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Thread: New Buddhist Path - Challenge, Good v Evil, Ignorance v Awakening - PP 105 - 117

  1. #1

    New Buddhist Path - Challenge, Good v Evil, Ignorance v Awakening - PP 105 - 117

    Hi Guys,

    If I correctly understand the points David Loy was making this week, I believe he means that we need to combine modern, Western and Judeo-Christian concerns with social reform and charity with Buddhist emphasis on awakening and transcending the small self. One or the other may not be enough. Reforming social systems or institutions alone is not enough unless we get past the greed, anger and ignorance of the self. On the other hand, historically, Buddhism was very conservative with regard to social reform, having little choice given the politics of the rulers in the autocratic countries where it found itself in Asia. The monks had a tendency to lock themselves in their monasteries, writing off the suffering of the world as just the results of Karma.

    Something like that.

    He also seems to say (if I understand correctly) that Judeo-Christian-Muslim societies have been two black vs. white on "good vs. evil" "right vs. wrong" "friend vs. foe" and the like. Both Bush and Osama are trying to destroy the "evil society" and enemy which is the other. On the other hand, this same belief in "the good" inspired many social reformers in Biblical times and after. He also points to Greek influence on western beliefs that social systems are not fixed in nature and can be changed, leading to the concept of democracy.

    Despite the general belief that our modern societies should not be unjust and oppressive, there remain so many problems of gross inequality, discrimination, poverty and oppression even in Western nations. Thus, he write, “Unless social reconstruction is accompanied by personal reconstruction, democracy merely empowers the ego-self. Insofar as I am still motivated by greed, ill will, and delusion, my freedom is likely to make things worse. So long as the illusion of a discrete self, separate from others, prevails, democracy simply provides different types of opportunities for individuals to take advantage of other individuals.” The result is that "democracy simply provides different types of opportunities for individuals to take advantage of other individuals."

    I am not sure that I agree with him that the Precepts are just "training wheels" or that "someone who has awakened to the true nature of the world (including the true nature of oneself) no longer needs to follow an external moral code because he or she naturally wants to behave in a way that does not violate the spirit of the precepts." I am not sure that things are so simple. As I might say, I would probably try to drive safely and not endanger others when operating my car, but the fact that there are stop signs, white lines in the road and police with tickets sure helps that and keeps things moving smoothly. Loy points to the several "enlightened" Zen, Buddhist and other clergy who nonetheless engaged in some harmful behavior but, strangely, leaps right over the topic).

    I do not know if Buddha and Dogen and the like would have been "social revolutionaries" if they had the chance. Some folks point out that monasteries are shaped like communes in which all have a place to sleep, food, labor as they can and are (theoretically) equal in opportunity. On the other hand, the outside society supports the monastery through agriculture and capitalism that raises donations to pay for the monastery. Buddha and Dogen had to deal with emperors and samurai would would not tolerate social dissent, so Buddhist institutions tended to be politically quiet or conservative, and supportive of the rulers. Perhaps now, in our modern age, is the first time in its history that Buddhism can truly be a vehicle for social change.

    Anyway, what are your impressions on all this?

    By the way, I think we are on track to finish this short book next time.
    Gassho, J

    SatToday

    PS - Hoping to get David Loy here to lead a Zazenkai netcast at Treeleaf in the coming few weeks. I am talking with him now.
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-18-2017 at 04:14 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    UPDATE: David Loy just confirmed that he will be here to lead a Zazenkai netcast sometime end of April or start of May. Setting the date and time now.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    UPDATE: David Loy just confirmed that he will be here to lead a Zazenkai netcast sometime end of April or start of May. Setting the date and time now.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    Ahhh this is wonderful, thank you Jundo, look forward to sitting with him. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    s@today

  4. #4
    If everything is impermanent then I guess democracy is too. Uh-oh...

    Gassho

    Sat Today

  5. #5
    Thank you, Jundo. I think you have a point about having markers for behavior (such as stop signs and lines on the road). I see what Loy is saying about the good vs. evil being polar opposites that define each other, though. Certainly, it is better to initiate change when one is aware and free of greed, aversion and delusion, especially of the discrete self apart from others. I have strong feelings about social justice, but I think I need to sit with this more.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    SatToday

  6. #6
    UPDATE UPDATE: David Loy's Zazenkai will be the morning of Sunday April 30th, U.S. Time. We are just setting the exact start time now.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    In advocating a spiritual path that ignored and flaunted caste, Buddha was a social revolutionary, no?
    Bows,
    Sattoday.
    Last edited by Tom; 04-20-2017 at 07:36 AM. Reason: forgot to write sat today

  8. #8
    I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in the Dharma, I take refuge in the Sangha--and to the best of my ability, I follow the precepts which help me with my own ignorance, anger, and greed. These problems I face everyday, and as I follow the road signs of my Buddhist commitment, my Soto Zen practice which helps me still my mind, calm my own storms such that I can look beyond into the road signs, and also keep my commitment to family, friends, and those important in my dealings with society. My life is made easier because I have taken a vow to uphold my Dharma, and it's teachings directly into the Precepts. Certainly I am only working harder in some areas, and other areas of my human dealings I don't need to work as hard. Yet, these Precepts are my valued vows, for there are actually 10, and I will follow right behaviors, maintain my relationships with the Sangha, which can result in right action in my society. Thank you Jundo. I hope to be on board for a netcast with David Loy.

    Tai Shi
    std
    Gassho
    ...Thought and action/ your life would never experience, (even before you were born), But he also being the Devine Cannot, He etched every moment of your existence, With His own hand... Haifiz

  9. #9
    Wonderful Jundo, thank you, I look forward to the Zazenkai !
    Gassho

    Jyūkatsu
    sat today

  10. #10
    How exciting that you are able to arrange these zazenkais, Jundo! That will be the day after my wedding, so I will probably be unable to join. Darn! But at the same time I will be on my way to Hawaii, so can't complain! Maybe I will join the recording for some airplane zazen...

    Gassho, sat today

    Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Geika View Post
    How exciting that you are able to arrange these zazenkais, Jundo! That will be the day after my wedding, so I will probably be unable to join. Darn! But at the same time I will be on my way to Hawaii, so can't complain! Maybe I will join the recording for some airplane zazen...

    Gassho, sat today

    Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk
    I will be sitting for all joy and well being in your marriage! Lovely!

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Geika View Post
    How exciting that you are able to arrange these zazenkais, Jundo! That will be the day after my wedding, so I will probably be unable to join. Darn! But at the same time I will be on my way to Hawaii, so can't complain! Maybe I will join the recording for some airplane zazen...

    Gassho, sat today

    Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk
    WooHoo congrats on your upcoming marriage Geika ... Have a wo derful time in Hawaii. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    S@today

  13. #13
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post

    I am not sure that I agree with him that the Precepts are just "training wheels" or that "someone who has awakened to the true nature of the world (including the true nature of oneself) no longer needs to follow an external moral code because he or she naturally wants to behave in a way that does not violate the spirit of the precepts." I am not sure that things are so simple. As I might say, I would probably try to drive safely and not endanger others when operating my car, but the fact that there are stop signs, white lines in the road and police with tickets sure helps that and keeps things moving smoothly. Loy points to the several "enlightened" Zen, Buddhist and other clergy who nonetheless engaged in some harmful behavior but, strangely, leaps right over the topic).

    Hi Folks,

    I just wanted to say that I think Loy is right. That its possible one wouldn't need the external rules to guide their behavior. Not everyone would be at that point in their lives. Even if everyone and their dog were trying to follow the rules there would be slip us now and then. But on an individual level I don't think its impossible. I don't want to murder anybody and its not because I'm scared of going to jail (the prospect sounds terrifying) but because I just don't. I get made and at time I angry I but never want to kill someone (its worth noting that I've never lost anyone to violence. That might change things.) My point is that if one has internalized these positions they likely won't break them. We would still need rules as a society but anyone individual might find them to simply be reasonable conduct.

    I think it would be worth while to take a look at virtue ethics. I think it would work well with the Bodhisattva archetypes. Basically one identifies the characteristics that a good person or a Bodhisattva has and they try to develop these characteristics. I believe Aristotle's nicomachean ethics has the idea as it outlines what a "good" character trait or virtue is and in what ways it can be a vice. Anger in the right amounts and at the right times is good is a virtue. At the wrong times its a vice etc...

    Anywho just my thoughts on the matter. What do you guys think?

    Gassho
    Sattoday
    Hoseki

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Tom View Post
    In advocating a spiritual path that ignored and flaunted caste, Buddha was a social revolutionary, no?
    Bows,
    Sattoday.
    Spiritual revolutionary? Probably.
    Social revolutionary? While his teachings were open to all as far as politics are concerned Buddha seemed to still play by the local rules.

    Check out the Ambattha Sutta from the Pali canon. Buddha breaks down the problems with caste pretty well there.

    Gassho

    Sat Today

  15. #15
    Thank you both, Jundo and Shingen!

    Gassho, sat today

    Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  16. #16
    This troubles me and i sit with it daily lately.

    “Unless social reconstruction is accompanied by personal reconstruction, democracy merely empowers the ego-self. Insofar as I am still motivated by greed, ill will, and delusion, my freedom is likely to make things worse. So long as the illusion of a discrete self, separate from others, prevails, democracy simply provides different types of opportunities for individuals to take advantage of other individuals.”
    That section just jumped off the page for me, as well as the section where he talks about how one gang of thugs just replaces another gang of thugs, that is unless the overthrowers have worked on transforming their own greed, aggression, and delusion. And then there is that famous line from Kissinger, I think, that says power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I see this all the time, and not just in politics. I see it to some degree in the people I work with, too. And it seems to be getting much worse lately, not better, so it's very discouraging. I try to keep my head above water by following the precepts and hope it rubs off on people, as I am not much of a revolutionary.

    This section made me think of this song.
    Last edited by AlanLa; 05-01-2017 at 12:36 AM.
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

    I sat today

  17. #17
    Tai Shi here, hi all

    I do not know how to provide links from reading, You Tub, great literature and music, mundane literature and music, Zen thought and dignity, personal preferences of philosophy, literature, art, music, and photography. Sometime ago one of the Usuri (is that how it's spelled?) tried to teach me how to upload photographs, and darned if I could get the hang of it. Well, I do remember passwords, so I can get around the "net," and I know enough to use Treeleaf, Facebook, much of Google except what I don't understand. Loud music out of my past, by The Who, and which I was listening to in 1969 through 2005, the year I received my first titanium knee, and slowly from about 1964 to the present, my love of music has been Bach's great concertos, Bach's St Mather's Passion, The Great St John's Passion, Mozart's Operas all of Mozart, Midsummer's Night's Dream incidental music, Mozart's magnificent, and tragic Requiem Mass, All Beethoven Symphonies and the Four Quartets, John Cage among other contemporary classics, back to all Brahms symphonies (4), in fact all of Bach that we know, all of Mozart, Rachmaninoff all piano concertos, well you get my drift, and back to cut to the chase, I did purchase one of Mr. Loy's books, and I'm reading it, I cannot presume to keep up with all or any part of Jundo's daunting knowledge of Buddhism. What I will say, it is with a sense of what I DON'T know, I follow the precepts, and my vows I take with personal responsibility, and, now, when I went through Jukai, my only ceremony in my Zen life, I pledged to follow to the best of my ability, those things in Buddhism that could make me a better person, and I am trying to become a better person. I don't think I'll be struck be acid flash, marijuana haze, alcohol fumes, for I tried all that, and take it from me, I do wish I had taken the Precepts at an earlier age. That being said, I sit, for the last year about 1/2 hour or more a day. I have great loads of time, and for those who manage it 15 minutes a day, or every other as I did three years ago, then found time for more as I found more in Treeleaf. Now, all I can say is I love being part of Treeleaf Sangha.

    Tai Shi
    Charles Taylor
    std
    Gassho
    ...Thought and action/ your life would never experience, (even before you were born), But he also being the Devine Cannot, He etched every moment of your existence, With His own hand... Haifiz

  18. #18
    Hi all

    I think that Loy makes an important point about western religion emphasising social justice. The problem is that however fair a system we try to create, people can find ways to get around it for their own self gain should they so wish. In the west, sadly, freedom for self tends to be valued above freedom of self.

    I have often said that no top down system of economics or society will ever create an equal society while people intend to work as much as they can for themselves. Conversely, there are few systems that will not work if individuals are motivated to help each other and give what they have left over to those who have less.

    Since there is no society in which everyone is concerned with the wellbeing of everyone else, it is important to try and make things as fair as we can while also trying to change people and emphasising the development of compassion and wisdom as the way to find contentment rather than material acquisition (at least over and above what we need, those in poverty have every right to want to get what they need). The Scandinavian countries routinely come near the top of internetional indices of wellbeing and it is unlikely to be coincidental that those nations have high tax burdens but look after their citizens very well from cradle to grave. In most places in the world, asking people to pay more tax to support their neighbours is the best strategy to lose an election which is sad.

    So, what to do? I do not agree that politics is not part of dharma as small changes in policy can reduce suffering to a great degree such as greater access to healthcare and rights for disabled people and minorities. So I agree with David Loy that combining the social justice of the west with eastern dharma is not a bad thing. However, we should also understand that no political or economic system can free us from samsara.

    My Christian neighbours live in a community in which no one owns anything and no one gets paid for the jobs they do regardless of whether they are working in the nursery, cleaners, doctors or running the community business. Everyone is equal and gets food and shelter in return for the work they do. Extra goes back into the community coffers or to fund social projects and enterprises. This seems to be a beautiful way of living but, as my friends who live there tell me, it does involve letting go of self-interest in favour of being part of something larger which is not without its struggles!

    Whereas Buddhism has been good at living in communities of ordained practitioners, we have yet to explore this kind of living as lay families and I would really like to see if it could be done. I imagine that it could be a way of living that might appeal to many of us who are not able or willing to be a monastic but would like to live in a supportive environment with the aim to practice and do good in the world.

    Anyway, Sunday thoughts!

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  19. #19
    There is a lot here. just some thoughts. First, there is evil in the world. There are people who think they are doing good by killing, or raping women and children, bombing innocents to get their virgins in paradise. This is evil, absolutely and unequivocally. These types of people must be stopped by force if necessary, and it usually is unfortunately because some people who ideologically think you are the devil do not want to sit down and hash things out over afternoon tea. I would highly recommend "Islam and the Future of Intolerance" by Sam Harris and Maajid Hawaz. Very eye opening and not one-sided

    Plato was against democracy because he saw how one day you could be some guy in town and the next day you are the General of the Athenian army, or the host of a reality tv show and then president lol

    I dont think of the precepts as training wheels; I think of them as a compass on the path.

    I sort of take an approach of changing ourselves and being an example in order to bring about positive change. Everyone has different ideals, so its an impossible feat to erect a utopia. But fairness and equality are of course things we should strive for. Again what those things mean to each of us is different.

    For example on one hand there is greed but on the other there is a fair wage. Do I think that I should be paid the same amount as someone in a less intellectually demanding job? no i dont. I dont think that a minimum wage position at mcdonalds should be a career path. But I think people have the right to fair wages. There is a deep inequality of wealth. At the same time, Should everyone get paid the same? hmm I dont think so but this is one mans opinion.

    gassho

    Risho
    -sattoday

  20. #20
    I'm sorry but I need to qualify what I said above because it doesn't sit well with me.

    1. War -- First off, I just want to really clarify that I think violence or force should be the last option. I think that as humans, war is sort of inevitable unfortunately, but I think we are slow learners culturally and ideologically and it is my hope that we all do learn to live in peace with each other. I do agree that to really do so does require an examination of ourselves ala zen practice. And that may not work for everyone. I love this practice, but again different strokes for different folks.

    So I think we need a society that welcomes religious freedoms, etc. We need a society that protects the rights of people. We need to denounce unfair practices. Ok these are all high level platitudes, and these are difficult issues that really take time; to really address them we have to come together and believe in them as a society. I think practice is really really good in this respect because if we haven't really faced our ego-ism, greed, etc, it's really difficult to get to a place of compassion (not drippy bs compassion) for our fellow human beings.

    2. Kokuu's point still haunts me - this is something I face. From one perspective, I want to get paid more than someone working at McDonalds', but from another admittedly idealistic perspective, but I have never claimed to be anything other than that; I've been an optimistic idealist since I was born it would be absolutely incredible if we didn't work for money. I hope one day that we get to that point. It's that really awesome Star Trek vision where we do work that is ultimately meaningful to us; our work is to become the best that we can, bla.

    At the same time, I like to try and bring that vision into my life now despite the fact that there is inequality. I don't think anyone should be poor, especially in the US> I'm not saying this from a nationalistic perspective. I'm literally saying that in the United States of America we have such an abundance of things that no one should be poor here. Everyone should be able to read, should have access to quality education, have access to healthcare.

    I know there are costs involved, but I absolutely believe that if we approached these issues with all of our fervor we would find solutions. I know we could. I just know it.

    So I think right now we have a lot of evolving to do as a society as a whole. I think we are just starting to realize that in reality we live in a global culture now, but tribalism is a hard habit to break. But I think we are facing another wave of growing pains in terms of what it is to be human.

    So despite the fact that we have these limitations, or may not even be ready as a species to accept and live together, we can make changes in our own lives that contribute to that effort. Or as Kyonin would say, sometimes you just have to be a mutant Seriously, we have to do what's right and live a gentle way in spite of what we see happening.

    Anyway, I wanted to say something more about this because I do have a very hopeful outlook at life. Zen has absolutely ingrained this in me. There is something that when I live with the precepts as a guide, that makes me feel good about living, excited about living. If I can bring that attitude to the world despite the current real (or perceived) attitude of desperation, and more than that, if we can bring that optimism, I think things will be all right. I really do. I think that if we are genuine and act with care, I think that is contagious. I think that goes a long way in saving all sentient beings - a sort of ninja/stealth way.

    So I'm going to posit that in addition to being mutants, we also need to be ninja bodhisattvas. hahahaha

    Gassho,

    Risho
    -sattoday

  21. #21
    On the subject of Buddhism and politics here's how King Ashoka allegedly saw it.

    http://http://www.cs.colostate.edu/~malaiya/ashoka.html#PILLAR

    Gassho

    Sat Today

  22. #22
    Dear All,

    I just posting the seating for the David Loy Zazenkai Hangout ...

    The people for the main Hangout group are (as of now):

    1- Taiyo
    2- Onkai
    3- Enjaku
    4- Jakuden
    5- Shugen
    6- Daizan
    7- Kyonin
    8- Shingen
    9- David Loy
    10- Jundo
    We have a couple of folks a bit unsure of availability, so still room on "waiting list" if you think you would like to join.

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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