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Thread: Open Source Buddhism

  1. #1

    Open Source Buddhism

    Interesting article about the unique "melting pot" nature of Western Buddhism, and the danger of incorporating practices from too many traditions (breadth) instead of immersing oneself in a single tradition (depth):

    http://www.tricycle.com/blog/towards-op ... e-buddhism

  2. #2

    Re: Open Source Buddhism

    Thanks for the link, I've been thinking of this very topic for a while. I think we have this open source view on things because of the buddhist media as well as our general nature of discovering ourself. In the late 80s, I didn't have much access to researching sects of buddhism beyond some texts I used in college for my eastern cultures minor. But that was more of a sociological view than a practitioners view. So experimentation and research was the way to find out what was natural for you.

    Westerners I think seek to learn as much as they can, and in turn, look to Tibetan, Pure Land, Zen, etc., as alternatives to each other; or as ingredients that can fill the whole recipe. I know more than a few people with tibetan prayers flags in their houses who do not consider themselves tibetan buddhists. Same with zen practitioners who wear tibetan style prayer beads. Some mainstream buddhist magazines seem to foster this outlook.

  3. #3

    Re: Open Source Buddhism

    Quote Originally Posted by mcurtiss
    I know more than a few people with tibetan prayers flags in their houses who do not consider themselves tibetan buddhists. Same with zen practitioners who wear tibetan style prayer beads.
    Hello,

    My wife and I fall into this category: she is non-religious, and I practice Zen. However, all of the malas and prayer-flags that we have were gifts from a close friend of ours (who happens to be a Geshe-Lharampa). It isn't always about combining practices.

    Metta,

    Perry

  4. #4

    Re: Open Source Buddhism

    Thank you, Matto, for the link and topic.

    "Was there a previous time and place in history when such a broad range of Buddhist traditions was so freely available to one person, and so ripe for the picking?" - Towards Open-Source Buddhism (Tricycle Blog)

    To the question in the Tricycle piece above, I think the answer is "yes". There was such a time and place, Nalanda:

    http://my.opera.com/ThichNuNhuThanh/...at-of-learning

    From all accounts, many traditions practiced, studied, debated side by side. With time and a critical mass of those so experienced here, the story about "Western" Buddhism will be seen and told a couple hundred years from now. By then everyone should know what it will look like.

    Shikantaza.

    Gassho,
    Engyo

  5. #5

    Re: Open Source Buddhism

    Quote Originally Posted by Saijun
    My wife and I fall into this category: she is non-religious, and I practice Zen. However, all of the malas and prayer-flags that we have were gifts from a close friend of ours (who happens to be a Geshe-Lharampa). It isn't always about combining practices.
    which I don't criticize in that manner; but I think its sometimes all about finding our way. Physical things surrounding us remind us of our practice.

  6. #6

    Re: Open Source Buddhism

    At the same time, in being a "purist," there is the danger of missing a truth because one dismisses the brand-name.

  7. #7
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Re: Open Source Buddhism

    The point is made in the article that it is preferable to become steeped in the tradition or style most suited to one's personality and preferences before venturing into new territory. I spent the last couple of months sitting with a Tibetan Vadrayana sangha - the group leader had also spent some time at the Mountains and Rivers Monastery in New York, so he was conversant with Zen Buddhism. While I was welcomed warmly, I noticed that my preference was to just sit, while Vajrayana practitioners also engage in tantric practices. I was able through this experience to discover that a more direct, "bare bones" practice centered around Shikantaza was indeed the best place for me. This is not to detract from the committed practice and genuineness of the people I practiced with - I am speaking only to my own practice and preferences. And I think that my experience was possible only because of my grounding in Soto Zen.

    There are not any Soto sanghas in my area within reasonable driving distance - so I will make a commitment to virtual sitting with you. As for a local Soto sangha, I understand Tim McCarthy (recently ordained as a Soto priest at San Francisco Zen Center) will be organizing a new sangha here in midcoast Maine in April. I look forward to checking this group out. He is a friend of Gary Lawless at Gulf of Maine Books, who hung out with Gary Snyder and Nanao Sakaki - interesting characters - Nanao in particular.

    Oh well, I digress.

    Gassho,
    Yugen

  8. #8

    Re: Open Source Buddhism

    Quote Originally Posted by KvonNJ
    At the same time, in being a "purist," there is the danger of missing a truth because one dismisses the brand-name.
    My thinking is in line with Ankai on this one. There are many Buddhist traditions, just like there are about 20 to 30 distinct sects and traditions of Christianity and Catholicism, from Quakers and the Amish all the way to Opus Dei and the Jesuits. There are many traditions of Judaism and even the Islamic faith has it's Sunni, Shiite, and Sufis. But the different derivations, I think are based in two things. One is the personal preference of its practitioners. Protestants and Lutherans would not be who they are without Martin Luther and his "Eine minuten, bitte" note on the church door. And two, that there are different ways to come to an understanding of the same thing. However, this should not lead a person to accept that everything is beneficial either. A person must be careful to remember that all these traditions are traceable back to one source, the teacher of each order, Jesus, Moses, Mohammed, and even further back from them to the Source. Just like Zen, through our lineage back to Shakyamuni, back to all the other Buddhas, back to the Source, and back around again for us to practice.

  9. #9

    Re: Open Source Buddhism

    Interesting article. I like the point at the end about following our heart. In the end, I suppose our practice is truly based on ourselves; it's our duty to really get to the heart of the practice, and that can be difficult if we get caught up in the superficialities of the various paths. That's easy to do at first. Hell, I even wear Tibetan prayer beads, but I do it as a reminder of my practice.. sort of like bringing my rakusu with me in my work bag. I have to admit, at first i did it cuz I thought it was cool. lol

  10. #10

    Re: Open Source Buddhism

    Hi All,

    In Japan, it is typical that a priest in Soto Temple X would have little knowledge or interest in what is happening at Rinzai Temple Y down the street (let alone at a Tibetan or Thai Sangha). The richness and mix in the West can be refreshing, leading to a lovely result if done carefully.

    On the other hand, the danger of mixing poorly is spelled out clearly in the blog article ...

    This smorgasbord of Buddhist traditions also creates confusion—especially for the beginning student who is not firmly grounded in one tradition from the start. Beyond the obvious danger of bringing a consumer’s “shopping mentality” to spiritual practice—going from one tradition and teacher to another and always leaving them behind when they begin to provoke discomfort by challenging your ego—there is also the risk of mixing views from different traditions in an unskillful way.
    We had another thread on this recently, on practicing together "Christianity and Buddhism" ...

    viewtopic.php?p=44505#p44505

    As in our discussion of walking the Buddhist and Christian/Jewish path, and as far as I am concerned, it depends how the mixing and stirring is done. One can "make a tomato sauce" wisely or foolishly. Tomatoes and greens and certain spices go together well, but I would not mix and match ketchup and bananas and expect something tasty (it could accidently happen, of course :shock: )!



    This Sangha is rather like a cooking school. When in the school, the chefs teach a particular way of making tomato sauce (NO BANANAS!). When in this school, we practice a certain way, with certain recipes and techniques to stirring the pot. Of course, at home in your own kitchen, you are free to experiment and to find the pasta sauce right for you (every tongue is different). In fact, we may be teaching more about "how to cook" than about a particular fixed recipe (in our particular school of Buddhist cooking, the practice of the WHOLE cooking process ... from growing the vegetables, to chopping the celery, to sitting down to taste the sauce, to eating in moderation, to washing the pots at the end, to returning the remainders to the soil to fertilize the land once more at the beginning ... IS ENLIGHTENMENT ITSELF, -not only- and -as also is- the delicious finished marinara sauce created in the process! All Enlightenment ... Buddha harvesting Buddha cooking Buddha savoring Buddha.) So, in this school, we ask that people cook that way ... and if they don't want to cook as the chefs here teach, please try the chefs down the street or some other cookbook altogether (that may suit ya better, and be even more delicious than what is served up here. To each his own). However, if this kitchen is not to your taste, don't practice here.

    But also, there is something very very much to realize about "Shikantaza" Practice if mixing with other practices. One can be a political liberal or conservative, black or white or Asian, male or female, car mechanic or nurse, Christian or Atheist, dabbler in some Tibetan Practice or not ... and still practice "Shikantaza". However, when practicing Shikantaza, SHIKANTAZA MUST BE SHIKANTAZA'D WITH A CERTAIN UNDERSTANDING, to wit:

    Seated Zazen is our ONE AND ONLY practice, for by the very nature of Shikantaza ... when sitting Zazen, there is nothing more to do, nothing more that need be done, no addition needed nor anything to take away. Zazen is complete and whole. No other place to be in all the world, no other place we must (or can) run to. Nothing lacks, all is sacred, and Zazen is the One Liturgy. It is vital to be sat by Zazen with such attitude. Thus, Zazen is sat each day as the One and Whole Practice. If one sits any other way, if one sits with any sensation of "'I' need to fill some hole that is not Whole" ... one kills Zazen, gets nowhere. If one sits Zazen, one need do no other practice!

    But, of course ...

    ... we do rise up from the Zafu and get on with "the rest of life". Then, ANYTHING and EVERYTHIING can be encountered as Sacred, One, Whole ... as 'Zazen', ALL ZAZEN ... from 'changing a baby's diaper' to 'stapling staples' at work to 'pulling weeds' in the garden to lying on one's death bed ... all a SACRED RITUAL when approached as such ... complete and whole. No other place to be in all the world, no other place we must (or can) run to.
    So, it matters what one tosses in the pot ... for some things mix, and some do not. As well, if one does not "cook" in such Shikantaza way, then one will not be satisfied for long with the Whole Dish which life offers up.

    Gassho, Jundo

  11. #11

    Re: Open Source Buddhism

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    This Sangha is rather like a cooking school. When in the school, the chefs teach a particular way of making tomato sauce (NO BANANAS!). When in this school, we practice a certain way, with certain recipes and techniques to stirring the pot. Of course, at home in your own kitchen, you are free to experiment and to find the pasta sauce right for you (every tongue is different). In fact, we may be teaching more about "how to cook" than about a particular fixed recipe (in our particular school of Buddhist cooking, the practice of the WHOLE cooking process ... from growing the vegetables, to chopping the celery, to sitting down to taste the sauce, to eating in moderation, to washing the pots at the end, to returning the remainders to the soil to fertilize the land once more at the beginning ... IS ENLIGHTENMENT ITSELF, -not only- and -as also is- the delicious finished marinara sauce created in the process! All Enlightenment ... Buddha harvesting Buddha cooking Buddha savoring Buddha.)
    Fugen happened to post on another thread today a passage from "Instructions for the Cook", and a "sit-a-long" talk that goes with that, fits right into today's cooking class. Please have a look and a listen.

    viewtopic.php?p=47173#p47173

    Gassho, Jundo

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