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Thread: New Buddhist Path - New Challenge to Karma and Rebirth - PP 118 -144 (END)

  1. #1

    New Buddhist Path - New Challenge to Karma and Rebirth - PP 118 -144 (END)

    Dear All,

    Let us finish David Loy's short book this week (We will spend a couple of weeks with it to let folks catch up).

    Remember too, our special Zazenkai with David this Sunday ...

    ATTENTION: Special Zazenkai with DAVID LOY

    For our readings this time, what are your impressions of David's Buddhist perspectives on many of our economic and environmental problems? Do you agree that we need more than social reforms alone (assuming that you believe so), that we need various kinds of inner reform? Is much of the problem due to our constant feelings of lack and inability to be satisfied? Are we looking for happiness and contentment in many of the wrong places? Are we confusing means and ends in our constant rush to technological and economic growth?

    What do you think about David's proposal for a kind of "social and ecological Bodhisattva"?

    Do you think that David salvages or makes relevant the ideas of Karma and Rebirth for contemporary times? Can we see Karma through the proposition that "Karma is better understood as the simple - although not necessarily easy - key to personal transformation: my life situation can be transformed by reforming what motivates my actions right now, and by making those volitions habitual ... the important point is that they can be changed"

    What do you think about his various ways of looking at rebirth? Is he correct to raise various possibilities and speculations, but leave it all an open question?

    Finally, any impression of the book as a whole? For a small book, it covered a variety of topics.

    Gassho, J

    Last edited by Jundo; 04-29-2017 at 08:31 PM.

  2. #2
    Jundo, I have just begun reading this book. You once said to me "no catching up" & it made a large impression on how to learn from your teaching. Many deep bows.

    I read with the intention of understanding from my limited perspective to deciphering what is written. I started reading this when I downloaded it to Kindle over a month ago but was unable to give it my full attention, which it obviously deserved.

    So I will follow the forums. And utilize your stimulating questions to assist in my own progress in understanding and opening more doors to transformation.

    Thank you for giving me and the Sangha this opportunity.



    Sent from my XT1635-01 using Tapatalk

  3. #3
    Hi Ansan,

    Yes, these books really have no beginning or end.

    Gassho, J


    PS - All systems go for our visit to Arizona in August!

  4. #4
    Thank you, Jundo. I found David Loy's perspectives to be captivating. Intuitively, they feel right. I especially liked the "Conclusion". I think a lot of it was about responsibility. At the same time, the Buddhist project never ends. It is part of the creative process. I really think that by changing from habitual clinging, there can be positive change. There's a lot to digest here, and I look forward to reading what other people have to say about this section of the book.


  5. #5
    This was a wonderful book and I enjoyed it very much.

    I had mixed feelings about the last chapters... I have already given thought to the question of what seems to stop Buddhists short of being more socially engaged... and the answer I have come to in many instances is that they are indeed socially engaged, just that there are just still fewer of us in the Western world. I think both time and monetary resources are just stretched because the causes are so varied and numerous. So the answer might just be, we need to continue attracting the individual to Buddhism, even if their initial reason for joining the path is self-serving. The challenge then is to use skillful means to get them to stick with practice long enough to awaken and realize that the only way to fill their inner lack is to drop the grasping in the first place.

    For those of us in this Sangha, in particular, the reason many of us are here is because we do not have a local group with which to engage socially. So it is an additional step to find another group locally if one wishes to do service, or be an activist. Middle aged folks with jobs and families are going to be hard pressed to find time to join up with other Buddhists to be active in a particular cause, also partly because the Buddhist Sangha is an adult organization that does not have regular services which include children. That limits a lot of the activism to college-aged, single, and retired folks!

    I was intrigued by the question David Loy proposed about why Buddhists focus more on saving people from the river rather than trying to find out why so many people are in the river. I think there is a need for both... as Human Beings, we will always need to both save those in immediate need and keep our eyes open to the bigger picture, in case there is broader action that needs to be taken. But, like with the Precepts, there will never be a 100% definable solution, only a Middle Way. That is part of the great Don't Know mystery. The goal of "saving the Earth" may seem obvious to us, but not so obvious to entire economies in areas of the world that depend on income from environmentally destructive sources. In those cases, individuals need to be saved and have their basic needs met before they will care about activism.

    Just some rambling, processing thoughts.

    清 道 寂田
    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).

  6. #6
    Terrific book. I need to read the last section again, but these are my immediate thoughts, selfish as they are, and I sat today before posting.

    I am fortunate to be a professor in the field of rehabilitation counseling, so it is part of my personal Buddhist and professional counseling and teaching practice to do as Loy suggests and instruct students not just about how people with disabilities are drowning in society's river but also how they got there in the first place. It is also inherent in our whole curriculum that they are to go out in the world as part of their profession and try to change the people the work with for the better as well as their local communities.

    I am reading the Gary Snyder Reader, a collection of the great poet and ecologist's best works. There is a story in the foreword about how he gave a lecture to a large group of environmental activists about how Nature would survive humanity and that Nature didn't even need humanity to save it, that it was much more powerful than man could ever hope to be despite all his technology. This was met with much disgruntlement by the audience, so someone challenged him with the obvious question about why they should put all this effort into saving Nature if that was his belief. And he said, "Because it's a matter of character!" It's not about the goal; it's about the process towards the goal.

    As for karma, i am working at recognizing my dukka-causing motivations every day, and I am making slow progress at reducing them. As a deluded buddha, there is no hope of eliminating them. I just work on them as a matter of character.
    Last edited by AlanLa; 05-01-2017 at 12:29 AM.
    AL (Jigen) in:

    I sat today

  7. #7
    I will start this book soon. I'm slowly learning how to use Tapatalk.

  8. #8
    A great book. David Loy is one of my favourite western Buddhist writers. Reading this has also made me read more Richard Dawkins, which can't be bad

    Step lightly, stay free.

  9. #9
    Hi all

    I am probably in a minority who found the book underwhelming. Most of the topics in A New Buddhist Path have been the subject of discussion in western Buddhist circles for quite some time and there didn't seem to be much that was new. The discussion with David himself was more interesting and probably it is good as a jumping off point.

    Other writers seem to have gone deeper in terms of what an eco Bodhisattva might look like (Joanna Macy has been exploring that for some time) and also around issues relating to society from the viewpoint of minority groups such as Radical Dharma by Angel Kyodo Williams and others, and The Way of Tenderness by Zenju Earthlyn Manuel which explore issues of activism and whether Buddhist communities reflect and reinforce societal power imbalances. Numerous articles have tackled what is meant by karma and rebirth and their importance to modern dharma practitioners and I am sure most people have already considered what their take is.

    Of course, all of the issues that David Loy raises are important ones to think about from both a personal and community viewpoint but I find it hard to think that most people will not have been doing that to a fair extent already.

    Anyway, I have no intention of taking away what others got from the book or question the wisdom of choosing it which has clearly led to good discussions but thought I would add a different voice.

    One insight I did get which was new is Loy's appreciation for how the three poisons have now become pretty much culturally institutionalised and how much harder it makes for us to free people from them when we are not just fighting against their (and our) own greed, anger and ignorance but that which is reinforced by society on a daily basis. This does show why social structures need dismantling to help people out of the river.


  10. #10
    To be honest I didn't care much for this book. A few weeks ago I was in Indiana and had a great conversation with a dude who went to Bible College (he was Methodist) and we talked about understanding religion. To him a huge part of the Christian religion was using it to regulate society. This is a very common perspective in the West that religion is there to regulate our morality. I think that is an incorrect assessment of religious teachings. All religions, especially Buddhism, begin with us as ignorant beings. Without this understanding firmly in place we are vulnerable to get caught up in utopian delusions and incorrectly apply religious teachings where they weren't intended. We see Christians of all types do this constantly. There's absolutely no reason to assume Buddhists are any better.

    I don't think applying socially engaged Buddhism to society is a practical solution to anything. Buddhism is about relieving suffering and trying to milk some extra benefits from it runs the risk of being a little too self serving despite our best intentions. What I do think is practical is to wisely confront religious and political views we do not believe benefit all people. This requires a lot more effort on our part and we have to be wide open to the fact that our own bias is a problem and will continue to have issues.

    Buddhism informs many of our opinions but our opinions are not Buddhism. its in everyone's interest to be engaged in the society they live in and constantly reflect and challenge their own values. Instead of more socially engaged Buddhism, I would prefer (my own bias) to see more accessible Buddhist teachings to people who may not have been so open minded to them. A common understanding seems more powerful to me than common dogma. Our imperfections and uncertainties are more likely to bring us together than our deepest held convictions. We just need to be open to it.


    Sat Today

  11. #11
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
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    Jun 2015
    St. John's Newfoundland, Canada.
    Hi folks,

    I enjoyed the book. I thought the way of dealing with Karma was good. Whether a karmic seed is a habit a built over a lifetime or many we still have to deal with the impulses and habits as they arise. That said, I think karma can move through people just not a magical way. You just have to look at long standing feuds between different ethnic groups or religions. Attitudes being passed from person to person on both sides.

    As for a social and ecological Bodhisattva I think that's good as well. But perhaps not for everyone.

    I also think hes right about need try and reform the hearts and minds of others but I'm not sure how that can be done other than try to walk the Bodhisattva path and hope others decide to walk with you.


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