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Thread: Buddhist or Buddha-ologist?

  1. #1
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Buddhist or Buddha-ologist?

    I was thinking the other day about some people I know that they seem to devour every dharma book they can get a hold on.

    They go to conferences, meditation classes, festivals and meetings and they take pretty strong stances towards vegetarianism, Ayurveda, yoga and all flavors of Tibetan Buddhism.

    They know by heart a lot of the dharma. They ever are experts on incense brands!

    Some of them look down at people who are not like them. It's some sort of elite group.

    They are so involved in Buddhism that I got to think of myself as a bad Buddhist for not keeping the pace on all that. Even if I wanted to be like them, I have a business to maintain, a career as a writer to pursue, a personal life to live and a lot of things to do!

    Then while I was sitting it came to my mind that they are great Buddha-ologists. They're experts! They collect knowledge, but I'm not sure if they practice at all.

    So I was thinking. What's better? To be a Buddhist or a Buddha-ologist?

    IMHO I think I'll stick to just sit and practice and live by the Precepts. The expert part will come along as I get older.

    Have you met people like this?

  2. #2

    Re: Buddhist or Buddha-ologist?

    I don't really think of myself as a Buddhist even though I am a Buddhist if that makes sense. I dont' want to throw the baby out with the bathwater (as Jundo sensei says), but I don't really need the mystique of "Buddhism" to practice. Practice is now here.. it doesn't matter if you use incense or not. But, hell, if incense helps your practice, who am I to judge? I don't know what's better per se. I mean it gets dangerous being in an elitist spiritual clique. I don't know the group, but I think it's much better to just practice than to look down or judge others. I know I'm a crappy Buddhist, but this is where I am now, and that's why I practice.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  3. #3

    Re: Buddhist or Buddha-ologist?

    Lol I know what you mean. My brother is a religious studies major focusing on asian studies. As far as he is concerned I'm doing all of it wrong

  4. #4

    Re: Buddhist or Buddha-ologist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyonin

    So I was thinking. What's better? To be a Buddhist or a Buddha-ologist?
    Some people know the name of every brand of incense, some don't. I would not look either up or down at them.

    In fact, don't even bother to be a "Buddhist" or "Buddha-ologist".

    Just learn from the Buddha's Teachings, put them into Practice.

    A name is a name is a name.

    Gassho, J

  5. #5

    Re: Buddhist or Buddha-ologist?

    No, I haven't met them, but looking down on others is not very nice. How you live everyday life is the true buddhist way. I don't even like incense so being an expert in all the different types doesn't interest me but its ok if someone does.

  6. #6

    Re: Buddhist or Buddha-ologist?

    Hi there Kyonin,

    I recognise this tendency in myself to want to study everything in depth ops:

    The above is an interesting drive/curiosity in some individuals - but I think what it can lead to is a huge investment in 'theory/information' - that requires energy/commitment -
    to sustain....... then what happens is the person doing the 'commitment' feels the need to justify the commitment ...... and one way to do that is attend
    conferences and write academic paper/books and meet with other people who are using their energy this way .... because it justifies the commitment more.

    I don't want to knock it - because when the mind's made that way it's very hard to simplify - let go of the drive to take in/and put out/share ideas,
    and clearly the universe does need individuals who can commit to furthering knowledge. BUT - when it comes to buddhist practice - I don't believe all those layers of knowledge
    help at all - and possibly get in the way.

    Just to be in the moment and try to live a caring life - that seems to be the essence of the dharma. Everything else is just additional thought/energy - not necessary.

    Gassho

    Willow

  7. #7
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist or Buddha-ologist?

    I think there are two ways of looking at it. While I'm one of those people who studies everything in depth, as Willow says, one thing I find useful in reading books about zen, and, to a lesser extent, listening to podcasts, is that it maintains the dharma actively in my mind. It makes me think about things I might not otherwise think about. Sitting is good; sitting is essential; but sitting on its own is not quite enough. Especially for us who have no local teachers, the ability to read and hear about the dharma is essential.

    This said, as part of the decrapification of my life, about which I posted a while ago, I've decided to stop going so deeply into things. I have a bunch of dharma books that I will read over and over, and only buy the occasional new book if it really offers something different from what I have. (And this is the same for other interests of mine.)

  8. #8
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist or Buddha-ologist?

    Balance.....

    Gassho

  9. #9

    Re: Buddhist or Buddha-ologist?

    When the spirit moves me, I enjoy reading and studying the dharma. When not reading and studying, I don't feel I'm missing anything.

    With Jundo's mindboggling knowledge, just reading this forum is quite the Buddhist education

  10. #10

    Re: Buddhist or Buddha-ologist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyonin
    I was thinking the other day about some people I know that they seem to devour every dharma book they can get a hold on.

    They go to conferences, meditation classes, festivals and meetings and they take pretty strong stances towards vegetarianism, Ayurveda, yoga and all flavors of Tibetan Buddhism.

    They know by heart a lot of the dharma. They ever are experts on incense brands!

    Some of them look down at people who are not like them. It's some sort of elite group.
    Maybe they do this because they feel something is lacking and they are trying to fill that hole with something?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyonin
    They are so involved in Buddhism that I got to think of myself as a bad Buddhist for not keeping the pace on all that. Even if I wanted to be like them, I have a business to maintain, a career as a writer to pursue, a personal life to live and a lot of things to do!
    Maybe you think this way when you feel something is lacking, that you need to fill that hole with something?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyonin
    I think I'll stick to just sit and practice and live by the Precepts. The expert part will come along as I get older.
    Yes, that's what I'm doing when I feel that something is lacking. Sometimes when I sit, practice and live by the precepts, there's not so much lacking anymore. The hole sometimes seems already filled.

    Hopefully, you will not become an expert! :wink:

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  11. #11
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist or Buddha-ologist?

    Being an expert???

    I have nothing to say. Don't know much about Buddhism. Not even interested.

    Know a bit about sitting and sewing and working and sometimes begging.

    It is because I have noting to teach that sometimes the teaching comes.

    Most of the time, I feel I have nothing to say.

    gassho

    Taigu

  12. #12
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist or Buddha-ologist?

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    ...While I'm one of those people who studies everything in depth, as Willow says, one thing I find useful in reading books about zen, and, to a lesser extent, listening to podcasts, is that it maintains the dharma actively in my mind. It makes me think about things I might not otherwise think about...
    I agree. At first, I was caught up in that whirlwind of information that comes with overload of concepts. Now that time has gelled out the studying/ sitting/ being ratio (a three way ratio? :lol: ), I feel a lot more balanced and less obsessive.

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Being an expert???

    I have nothing to say. Don't know much about Buddhism. Not even interested.

    Know a bit about sitting and sewing and working and sometimes begging.

    It is because I have noting to teach that sometimes the teaching comes.

    Most of the time, I feel I have nothing to say.

    gassho

    Taigu
    A bow.

  13. #13
    Treeleaf Engineer Seimyo's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist or Buddha-ologist?

    Kyonin, I'm guilty of this. It's a cycle I wish to end.

    For decades I've gone through phases of intense brain-feeding brought on by boredom and/or the need to obscure something in my life with another something. Like kitty with a turd to bury, I pick up hobbies to hurl myself into to avoid dealing with issues, ideas or luggage I don't want to find. Generally if my new obsession survives the first few months, said interest sticks around for the long-haul and settles into a realistic rhythm.

    This is hard to admit, but when I started sitting again last year, it sent me into another "learning" cycle. I rushed out and bought a stack of Buddhism books that I wanted to read, knowing the whole time that there was no way I was going to be able to digest all of them, but it didn't change the fact that I had to have the books now. I will eventually read them, but it's that initial phase of having to have that information available to me like it's oxygen. It's kind of toxic to everything else when you obsess like this.

    I could go on and on about all of the esoteric crap I've force fed my brain that I will never put into practice. Thankfully dharma isn't one of them.

    Gassho.

  14. #14

    Re: Buddhist or Buddha-ologist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich

    With Jundo's mindboggling knowledge, just reading this forum is quite the Buddhist education
    Yeah, thank you Rich, but accusing someone of having "mindboggling knowledge" ain't exactly a compliment in the Zen world. Hopefully, there are a few drops of Wisdom and Compassion to be found too! 8)

    Gassho, J

  15. #15
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist or Buddha-ologist?

    Why either/or? Balance what?
    Do they practice either/or?
    Or do you distinguish either/or?
    Where is that boundary?
    Who has it?




    I used to really hate posts like the above. I'd get some insight like this and some smart ass (Buddhist or buddha-ologist or whatever) would reply with a load of zennie crap like this, but I see the utility of it now.

  16. #16
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist or Buddha-ologist?

    New title for Jundo: the head mindboggler at Treeleaf. :-)

  17. #17

    Re: Buddhist or Buddha-ologist?

    I had a dream last night - related to pondering on this thread before I went to sleep :shock:

    At a Buddhist get together - no sit could take place (people were doing Zazen on chairs) because the chairs kept falling
    all over the place. Then a teacher - who was doing some kind of workshop, lay on the floor and said ''you'll have to hold onto that
    radiator yourselves - because I can't keep you warm' and promptly fell asleep!

    My mind doesn't always easily accept that in the world of Zen (if not life in general) less is more

    Gassho

    Willow

  18. #18

    Re: Buddhist or Buddha-ologist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich

    With Jundo's mindboggling knowledge, just reading this forum is quite the Buddhist education
    Yeah, thank you Rich, but accusing someone of having "mindboggling knowledge" ain't exactly a compliment in the Zen world. Hopefully, there are a few drops of Wisdom and Compassion to be found too! 8)

    Gassho, J
    With Jundo's mindboggling knowledge, wisdom and compassion, just reading this forum is quite the Buddhist education :wink:

  19. #19

    Re: Buddhist or Buddha-ologist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    Yeah, thank you Rich, but accusing someone of having "mindboggling knowledge" ain't exactly a compliment in the Zen world. Hopefully, there are a few drops of Wisdom and Compassion to be found too! 8)

    Gassho, J
    With Jundo's mindboggling knowledge, wisdom and compassion, just reading this forum is quite the Buddhist education :wink:
    Okay, Rich, but I notice you did not capitalize "wisdom and compassion" there. In the Buddhist world that is quite the slight. :cry:

    Gassho, J (Wise Ass)

  20. #20

    Re: Buddhist or Buddha-ologist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Being an expert???

    I have nothing to say. Don't know much about Buddhism. Not even interested.

    Know a bit about sitting and sewing and working and sometimes begging.

    It is because I have noting to teach that sometimes the teaching comes.

    Most of the time, I feel I have nothing to say.

    gassho

    Taigu
    Well, I hope you continue your Sit along Talks. Enjoy them very much. :wink:

  21. #21
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist or Buddha-ologist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyonin
    They are so involved in Buddhism that I got to think of myself as a bad Buddhist for not keeping the pace on all that. Even if I wanted to be like them, I have a business to maintain, a career as a writer to pursue, a personal life to live and a lot of things to do!
    This is the important part of your post, I think. This isn't about them, it's about you and comparing yourself to others. And yeah, I do it all the time too, even with some people here. :lol:

    Middle way, I think. No need to look up to them or put them down a peg. They're just finding their way, as we all are.

    And if they get up on a high horse now and then, well, does it really affect your practice?

    Gassho

    Jen

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