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Thread: Secular Buddhist Podcast - Jundo - Religious-Secular Buddhism: The Best of All Worlds

  1. #1

    Secular Buddhist Podcast - Jundo - Religious-Secular Buddhism: The Best of All Worlds



    Hey Guys,

    My interview is up at the Secular Buddhist Podcast. This is the kind of thing that gets me in trouble from the left and right, so enjoy!



    If you want to read more, here is my little "Manifesto of Religious-Secular Buddhism" that I sent Ted before the interview, and summarizes what it is about ...

    Gassho, J

    SatToday

    ---------------------------

    RELIGIO-SECULAR BUDDHISM
    The Best of All Worlds
    by Jundo Cohen


    We are “Religious” … believing that the world as it is, this life and all reality are somehow sacred and to be cherished, that a sense of wonder, mystery, trust and gratitude regarding “all this” is not out of place even for modern peoples. Furthermore, our practice is to see through and transcend the common surface appearances of this life and world which may delude human beings in their greed, anger and divisive thinking.

    We are “Secular” … firmly rooted in ordinary society, skeptical of beliefs and traditions founded primarily in rumor, religious imagination and unquestioning faith, rejecting tenets without basis in the world as it is. Nonetheless, we believe that many traditional teachings, stories, ceremonies and practices yet have value and power, do not conflict with modern scientific and historical understanding, and thus should be preserved.

    We are “Buddhist” … as we seek to uphold core teachings of Buddhist tradition, while turning away from secondary tenets arising primarily in superstition, ignorance or unsuited to modern times. In rejecting fantasy and fictions within many ancient Buddhist beliefs, the power of Buddhist teachings to free sentient beings is preserved. We also believe in our obligations to live ethically, avoiding anger, violence and excess desires in keeping with the Precepts, with social awareness directed toward the good of society and this world.

    Throughout the centuries, myriad approaches to Buddhism have evolved based on the needs and tastes of myriad practitioners. Some find power and truth in very traditional beliefs and stories, maintaining literal belief therein. Other practitioners find many of those same beliefs and stories to be superstition, ungrounded in the actual workings of the world and unnecessary to their own Buddhist practice. At the extremes, some of the former group may engage in a kind of “Buddhist fundamentalism,” believing that “if the Ancients say so, thus it is so.” At the other extreme, many modernists have sought to offer flavors of practice so stripped of myth, ritual and arcane traditions that, sometimes, even mention of “buddha” is dropped away.

    There is not one “right” view of Buddhism suitable for all practitioners, and I will never claim my way as best for all. Different suffering beings may require medicines in varied mix and dosage (even placebos and the mere promise of hope at times). Certainly, throughout its history, Buddhism has flowered in countless ways, via the interpretations of countless individuals, as envisioned through their views and beliefs. That will always continue, and simply reflects the genius of the human mind to create endless artistic, philosophical, literary and religious expressions.

    However, I wish to offer a new flavor of Buddhism which avoids both (1) what may be baseless myth, unfounded superstition, primitive magic and historical ignorance among traditional Buddhist practices, and (2) the opposite extreme of stripped down teachings and practices reduced to such a degree that the “baby Buddha” is thrown out with the bath water, whereby many worthwhile and challenging teachings and rituals are lost due to being wrongly limited or labeled as myth and magic. In fact, many ancient legends maintain great value and truth even if wholly or partly ahistorical fictions, many of our most potent and challenging teachings do not contradict or conflict whatsoever with modern and scientific understanding (in fact, many may be seen as supported by modern discoveries), and a long list of our most beautiful, ancient customs and practices have understandable value and meaning even in this day and age.

    I believe that it is possible to maintain beliefs that, as best we can, are freed of superstition. I demand that there be some credible evidence and basis … beyond rumor, anecdote, hearsay and supposition … to rely on claims and assumptions about reality which purport to be true. More is demanded than simple blind faith in the assertions of ancient books or ancestors, even the alleged words of the Buddha himself (assuming his actual words can be known). It is time to recognize that many of the beliefs of ancient men and women, even of the Buddha himself, may have been the narrow and ill-informed views of people limited to knowledge as it existed in centuries past. Their values and assumptions may have been those of their times and cultures. For some of us, there is need to discard fictions and foolish suppositions in the light of modern evidence. For some of us, many of the changes and developments of so-called “Buddhist Modernism” are worthwhile reforms and reformulations which not only changed, but may have improved and strengthened, past Buddhist approaches in important ways.

    On the other hand, we need not go to excess in rejecting all that is old and hard to fathom merely for being old and hard in ordinary thinking, and we should not make the mistake of turning Buddhism into little beyond some form of therapy or relaxation technique robbed of so many ancient treasures. Thus, I propose that we maintain the best of all possible worlds, what may be called a “Religio-Secular Buddhism,” representing one “Third Way” to bridge important issues and difficulties facing Buddhism as it comes to the West.

    “Religio-Secular Buddhism” means forms of practice that maintain the option of and place for certain seemingly “religious” elements of Buddhist Practice … for example, the possibility of statues, robes, incense … but only to the extent that each speaks to and has meaning for the practitioner, is seen to have value as a symbol or poetic expression of some greater truths, and serves as a reminder or focus encompassing teachings, thus embodying a pragmatic purpose to facilitate and enhance Buddhist Practice. For example, one might keep a painting, a statue or a ceremony not on the basis that there is some mysterious mystical power or claimed supernatural magic worked in the thing or act itself, but because such stands as a symbol for, reminder and celebration of tradition and the teachings so embodied (not unlike, for example, a national flag, song, historical legend and civic ritual standing for a democratic people, society and its imparted values). We might maintain incense, chanting or bowing simply for their role in creating a psychological state of removal from worldly concerns in a certain space and time through the olfactory, auditory or other physical senses. Hard to credit beliefs may be reinterpreted in ways which give modern relevance (such as the reinterpretation, common in the Zen world, of Siddhi mystical powers as encompassing the seemingly ordinary wonders of “offering a smile, drinking water, breathing”). One might maintain an old legend or ancient hero (even while recognizing that the story may have no legitimate historical foundation) as a reminder of valid teachings and imparted truths in the symbol.

    On the other hand, we can jettison other claims and beliefs as baseless. The practice of dharani and magic spells, belief in certain superhuman powers such as levitation and clairvoyance, faith in the literal truth of superhuman creatures such as Nagas and Hungry Ghosts, or very detailed views of the process of rebirth can all be left behind absent showing of some other valid role, reason or reliable proof. (For example, certain states such as those of “Hungry Ghosts” may be retained if reinterpreted and encountered for their psychological meaning, and certain views of “rebirth” can be presented which are perfectly harmonious with modern scientific understanding such as by asserting that we are each constantly “reborn” in each moment, for all phenomena are impermanent and constantly changing. Of course, we might be tempted to recognize the retention of some magical practices and unsupported beliefs purely as “expedient means” because of the comfort they provide and their “placebo-like” effect, a phenomenon has been shown to actually exist and be a recognized in medical science too. Religious stories, no matter how fantastic, do serve to offer comfort to people. Nonetheless, there is thus a certain deception involved which, I believe, should cause us to turn away from such holy lies). We might abandon or remain skeptically agnostic regarding detailed, mechanical views of post-mortem “karma” for lack of proof, yet uphold a general belief such as that “angry and violent actions tend to cause further anger and violence in the world, today and continuing long after our own lives” as a relevant and defensible ethical assertion. We might see the historical Buddha as a human being much as the rest of us (although perhaps a very gifted and special one) to the extent that there is no evidence for any special abilities on his part outside of idealized, hagiographic writings. We might also find a greater “Buddha” which represents that aspect of wholeness and harmony, beyond names and separations, which transcends dualistic categories of the desirous and divisive human mind. Such a vision of underlying wholeness, beauty and harmony does not contradict any modern understanding of the structure of reality, with many a physicist or mathematician, poet or artist claiming a sense of something much the same.

    As well, we must not turn away from our obligations to live ethically, avoiding anger, violence and excess desires in keeping with the Precepts, with social awareness for the good of society and this world. Whether one is “religious” or “secular”, “humanist” or “atheist” or anything else, we can and should live in a gentle and engaged way, avoiding harm toward self and others (not two, by the way). We must avoid employment of teachings and practices in ways which merely encourage and facilitate our modern consumer culture, use of military force, misuse of the environment and the like. The Buddhist teachings must be used in ways which nurture peace, liberation and respect for this world.

    We don’t insist that others abandon their beliefs in things we reject, and we remain open minded even if skeptical and agnostic or (based on present evidence) unbelieving. However, for our own practice, we reject certain aspects of traditional Buddhism … and all other religions and philosophies … if not meeting the above tests of substantiation and relevance.

    + + +

    OF LAY, PRIEST & PLAYFUL “LIEST”


    A note on the use of “Liests” in our Treeleaf Lineage …
    .
    In our Treeleaf community, we are advocating a modern view of Buddhist teachers fully transcending and stepping right through the traditional categories of “lay” and “ordained”, male or female. We thus step right beyond a certain divide that is plaguing western Buddhism. We borrow from Hua-yen, Zen and other Mahayana viewpoints: That one thing may be fully itself, yet fully embody and actuate other good things simultaneously and identically, free of the least conflict. In our “Sangha” Community, we offer a form of “ordination” or “office” that fully flies past the male/female/priest/lay divisions yet allows us to fully embody and actuate each and all as the situation requires. This is not merely some “combination” or “mixture”, but a total realization of one and all, each fully realized in its moment. When I am a married man and parent to my children, I am 100% that and fully there for my family. When I am a worker at my job, I am that and embody such a role with sincerity and dedication. When I am asked to step into the role of hosting Zazen, offering a Dharma talk, practicing and embodying our history and teachings, and passing them on to others, I fully carry out and embody 100% the role of “Priest” in that moment. When in a monastery, I am that, when performing charitable work in the community, I am that. Whatever the moment requires: maintaining a sangha community, bestowing the Precepts, working with others to help sentient beings. Even the names we call ourselves do not matter. In this way, we do not ask and are unconcerned with whether we are “Priest” or “Lay”, for we are neither that alone, while always thoroughly both; exclusively each in purest and unadulterated form, yet wholly all at once. It is just as, in the West, we have come to step beyond the hard divisions and discriminations between “male” and “female”, recognizing that each of us may embody all manner of qualities to varying degrees as the circumstances present, and that traditional “male” and “female” stereotypes are not so clear-cut as once held. So it is with the divisions of “Priest” and “Lay”.We smile and laugh at the sometimes hot debates concerning who are the “priests” (many, these days, themselves married with kids in the Japanese Lineages) and who are the “lay teachers” … and thus sometimes I call us “p-lay”.

    In my view, the role of clergy should be that of service and subservience to the community and other sentient beings, both “priest” and “lay” offering aid as the least among equals. Thus, I call us “liest”.
    Last edited by Kotei; 05-09-2022 at 11:34 AM. Reason: podcast link updated
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    Thank you Jundo.
    A quote from the Dalai Lama that I am sure we have all heard: "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."

    • The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality (2005).

    (At this moment, to me), this Middle Way here at Treeleaf seems to make the most sense; it is presented in a manner, both spiritually and technologically, that can truly keep Buddha alive in all corners of modern society, much like the Dalai Lama himself.

    Gassho,
    Sierra
    SatToday

  3. #3
    Mp
    Guest
    Thank you Jundo ... I will give it a read. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    #sattooday

  4. #4
    Joyo
    Guest
    Thank you, Jundo. I know you've been letting us know about this for awhile. I don't think I ever told you that I have been quite looking forward to listening to your talk. =)

    Gassho,
    Joyo
    sat today

  5. #5
    Hello,

    Well presented and enjoyable.

    Thank you.

    "Barriers are meant to be breached."


    Gassho
    Myosha sat today
    Last edited by Myosha; 12-01-2015 at 06:36 PM.
    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  6. #6
    Just listened to the podcast - came over well - should spread the word on Treeleaf

    Gassho

    Willow

    sat today

  7. #7
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    St. John's Newfoundland, Canada.
    Hi,

    I haven't listened to the pod cast yet but the short essay seemed very reasonable and made me feel quite at home.

    Gassho
    Sattoday
    Adam

  8. #8
    Great podcast, Jundo.

    Gassho,
    Anshu

    -sat today-

  9. #9
    Hey, Jundo, the bio on you on the heading for the SBA podcast lists you as a member of AZTA. Just sayin'
    _/st\_ Shinzan

  10. #10
    Thank you for this!

    I can see how some people might be unsettled by your points of view, but I think this is the way the dharma has adapted to cultures and times. Thanks to this we still can rely on the Triple Jewel to find peace in a connected world.

    Great essay and podcast.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    #SatToday
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  11. #11
    Very interesting talk. Thanks for sharing Jundo.

    -Sam

    #SatToday

    Sent from my Nexus 6 using Tapatalk

  12. #12
    Nice! Cant wait to check this out

    Gassho

    Risho
    -sattoday

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Shinzan View Post
    Hey, Jundo, the bio on you on the heading for the SBA podcast lists you as a member of AZTA. Just sayin'
    _/st\_ Shinzan
    I am still a member. Many folks, me among them, do not recognize the effect of what was attempted by a handful of folks without notice, opportunity to be heard and such. Invalid ab initio.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  14. #14
    Yugen
    Guest
    At some point the two might be rendered indistinguishable ..... think people in a park practicing tai chi - no one wears robes or visible signs of rank or status - solely level of practice - and that becomes obvious in the course of practicing together - and everyone helps everyone else out. That's about it.

    Deep bows
    Yugen

  15. #15
    Thank you very much for your writings here and the interview on the SBA podcast. I enjoyed them both.

    I'm very grateful to have the the opportunity to be a part of this Sangha and have found you as a teacher. Its nice to have a place and people that jives so well with where I am at in my practice. I think you summed it up very nicely.

    Gassho,
    Ken
    SatToday
    The strength and beneficence of the soft and yielding.
    Water achieves clarity through stillness.

  16. #16
    Hello Jundo and all. Thank you for the enjoyable podcast. It has 'layd' the foundations of all Treeleaf and yourself envision as a way ahead really clearly. I am very interested in this idea of secular Buddhism and I have asked a few people about it, including Brad. It get the feeling that everyone is still working it out for themselves at present. But for me perhaps secular is being used in place of a language that we are all struggling to find that expresses how we as human beings are reconciling out inner understandings with outer appearances of the world. I for one really appreciate how you expressed that we should look to the arts more to experience the world. This at a time when the arts are ever more subjugated to science. Thank you for reminding us that to be least is the humility that is essential if we are truly to help others.
    In grateful Gassho.
    Heisoku
    Just about to sit today, right now.
    Heisoku 平 息
    Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. (Basho)

  17. #17
    One part that stuck out to me was Jundo's comment on how there are ordained priests who get certain rights and responsibilities and there are ordained lay people who do not get the same. They can both be married and have children yet this distinction exists that doesn't make much sense.

    -Sam

    #SatToday

  18. #18
    Treeleaf Unsui / Engineer Sekishi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Virginia, USA
    Enjoyed the episode. It was Quantum-tastic(tm)!

    Gassho,
    Sekishi
    sekishi
    石志

    He/him. As a novice priest-in-training, this is simply an expression of my opinion. Please take it with a grain of salt.

  19. #19
    Thank you, Jundo, for posting the 'manifesto.' Reading this has been very helpful.

    Deep bows,
    Matt
    #SatToday

  20. #20
    Oh lovely. I've been looking forward to this for a while. Will give it a listen tomorrow.

    Gassho,
    Alan
    sattoday
    Shōmon

  21. #21
    J,

    I find your explanation very comfortable to where I am in life. You allow me to feel at home and you continue to teach me....may I be a good learner.

    Thank you.

    Randy
    sat

  22. #22
    Jundo,

    Finally!!!!! This was a great podcast.

    This place, this practice, this sangha all resonates with me. I don't know why -- it's like when you question and question why you like Triple Decker PB & J sandwiches. Ultimately, they just resonate or they don't. But who knows why? And this place is home. Just like you said, the practice, the discussions we have.. it's just really a special place in time. This is just open access to the Dharma. It's great. I'm very grateful to be here with you all.

    Gassho,

    Risho
    -will sit at 3pm EST

  23. #23
    Wonderful! Really enjoyed the talk! Thank you, Jundo.
    Thanks,
    Kaishin (開心, Open Heart)
    Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

  24. #24
    Jundo,

    Thank you for this clear outline of your approach. It seems practical and spiritual, rather that religious. I personally feel that spirituality is important, and that a certain amount of rites and rituals are a great support to growth in my practice. As Joseph Campbell said rites, rituals and sacred spaces help take us out of our "ordinary mind". Having said that, is there an underlying cosmology at Treeleaf or are we completely agnostic on this?

    Gassho,
    John

    s@2day

  25. #25
    Thank you for this, Jundo. It was actually this podcast that brought me to Treeleaf. I'd been struggling with reconciling the secular approach with an occasional strong 'pull' towards a more religious path and this podcast seemed to present a sensible, pragmatic approach to living with and working with this tension.

    Gassho,
    Libby

    sat today

  26. #26
    Thank you, Jundo! I'm already a podcast junkie, so you've introduced me to something new.

    This came at a perfect time, as I've been looking for material for a friend that shows how skepticism can be reconciled with Zen practice.

    Gassho,
    Matt
    SatToday

  27. #27
    Immensely enjoyable. Thank you.
    In gassho,
    Andrew
    I sat today.

  28. #28
    You presented a great alternative perspective that is, dare I say, a middle path! Thanks for sharing this gem!

    -Justin


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  29. #29
    Thanks Jundo. Enjoyed.

    SAT today
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

    https://instagram.com/notmovingmind

  30. #30
    Jundo,

    I am delighted to see that you have spelled out your vision. I'm not sure that the "title" is ideal. I understand the point of trying to present both the conflict and the compromise using the terms religious and secular, but it just seems to me to be a source of confusion.

    Not that I have any other suggestions. Calling it something like "new Buddhism" isn't very helpful.

    Gassho,

    Kirk

    SatToday
    Last edited by Ryumon; 12-01-2015 at 11:58 AM.
    流文

    I know nothing.

  31. #31
    Hi Jundo and all
    I am reading Stephen Batchelor's take on this in his book After Buddhism. Wonder if anyone else has read it? I am still in the early stages. An interesting approach.
    Gassho Heisoku
    Sat today.



    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    Heisoku 平 息
    Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. (Basho)

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by Heisoku View Post
    Hi Jundo and all
    I am reading Stephen Batchelor's take on this in his book After Buddhism. Wonder if anyone else has read it? I am still in the early stages. An interesting approach.
    Gassho Heisoku
    Sat today.



    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    Hi Heisoku,

    I have not read this new book (it is on the list!) and only his earlier writings on the topic. As I say in the Podcast, I am generally a big fan, but sometimes Batchelor seems so intent on stripping Buddhism of anything that he feels is not "what the Buddha originally taught" that it is also a kind of fundamentalism reduced to a system of ethics.

    Also, he was a Zen monk for a time in a Korean monastery, but the opinions and experiences regarding Zen which he garnered from that time do not resemble much the Zen Buddhism I know. I wish he had a wider and more accepting view in some ways.

    More after I actually read this book!

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  33. #33
    Thank Jundo. I do get such a feeling with this current writing, but will remain with an open mind.
    Gassho
    Heisoku


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    Heisoku 平 息
    Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. (Basho)

  34. #34
    Bravo Jundo, so well presented......this is why I feel at home in this Sangha : Thank You
    Gassho,
    Marina sat today

  35. #35
    Member Getchi's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Between Sea and Sky, Australia.
    Many thanks for this Jundo

    SatToday
    Geoff.
    Nothing to do? Why not Sit?

  36. #36
    Good to hear/read this again, thank you Jundo!
    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    She/her.
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  37. #37
    Trying to catch up here.
    The link to the talk has expired, is there another place I can pick this up?

    gassho
    M
    sat.

  38. #38
    This one works for me:
    https://secularbuddhism.org/episode-...of-all-worlds/

    Gassho,
    Kotei sat/lah today.

    Quote Originally Posted by michaelw View Post
    Trying to catch up here.
    The link to the talk has expired, is there another place I can pick this up?

    gassho
    M
    sat.

    義道 冴庭 / Gidō Kotei.
    Being a novice priest doesn't mean that my writing about the Dharma is more substantial than yours. Actually, it might well be the other way round.

  39. #39
    Kotei

    Thanks.
    I tried the original posted link and it is also working.
    Strange.

    gassho
    M
    sat

  40. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by michaelw View Post
    Kotei

    I tried the original posted link and it is also working.
    Strange.
    Not strange at all, I've updated that one ;-)
    Gassho,
    Kotei sat/lah today.

    義道 冴庭 / Gidō Kotei.
    Being a novice priest doesn't mean that my writing about the Dharma is more substantial than yours. Actually, it might well be the other way round.

  41. #41
    This was a good listen

    Do you still call them Liests from time to time?
    Or have they been given a new "Liest" on life?

    Gassho,
    Nengyoku
    Sat
    Thank you for being the warmth in my world.

  42. #42
    Very interesting and insightful take. I take what is useful for me from it, and discard what isn't, keeping to Buddha's instruction to question things and not just take them on authority alone, which you exemplify here. Thank you for this teaching.

    Gassho

    John
    SatTodayLAH
    Gassho

    John

    SATToday

  43. #43
    Another circular journey.
    Reading Jundo’s tribute to Gudo Wafu Nishijima I was reminded by point 8 of some of the writings under the Secular Buddhist heading so decided to do some research. It turns out I live within one hours drive of both Batchelor and Danvers two UK based advocates of Secular Buddhism. I have read Danver’s writings on the Exeter Meditation Circle website and currently reading Buddhism without Beliefs by Batchelor. A little more research brought up Jundos talk on the SBA podcast that neatly put the subject into perspective.
    A lot of the ideas Batchelor and Danvers are advocating have a familiar ring to them. It feels like a flickering of the Perennial Philosophy flame with added humanist content. Very little emphasis on just sitting and more towards mindfulness and guided meditation with Transpersonal Psychology themes thrown in.
    Danvers draws on Buddhism, Christianity, Heraclitus, Epicurus, Plato, David Hume, Existentialism and Dogen in his writings.
    I think Jundo has summed up Batchelors position better than I could.
    Finally, I wonder what an upates Jundo would have if giving that today?

    gassho
    M
    sat
    ps I was in receipt of someone else lah.

  44. #44
    I think Jundo has summed up Batchelors position better than I could.
    Finally, I wonder what an upates Jundo would have if giving that today?
    No real updates. I have a new interview by Stephen to listen to this week. In the meantime, I still feel that he has gone overboard. He has stripped so much out of Buddhism, and somehow it leaves me cold.

    I will report again if anything changes my opinion.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-12-2022 at 07:52 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  45. #45
    I know Batchelor has a lot of critics but I feel like I would have never gone down the Buddhist path without reading his books a few years ago. He made me feel like I can practice Buddhist ideas but not have to believe in a lot of of the superstitions to do so. It was his direct and clear voice around these subjects that caught my attention and made me curious enough to start looking into Buddhist ideas more where many other Buddhists, who are also skeptical, seemed to be a lot more indirect and unclear when talking about them. That was just my perception then and aren't saying either way is better than the other, just spoke to me personally more.

    Gassho
    Ross
    stlah

  46. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by Ross View Post
    I know Batchelor has a lot of critics but I feel like I would have never gone down the Buddhist path without reading his books a few years ago. He made me feel like I can practice Buddhist ideas but not have to believe in a lot of of the superstitions to do so. It was his direct and clear voice around these subjects that caught my attention and made me curious enough to start looking into Buddhist ideas more where many other Buddhists, who are also skeptical, seemed to be a lot more indirect and unclear when talking about them. That was just my perception then and aren't saying either way is better than the other, just spoke to me personally more.

    Gassho
    Ross
    stlah
    Same! And props to him, he really tried going down different traditional paths, being a Tibetan monk and then Korean Zen monk for many years. He has written some very helpful books, though sometimes his interpretations of teachings from the Pali Canon are a bit strange.

    Gassho, Tomás
    Sat&LaH

  47. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by Ross View Post
    I know Batchelor has a lot of critics but I feel like I would have never gone down the Buddhist path without reading his books a few years ago. He made me feel like I can practice Buddhist ideas but not have to believe in a lot of of the superstitions to do so. It was his direct and clear voice around these subjects that caught my attention and made me curious enough to start looking into Buddhist ideas more where many other Buddhists, who are also skeptical, seemed to be a lot more indirect and unclear when talking about them. ...
    Oh, for me too. As I am someone who is skeptical about (agnostic, open to any possibility, but very skeptical to the point of not believing) overly detailed and fantastical descriptions of processes of rebirth, his perspectives were a breath of fresh air. There are many strange beliefs in Buddhism, including in Zen Buddhism, that I personally feel are doubtful and which we can do without (I am not much for reciting magical Dharani to prevent plague and earthquakes.)

    That said, I think that he has proceeded to bulldoze through many wonderful aspects of Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhism and Zen that do not deserve to be ignored, and which deprive the path of so much treasure. For example, despite being a Zen priest, he seems tone deaf to "emptiness" and the experience of the self-transcendent wholeness of reality which is at the heart of Zen. He seems to discount anything that smacks of a self-dropping "mystical" experience (even though such experiences are perfectly consistent even with modern scientific views of our relationship to the rest of the universe), so turns Buddhism into a largely ethical practice. Then, he tries to argue that his interpretation is "original" Buddhism, which is itself a kind of fundamentalism. It is a shame that he goes overboard.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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