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Jundo
02-10-2017, 10:49 AM
Dear All,

Let's begin our group readings and discussions of Zen Teacher David Loy's recent work, A New Buddhist Path: Enlightenment, Evolution, and Ethics in the Modern World. Lots of food for thought (and non-thought) in this short book.

https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=rt5wBAAAQBAJ&dq=david+loy&q=table+of+contents#v=snippet&q=table%20of%20contents&f=false

I will try to post a new reading assignment every weekend or so (unless the discussion of some chapter is particularly good, in which case we will linger a bit).

This week, we will focus on the INTRODUCTION: In Quest of a Modern Buddhism, which is pages 1 through 8 in the paperback version.

I will toss out a few questions just to get things going, but you can ignore them or address them or talk about anything else that strikes your fancy in these pages. My questions are just suggestions. These questions are asked as we just get started, before reading what David has to say on these issues, so we may return to these issues several times in the course of the book.

- Is the modern world changing Buddhism? Is that good? Not good in some ways?

- Is Buddhism changing the modern world? Is that good? Not good in some ways?

- Does Buddhism need to change even more in the face of modern society, scientific discoveries and the like?

- Should Buddhism not change in some ways, no matter what science discovers or modern values change?

I am hoping that David Loy will come to lead Zazen and speak to us sometime later this year.

Feel free to talk among yourselves here too, and comment on each others' comments, if you want. Visualize that we are all sitting in a circle with coffee and donuts (mmmm, Donuts!) at the local book store (those are becoming more and more imaginary too!). Everyone says their piece if they wish, but you can also ask each other questions or talk of impressions and insights from other members' words if you want.

However, okay not to as well, and just lay back and listen too. You can just stay for the coffee and donuts too, all free. :)

Gassho, J

SatToday


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(IN MODERATION!)

Myosha
02-10-2017, 02:01 PM
Hello,

Buddhism is a healing art, come what may.


Gassho
Myosha
sat today

Jundo
02-10-2017, 02:04 PM
Hello,

Buddhism is a healing art, come what may.


Gassho
Myosha
sat today

It can also be wrong, less effective than it might be, unsuited to the times. What do you mean?

Gassho, J

SatToday

Myosha
02-10-2017, 02:10 PM
It can also be wrong, less effective than it might be, unsuited to the times. What do you mean?

Gassho, J

SatToday

Hello,

Buddhism is a healing art. Express Picasso, Nishida Kitaro, a child's laugh, Andy Warhol. All art, all heal, all Buddhism. Or not.


Gassho
Myosha
sat today

Myosha
02-10-2017, 02:19 PM
It can also be wrong, less effective than it might be, unsuited to the times. What do you mean?

Gassho, J

SatToday

Hello,

Funny, humans can realize timelessness and then say, "Yeah, but what about . . . ."

Or not.


Gassho
Myosha
sat today

Jundo
02-10-2017, 02:36 PM
Well, Myosha, you seem to know what you mean. That's enough. :)

Gassho, J

Mp
02-10-2017, 03:00 PM
Wonderful, thank you Jundo. =)

Gassho
Shingen

s@today

AlanLa
02-10-2017, 06:50 PM
As for all the change questions at the top, of course all that change is happening, at least when it comes to Zen, which I understand as change. Zen is a process, not an outcome; it is flexible within a structure that is not dogmatic, thus open to influence in all directions. If it didn't change or change things, then what would be the point? Studying the koans, and the lineage before that, was all about applying ancient wisdom to present circumstances, thus changing us in some way, and then taking that change out into the world, thus also changing it in some way. We don't sit zazen to change ourselves, though that will likely happen in time. We don't take zazen off the cushion to change the world around us, though that is inevitable if you understand that the whole world enlightens you and you enlighten it when you sit zazen. We take the Buddhist Path out into the world, and the Buddhist Path is our world. It's all good.

I've been reading Homeless Kodo, and everything in it seems to come back to finding your True Self, that Self that is beyond ego and is beyond everything yet also one with it all. Drop the dogma, drop the fear, drop the materialism, drop the this/that etc. until all the dualities are also dropped, and that's what echoed in my head as Loy was asking about enlightenment being transcendent or immanent, which jumped out at me as just another duality. Yes and no to both and neither, I thought to myself. Thankfully, he goes on in the next paragraph to say we need to move beyond that duality into this new Buddhist Path he wants to explore. Deep stuff, and I like this kind of deep stuff. I have not read ahead at all, so I am looking forward to freshly exploring this as we move along.

Hoko
02-11-2017, 04:33 PM
Gassho,

1) Yes, I think Buddhism has historically taken on the flavor of whatever culture it encounters. Problems change, but "not wanting to have any problems" doesn't seem to change. From birth to death (and from east to west) it's just like this.
2) Yes. Buddhism is changing the modern world. "Buddhism" is also changing the modern world. Both the moon and the finger pointing at it are changing the modern world. It's good because it's a path to the end of suffering but it's sometimes not good because people often confuse the painted rice cake for the rice cake. But "you have to say something" as Katagiri Roshi once said.
3) Yes. Buddhism is about reality as we understand it and also as we DON'T understand it. If how we understand it changes then so must Buddhism.
4) Yes. Because no matter how much we understand reality there will be an equal measure of not knowing. Reality exists as-it-is with nothing to add, nothing to take away so there will be a balanced state even while there is individual delusion.

One final anecdote:
When I first read this introduction I was struck by the words of Arthur Toynbee (of whom I knew nothing) so I posted them on Facebook. Someone wrote back "Toynbee was a fascist". 😧
This sparked a long argument about whether or not the source of wisdom is more important than the wisdom itself. I said that "everything is my teacher" and my interlocutor felt that since Toynbee was (allegedly) a Nazi sympathizer that his opinion was invalid.
We went round and round. Finally I turned to my wife and asked her "If Jesus said 'be kind to others' and Hitler said 'be kind to others' would the source matter or would the sentiment be more important?" She surprised me by saying that the source DID matter whereas I felt that praj˝a is praj˝a regardless.
Once I calmed down I realized that we were both right and I was a fool to argue.
So bringing this anecdote back to our discussion:
Enlightenment may be the moon but sometimes who's pointing to it can make a big difference.
Sometimes when I say something wise, my friends and family smile and nod and agree with me. Sometimes when I say the same thing in a way that's "Buddhist" they tell me to "spare them the Zen shit".
So, does Buddhism have to change to fit the modern world?
SOMETIMES.
Does Buddhism have to not change to fit the modern world?
SOMETIMES.

Gassho,
Hōkō
#SatToday

Onkai
02-11-2017, 08:21 PM
Thank you Jundo and everyone for this discussion.

I'm glad to be practicing at a time when lay practice is emphasized and also when gender isn't a barrier. I'm also glad to have this community online. So my take on how Buddhism is changing to fit the modern world is positive. The use of Buddhist based practices in psychology, such as the mindfulness based practices are good for psychology, but lose some of their original meaning, such as being a part of an ethical framework. Still, these practices may make Buddhism more approachable for people who are interested in going deeper into practice.

Gassho,
Onkai
SatToday

Ryumon
02-11-2017, 09:34 PM
An aside, before I comment. The introduction in my book is pages 1-7; you say it's pages 1-9. The book has 164 pages, through the end of the index. Does that correspond to your edition, Jundo? I'm just wondering if there are two editions, and the page numbers you mention may be out of sync.

Without answering your questions directly, I think the difference we're facing now, as compared to when Buddhism spread to other countries, is the fact that so many Buddhisms have come to the west. It's not just, say, Indian Buddhism going to Tibet or China, it's all the different Buddhisms coming to the west, and vying for preeminence. Tibetan Buddhism has an edge, because of the Dalai Lama, but Zen has been here a bit longer, and is better established in the world of art and music. So we can no longer talk about a single Buddhism, but we have to consider the varied traditions and practices of many variants.

It's no secret that I'm a believer in the need for a more secular Buddhism, and, to address your fourth question, I think the biggest change we'll see is a new type of Buddhism that drops many of the trappings of tradition. I don't think this has anything to do with what science discovers - while neuroscientists have closely examined meditation, I'm not convinced that really has anything to do with Buddhism as such.

I think the main change has already happened, of course: that's the way lay people have access to the practice, something that was rare in the many countries where Buddhism flourished. And that alone is changing Buddhism from a top-down religion to a more secular practice. (Though I shudder when I read Loy saying "If the Buddhist path is psychological therapy..." I think that's something that is perverting Buddhism from its true meaning.)

Gassho,

Kirk

#Sat

Zenmei
02-11-2017, 10:07 PM
Though I shudder when I read Loy saying "If the Buddhist path is psychological therapy..."

I felt the same twinge. I have heard Shakyamuni described as a "radical psychologist" though, and it's not wrong. Incomplete, maybe.

Gassho, Zenmei
#sat

Jiken
02-11-2017, 11:10 PM
- Is the modern world changing Buddhism? This prompts me to ask if the nature of buddhism is fixed and unchangeable? It seems as all my thoughts/answers reference the introduction are questions. Does it have a core? Are we able to render "it" down to one unchanging thing. What is the test to determine what enhances and what corrupts. Is there and answer? I don't know but any question seems valid. Whatever "buddhism" is is possible for it to ever stop evolving?

Gassho,

Jiken

Jundo
02-12-2017, 12:02 AM
An aside, before I comment. The introduction in my book is pages 1-7; you say it's pages 1-9. The book has 164 pages, through the end of the index. Does that correspond to your edition, Jundo? I'm just wondering if there are two editions, and the page numbers you mention may be out of sync.

9 is the start of the next chapter. You have the right edition. I will write it differently for you next time.

Gassho, J

SatToday

Koushu
02-12-2017, 02:55 AM
I would say no to all four of them. My reasoning is that the philosophy and practice are good for our stability so these are not the problem, not only that the belief or philosophy or practice changes nothing in the world.

The question should be "As a Buddhist how do I change the world? Do we allow society control is with its greed, anger, ignorance, pride, etc? We are the manifestation of the the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Not representatives but actual manifestation.

Each to his or her own practice, but besides our main practice of Shikantaza it is good to check ourselves to make sure the changes, good changes are happening, they will take time. To Buddhism including Zen is a very personal practice but at the same time all consuming. Before we can help others or society or the world we first have to help ourselves.

Yesterday morning at work (for those who don't know I work as a water well driller), my boss and I were suppose to pull out the truck and get the equipment to the drill site when we got hit by freezing rain and they closed the roads for a good two hours. My boss became angry, that anger grew over the morning. "Riding upon a horse of good breed is that of the hell realm" is not only a description of the power of anger that my boss had but that all of us experience when we let anger or any of the other poisons run free. For hell is created by our own mind.

In the flat bed truck we use to carry equipment and water to the drill site, in the cab their is a small sticky calender with pictures of half naked women. As I noticed this item I thought instantly of hungry ghost, they are not dead they are us now when we desire for something, maybe that beautiful woman, or expensive bottle of wine or the sound of the lute played upon the wind. "Listening upon the good string is that of the hungry ghost. "
Now how do I prevent my boss's anger from over flowing to me, how do I stop the desire for those lovely women? "To this I sit as the pine. Upon the stone enveloped in the mind of emptiness " that is our principle practice in Shikantaza, let's also check ourselves, this is how we change the world to be a better place.

As each person has their own capacity of understanding the Buddhist will need to change for certain persons to understand and find their way. I like to call it evolution and adaptation. But there will remain some who find their satori and effect the world or society by wondering the mountains chasing away evil dragons, like myself.

So the final answer no, but yes and everything in between, depends upon the practitioner and the society the have to deal with.

Gassho
拡手
Koushu

Sattoday

P.S. my boss apologizedfor being angry yesterday and I smiled and he smiled and we both laughed until we cried. I told him to have a great weekend and he bowed with a genuine smile on his face and a glow about him. His horse of good breed had run itself to death.



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Byrne
02-12-2017, 07:10 PM
For Buddhism to thrive in the west it will continue to adapt to the needs of people just like it always has. But no one gets to control the larger narrative of how that will take place. As Buddhists our duty is to earnestly seek guidance in the three treasures. We will make mistakes. We will get caught up in our own self centered ideas. Some people will use Buddhism for nefarious purposes. If we do our best to correct errors the future looks bright. If we get bogged down in a self centered desire to establish a new Buddhism we are more likely to go astray.

Personally, I believe that what is most important is that we honor and respect traditions so long as they embrace the three jewels and foster an environment where Buddhist teachings are open to absolutely anyone who wishes to learn regardless of their personal circumstance.

Gassho

Sat Today

RonanJH
02-12-2017, 09:21 PM
A fantastic book.

I grew up in a tradition that has mostly become hostile to science, at least when it was seen to challenge certain literalist readings of scripture. I now teach the Bible in an academic setting and the first thing we do is discuss fundamentalist hermeneutics. It's striking that literalist, anti-science approaches are a relatively new phenomenon in Christianity. Enlightenment rationality was applied to the Bible as if its teachings and myths represented scientific fact (this is the way Kant approached philosophy -- as if it were a branch of Newtonian physics). St. Augustine and others would not have recognised this.

Anyway, that's my background and is what I had in mind as I contemplated Jundo's question:

- Should Buddhism not change in some ways, no matter what science discovers or modern values change?

I would say that in general, religion should not chase after science too eagerly. I fully accept the scientific worldview and my values are fairly progressive. However, if Buddhism is only "true" in some sense because it relates well to modern cosmology or psychology it will only be true for as long as these things are also true. Of course, that's not quite what the question is asking but it's what came to mind. I would say that of course Buddhism should change or not change in dialogue with the totality of the human experience, science being one such factor.

#ST

Kaisho
02-12-2017, 10:59 PM
- Is the modern world changing Buddhism? Is that good? Not good in some ways?

- Is Buddhism changing the modern world? Is that good? Not good in some ways?

- Does Buddhism need to change even more in the face of modern society, scientific discoveries and the like?

- Should Buddhism not change in some ways, no matter what science discovers or modern values change?


I haven't read anything this scholarly since my days in college so it has been refreshing to dig into this book. Also please Pardon the grammar and spelling as my phone is trying to vex me.

1) It is changing to meet the needs of modern people. We are modern people doing ancient, though updated, practices. If we were hermits in a cave might be different but we have other influences that allow us to distill the practice to something that suits our needs. This is good in that it presents the material in more conventional ways with updated, clear language and accessible teachings.

2) No. Definitely not. I can see how academics might find meditation techniques interesting but the same patterns flow. Arguments, war, etc. This is not a good thing because people lean on violence and tribalism to other people and dredge up reoccurring grievances.

3)yes,I would say that change is necessary to survive in the West. Changing to meet the needs of the society it interacts with has been a strong trait for Buddhism but science has much to give to the world and that should be embraced.

4) in certain areas it is good to maintain a traditional view. Preserving some traditions allows for a connection to the historical roots of the practice.


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Jundo
02-13-2017, 01:39 AM
Hey Guys,

Feel free to talk among yourselves here too, and comment on each others' comments, if you want. Visualize that we are all sitting in a circle with coffee and donuts (mmmm, Donuts!) at the local book store (those are becoming more and more imaginary too!). Everyone says their piece if they wish, but you can also ask each other questions or talk of impressions and insights from other members' words if you want.

However, okay not to as well, and just lay back and listen too. You can just stay for the coffee and donuts too, all free. :)

Gassho, J

SatToday


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(IN MODERATION!)

Mp
02-13-2017, 01:44 AM
the coffee and donuts too, all free. :)

OK, I am so in!!! :encouragement:

Gassho
Shingen

s@today #with donut crumbs on my face

Kaisho
02-13-2017, 02:03 AM
An aside, before I comment. The introduction in my book is pages 1-7; you say it's pages 1-9. The book has 164 pages, through the end of the index. Does that correspond to your edition, Jundo? I'm just wondering if there are two editions, and the page numbers you mention may be out of sync.

Without answering your questions directly, I think the difference we're facing now, as compared to when Buddhism spread to other countries, is the fact that so many Buddhisms have come to the west. It's not just, say, Indian Buddhism going to Tibet or China, it's all the different Buddhisms coming to the west, and vying for preeminence. Tibetan Buddhism has an edge, because of the Dalai Lama, but Zen has been here a bit longer, and is better established in the world of art and music. So we can no longer talk about a single Buddhism, but we have to consider the varied traditions and practices of many variants.

It's no secret that I'm a believer in the need for a more secular Buddhism, and, to address your fourth question, I think the biggest change we'll see is a new type of Buddhism that drops many of the trappings of tradition. I don't think this has anything to do with what science discovers - while neuroscientists have closely examined meditation, I'm not convinced that really has anything to do with Buddhism as such.

I think the main change has already happened, of course: that's the way lay people have access to the practice, something that was rare in the many countries where Buddhism flourished. And that alone is changing Buddhism from a top-down religion to a more secular practice. (Though I shudder when I read Loy saying "If the Buddhist path is psychological therapy..." I think that's something that is perverting Buddhism from its true meaning.)

Gassho,

Kirk

#Sat

Hey Kirk. I found your post intriguing and it brought a few questions to mind.
I find the concept of secular Buddhism interesting, but I am curious as to what that practice would look like? Also would that practice modernize easier than something steeped in the cultural and religious context that lineage traditions tend to be? And is it really separate?

Gassho
Chelsea
Sat2day



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Jakuden
02-13-2017, 04:51 AM
I felt the same twinge. I have heard Shakyamuni described as a "radical psychologist" though, and it's not wrong. Incomplete, maybe.

Gassho, Zenmei
#sat

I read the above statement as part of an explanation of how those interpretations of Buddhism really are self-centered and end up reinforcing suffering, rather than alleviating it. Loy goes on to say that what is needed today is the realization that we are not separate from others.

I am still processing others' comments and answers here, but the niggling disturbance in the force for me overall is how arbitrary a belief system can seem. I think? that we practice the way we do because we are drawn to what we feel is a great common Truth. We can taste it, touch it with Zazen. But then we adorn it with all the trappings we find necessary and appropriate based on our individual or collective fancy. Then we talk about how this thing we created has been/should be adapted to serve different times and cultures. So I guess I agree that there is some ultimate, permanent Truth that we all want to touch, but perhaps that ultimate Truth is that nothing is permanent!

And that is the "razor's edge" I think Loy is pointing out, when he says we can sympathize with one side or the other but when we use one to interrogate another, it shakes us up. Can we toss out the trappings of Eastern Buddhism without turning it into another Western self-help method or goal-oriented search for enlightenment? Where is the real relevance of the Dharma for us today?

Gassho
Jakuden
SatToday


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Enjaku
02-13-2017, 09:22 AM
My head's a big mess right now, so I don't feel like commenting or interacting too much. I just wanted to say I'm enjoying the book so far and thank you all for your comments. Sitting quietly in the corner of this thread with coffee and donuts is a nice place for me to be. Thank you for your practice.
Gassho,
Enjaku
Sat

RonanJH
02-13-2017, 12:22 PM
Can we toss out the trappings of Eastern Buddhism without turning it into another Western self-help method or goal-oriented search for enlightenment? Where is the real relevance of the Dharma for us today?

There is this danger, isn't there, of a kind of western chauvinism, whereby Eastern Buddhism might be held to be primitive or unenlightened. I am happy that Loy seems interested in discussing this.



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Ryumon
02-13-2017, 01:57 PM
I find the concept of secular Buddhism interesting, but I am curious as to what that practice would look like? Also would that practice modernize easier than something steeped in the cultural and religious context that lineage traditions tend to be? And is it really separate?

Well that's the real question, isn't it. Forgive me if this is a bit long, but this is a topic that's close to my heart.


I think? that we practice the way we do because we are drawn to what we feel is a great common Truth. We can taste it, touch it with Zazen.

First, there is a small but influential movement of people trying to make a secular dharma. Stephen Batchelor is the most prominent, but if you look around, you can see similar approaches in a number of younger Zen teachers. This is more common in Zen, because Zen tends to be the type of Buddhism that has the fewest trappings. Read Brad Warner's books, or some of the other younger Zen teachers, and you'll see that the reverence for tradition takes second place to a search for truth.

You can also see that in a lineage such as that of Thich Nhat Hanh. I've never practiced in any of those centers, but from reading his books, and reading about Plum Village, it seems that his is a Zen stripped of many of the trappings and that seeks to find a more socially-focused truth.

Jundo has said many times that he is - and I'm paraphrasing - agnostic about rebirth. And that's probably the most esoteric aspect of Zen, when you think about it. If you can ignore rebirth, and the idea of karma as crossing kalpas, then Zen as we practice it here is very simple. (I do believe in karma, but in a more immediate manner, that our actions do have consequences, just not in having us reborn as a slug a few eons down the road.)

Personally, I don't consider Zen a religion, and I'm not a fan of the rituals, the chanting, etc. (This is part of why, even though I've been a part of Treeleaf, on and off, for nearly ten years, I haven't take Jukai. More on that another time, however...) I have no altar in my home, and have no intention of making one. I'm not here to worship any being, be it the Buddha or anyone else; not even Dogen. I recognize that he was a big dude in Zen, and I can appreciate him the way I appreciate, say, William Shakespeare or Bob Dylan, but I can't pray to him.

I was surprised recently when watching a video on YouTube about Kinhin to see a Zen center where the altar had a picture of Dogen. (It was a very nice picture, by the way.) I am more interested in worshipping an idea than a person. In my office, I have an enso painting by Kaz Tanahashi, and if I were to create an altar, I'd put that on the wall above it. The idea of the enso speaks to me much more than a statue of the Buddha, or a picture of Dogen. (Though I understand that such a figure can represent an idea, but if you're worshipping the figure, you're still caught up in idolatry.)


I am still processing others' comments and answers here, but the niggling disturbance in the force for me overall is how arbitrary a belief system can seem. I think? that we practice the way we do because we are drawn to what we feel is a great common Truth. We can taste it, touch it with Zazen. But then we adorn it with all the trappings we find necessary and appropriate based on our individual or collective fancy. Then we talk about how this thing we created has been/should be adapted to serve different times and cultures. So I guess I agree that there is some ultimate, permanent Truth that we all want to touch, but perhaps that ultimate Truth is that nothing is permanent!


The dharma has taken on the trappings of different countries where it has established residence, and in each country it is radically different. Look at Tibetan Buddhism, which, aside from the teachings of the Buddha, bears no resemblance to Zen at all. Look at how different Theravada Buddhism is from both Zen and Tibetan Buddhism. Then look at the other strains of the dharma; they are all loosely united, but very different.


Preserving some traditions allows for a connection to the historical roots of the practice.

I do believe that some traditions are useful, but no country that has adopted Zen has not altered the traditions it keeps, and created new ones. And I do think that a lineage is important, the fact that we are all connected to Dogen establishes the longevity of his ideas.

There's an interesting parallel among something called "modern Stoicism." This is fairly recent, and people practice the ideas of the Stoics - Cicero, Seneca, Epictetus, etc. - reading their works, abiding by a set of guiding principles, and performing some contemplative practices.

So how can there be a secular practice of Zen? There's not much to drop, honestly, it's more a question of committing to rebuilding something coherent. As Jundo has said many times - and I paraphrase again - one shouldn't through out the Buddha with the bathwater, but I think it's possible, and vital for the future of Zen in the west. After all, look at Japan; Zen is a ceremonial practice there, with a few exceptions. It has become sclerotic over time, with no real focus.

On the flip side, we see the secular mindfulness movement, which seeks to make meditation a tool for relaxation (which it is good for), and psychological transformation. While I believe the Buddha once said something to the effect that he was like a doctor (anyone know the quote?), I think the way we approach psychology now is a bit removed from what one experiences when sitting. (That's why Loy's mention of psychology instantly ruffled my feathers.)

Sorry for rambling so much, but this topic is very important to me. I haven't sat today; I had a lot of work I had to get out this morning, but I will sit soon.

Gassho,

Kirk

Byrne
02-13-2017, 07:16 PM
Kirk,

What you've written resonates with me. You and I have similar perspectives and attitudes.

I think it's most important that when we learn Buddhism, we are doing our best to learn Buddhism. Not secular or non-secular Buddhism. Just Buddhism. All of us here feel deeply about these teachings and tradition. It's only natural that we would hope the wisdom of the Buddhadharma finds a comfortable place within western society. Regardless of what forms it may take here over the next few centuries primarily depends on all of us striving to uphold the three jewels to the best of our ability.

Nishijima pointed out that when we come to study Buddhism we don't actually know what it is yet. We need guidance, however perfect or imperfect it might be. Humbling ourselves before that understanding I have found to be very effective. From the Grasshut poem we studied a little while back.

"Thousands of words, Myriad interpretations.
Are only to free you from obstructions"

Buddhism isn't for the secular or the non-secular from any specific time or place. It is for all sentient beings.

Gassho

Sat Today

Byrne
02-13-2017, 08:19 PM
The question should be "As a Buddhist how do I change the world? Do we allow society control is with its greed, anger, ignorance, pride, etc? We are the manifestation of the the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Not representatives but actual manifestation.



I can't change the world. But I can do my best to learn the dharma under the circumstances life has afforded me. I suppose the benefits of practicing the dharma lies more in our non-doings rather than conscious efforts.

This is a fantastic thread and I love reading everyone's responses.

Gassho

Sat Today

Hoseki
02-14-2017, 02:06 AM
Gassho,

1) Yes, I think Buddhism has historically taken on the flavor of whatever culture it encounters. Problems change, but "not wanting to have any problems" doesn't seem to change. From birth to death (and from east to west) it's just like this.
2) Yes. Buddhism is changing the modern world. "Buddhism" is also changing the modern world. Both the moon and the finger pointing at it are changing the modern world. It's good because it's a path to the end of suffering but it's sometimes not good because people often confuse the painted rice cake for the rice cake. But "you have to say something" as Katagiri Roshi once said.
3) Yes. Buddhism is about reality as we understand it and also as we DON'T understand it. If how we understand it changes then so must Buddhism.
4) Yes. Because no matter how much we understand reality there will be an equal measure of not knowing. Reality exists as-it-is with nothing to add, nothing to take away so there will be a balanced state even while there is individual delusion.

One final anecdote:
When I first read this introduction I was struck by the words of Arthur Toynbee (of whom I knew nothing) so I posted them on Facebook. Someone wrote back "Toynbee was a fascist". [emoji47]
This sparked a long argument about whether or not the source of wisdom is more important than the wisdom itself. I said that "everything is my teacher" and my interlocutor felt that since Toynbee was (allegedly) a Nazi sympathizer that his opinion was invalid.
We went round and round. Finally I turned to my wife and asked her "If Jesus said 'be kind to others' and Hitler said 'be kind to others' would the source matter or would the sentiment be more important?" She surprised me by saying that the source DID matter whereas I felt that praj˝a is praj˝a regardless.
Once I calmed down I realized that we were both right and I was a fool to argue.
So bringing this anecdote back to our discussion:
Enlightenment may be the moon but sometimes who's pointing to it can make a big difference.
Sometimes when I say something wise, my friends and family smile and nod and agree with me. Sometimes when I say the same thing in a way that's "Buddhist" they tell me to "spare them the Zen shit".
So, does Buddhism have to change to fit the modern world?
SOMETIMES.
Does Buddhism have to not change to fit the modern world?
SOMETIMES.

Gassho,
Hōkō
#SatToday

Hi Hoko,

For what it's worth I think you position that prajna is prajna was the wiser position.

I think I would approach it using a thought experiment ...

If it was the middle of winter and you leaving a building and some you absolutely hated walked in an told you to be careful because it's slippery would you ignore them?

If Hitler walked in from outside, noticeably wet, and commented on the rain. Would one deny that it was raining when say the rain from the window?

My point being if something is true it's true regardless of how we feel about it or who says it.

We have more in common with those we hate then we realize.

Gassho
Hoseki
Sattoday



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Risho
02-14-2017, 04:57 AM
Ok first a sidebar: I start losing the point when abstract and "what-if" scenarios get thrown out about what if Hitler meditated or was your weatherman, etc. Ok, I'm being an ass. :) I'm sure there's a point to those exercises, but I don't really get it. As a segue :P, something that I love about this practice that resonates with me, and why I practice at all is that it's so practical. I think that is something that Zen has always had going for it; it's practicality. It's sort of a form of Buddhism that's focused on the core practice as opposed to all the added ritual and so on. But yeah, I know it has a crapload of its own oddities. I sort of like those too in a way, even though I'm not a traditional Buddhist by any stretch. I'm more of a Bodhidharma/Dogen than a let's sing Koombayah type of dude, but there is room for both.

I want to absolutely clarify that what I'm saying applies only to me. I can't speak for all of Buddhism, nor should I. Similarly, and this is sort of off topic, I don't think a Sangha or any group should speak for me. I think Zen has room for liberal, conservative, etc opinions. I don't think any political views should be assumed just because someone practices Zen. And I don't want Treeleaf to speak on my behalf, and I don't have any right to speak on it's behalf.

Ok so back to my sad attempt at making a point. There is a lot of ritual, etc. in zen too. There's a lot of cultural "baggage" that I don't really "dig" all of that too much (qualify: some times); I'm more for a secularized approach as well as Kirk and Byrne have mentioned. For example, I'm not going to be living in a monastery anytime soon. I don't really have time for imitation in my life. I'm not trying to be someone else. I'm not trying to wear more costumes. Believe me, I play enough roles to add another one.

Now I'm not saying that practitioners that do like doing that are just wearing costumes; I think there are genuine practitioners here and elsewhere who do like that stuff. I met Jundo, and I think he's one of the most down to earth people I've met, and he is how he is here, which is also why I'm here. I'm not trying to pander, but his down to earth teaching appeals to me and motivates me to practice. At the same time, the more my practice matures, the more I have to be honest in my practice here.

So I'm absolutely just speaking for myself, which I think is something that maybe is showing how Buddhism is adapting to our culture here. I think it's going to be applicable to someone like me who really doesn't want to have 3 robes and a bowl. I think my views (which come from my culture) that questions authority, values individualism, etc. will have an impact on Buddhism.

I work in the corporate world, and I'm very much a practicing Buddhist, although I don't really identify myself as being a Buddhist, but I am one. I took the precepts, I try to live by them, I have a regular practice. I love the practice, or I wouldn't do it. But I'm not a smiling zen monk in a mountain. I live in the suburbs, I love technology, I own way too much stuff, I'm not a vegetarian and I don't aspire to be one. I like beer. Sometimes I drink too much.

But zen fits. Zen helps me. I love how I can sit or bring that attitude into my life of being present amidst whatever chaos is occurring, or how I can catch myself getting angry and let it subside (sometimes, ok sometimes. lol) instead of feeding it. So it's practical. But those are just a couple of small and shortsighted and obvious examples. There's so much to this that is difficult to explain.

All of that said, I also see a danger in "boiling" Zen down too much. If you boil something too long, it loses all of its flavor. There is absotively, posilutely an important place for ceremony and ritual and robes and liturgy, etc. I see the value in it, and I really do like that part too, so it's a balance. One of the things I like doing during Ango is chanting more, lighting a candle and incense when I sit, wearing my rakusu daily because I think that is important too. Like everything in life, there is a cycle. Some times you do some things more than others. Practice feels right with this type of rhythm as well.

I don't know how to answer the question about if Buddhism needs to change, because I can't speak for Buddhism. But I think we all have a responsibility to change it for ourselves. We have to adapt it to our lives, or we are just parroting, imitating which, sure, we need to do that until we start learning to ride the bike without the training wheels. But at some point we have to dig in and ask ourselves why we are doing this.

I do think that by virtue of each of us applying Zen to our own lives it naturally will change because we are beings of our time; we can't change that. So I don't think any one should say (or a group of Buddhists), "Hey, Buddhism change." I think either humanity finds things useful or not, and when they do (which I think Buddhism is very much useful) it will adapt just by being practiced and adopted and adapted, very naturally, sort of how language naturally adapts to a culture when it is used, or how tools are honed or new tools discovered as they are used to solve new problems.

I also think it's dangerous to describe what Zen is; actually I think it's pretentious and limiting in a way, sort of like describing emptiness. I think the more I practice the more depth I find in the practice and realize that things that maybe didn't resonate start to resonate with me now, or teachings that seemed way out there really make sense with a different perspective. Of course, just like the imitation analogy, we need pointers and basics, but after we start practicing regularly we need to start questioning this shit for ourselves. Maybe that too is a more modern approach. Lay practitioners in the marketplace, taking it to the streets in our lives.

And I mean question everything, all of our assumptions. And similarly how that modernity most certainly skews our view on Buddhism, Buddhism has timeless truths that also influence us. This isn't a one way street; if it was all one way or the other, there would be no value/need for Buddhism. I think Zen takes us to the basics of what we hold important. I think that like the intro says, we need desperately to find that connection with each other so that we don't see each other as adversaries but learn how to live with each other and truly take care of each other.

I don't have any answers. I have more questions than anything, but I do know; I mean we absolutely do know, deep down, we know when we are bullshitting ourselves.

Gassho,

Risho
-sattoday

AlanLa
02-14-2017, 03:42 PM
[claps] Risho :encouragement:
Yeah, what he said gassho2

Jundo
02-15-2017, 03:14 AM
First, there is a small but influential movement of people trying to make a secular dharma. Stephen Batchelor is the most prominent, but if you look around, you can see similar approaches in a number of younger Zen teachers. This is more common in Zen, because Zen tends to be the type of Buddhism that has the fewest trappings. Read Brad Warner's books, or some of the other younger Zen teachers, and you'll see that the reverence for tradition takes second place to a search for truth.

...

Jundo has said many times that he is - and I'm paraphrasing - agnostic about rebirth. And that's probably the most esoteric aspect of Zen, when you think about it.

If I may say where I stand (and sit :p ) on this question, I gave an interview recently on the "Secular-Buddhist Podcast", advocating a Middle Way that does not throw the Baby Buddha out with the bathwater. Basically, keep old stuff if it has some utility, power, beauty to the traditional belief or practice, but steer away from more unbelievable or superstitious beliefs. I incorporate the new by the same standard. So, for example, in a recent talk I spoke of "the 'hungry ghosts' who are never satisfied and exist within the greed of all of our hearts in this world, whether or not they truly exist (as I rather doubt, although I am not the last word) in some so-called outside realm". Likewise, we have an "Oryoki" group here to Practice the dance of mindful, grateful and ritualistic eating even though it is an ancient monastic practice for meals because it is simply a powerful and valuable practice. The same for sewing a Rakusu.

Here is that Podcast ...

http://secularbuddhism.org/2015/10/24/episode-233-jundo-cohen-religious-secular-buddhism-the-best-of-all-worlds/

And my "Manifesto" :) of "RELIGIO-SECULAR BUDDHISM"

http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showthread.php?13900-Secular-Buddhist-Podcast-Jundo-Religious-Secular-Buddhism-The-Best-of-All-Worlds

Anyway, that is where I am right now.


I was surprised recently when watching a video on YouTube about Kinhin to see a Zen center where the altar had a picture of Dogen. (It was a very nice picture, by the way.) I am more interested in worshipping an idea than a person.

We have pictures of Dogen, Nishijima, Bodhidharma and such hung, not for worship, but as a re-MIND-er of their lives and Teachings and this Practice. I do not think it much different from having a picture of my late mother in the house. All beloved, respected and honored. In fact, the Buddha statue on the altar is a piece of wood that serves much the same function for me. I do not consider what we do "worship". When I bow, it is more a humble and grateful "thank you" and reminder and pledge to keep on with this Practice.

Gassho, Jundo

SatToday

dod
02-15-2017, 04:03 AM
Thank you Jundo and everyone for this discussion.

I'm glad to be practicing at a time when lay practice is emphasized and also when gender isn't a barrier. I'm also glad to have this community online. So my take on how Buddhism is changing to fit the modern world is positive. The use of Buddhist based practices in psychology, such as the mindfulness based practices are good for psychology, but lose some of their original meaning, such as being a part of an ethical framework. Still, these practices may make Buddhism more approachable for people who are interested in going deeper into practice.

Gassho,
Onkai
SatToday

Hi Onkai – and everyone,

I also feel grateful for the emphasis on lay practice and gender not being a barrier. It is known many people come to this practice to ease their dukkha but you don't have to stay there. And if you do stay there, and buddhism is helping you see your "self", easing suffering and the like, that isn't so bad. We have a greater chance at deepening our practice, weaving in an ethical framework if it is accessible in the first place.

I enjoyed this bit of the introduction, particularly the notion of a building collective wisdom:

"... Instead, the best that any of us can hope for is to contribute to the ongoing conversation, in the belief that a collective wisdom is beginning to emerge, which will be something more than the sum of separate voices." p3.

It's wonderful to get the opportunity to "sit in a circle" with you and discuss these things. Thank you all,

Gassho,

Jessie :reading:[coffee]
~sat today~

Toun
02-15-2017, 02:08 PM
Hi everyone,

I think that the core of Buddhist teachings such as the four noble truths, and the eightfold path challenges us to live a less centered life, acknowledging the suffering of all sentient beings while manifesting compassion and not harming others. Many have found it to be a practical way as we live in a world that is steeped in dualism. Humanity has deep political, religious, social and cultural differences which make living on our small planet a real challenge. Many religions have had to reinterpret dogmas and doctrines in the light of science and many long-held beliefs are being challenged. Others have decided to entrench themselves into fundamentalism which creates a sense of exclusivism which causes more division.

As for my personal practice, I will occasionally chant, bow, ring a bell, and have a small Buddha statue on my bookshelf. It creates a framework for reminding me of my practice and connects me to the richness of a tradition that spans across millennia. I have never really considered Buddhism as a religion "per se" but more as a path to follow. Instead of trying to find answers looking "upward" the dharma teaches us to go within ourselves and observe our minds and how we relate to other sentient beings.

Great comments from everyone and it's interesting to see varying viewpoints on the topic.

Gassho
Tōun
Sat2day

Mp
02-15-2017, 03:01 PM
Hi everyone,

I think that the core of Buddhist teachings such as the four noble truths, and the eightfold path challenges us to live a less centered life, acknowledging the suffering of all sentient beings while manifesting compassion and not harming others. Many have found it to be a practical way as we live in a world that is steeped in dualism. Humanity has deep political, religious, social and cultural differences which make living on our small planet a real challenge. Many religions have had to reinterpret dogmas and doctrines in the light of science and many long-held beliefs are being challenged. Others have decided to entrench themselves into fundamentalism which creates a sense of exclusivism which causes more division.

As for my personal practice, I will occasionally chant, bow, ring a bell, and have a small Buddha statue on my bookshelf. It creates a framework for reminding me of my practice and connects me to the richness of a tradition that spans across millennia. I have never really considered Buddhism as a religion "per se" but more as a path to follow. Instead of trying to find answers looking "upward" the dharma teaches us to go within ourselves and observe our minds and how we relate to other sentient beings.

Great comments from everyone and it's interesting to see varying viewpoints on the topic.

Gassho
Tōun
Sat2day

Very nice Toun, I like what you have to say here ... I agree that Buddhism and Zen are more a way of life and how to engage with it. =)

Gassho
Shingen

s@today

Ryumon
02-15-2017, 03:26 PM
I have never really considered Buddhism as a religion "per se" but more as a path to follow.

Exactly. And this is the heart of the question. If it were a religion, then things would be very different. (Though many people do see it as a religion.)

Gassho,

Kirk

Risho
02-15-2017, 04:33 PM
Not to argue semantics, but maybe it would be important to define what we mean by religion. Some would argue that a religion is one's path in life.

What is a religion?

Why do you think Buddhism is or is not a religion?

We have to be careful in expressing our opinions as facts because they are opinions laden with things we take for granted. For example, although I have no belief in reincarnation, we have to acknowledge that there are sects of Buddhism that do. There are sects of Buddhism that think Zen isn't even Buddhism. And all of these sects are Buddhism. So I think we may not view it as a religion, but Kirk you are right many do. So I've basically stated in a paragraph what you said in one sentence; I'm wordy. hahahah

Anyways, I think our culture tends to view religions negatively, but I would argue that they don't have to be. I would say Buddhism is a religion in that it is a path that one treads in life, but it is unlike other religions with some Godhead. I would also argue that it is unlike a religion because it's more of a path than just a faith. I mean it's a living practice; that's the coolest thing about it in my opinion. One of the things about Zen that I love is that it's a practice, it's something you do, study, etc. It's not like you sit in a pew and get preached at (I know I'm simplifying here) but lay practitioners take an active part and own their practice.

I think when religion is brought up people associate that with loss of one's autonomy and better judgement, so people immediately hop on the bandwagon of saying something isn't a religion to validate it, but I would argue that Zen's key points are autonomy and our own discernment and that it is still a religion from certain viewpoints as well. In the end, I don't have an answer; I can see it as both a religion and as not a religion.

Gassho,

Risho
-sattoday

martyrob
02-15-2017, 04:35 PM
I really enjoyed this book; it brought into relief many of the things I have been thinking about recently, and I echo some of those concerns of Kirk. So thanks Jundo for bringing this to the book club.
I have no idea how Buddhism is going to develop in the West nor do I really know what Buddhism is – it's an idea that is unfolding in front of me – I'm not sure it will ever stop. I have a feeling that the divide between Mahayana and Theravada will diminish as that sectarianism no longer seems appropriate. Zen is already co-opting some of the practices from the Theravadan tradition and I'm sure the concept of the Bodhisattva will migrate the other way - these ideas are just too compelling to be limited to one tradition. Eventually, I think the boundaries between the traditions will erode and that won't be a bad thing, there are many practices within the Insight movement which have real value. This is one of the great opportunities that Buddhism's development in the West offers.

I'm not sure what Buddhism's core value are. It depends where you're sitting as to what's a core value. If I'm a Tea Party Christian, I'm going to read the Bible as having different core values than if I'm a Latin- American Liberation theologian. In the West our societies are more pluralistic and therefore our views less homogeneous – we come at these issue with more baggage. We already see that with the difference highlighted in 'Lion's Roar' between conservative and progressive Buddhists. The dharma is not immune to confirmation bias.
I do see this as a blind spot within Buddhism as a whole – although it applies to all the great religions – that somehow this faith is a repository of eternal Truth's rather than a collection of meanings contingent on the social context of it's time. It's a sort of contradiction because surely all Truths are empty? There is an attempt, notably by Stephen Bachelor, to locate the core teachings free of all the traditional, cultural excrescences to somehow make it fit for purpose in a modern, 21st Century. I'm not sure that this is not a fool's errand because how would you decide that the core teachings are more suitable to today than the excrescences? What if they weren't? Who decides?

There is a possibility, and I'm sure this is likely because it's so hard to resist, that Buddhism will become eviscerated, rather like yoga has, as a commodity. A sort of Buddhism-lite without too much rigour, that comes in at ú9.99 per session with a free zafu in this year's colours. There's an inevitability about that because of the hegemonic nature of modern capitalism and it's commodification of all that is drawn into it's maw. We are already seeing some of this with the mindfulness movement. How we respond to this will go some way to how Buddhism will develop. Do we retreat back into our monastic redoubts of tradition, conservatism and elitism or do we embrace a revolutionary culture of awakening as expounded by David Loy, that side steps the buddhist-lite?

What initially drew me to this practice and still hold me is that nowhere else have I ever come across such an honest and penetrative account of what it is to be a human. Not the neuroscience or the psychology or biology or the philosophical analysis of rationality but the deep down, dirty, stink of life. What it is to be a bag of flesh and fluid with all its terror, fear, panic, anger and love. Other religions are concerned with defining the immaculate face of the Divine, Buddhism looks the other way and gets down in the dirt with the rest of us.

It is this profound understanding of human frailty where Buddhism has the potential to be most revolutionary. I'm sure there will be other Buddhisms to suit all tastes and life-styles but the one I'm pitching for is that which has the potential to transform society both politically – not Trump/Clinton, but issues of poverty, climate change and social justice - through the radical transformation of ourselves. It's not much to ask is it, really- that this practice should radically transform all of humanity?
Wishing all well,

Martyn

Sat Today

Jakuden
02-15-2017, 05:24 PM
What initially drew me to this practice and still hold me is that nowhere else have I ever come across such an honest and penetrative account of what it is to be a human. Not the neuroscience or the psychology or biology or the philosophical analysis of rationality but the deep down, dirty, stink of life. What it is to be a bag of flesh and fluid with all its terror, fear, panic, anger and love. Other religions are concerned with defining the immaculate face of the Divine, Buddhism looks the other way and gets down in the dirt with the rest of us.



[emoji120]

Gassho
Jakuden
SatToday



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Ryumon
02-15-2017, 05:38 PM
We already have Buddhism lite: it is the "mindfulness" movement that has stripped everything that is not meditation from Buddhism. This is heavily promoted by the Buddhist industrial complex-the book and magazine publishers-because, even if their intentions are good, they still need to make a buck.

Gassho,

Kirk


I know nothing.

Myosha
02-15-2017, 07:19 PM
Hello,

Four truths.

Eight-fold Path.

Heal.

Pass it on.


Sheesh!


Gassho
Myosha
sat today

P.S. Being a new buddhist is akin to new born. Welcome.

Byrne
02-15-2017, 07:43 PM
I view Buddhism as a religion because it has given me the similiar sense of ballast as my Christian, Jewish, and Muslim brothers and sisters have. Buddhism has helped me become more compassionate and tolerant of differing spiritual orientations. Most importantly,, understanding the massive plurality of Buddhist perspectives has revealed the plurality of perspectives within other religions to me.

But if ya wanna call it a philosophy or path that's cool too because that isn't incorrect. The wisdom of the sangha manifests itself in many ways.

Gassho

Sat Today

coriander
02-16-2017, 02:16 AM
Hello all,

This is my first group discussion on Buddhist theory and so I'm very excited to be doing this book club. I haven't been sure of where to jump in with the forums and this seems like a good place.

I wrote down so many ideas and thoughts when I read that Introduction, I hope I can contain them well enough.

This reading was timely for me as just a few days before I had picked up a book on Humanistic Buddhism at a used bookshop and tried to read it, but then put it away when I came to the conclusion (and I admit I may be wrong) that it was not targeted at someone of my background but for a different cultural background, namely people in China who subscribe to Confucian philosophy. I felt the first section of this book on honouring one's parents was dictating too heavily on honouring and obeying them without question and without regard for exceptional cases where the parents may mistreat you or indeed instruct you to do un-Buddhist things. I realised from a later chapter that the author was trying to counteract a view that Buddhists do not honour their parents because they shave their heads and run away from home to the monastery, and so he was providing counter-examples.

The point I am trying to make here is that I can see that the message of Buddhism needs to be adapted to different audiences, because each different person has a different point from which she is going to start, to be convinced, to take the easiest step toward the 'truth'. However, the more the message is adapted to an audience the more the adaptation risks being seen as the message itself, i.e. looking at the finger pointing at the moon. So I guess my response to the question that David Loy poses on which 'side' to choose is that we can choose any side we want to long as we keep stressing that none of the sides are the message and the message needs to be seen past the words.

I look forward to reading more of the book!

Gassho,
Charity
SatToday

P.S. I had more notes but they were mainly on links and parallels I have made to the social work course at university, where we cover a lot of sociology concepts. If anyone wants to engage on that, in particular what is the meaning of 'modernity' according to this book and is this book proposing postmodern ideas (and does Buddhism have a lot in common with postmodern ideas) etc.

Jishin
02-16-2017, 01:01 PM
https://youtu.be/uMUgIQ0Heag

Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

Hoseki
02-16-2017, 03:58 PM
Ok first a sidebar: I start losing the point when abstract and "what-if" scenarios get thrown out about what if Hitler meditated or was your weatherman, etc. Ok, I'm being an ass. :) I'm sure there's a point to those exercises, but I don't really get it. As a segue :P, something that I love about this practice that resonates with me, and why I practice at all is that it's so practical. I think that is something that Zen has always had going for it; it's practicality. It's sort of a form of Buddhism that's focused on the core practice as opposed to all the added ritual and so on. But yeah, I know it has a crapload of its own oddities. I sort of like those too in a way, even though I'm not a traditional Buddhist by any stretch. I'm more of a Bodhidharma/Dogen than a let's sing Koombayah type of dude, but there is room for both.

I want to absolutely clarify that what I'm saying applies only to me. I can't speak for all of Buddhism, nor should I. Similarly, and this is sort of off topic, I don't think a Sangha or any group should speak for me. I think Zen has room for liberal, conservative, etc opinions. I don't think any political views should be assumed just because someone practices Zen. And I don't want Treeleaf to speak on my behalf, and I don't have any right to speak on it's behalf.

Ok so back to my sad attempt at making a point. There is a lot of ritual, etc. in zen too. There's a lot of cultural "baggage" that I don't really "dig" all of that too much (qualify: some times); I'm more for a secularized approach as well as Kirk and Byrne have mentioned. For example, I'm not going to be living in a monastery anytime soon. I don't really have time for imitation in my life. I'm not trying to be someone else. I'm not trying to wear more costumes. Believe me, I play enough roles to add another one.

Now I'm not saying that practitioners that do like doing that are just wearing costumes; I think there are genuine practitioners here and elsewhere who do like that stuff. I met Jundo, and I think he's one of the most down to earth people I've met, and he is how he is here, which is also why I'm here. I'm not trying to pander, but his down to earth teaching appeals to me and motivates me to practice. At the same time, the more my practice matures, the more I have to be honest in my practice here.

So I'm absolutely just speaking for myself, which I think is something that maybe is showing how Buddhism is adapting to our culture here. I think it's going to be applicable to someone like me who really doesn't want to have 3 robes and a bowl. I think my views (which come from my culture) that questions authority, values individualism, etc. will have an impact on Buddhism.

I work in the corporate world, and I'm very much a practicing Buddhist, although I don't really identify myself as being a Buddhist, but I am one. I took the precepts, I try to live by them, I have a regular practice. I love the practice, or I wouldn't do it. But I'm not a smiling zen monk in a mountain. I live in the suburbs, I love technology, I own way too much stuff, I'm not a vegetarian and I don't aspire to be one. I like beer. Sometimes I drink too much.

But zen fits. Zen helps me. I love how I can sit or bring that attitude into my life of being present amidst whatever chaos is occurring, or how I can catch myself getting angry and let it subside (sometimes, ok sometimes. lol) instead of feeding it. So it's practical. But those are just a couple of small and shortsighted and obvious examples. There's so much to this that is difficult to explain.

All of that said, I also see a danger in "boiling" Zen down too much. If you boil something too long, it loses all of its flavor. There is absotively, posilutely an important place for ceremony and ritual and robes and liturgy, etc. I see the value in it, and I really do like that part too, so it's a balance. One of the things I like doing during Ango is chanting more, lighting a candle and incense when I sit, wearing my rakusu daily because I think that is important too. Like everything in life, there is a cycle. Some times you do some things more than others. Practice feels right with this type of rhythm as well.

I don't know how to answer the question about if Buddhism needs to change, because I can't speak for Buddhism. But I think we all have a responsibility to change it for ourselves. We have to adapt it to our lives, or we are just parroting, imitating which, sure, we need to do that until we start learning to ride the bike without the training wheels. But at some point we have to dig in and ask ourselves why we are doing this.

I do think that by virtue of each of us applying Zen to our own lives it naturally will change because we are beings of our time; we can't change that. So I don't think any one should say (or a group of Buddhists), "Hey, Buddhism change." I think either humanity finds things useful or not, and when they do (which I think Buddhism is very much useful) it will adapt just by being practiced and adopted and adapted, very naturally, sort of how language naturally adapts to a culture when it is used, or how tools are honed or new tools discovered as they are used to solve new problems.

I also think it's dangerous to describe what Zen is; actually I think it's pretentious and limiting in a way, sort of like describing emptiness. I think the more I practice the more depth I find in the practice and realize that things that maybe didn't resonate start to resonate with me now, or teachings that seemed way out there really make sense with a different perspective. Of course, just like the imitation analogy, we need pointers and basics, but after we start practicing regularly we need to start questioning this shit for ourselves. Maybe that too is a more modern approach. Lay practitioners in the marketplace, taking it to the streets in our lives.

And I mean question everything, all of our assumptions. And similarly how that modernity most certainly skews our view on Buddhism, Buddhism has timeless truths that also influence us. This isn't a one way street; if it was all one way or the other, there would be no value/need for Buddhism. I think Zen takes us to the basics of what we hold important. I think that like the intro says, we need desperately to find that connection with each other so that we don't see each other as adversaries but learn how to live with each other and truly take care of each other.

I don't have any answers. I have more questions than anything, but I do know; I mean we absolutely do know, deep down, we know when we are bullshitting ourselves.

Gassho,

Risho
-sattoday

Hi Risho,

The Hitler weatherman dealie was to illustrate how we should approach matters of truthfulness (though the specific approach would very by subject matter.) To evaluate the truth of Hitler's statement about the weather we go check the weather we don't consult our feelings about either Hitler or rain. The state of the weather is independent of my feelings either way. I was trying to put that idea into a context that should be relatable to everyday experience.


Gassho
Hoseki
Sattoday

Kyotai
02-17-2017, 11:58 AM
- Is the modern world changing Buddhism? Is that good? Not good in some ways?

I think the modern world is changing Buddhism in several ways. Technology is helping practitioners find one another and practice from home. Apps are also helping local sitters find each other. I also think we live in a time where more and more folks are taking what they like from Buddhism, and throwing out what they don't. Meditation being used in schools and the work place to assist with anxiety, or perhaps improve efficiency.

- Is Buddhism changing the modern world? Is that good? Not good in some ways?

Its changed my world, but is it changing the world? I really don't think so.

- Does Buddhism need to change even more in the face of modern society, scientific discoveries and the like?

I think it will continue to evolve and utilize technological advances, but still maintain its core principles.

- Should Buddhism not change in some ways, no matter what science discovers or modern values change?

In some ways it has very much adapted to modern values. What is seen as right livelihood now might not have been in the time of Dogen. The Dalai Lama said, “If scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims.” I believe that statement is right on par with how Buddhism should move into the future.

Gassho, Kyotai
ST