "charging for the dharma"...

    Mfbwy
    Fugen

  9. #9
    disastermouse
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    Re: Maybe I shouldn't browse the 'Eastern Religion' section..

    Is it bad to charge for the Dharma?

    I dunno. We live in such a consumerist society that it's hard to imagine the traditional concept of 'dana' taking root here - although it could be really transformative if it did.

    Meanwhile, I sorta wonder why Jundo hasn't written a book yet.

    Chet

  10. #10

    Re: Maybe I shouldn't browse the 'Eastern Religion' section..

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Meanwhile, I sorta wonder why Jundo hasn't written a book yet.
    A Heart to Heart Chat with Old Master Gudo
    http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Chat-Bud...9558531&sr=8-1
    While technically it is a Nishijima book, after reading it a couple of times, I find a whole bunch of Jundo in there. I would hazard a guess that the term "translation" in this case is loosely applied. I may be completely wrong . . . it may be word for word Nishijima, but it doesn't read that way. For instance, the ANS stuff is greatly de-emphasized--not a trait of Nishijima's writing.

    Peace,
    Eika

  11. #11
    Treeleaf Unsui Shohei's Avatar
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    Re: Maybe I shouldn't browse the 'Eastern Religion' section..

    Hi Eika
    I agree there.
    At the beginning its noted that the student asking the questions is more a compilation of students and there questions. I figured the answers...while Nishijima roshi's would be a "compilation/ or perhaps generalisation" of his answers given. But im not a very good person to interpret these things by any means and heck im still not done reading :X

    Gassho Shohei

  12. #12

    Re: Maybe I shouldn't browse the 'Eastern Religion' section..

    Quote Originally Posted by Dirk
    Hi Eika
    I agree there.
    At the beginning its noted that the student asking the questions is more a compilation of students and there questions. I figured the answers...while Nishijima roshi's would be a "compilation/ or perhaps generalisation" of his answers given. But im not a very good person to interpret these things by any means and heck im still not done reading :X

    Gassho Shohei
    Hi Guys,

    "Heart to Heart" is a close translation of a 1999 book by Nishijima Roshi (Japanese link) the title to which is ???? ???? (Gudo Rojin Bukkyo Mondo, literally "questions and answers on Buddhism with old Gudo", also a "socratic dialogue" between Gudo and a fictitious compilation student) ...

    http://www.amazon.co.jp/%E6%84%9A%E9%81 ... 48&sr=1-13

    I believe the translation is close in content, and I followed the book line by line, idea by idea (with additions here and there to expand and elaborate and update). Often, I was too close in following word for word, which resulted in the often dry, not-quite-natural and stilted quality of the writing (hey, it was the first effort at a book translation by a then younger me). In the process of translation, I met with Nishijima Roshi at least weekly, often daily in his office, and he read ... and we discussed the book ... line by line. He was active in the translation process, made corrections and changes to his liking all throughout. The Japanese book does not emphasize some of Roshi's Ideas that he has become more and more fixed on in later years, that is for sure (but one reason I chose to that particular book, as I think it is much clearer ... and less muddled ... than some fuzzy sections of his more popular book, "Real Dragon"). The translation was completed in 2003.

    I am sure my voice shines through the whole book clearly, as all the English phrasing and such is mine throughout (Roshi's English, frankly, is ... well, a tangle sometimes). The expansions and elaborations are my words, but Roshi approved them and requested changes when he did not care for what was being said (one quick example ... I tried to slip in his approval for a glass of red wine or two each day, as I consider it healthful, while he demanded I pull that and hold to his strict teetotaler beliefs).

    As I have often discussed, in the 5 or 6 years since then, age has caught up with my teacher somewhat. His mind remains brilliant, but he has become more and more focused on a few ideas he has, sometimes to an extreme. It is his age (he is 90 this year). I have discussed that honestly a few times in the past. Most recently, he is tangled in an extremely confusing attempt at translating the MMK ... and, well, it is difficult.

    http://gudoblog-e.blogspot.com/2009/08/ ... f-mmk.html

    At the time I worked on the translation of "Heart-to-Heart" with him, there was truly a "Heart-to-Heart" meeting between Nishijima Rosho and me in the process of translating it.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS- I will get a book out someday, but "books" ... how old fashioned! Most of my writing seems to be on this Forum and such!

  13. #13

    Re: Maybe I shouldn't browse the 'Eastern Religion' section..

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    PS- I will get a book out someday, but "books" ... how old fashioned! Most of my writing seems to be on this Forum and such!
    Hi.

    Taking all the written here and on the blog, Wouldn't that make a book?
    And quite an easy one at that...

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

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