As people float in and out of here, I see a few repeating themes come up that I thought we might discuss. Feel free to add and comment.
Vegetarianism vs omnivorism:
I feel this is something we have to sort out for ourselves. Much of the energy in this debate comes from the vegetarian side insisting that the only way to observe the precepts is to refrain from meat, but omnivore proponents (myself included) can be equally vociferous in defense of our own views. And that's maybe part of the problem. We are defending OUR views and sometimes there's a bit of a "God is on my side" aspect so that the real issues and opportunities to hear one another are clearly lost in the "I'm right, you're wrong" back and forth of the debate. Honestly, I think this is the part of the debate that is most instructive - not the resolution to the disagreement so much as the energy with which we interject our views as the Truth - full-stop.
This is another area where I've seen a "You're not a real Buddhist unless you agree with me" attitude. I'm a re-birther (see what I did there?), but I've got no real beefs with rebirth agnostics - right up until I see the argument that mind=brain. I think my biggest problem with this is that, if true, then aren't we all just practicing Buddhism as a stop-gap until the right pill/surgery/genetic treatment can manipulate our brains into brains of perfect expressions of enlightenment? There are a lot of problems with both these views (rebirth vs non-rebirth) - but neither side seems to want to acknowledge the ontological problems with BOTH views. If we can acknowledge these problems with BOTH views, maybe we can have some more productive conversations!
Challenge the teacher!
Ooh, this one's fun, isn't it? There's plenty of crazy to go around here. The original instinct is aggressively egoic, but the group dynamic thinking that goes with it is just as or maybe even more screwed up. What causes this constant dynamic? Person questions teacher(s) in an attacking way, sangha responds defending teacher for underlying reasons arguably as questionable as the attacker's, attacker senses that and seizes on it and now we're in high school again. There has to be a more intelligent way to enter these threads but I'm not sure I know what it is. I know that I often do not have the objective awareness to not get sucked into the dynamic.
I NEED an answer!!/Just sit!
I think a lot of people think that Zen practice is some sort of final answer to life, the universe, and everything - an ancient Eastern "42" that magically solves all problems. So they seek that answer as a philosophical structure - even when they don't think they are. The flip side of this is "just-sit-ism". Both are attempts to solve or escape the discomfort of the sense that something isn't right, IMHO. Looking for an escape is what I think is problematic here. Seeing the problem without an agenda helps. Still, we get the 'Solve my problem!/Just sit!!' dynamic a lot. Why is that?