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Thread: Negativity against engaged Buddhism?

  1. #1

    Negativity against engaged Buddhism?

    This is asked in good faith and only meant for greater understanding on my part.

    I've noticed, around the internet at least, a lot of Buddhist are against engaged Buddhism. They claim it is not integral to our practice. I have seen this specifically with some Zen teachers and Zen practitioners. There are statements such as: left-wing ideology has co-opted Zen to include social justice as part of their practice. I would like input from others on this issue. To me, it seems that if you were to take vows to strive to end the suffering of others, why would you dis-engage from the suffering of others? There seems to be a large view a apolitical/nihilistic thinking which is worrying me slightly as it (ironically) seems selfish just to focus on your "no-self". To me, certain issues, such as poverty alleviation, should not be considered "political" as much as helping to reduce suffering of others. I can understand the thought that with better knowledge of no-self one may be more inclined to help others more. But, I was wondering if anyone had any experience with Buddhists who were against engaged Buddhist and their reasons and/or why do you support Engaged Buddhism. I tried searching this elsewhere I did not find anything on point. I apologize if it has been asked.

    Gassho,
    Tyler

    SatToday

  2. #2
    Hi Tyler;

    Don't go believing that Fake news now

    The first pure precepts; Do no harm, Live a good life, Aid others in the same.

    I can't see how some one is against engaged Buddhism
    around the internet at least, a lot of Buddhist are against engaged Buddhism.
    I can see how this gets twisted. I'd say without looking too far you'll find more in favor than not.
    but, i'm not an expert

    gassho, Shokai
    stlah
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    May we all grow together in our knowledge of the Dharma

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by TyZa View Post
    This is asked in good faith and only meant for greater understanding on my part.

    I've noticed, around the internet at least, a lot of Buddhist are against engaged Buddhism. They claim it is not integral to our practice. I have seen this specifically with some Zen teachers and Zen practitioners. There are statements such as: left-wing ideology has co-opted Zen to include social justice as part of their practice. I would like input from others on this issue. To me, it seems that if you were to take vows to strive to end the suffering of others, why would you dis-engage from the suffering of others? There seems to be a large view a apolitical/nihilistic thinking which is worrying me slightly as it (ironically) seems selfish just to focus on your "no-self". To me, certain issues, such as poverty alleviation, should not be considered "political" as much as helping to reduce suffering of others. I can understand the thought that with better knowledge of no-self one may be more inclined to help others more. But, I was wondering if anyone had any experience with Buddhists who were against engaged Buddhist and their reasons and/or why do you support Engaged Buddhism. I tried searching this elsewhere I did not find anything on point. I apologize if it has been asked.

    Gassho,
    Tyler

    SatToday
    Hi Tyler,

    Generally, I personally believe and advocate for "Engaged Buddhism," and believe that our Precepts strongly point to our opposing violence locally or on a world scale, feeding the hungry, making sure children are safe, have a clean environment in which to grow up, and that society is reasonably fair and just in its institutions. I have spoken out many times against my dear Dharma Bro. Brad and a few others who say that all concern with social policy or issues that may touch on politics should be left outside the Sangha door, including concern for certain issues that seem to arise in the Precepts. I consider myself an engaged Buddhist. For example, I think that the Precepts call on me to advocate clean drinking water for children in Flint Michigan, stronger gun control measures in America, medical care available to all, and the like. That is just my personal view as an individual Buddhist person speaking for myself.

    The problem is, however, that not all Buddhists do or need interpret the Precepts in a given way, or to hold identical political opinions. I know many Buddhists, for example, who take a conservative "right to life" stance because of their interpretation of the Precept on preserving life, oppose Gay Marriage and support so-called "traditional" marriage between a man and woman, differ in their opinions on how to respond to Global Warming, or who might support their government in a particular military action because they believe that some wars are needed to save innocent lives overall and protect society (I have supported particular military actions myself as a necessary evil in some cases, but with tears in my eyes). I think we should leave room for such folks too within our Sangha communities, and say that all are sincere Buddhists concerned for the welfare of sentient beings, although disagreeing on the means. In fact, in Asia, Buddhism tends to be quite conservative as an institution, and even in the west, I know many folks whom I would call "conservative Buddhists." So long as one means to help sentient beings, and is not advocating hate and discrimination, I feel that it is everyone's right.

    I also feel that we need to leave outside the Sangha door advocacy of particular candidates or insistence on particular policy stances that do not arise clearly from the Precepts. It is a hard call sometimes, but we try to leave most politics and political debate outside, and just sit Zazen dropping all differences, disagreements, views and ideas of things to fix. Then, after Zazen, we can all go back to our day to day, political opinions, policy views, debates and non-violent stances.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-15-2019 at 03:49 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  4. #4
    Hi Tyler,

    I don't think Buddhism is unique in this sense. I've seen similar debates in Judaism in which the concept of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) is taken by some to mean literally engage with and attempt to overcome social and environmental injustice and by others to live a more observant life. I understand similar issues arise in Christianity and probably in most other religions too.

    Personally, I'm with Jundo and try to live my Buddhism as engaged as it can be.

    Gassho,

    Neil

    StLah

  5. #5
    Tyler

    All of my Zen teachers were supportive and some very active in engaged Buddhism. I would not have entered into the Zen world if they had been otherwise. My experience with the opposing view is limited because it does not hold my attention. In fact Buddhism at first turned me away many decades ago because I thought it was just naval gazing as the world burned.

    Doshin
    St

  6. #6
    I think the issue that some folks have with "Engaged Buddhism", is that from their perspective it is not really getting to the heart of what is meant by "ending suffering." There is the suffering that comes from poverty and hunger, and the suffering that comes from the desire to be released from poverty and hunger. I am currently reading Suzuki's "Zen Buddhism" and he quotes one Chinese Chan Master when asked about a particular person struggling with poverty, his response was..

    "Let him cast it away."

    Saving the world, by literally saving the world is not really the same as "saving all sentient beings", from a Buddhist perspective. That all being said, if you are engaged in discovering the self/non self, the hunger and poverty of other's is your problem too. Locking ourselves away in a cloistered monastery and letting the world outside burn surely is not the way either. Politically, people may differ on exactly HOW, or the means to improve the world, as Jundo pointed out above. Some might think we need to give everyone some of our fish versus teaching a woman to fish, for example. Perhaps those who speak out against Engaged Buddhism are concerned that the focus might become more about social issues and charitable works than to actually be working towards enlightenment.

    I completely get what other's like Doshin have said about being turned off by a practice that seems self absorbed and not helping out. I also was a bit hesitant about Buddhism looking at it in this manner. Realistically, I don't see how you can get to the point of any serious effort in this practice and NOT become concerned about our world, however we shouldn't under-estimate the power of working on ourselves too. Not adding to the world's suffering is a pretty good accomplishment too. So here we are stuck in duality again. Who is it who helps? Who is being helped?

    Gassho
    Ishin
    Sat/lah
    Grateful for your practice

  7. #7
    TyZa,

    I think one of the reasons some Buddhist centers and teachers might shy away from using the term "Engaged Buddhism" is because it was coined and is associated with a specific type of engagement.

    The term was originally coined by Thich Nhat Hanh, and he developed 14 precepts that went along with this type of action. Other organizations have come along and taken up the term as well, an example would be Zen Peacemakers led by Bernie Glassman. In the Precept II discussion there is a reading from Glassman about some of the "street retreats" he has lead as a part of Engaged Buddhism. For many, because of the use of the term "Engaged Buddhism" in association with these specific groups; the term has come to mean certain types of actions. Which is why I think there are people who don't like using it.

    The problem with having "Engaged Buddhism" being related to specific ideologies is that then it doesn't leave room for everyone. As we have seen from working with the precepts not all Buddhist are any one thing. In the same way, while at Treeleaf we want to encourage people to be engaged and go out in the world and actively try to make things better; we don't tell you what that has to look like.

    A great example of the diversity of Buddhist is Christopher A. Ford, who is a special assistant to the president and National Security Council senior director for weapons of mass destruction and counter proliferation, and was ordained in the Prajna Mountain Order of Soto Zen Buddhism at the Upaya Institute and Zen Center.


    If we look at just the idea of engaged as meaning "to be involved", in connection with being a Buddhist and take out the idea that Engaged means a specific type of action or a specific type of stance on a political topic. Then we allow for the diversity of Buddhist to go into the world and make a difference in the best way they see possible.

    Gassho,

    Shoka
    sat/lah
    香道 笑花
    Kodo Shoka

    Please don't take anything I say as anything more than just a normal person's thoughts on the topic. I'm just stumbling through life trying to be helpful, but really don't know much.

  8. #8
    For me it's as simple as the separation between church* and state. Engagement is important, but I don't think it's Buddhism's place to straight up tell people what to believe in or (especially recently) who to vote for--just as I never thought it was Christianity's place to do those things either. There are gentler ways to point people towards right action--or so I believe. (Actually, I think this thread goes hand-in-hand with the "dinner with Nero" thread that's been going on the past couple days.)

    To clarify, I have been to a number of protests and rallies in recent years. But I haven't gone as a representative of Buddhism. Just as myself.

    Gassho

    Nenka

    ST

    *One can argue whether Zen Buddhism in the west is religion or not. If your sangha is 501(c) (i.e. federally tax-exempt in the U.S.) then I'm just gonna call it a religious institution here.
    Last edited by Nenka; 10-16-2019 at 09:41 PM. Reason: eh, trying to express myself better

  9. #9
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TyZa View Post
    This is asked in good faith and only meant for greater understanding on my part.

    I've noticed, around the internet at least, a lot of Buddhist are against engaged Buddhism. They claim it is not integral to our practice. I have seen this specifically with some Zen teachers and Zen practitioners. There are statements such as: left-wing ideology has co-opted Zen to include social justice as part of their practice. I would like input from others on this issue. To me, it seems that if you were to take vows to strive to end the suffering of others, why would you dis-engage from the suffering of others? There seems to be a large view a apolitical/nihilistic thinking which is worrying me slightly as it (ironically) seems selfish just to focus on your "no-self". To me, certain issues, such as poverty alleviation, should not be considered "political" as much as helping to reduce suffering of others. I can understand the thought that with better knowledge of no-self one may be more inclined to help others more. But, I was wondering if anyone had any experience with Buddhists who were against engaged Buddhist and their reasons and/or why do you support Engaged Buddhism. I tried searching this elsewhere I did not find anything on point. I apologize if it has been asked.

    Gassho,
    Tyler

    SatToday
    Hi Tyler,

    {Hopefully I'm not just repeating Shoka writing above but with less clarity }


    Note: I'm just a lay practitioner so take what I say with a grain of salt or two. But here is my understanding of it.

    ---

    I'm not sure if you've been studying the precepts during Ango but taking a look can help provide some insight on this. In Soto Zen we have 16 Bodhisattva precepts which are multifaceted. We have the reading as a normal person so when we read "To Refrain From Taking Life" it seems more or less straight forward. I have to take some life to keep living but for the most part its try not to kill things unnecessarily. But there is also the second position which I like to call seeing with the eyes of the Buddha. Where we try to see things from the interconnectedness of the cosmos. Where there is no birth and no death so how could there be killing? The second perspective doesn't directly provide help with what to do in difficult situation (as far as I can see.) So the precepts have to be interpreted in the context of the other precepts as well as what we bring to the table on our own. So our karma (at least from my perspective) is a reflection of our personal history so it includes how we understand the world. This can be informed by books we've read, movies we've watch, conversations, traditional viewpoints that we adopt with and without thinking deeply about them. Basically, our karma helps to provide a kind of context for the precepts. At times there will be conflicts with the usual way we deal with things and the precepts. So the precepts can help sharpen some views and tendencies while dulling and reducing others. For example, Angulimala was a follower of the Buddha who was what we would call a serial killer now. He even collected the fingers from his victims and made them into a necklace. Which on top of being horrific and disgusting is also very bad hygiene! But he becomes a follower of the Buddha and gives up his murdering ways. Taken another way, if one was already concerned and involved in social causes then the second three pure precepts, "Do good," could help encourage one to become more involved. Does this make sense?

    I should add that given the complexity of social phenomena attempts to help may actually hinder and this is a sticking point for many conflicts. I recall a conversation I had with my dad about sweatshops and child labor years ago. He told me that if the kids didn't work that could mean less money for the household. He wasn't endorsing child labor but trying to get me to see unintended consequences of what I thought was a good thing (I still do.)

    Any who, just my thoughts on the matter.

    Gassho
    Sattoday
    Hoseki




    Gassho
    Sattoday
    Hoseki

  10. #10
    Something about social media that I found interesting is that we can see how different Buddhist sanghas approach "engaged Buddhism". A Tibetan sangha I used to learn with went out to participate in a climate march recently, all the ordained monastics were there along with the laity, all supporting any and all efforts to seriously address climate change. This same sangha also encourages its members to vote in every election they can because they believe these things fulfill good ethical discipline.

    To any who say Buddhists shouldn't be involved in politics, I might point them to these groups who are out there being engaged and politics and say "I hope you'll consider there is a very good case to be made for being engaged."

    Gassho,
    Sen
    SatToday|LAH
    橋川
    kyō (bridge) | sen (river)

  11. #11
    Wow, I did not expect this many replies! Thank you all! I don't want to quote anyone in particular as everyone's statements were helpful in giving me insight into the matter and don't want anyone to feel left out. I definitely see the exclusion factor if Engaged Buddhism goes too far and becomes overly political and how that can drive others away. On the same side of the coin, I know I've been at times disillusioned for the perceived focusing on your"self" as the world burns around you analogy. It's definitely a balance. I've had a long hiatus and I just got back so I have not been observing or following Ango. (I want to pace myself back in as I know I get burnt out easily if I tackle too much. I believe the last time I was here I was following along on the Book of Equanimity about 3 years ago. Going back through the old posts and catching up).

    I would like to mention to Jundo that Brad was one of the teachers I was referencing to. I know you both are Dharma Brothers and it's interesting to see the differing approaches. I personally love Brad's books and insight and respect him. I appear to agree more with Jundo's above statement on Engaged Buddhism. To me, being raised protestant, it's kind of like the view that good works don't by themselves get you into Heaven, but that if you are changed enough (via Christian salvation) the Holy Spirit inside you would manifest in you doing good works. I think that might be what a lot of members are saying here: doing these things in themselves isn't Buddhism (I know I walking into a trap saying that but you all know what I mean), but by actualizing there is no-self, Buddhist practice would manifest in these actions towards "others" and the "universe." I do also agree that working on yourself is very important as well, I know I have caused much suffering in others from my attitude or irritability. I value all your replies. Thank you!

    ,
    Tyler

    SatToday
    Last edited by TyZa; 10-15-2019 at 11:01 PM. Reason: spelling and clarity

  12. #12
    Member Onka's Avatar
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    For me it begins and ends with the Feminist mantra The Personal Is Political.
    Gassho
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  13. #13
    Some very good examples of being an "Engaged" Buddhist in the following, and how the specifics of that may vary from heart to heart ...

    In Soto Zen we have 16 Bodhisattva precepts which are multifaceted. We have the reading as a normal person so when we read "To Refrain From Taking Life" it seems more or less straight forward. I have to take some life to keep living but for the most part its try not to kill things unnecessarily.
    Yes, our Precepts guide us to avoid violence and the killing of sentient beings. Thus, generally, we abhor war and any need for violence, especially if taken in anger. But here, things may become tricky (unless, as in any religion, the preacher or faithful follower makes it one way or hell. Personally, I believe that good and sincere Buddhists can disagree on some things while remaining good Buddhists.) So, genocide, use of chemical weapons on children, torture, raping and pillaging ... I just cannot see how any Buddhist, anywhere or any time, could support such things and remain within the Precepts, and I would easily declare so "from the pulpit" (the only exception might be, for example, possibly something like torture of a prisoner if truly thought a last resort necessary to save innocent lives ... and even then, it turns the stomach.) On the other hand, some Buddhists might sadly support a particular war, with tears in their eyes, because felt necessary to save lives overall, and protect peaceful society, rescue victims of genocide, etc. Even then, one must feel the regret and sadness of needing to do so. Our Precept studies in preparation for Jukai flesh out these Precepts and explore such ambiguities down here in Samsara (this imperfect, day to day life and world filled with competing questions).

    I am reminded of my friend, a police officer and Buddhist, who killed a hostage taker in a fully justified shooting in order to rescue a child held captive. The shooting may have been right and necessary, and he knew that he did what needed to be done ... yet somehow carried the Karma and weight of that taking of a human life in his heart for the rest of his own life.

    I recall a conversation I had with my dad about sweatshops and child labor years ago. He told me that if the kids didn't work that could mean less money for the household. He wasn't endorsing child labor but trying to get me to see unintended consequences of what I thought was a good thing (I still do.)
    Yes, this is a kind of naive or foolish compassion that seeks to do the right thing, yet does not look at the real effects or real social or economic causes of a problem. I am reminded of this case too ...

    Why Buddhist ‘fangsheng’ mercy release rituals can be more cruel than kind
    The case of two London Buddhists fined for releasing crustaceans into the sea has thrown the spotlight on a ritual that involves hundreds of millions of wild animals – and a huge industry built around their capture and supply

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/sh...l-wild-animals

    A Tibetan sangha I used to learn with went out to participate in a climate march recently, all the ordained monastics were there along with the laity, all supporting any and all efforts to seriously address climate change. This same sangha also encourages its members to vote in every election they can because they believe these things fulfill good ethical discipline.
    Oh, I am a marcher too! I have marched in various demonstrations, and I was one of those "Chad counting" poll watching volunteers during the infamous Bush-Gore election recount in Florida. I have marched for peace, against genocide, signed petitions, engaged in a "sit-in." I have sometimes worn my robes at such an event. I have given talks here where I encourage folks to vote in elections. However, I do so ... personally ... and do not insist that every member of the Sangha fully agree with a particular stance, or support the particular candidate I support. (The only exception I would feel comfortable in making is to say clearly "from the pulpit" to never vote for a Neo-Nazi or like candidate who stands for hate and division, and also to encourage folks to vote for a generic candidate who they feel stands for peace, charity, tolerance and such values in general.) However, I hope that many people get up from the Zafu, get off their asses, and get marching and volunteering for peace, for the environment, to protect children and the poor etc. as they feel best! Get moving!

    I once did the following, and it got people very upset. I have very strong feelings about the person on the Altar here, but my point is that we need to use such strong feelings as a Koan to step beyond too. In Zen we can have strong feelings and opinions but ALSO SIMULTANEOUSLY step beyond all feelings and opinions AT ONCE!

    Treeleaf Weekly Zazenkai - Welcoming Trump Buddha

    ATTENTION: Our Zazenkai today replaces our usual wooden Buddha statue on the Altar with Donald Trump Buddha. This is not a political statement (except as some philosophers say that all things are politics). Rather, it is a call to look beyond the politics, me vs. you, us vs. them, likes and dislikes, left vs. right, loves and hates, anger and argument that may be engendered in so many of us by politics today. In our sitting, we sit as the still and whole source of all that, found beyond yet right at the heart of all the division and chaos of the world, known when our heart is still and whole.


    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...g-Trump-Buddha

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-15-2019 at 11:42 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  14. #14
    Thank you Jundo



    Gassho
    Ishin
    Sat/lah
    Grateful for your practice

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Treeleaf Weekly Zazenkai - Welcoming Trump Buddha

    ATTENTION: Our Zazenkai today replaces our usual wooden Buddha statue on the Altar with Donald Trump Buddha. This is not a political statement (except as some philosophers say that all things are politics). Rather, it is a call to look beyond the politics, me vs. you, us vs. them, likes and dislikes, left vs. right, loves and hates, anger and argument that may be engendered in so many of us by politics today. In our sitting, we sit as the still and whole source of all that, found beyond yet right at the heart of all the division and chaos of the world, known when our heart is still and whole.


    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...g-Trump-Buddha
    Haha! He's actually the one I think about during metta practice when we think of someone we really don't like. I think "if he were totally wise and totally compassionate, his actions wouldn't divide or harm others and so I wish for him to be free from his ignorance and to have the causes and conditions of lasting happiness." It feels conflicting to wish such good fortune for someone who does so many questionable things, but if I can't have compassion for him then how can I have compassion for the countless beings out there who may do even worse things? Having compassion for beings like him isn't just done for their benefit, but also for the benefit of everyone they harm. If he were completely relieved of his obscured thinking, no one would ever suffer from the things he says and does and so for the sake of those people I wish for Trump to be free and happy.

    Gassho,
    Sen
    SatToday|LAH
    橋川
    kyō (bridge) | sen (river)

  16. #16
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
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    Gassho

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  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Some very good examples of being an "Engaged" Buddhist in the following, and how the specifics of that may vary from heart to heart ...



    Yes, our Precepts guide us to avoid violence and the killing of sentient beings. Thus, generally, we abhor war and any need for violence, especially if taken in anger. But here, things may become tricky (unless, as in any religion, the preacher or faithful follower makes it one way or hell. Personally, I believe that good and sincere Buddhists can disagree on some things while remaining good Buddhists.) So, genocide, use of chemical weapons on children, torture, raping and pillaging ... I just cannot see how any Buddhist, anywhere or any time, could support such things and remain within the Precepts, and I would easily declare so "from the pulpit" (the only exception might be, for example, possibly something like torture of a prisoner if truly thought a last resort necessary to save innocent lives ... and even then, it turns the stomach.) On the other hand, some Buddhists might sadly support a particular war, with tears in their eyes, because felt necessary to save lives overall, and protect peaceful society, rescue victims of genocide, etc. Even then, one must feel the regret and sadness of needing to do so. Our Precept studies in preparation for Jukai flesh out these Precepts and explore such ambiguities down here in Samsara (this imperfect, day to day life and world filled with competing questions).

    I am reminded of my friend, a police officer and Buddhist, who killed a hostage taker in a fully justified shooting in order to rescue a child held captive. The shooting may have been right and necessary, and he knew that he did what needed to be done ... yet somehow carried the Karma and weight of that taking of a human life in his heart for the rest of his own life.



    Yes, this is a kind of naive or foolish compassion that seeks to do the right thing, yet does not look at the real effects or real social or economic causes of a problem. I am reminded of this case too ...

    Why Buddhist ‘fangsheng’ mercy release rituals can be more cruel than kind
    The case of two London Buddhists fined for releasing crustaceans into the sea has thrown the spotlight on a ritual that involves hundreds of millions of wild animals – and a huge industry built around their capture and supply

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/sh...l-wild-animals



    Oh, I am a marcher too! I have marched in various demonstrations, and I was one of those "Chad counting" poll watching volunteers during the infamous Bush-Gore election recount in Florida. I have marched for peace, against genocide, signed petitions, engaged in a "sit-in." I have sometimes worn my robes at such an event. I have given talks here where I encourage folks to vote in elections. However, I do so ... personally ... and do not insist that every member of the Sangha fully agree with a particular stance, or support the particular candidate I support. (The only exception I would feel comfortable in making is to say clearly "from the pulpit" to never vote for a Neo-Nazi or like candidate who stands for hate and division, and also to encourage folks to vote for a generic candidate who they feel stands for peace, charity, tolerance and such values in general.) However, I hope that many people get up from the Zafu, get off their asses, and get marching and volunteering for peace, for the environment, to protect children and the poor etc. as they feel best! Get moving!

    I once did the following, and it got people very upset. I have very strong feelings about the person on the Altar here, but my point is that we need to use such strong feelings as a Koan to step beyond too. In Zen we can have strong feelings and opinions but ALSO SIMULTANEOUSLY step beyond all feelings and opinions AT ONCE!

    Treeleaf Weekly Zazenkai - Welcoming Trump Buddha

    ATTENTION: Our Zazenkai today replaces our usual wooden Buddha statue on the Altar with Donald Trump Buddha. This is not a political statement (except as some philosophers say that all things are politics). Rather, it is a call to look beyond the politics, me vs. you, us vs. them, likes and dislikes, left vs. right, loves and hates, anger and argument that may be engendered in so many of us by politics today. In our sitting, we sit as the still and whole source of all that, found beyond yet right at the heart of all the division and chaos of the world, known when our heart is still and whole.


    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...g-Trump-Buddha

    Gassho, J

    STLah


    Thank you Jundo, and everyone else!

    Gassho,
    Tyler

    SatToday

  18. #18
    First of all, I think I was posting my concerns about "Engaged Buddhism" in the wrong thread. lol

    1. I also want to first apologize for offending anyone here; that is absolutely not my intent. I know I can get on a soapbox, and sometimes I do get crabby and pissy. I'm sorry for that.

    It's hard to convey tone in text sometimes; couple that with my sarcasm and dry sense of humor and it can sound like an attack. Please do not read it as such.

    2. Also, I'm not saying I'm right, everyone else who believes otherwise is wrong. BUT, BUT!!!

    We have to be able to talk openly and honestly here. I'm also a part of this forum, so I need to be able to express myself without fear of reprisal, just as you deserve that same respect, even if we disagree. But we are still here practicing together in "The Way". I mean that; taking Jukai links us together as a Sangha.

    Sometimes, these types of discussions can bring up emotions, and I want to make sure I avoid that as much as possible because I want an honest an open discussion. I really, really do.

    3. Finally, just because Jundo is our teacher does not mean we always have to agree with him. I may not agree with him. Again, I could be wrong or short-sighted. I mean the amount of practice I've done (and I know I'm not supposed to be comparing) is a drop in the ocean compared to his decades. And not just Jundo; to Jakuden's point, I haven't spent any time in a monastery. I'm a purely lay practitioner, and that's how I intend to keep my practice going, in the marketplace so to speak - for better or for worse.

    That being said - we also have to avoid wanting to constantly seek "Roshi's approval". I think Roshi would rather we be free thinkers than always toe the company line.. of course unless that is a harmful path. But otherwise, we are all adults here and we can disagree on things.

    I mean - keep in mind Buddhism comes from cultures where the teacher is revered as a saint and not to be questioned. In Japan, for example, there's the saying that the nail that sticks out gets hammered down. That group-think mentality is not something I'm a fan of; funny Jakuden brought up a beehive example in a monastery; this wasn't her intent, but I'm no Borg - or part of a hive mind. Also, I am a nail that sticks out, and you are going to need a big hammer. lol

    Seriously - we should all be here to be free thinkers; sometimes that disrupts the comfort zone and challenges pre-conceived notions, but that's a big part of practice. Iconoclasts have always been a vital part of Zen; they are the Manjushri to the more syrupy Kannon. Both are necessary, and I fall more on the brass tacks, brash side of things; I can't stand saccharine platitudes of peace and grace. Life is messy, not simple.

    4. So please, just do me the favor of hearing me out without judging me as I will be stating my case without attacking you. That's all I ask.

    The only way I or any of us can learn is if we are able to communicate where we are now; if we get attacked instead of educated, then we never grow and get better. And believe me, and I've said this elsewhere, I have nothing but growth that I need. I know I don't know everything. I'm sincerely coming to you with my current feelings about stuff.

    ###
    Ok so I am not a climate change denier. I'm not a bleeding heart liberal, and I'm not a crazy conservative. I'm pretty moderate in my beliefs. I belief healthcare should be a right, but I'm also concerned about making it government funded because government funded programs in the us aren't run well; they grow in cost and start lacking value. And when you kill competition, you may no longer attract the best and the brightest but just some that want to collect a paycheck; now that being said, that's the case now, and I've met medical doctors who I couldn't believe were doctors. Obviously there are lots of good ones. But there are some who just write prescriptions without actually doing root cause analysis - pubmed.gov people! Yes, I'm a difficult patient because I ask a lot of questions, and I basically come into a doctor interviewing them for a job to take care of my health; I ask for a lot considering the medical cost. hahahah

    I don't believe we should be sucking off the government's teet; the government serves the people; they should not be treated as some elite thinking party that knows better and can solve our problems, but they need to set up the marketplace, infrastructure and military to protect and allow individual citizens to organize and solve problems.

    My main point is this - and I want to more eloquently express it - well I have a couple of points:

    There are some themes in Western Buddhist circles that certain things are "enlightened living" or "enlightened activity". For example, the idea that being vegetarian or vegan is "simpler" or somehow "healthier"/"more healthful" for humans and "less impactful" to the planet. These are wrapped up in assumptions; but I have evidence to the contrary.

    At the same time!

    If you are a vegan or vegetarian and that is part of your zen practice I don't care; I'm 100% not against you or would I ever tell you to stop what you are doing. I know it sounds contradictory.

    I'm saying that that is completely outside of the scope of Zen. The idea that vegetarianism is more Buddhist is nonsense, but that is the underlying thread that goes around.

    Also - the idea of saving the planet. Holy shit - I want to save the planet too! I mean Kokuu - holy crap - I forgot you were a scientist in this regard; I know you can tell me what for, and that's what I need to hear. I want to hear real ways we can do stuff.

    How about that company in Europe (I think Norway can't remember) who invented a means of cleaning up plastics in the ocean; that is incredible and something that really concerns me -- talking about concern! Seriously - that relieved a huge weight from my mind. I think about it all the time. I just don't know what to do about it - well I try not to buy plastic - but it doesn't mean that should be part of Zen.

    Ok anyway - so also climate change and CO2 emission. So George Bush or Trump whomever gets blamed, and it may be justifiable. But here's the thing. The US gets a lot of heat for shit that it's not fully responsible for. Now this is my opinion - and I'm open to correction - so I'm not here waving a placard angrily. just hear me out.

    So the reason the US doesn't want to impose more regulation is that even if we do, it incurs significant financial cost, which reduces our ability to compete in the marketplace - where we are significantly hindered already because of our cost to deliver goods and services vs China; further, the main reason is that if countries like China don't do anything or adhere to regulations, we are basically taking ourselves out of being a viable competitor on the world market when they need to do something. Change on our side would be minimal. China needs to step up their game. They literally have the vast majority of humans on the planet. We can be an example, but China doesn't care about that. They do their own thing; they care about their people's interest, just as we do.

    But BUT!!! we are responsible because we allowed China (and this was Clinton but political parties don't matter - just let's keep it honest, all world leaders are in the real world and do shady shit - not just the hated republicans) into the World Trade Organization. We did that so we could offshore all the costs (economic and environemntal) labor without having to worry about the pesky cost of labor regulations and EPA concerns.

    China doesn't impose those. So they make tons of our stuff on demand, at low cost, without worrying about people or the planet. So we are not innocent. The average age of a laborer in CHina is like 15; there are 12 year olds in sweatshops making our shit. They have labor camps and censorship, etc. So heres' the deal with that - sorry but I know pure Capitalism is horrendous too, but so are communist socialist governments. Someone always brings out how it works in a remote country with 50k citizens in a place I've never heard of but in real practice Communism is usually run by tyrannical despots. It's not good, and the revolutions are bloody. That's another topic, but Socialism also seems to be part of teh Buddhist Zeitgeist in America, I figured I'd throw it out there. lol

    SO anyway - back to China - we need to stop trade with them or get them to also actually implement the same regulations, and then bite the bullet at a $5000 iPhone.

    And ultimately - we need to do stuff that causes less harm; in that I agree. I just disagree with mixing this in with Zen, and I'm tired of the agendas and all the preconceived assumptions about which agendas will be served.

    Zen should be big enough for us all to practice here without fear of reprisal from following some ideology. That's really it.

    I'm glad everyone backs something - just keep in mind when you post stuff like this is less harmful, etc. Ask yourself less harmful to whom?



    Gassho

    Risho
    -stlah
    Last edited by Risho; 10-27-2019 at 12:32 PM.

  19. #19
    Hi,

    I am a contrarian by nature. I appreciate different points of view and particularly minority views. This allows for a better chance of the whole truth being appreciated. I appreciate all that Risho has to say.

    Gassho, Jishin, __/stlah\__

  20. #20
    Zen should be big enough for us all to practice here without fear of reprisal from following some ideology. That's really it
    I think this is very true, Risho, and Zen does cut itself off from whole groups of people if in the west Buddhist ethics are equated with so-called progressive politics. This has been an issue with 'Buddhist modernism' in which a certain flavour of Buddhism is seen as the norm or standard.

    As you say there are arguments for and against government-run healthcare (as someone living in a country with socialised healthcare I have my own views but they may not apply to a different place) and regulating environmental impacts has an effect on short-term economic trade which can mean real people lose their jobs.

    It is perhaps understandable that Zen and Buddhism in the west tends to attract more hippy types who are keen on caring/sharing approaches but someone can also come from a conservative viewpoint of self-responsibility and the importance of being tough on crime and not lack compassion. As a parent I know that love and compassion has to feature sticks as well as carrots.

    Very few people want uncontrolled immigration and very few want absolutely no immigration whatsoever. The difference is where our priorities are and where we draw the line. It is similar with spending on the military, welfare payments, criminal sentencing etc. I imagine that most people would love to see a world in which we don't need an army to protect us yet know that leaving any country defenceless is a very very bad idea in practice.

    I hope at Treeleaf that we exclude no one for their political stance (although I think we should draw the line at racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia etc which are themselves exclusive). Your practice is your practice and if it is done with compassionate intent then all is well although we may have spirited arguments over the details!

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    Last edited by Kokuu; 10-27-2019 at 01:30 PM.
    ------------------------------------
    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.

  21. #21
    As regards being contrary, this can be useful if it allows different views to be heard.

    However, it is also worth bearing in mind that reflexively always agreeing or always disagreeing with a position are basically two sides of the same coin, depending on whether you want to be approved of or seen as an outsider, and seeking to provoke harmony or conflict for one's own ends.

    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.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    As regards being contrary, this can be useful if it allows different views to be heard.

    However, it is also worth bearing in mind that reflexively always agreeing or always disagreeing with a position are basically two sides of the same coin, depending on whether you want to be approved of or seen as an outsider, and seeking to provoke harmony or conflict for one's own ends.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    I disagree.

    Gassho, Jishin, __/stlah\__

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    As regards being contrary, this can be useful if it allows different views to be heard.

    However, it is also worth bearing in mind that reflexively always agreeing or always disagreeing with a position are basically two sides of the same coin, depending on whether you want to be approved of or seen as an outsider, and seeking to provoke harmony or conflict for one's own ends.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    On a more serious note I fully agree with you. Wise words.

    Gassho, Jishin, __/stlah\__

  24. #24
    Yes wise words Kokuu!

    Risho, the reason I recommended a Zen Retreat was most definitely not to imply lay practice as inferior. It is just that it is a better answer to "What is Zen" then can easily be given here on a forum. Yes in some ways it is Borg-like! And if there is resistance to dropping our individual identity and views, then that is a place to practice. That's an important aspect of Zen.

    But I meant it when I said I often have similar dialogue in my head to what you wrote. When it comes up though, I am learning to question the motive. Am I not liking what this teacher is saying because I think he/she is preaching and it rubs me the wrong way? Is it because I am attached to my own views and/or my perceived identity? Or is it truly in the spirit of Right Intention, that I have a different view that I feel is important to promote on behalf of other beings? If that is the case, then I agree that we should be totally free to express and discuss it within the Zen context. And I too sometimes feel that those views do not get heard. Zen is an institution and the wheels turn slowly. Inclusiveness of views is more progressive in Zen than many other institutions, but there are some viewpoints that it still resists hearing, IMHO out of an existential fear of "not being Zen anymore." I hope that anyone here who feels that their views need to be heard for the benefits of others can express them and get heard. I am certainly open to arguments on all sides of most issues (and I am also a Scientist, so I tend to go with anything that has the facts behind it). I am grateful for your willingness to think outside of the box, and those of us that do (that just don't fit into the box!) need to speak up, even if we get pushback sometimes.

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    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).

  25. #25
    I really love this discussion; Kokuu and Jakuden -- precisely! I come from a different perspective about monastic vs. lay - again just differences of opinion, not right or wrong, and I'm wrong mostly so I may change. hahah

    I think the foundation of an enlightened society is free speech. I also think in Dogen's time a monastic setting was necessary because the "outer" world was too chaotic with all the warring going on - rogue samurai and so on. I mean medieval times were not all turkey thighs and jousting contests. hahah

    That being said - I think the reason why Treeleaf is so awesome - is that in our "outer" world, there is chaos, but it's in more of the intellectual realm hopefully and at least for us in the Western World; it's a war of words. The political spectrum is like a bell curve; most people fall in the middle and are moderates, like myself (believe it or not I'm not conservative, but I'm probably more conservative than some); in any case, the most vociferous of people on the internets (and especially the toxic social media sites) are extreme left or right; so it appears that everything is in chaos. So I would say to me the role of Sangha in our day and age is to allow that open forum of dialogue - we can all express our crazy views and truly grow. I mean I don't know anywhere else on the internet (or even a dinner table) where we can do that. It's incredible.

    I think inclusivity is such an interesting topic too. I feel like we are focused as a society on inclusivity of race, gender, etc, but we need to also be focused on inclusivity of thought. Instead of censoring and prohibiting certain language (like in Communist states), allow all language to be expressed - and especially the language that is crazy - haters are gonna hate, but when that hate language sees the light of reason - people will choose to follow the correct way - naturally people know what is right; they don't need to be policed by a government elite that thinks it knows better. That is dangerous - when we treat people who we perceive are wronged by society as victims, this too is a trap. We are well meaning, but elitism is a slippery and dangerous slope.

    But speaking of inclusivity - exclusivity is also important; if it weren't, there wouldn't be Unsui and Lay and Preists and Transmitted - it's because reality is what it is that we have those things.

    I'd much rather have transmission be excluded to those who are deserving; simultaneously everyone needs to be included in the ability to try to be a priest, etc. and should not be prevented from that path based on anything - well unless they want to hate, etc.

    Anyhow - thank you guys.

    Gassho

    Risho
    -stlah

  26. #26
    Instead of censoring and prohibiting certain language (like in Communist states), allow all language to be expressed - and especially the language that is crazy - haters are gonna hate, but when that hate language sees the light of reason - people will choose to follow the correct way - naturally people know what is right; they don't need to be policed by a government elite that thinks it knows better. That is dangerous - when we treat people who we perceive are wronged by society as victims, this too is a trap.
    I wish this were true, Risho, but the evidence I have seen in terms of research suggests the opposite in that people who engage in hate tend to keep their views to themselves when it is not tolerated by society. However, when it is legitimised through social media platforms, political debate and the language of our politicians, this causes a rise in the level of hate in society in general who feel emboldened and part of the norm.

    This is, as I say, what I believe to be true from the evidence but you or others may know of contrary research.

    As with political stances, most people believe that there is a limit to free speech in terms of what can be said without consequence but have different places where they put the limits.

    The far-right likes to talk about free speech but part of that is a justification in allowing both hate speech and the ability to bully other viewpoints out of what they like to call 'the marketplace of ideas'. However, the left is also guilty of no-platforming people who have legitimate points to make.

    There is also the point that allowing free speech does not affect everyone equally. As older white dudes born in rich countries, we are not likely to be targeted with hate speech or affected by it. Anti-immigrant speech in the UK has, however, made life incredibly uncomfortable for a number of migrant communities just as speech of a racist, homophobic, transphobic etc nature will affect those minorities. For me there has to be a balance between allowing people to say what they want and leaving people vulnerable. Just because people like me have little to fear from 'free speech' (which sadly sometimes is little more than a seemingly philosophically sounding rationale for engaging in abusive language), that is not true across the board.

    People also differ in their susceptibility to speech which seeks to cause religious, racial or other divisions and it is well known that groups such as ISIS and other terror organisations seek out vulnerable people who already feel ostracised by society for recruitment purposes. Younger people are also often seduced by idealistic sounding causes and struggles coupled with a lack of the ability to understand the precise consequences of what they are being drawn into. In these cases, there is potentially a role for protecting them against certain modes of speech seeking to arouse hatred.

    I am not in any way saying that I know where the free speech line should be drawn but just putting a few arguments against why there should be limits controlled by law rather than a free-for-all which is not conducted on a level playing field. Sometimes government does know better as it is in contact with policing organisations who can see the real life consequences of allowing certain forms of speech. However, I can also understand the fear of allowing governments to decide where to set the limits as that is open to being guided by their own political philosophy rather than evidenced-based policy.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    Last edited by Kokuu; 10-27-2019 at 04:06 PM.
    ------------------------------------
    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.

  27. #27
    Those are damned good points Kokuu - really damned good. But I take exception to old white dudes - speak for yourself!!! ahahah

    Gassho

    Risho
    -stlah

  28. #28
    Nicely said, Kokuu and Jakudan. You have my approval and agreement.

    I hope at Treeleaf that we exclude no one for their political stance (although I think we should draw the line at racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia etc which are themselves exclusive). Your practice is your practice and if it is done with compassionate intent then all is well although we may have spirited arguments over the details!
    ... I hope that anyone here who feels that their views need to be heard for the benefits of others can express them and get heard. I am certainly open to arguments on all sides of most issues (and I am also a Scientist, so I tend to go with anything that has the facts behind it). I am grateful for your willingness to think outside of the box, and those of us that do (that just don't fit into the box!) need to speak up, even if we get pushback sometimes.
    Gassho, J

    STLah


    PS - Maybe one note on Kokuu's comment

    "This has been an issue with 'Buddhist modernism' in which a certain flavour of Buddhism is seen as the norm or standard."

    That get's a bit tricky, because while there is room for folks to practice a variety of practices and paths that speak to their own heart (e.g., those who practice Zen with or without Christianity or Amida Buddha or vegetarianism or Tonglen) ... at the same time, a Sangha will tend to have a certain style, with the thought that others have other places to practice other styles. So, for example, we practice Shikantaza here in the Soto way, not really in the Rinzai "Koan Introspection Zazen" way or Tibetan or Pure Land way, and I am unabashedly a "Buddhist modernist" who tries to keep the flavor here rather down to earth and coherent in light of modern ideas of lay practice (vs. primarily monastic practice), sexual equality and identity, and a openness to skepticism on ideas of literal rebirth and some of our other wilder legends and beliefs. Even then, on topics such as literal rebirth, I try to maintain a flavor here of "it could be" agnostic skepticism and not shut any doors one way or the other.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  29. #29
    I am unabashedly a "Buddhist modernist" who tries to keep the flavor here rather down to earth and coherent in light of modern ideas of lay practice (vs. primarily monastic practice), sexual equality and identity, and a openness to skepticism on ideas of literal rebirth and some of our other wilder legends and beliefs
    Hi Jundo

    I did not mean to suggest that all aspects of Buddhist modernism are bad or to be avoided, just that there is a concern that one approach becomes seen as the true form of western Buddhism to the exclusion of other flavours as has happened to some extent with the insight meditation tradition and school in north America.

    As long as there continues to be sanghas which practice with different styles, this is a good thing. If they all start to have the same politics or view of practice, there is not that diversity to accommodate folk with differing perspectives. That is not to say that we need to agree with everything about a sangha or teacher but it is nice if it feels like home.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    ------------------------------------
    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.

  30. #30
    Maybe we are getting off the topic of engaged Buddhism in this thread, but I would just like to say that I have differing views on some things than Jundo; some political, some metaphysical,some personal. I am not a big fan of Sumo wrestling, and I think blackberry ice cream is the best flavor. I believe in rebirth, but I try not to act like a born again Buddhist. That being said, none of these things really make a difference when it comes to practice, and I have NEVER felt excluded here, or that my "uniqueness" was somehow making me feel ostracized. I sincerely feel that there has been a friendly attitude to those with various views. However, we are here to practice and study Zen. I do not come here to learn about US immigration policy or Brexit. If anything, in my opinion, when it comes to these issues maybe we ought to be discussing how we can embrace those we do not agree with. Offended Buddhists always seemed to me to be the epitome of an oxymoron.

    Gassho
    Ishin
    Sat/lah
    Grateful for your practice

  31. #31
    Hi all

    Given the current discussion and ongoing events in relation to climate change protests, I wonder if David Loy's book Ecodharma, published earlier this year, might be an interesting read for the book club? I imagine we have a range of opinions here. It would also fit well with Meitou's ECO-Life thread.

    I wonder if he might he be persuaded to lead another Zazenkai and Q&A session on this topic?

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    ------------------------------------
    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.

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    Hi all

    Given the current discussion and ongoing events in relation to climate change protests, I wonder if David Loy's book Ecodharma, published earlier this year, might be an interesting read for the book club? I imagine we have a range of opinions here. It would also fit well with Meitou's ECO-Life thread.

    I wonder if he might he be persuaded to lead another Zazenkai and Q&A session on this topic?

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    I'd be up for that.( I'm also hoping that at some point we read something about women practitioners - although I haven't started it yet, I'd love us to read Grace Schireson's Zen Women as a group,or something else that our women members might like to suggest.)
    Gassho
    Meitou
    Sattoday
    命 Mei - life
    島 Tou - island

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Meitou View Post
    I'd be up for that.( I'm also hoping that at some point we read something about women practitioners - although I haven't started it yet, I'd love us to read Grace Schireson's Zen Women as a group,or something else that our women members might like to suggest.)
    Gassho
    Meitou
    Sattoday
    But Meitou - I can't stand women - ah crap I meant to send that in a private message. hahaha

    Seriously I think this would be a fantastic choice!

    I was just thinking about Iron Grindstone Liu and the ricecake seller (in the koan about where she asks the Diamond Sutra expert which mind he wants to nourish hunger for). In any case, I don't 'know a lot of female ancestors; that's a problem imho. I'd vote for this one.

    Gassho

    Risho
    -stlah

  34. #34
    Member Onka's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2019
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    Rural Queensland, Australia
    I think both suggestions above sound terrific.
    Gassho
    Anna
    st

    Sent from my Lenovo TB-8304F1 using Tapatalk
    On Ka
    穏 火
    aka Anna Kissed.
    No Gods No Masters.
    Life is too serious to be taken seriously.

  35. #35
    I was just thinking about Iron Grindstone Liu and the ricecake seller (in the koan about where she asks the Diamond Sutra expert which mind he wants to nourish hunger for). In any case, I don't 'know a lot of female ancestors; that's a problem imho. I'd vote for this one.
    Hi Risho

    I can really recommend The Hidden Lamp by Florence Caplow and, friend of the sangha, Susan Moon.

    It is a collection of one hundred koans about women which each have a commentary by a modern female teacher.

    You might like this one about Satsujo...

    A devout man took his young daughter Satsujo with him whenever he visited Master Hakuin Ekaku. Though only a child, Satsujo was devoted to practicing the dharma. When she was sixteen, her parents were concerned that she would not find a husband, and asked her to pray to Kannon, the bodhisattva of compassion. She did this day and night, during all of her activities. Before long she experienced an awakening. One day her father peeked into her room and saw her sitting on a copy of the Lotus Sutra.
    “What are you doing, sitting on this precious scripture!” he shouted.
    “How is this wonderful sutra different from my ass?” she replied.



    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.

  36. #36
    Oh, and the time that Satsujo left Hakuin speechless...

    Master Hakuin explained a koan to his student, the young laywoman Satsujo. Then he asked her, "How do you understand this?"
    She replied, "Would you please go over it again?"
    As soon as he opened his mouth to speak, she put her hands to the floor and bowed.
    "Thank you for your trouble," she said, and walked out, leaving Hakuin with his mouth open.
    Hakuin exclaimed, "Oh dear! I've been trounced by this terrible little woman!"



    Gassho
    Kokuu
    ------------------------------------
    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.

  37. #37
    hahhahaahh

    Gassho

    Risho
    -stlah

  38. #38
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    St. John's Newfoundland, Canada.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ishin View Post
    Maybe we are getting off the topic of engaged Buddhism in this thread, but I would just like to say that I have differing views on some things than Jundo; some political, some metaphysical,some personal. I am not a big fan of Sumo wrestling, and I think blackberry ice cream is the best flavor. I believe in rebirth, but I try not to act like a born again Buddhist. That being said, none of these things really make a difference when it comes to practice, and I have NEVER felt excluded here, or that my "uniqueness" was somehow making me feel ostracized. I sincerely feel that there has been a friendly attitude to those with various views. However, we are here to practice and study Zen. I do not come here to learn about US immigration policy or Brexit. If anything, in my opinion, when it comes to these issues maybe we ought to be discussing how we can embrace those we do not agree with. Offended Buddhists always seemed to me to be the epitome of an oxymoron.

    Gassho
    Ishin
    Sat/lah
    Hi Ishin,

    If I could add something. Buddhists get offended like everyone else. I think the trick is to be offended and unoffended at the same time. If I can figure out how to do that I will let you know Probably involves more time on the cushion for me. The other thing I wanted to say is current events of which are a concern can be relevant. These things arouse strong feelings that we can try to see and work with. It can help us to understand the concerns of our peers and possibly motivate us to help people. That said, I think it can also have a chilling effect. Kind of like being a fan of a sports team and being surrounded by fans of the opposing team. Another example, would be yelling "God doesn't exist" in the Vatican. No one is going to do that. It can be a disconcerting when one feels strongly about an issue and they feel outnumbered by people who feel strongly in a way that excludes ones view. The atmosphere can cause people to self-censor. Does that make sense?

    So Free Speech as Risho mentioned is a tricky subject and needs to be cashed out or defined clearly so we can see where the limits should be and what kind of limits there are. Basically, we can say what ever we want as long as that part of our bodies are mechanically sound. So its not free speech in an absolute sense because we can always do that. Were really concerned about consequences for speech. As I mentioned above and Kokuu also mentioned that some speech can have a chilling effect on the speech of others. For the Sangha to be inclusive we have to try and sort out the kind of thing that has a chilling effect. Contemporary overt politics is definitely one of them. So to me it makes sense to not bring it up much. That said, there are other things that would mostly likely cause a similar chilling effect like homophobia, transphobia, racism etc... So to create a welcoming space may require that we leave somethings at the door. If someone can't leave their racism at the door they aren't welcome (I feel this is a safe assumption.) But this means to be inclusive we have to be exclusive as well. It the old paradox of tolerance. This paradox can be resolved by changing the way we engage in that problem.

    I would like to add one more thing. Anna mentioned that the personal is political. As I understand it, that phrase is from second wave feminism and just means that our personal lives are affected society at large. Kind of like the friends one has as children are often just the kids who lived next to us. Why did the Strang's live next to me? Just chance really. But those friendships helped shape who I became. So if a lot of people say a woman's place is in the kitchen that can have a damping effect women who might want to do something else with their lives (house work and child rearing can be grueling and thankless tasks. At the same time, if one depends on another for their sole material well being like a stay at home parent would rely on the income of their partner. It can really create a painful power dynamic. Put up with the domestic abuse or live on the street? What happens to the children if I leave? That kind of thing.)

    Last thing I promise. When we are sitting Zazen we are just letting things come and go. But when we get off the cushion we are engaging and understand of what we encounter is the result of our history. Basically our upbringing, the mores and norms of the day, the books we've read, people we've met etc. Many of these things were in fact overt political issues at some point in history. They feel solid and eternal but they came into being and they will go out of being. So even when we feel we are being mostly harmless its possible we are upsetting others. Sort of like wearing a hat at the dinner table. I had an uncle who insisted we don't. In my house we couldn't care less. But it was a jarring experience to be told to take off my hat by someone I barely knew. He's my fathers brother but at this point I've only spent a few hours with him over the course of my life. So him being my uncle (and his house) he felt he could tell me what to do. But to me, he was practically a stranger so I didn't really care how he felt about this and because we didn't do that our my home I didn't really see the point. Maybe not the best example, but I think it highlights some of this.

    What do you guys think? This is what makes sense to me but at the end of the day these are just the views of one person.


    Gassho
    Hoseki
    Sattoday

  39. #39
    Hoseki, yes. I am certainly not saying we should ignore the issues outside our hut. But, on the other hand I don't think we should all assume we subscribe to one way or philosophy/ideology about those issues. I do think it's a fine line between politics and what we DO or think about some of the current events in the world as Buddhists. But, portraying ourselves as liberal, or Marxist, or feminist, or socialist and then thinking that THOSE are inherently Buddhist is problematic.
    If we take anything, say Feminism and look at it. Have women been suppressed over the centuries in numerous cultures around the globe? Of course yes. Should we, as Buddhists be concerned over this issue, and or take action? Yes! But do we take action as "Feminists" and create a separation with an us versus them mentality, or do we look at the issue of suppression of any kind with compassion. Do we then go against men? If we do we are just as bad as misogynists. Can we see with a Buddhist lens, that the suppressor and the suppressed are both suffering?

    I would like to just share this going back to the issue of Engaged Buddhism. I really like what Thich Naht Hahn said here in one of the precept readings and I think it applies to the subject of engaged Buddhism and something to ponder.

    "I know a man named Bac Sieu in Thua Thien Province in Vietnam, who has
    been practicing generosity for fifty years; he is a living
    //bodhisattva//. With only a bicycle, he visits villages of thirteen
    provinces, bringing something for this family and something for that
    family. When I met him in 1965, I was a little too proud of our School
    of Youth for Social Service. We had begun to train three hundred
    workers, including monks and nuns, to go out to rural villages to help
    people rebuild homes and modernize local economies, health-care
    systems, and education. Eventually we had ten thousand workers
    throughout the country. As I was telling Bac Sieu about our projects,
    I was looking at his bicycle and thinking that with a bicycle he could
    help only a few people. But when the communists took over and closed
    our School, Bac Sieu continued, because his way of working was
    formless. Our orphanages, dispensaries, schools, and resettlement
    centers were all shut down or taken by the government. Thousands of
    our workers had to stop their work and hide. But Bac Sieu had nothing
    to take. He was a truly a bodhisattva, working for the well-being of
    others. I feel more humble now concerning the ways of practicing
    generosity."

    Gassho
    Ishin
    Sat/lah
    Grateful for your practice

  40. #40
    First I have to qualify that I really believe my stories a lot - it's kind of funny. But in the end, just sit; I need to follow that advice. hahha

    Second even though I believe I'm "right" I quickly adjust when I see I'm being myopic, etc. I think that's something that my practice has helped me with. Things I take for granted just aren't so.

    I don't really care about hurting people's feelings or being nice. I mean I do, but if something needs to said, I'm not walking on egg shells; I expect the same from everyone here with me. Sometimes truth hurts. It's not my place to hurt - but I expect people to shoot straight with me and I do the same. I don't like soft talk, and I'm not sensitive; in any case, hate speech is not that - or any of the isms or phobias etc. It's beyond - it's dehumanizing, etc.

    At the same time, there should be no hurting; we need to be able to talk respectfully; I know I sometimes lapse in that regard especially when I get on a soapbox.

    All these big issues and things we believe in here are important - again we need to extend metta and extend an ear and open heart to those people who may see things differently, and to me I need to be extra open to people I don't agree with. Now we also need to double down on Nazis - if you pay attention to the metta verses, Nazis probably need compassion more than anyone; of course, of course we shut that crap down. That goes without saying literally; it doesn't need virtue signalling or vocalization because it's so obvious.

    With engaged buddhism, I think engaged is extra; if you are practicing ZEn you are already engaged in teh world and that informs your view and transforms your view. To me adding engaged is extra - but that is just my humble opinion; I appreciate and respect other opinions on that matter.

    I just don't like the left-leaning tilt inherent here and in Buddhism; I also don't want a right-leaning tilt. But I bet if I wanted to bring up a charity around Buddhists for Paleo/Carnivore Nutrition, I'd get heat because it doesn't not adhere to accepted Buddhist bullshit (excuse my language ). And it shouldn't be done here; I'm not saying it should - I have opinions on nutrition and many things, but that isn't the purpose of being here at Treeleaf.

    But, and I do this for sure - we all do this, people creating a mental image in their heads of what a good Buddhist is, then trying to live through that image. But that is ass backward. Sure I've done that - that's how we learn, but we need to do better. Also, Jundo is awesome - but we gotta stop trying to live up to his ideal - actually what we think his ideal is; he's not espousing an ideal on us; we do that shit to ourselves; it's another bs mind game.

    If we disagree we need to openly discuss it because that will truly deepen our practice. I really do nto care about being right; I want to be true. Sometimes that means learning from others; sometimes it means teaching; let's be open to both.

    Gassho

    Risho
    -stlah
    Last edited by Risho; 10-29-2019 at 04:32 PM.

  41. #41
    On Being Offended: My dad once said to me "being offended is a choice". I think if we closely examine our minds when it encounters something we consider to be offensive we might see that there is a degree of choice being made there, but perhaps we miss seeing that because of the initial shock of emotion we feel when something offensive comes along.

    Speaking for myself: It's almost as though a part of me believes that in choosing to be offended I get some kind of energy to right a perceived wrong. I agree to be outraged so that I can have the energy of anger at my disposal. This is different from having a disagreement with someone, this is about rousing one's self to action whether in thought, speech, or actions.

    I found that most of the things I was offended by were things I couldn't do anything about. They either happened far away or over the internet or a long time ago. So there wasn't much use for that anger - I couldn't accomplish anything immediately with it. Instead I found it better to shift from outrage to a kind of regretful compassion. Regret for the person doing the thing that I thought was mistaken - because I could see they were trapped in a kind of misguided or incorrect way of seeing things, and that was causing them to suffer and in their suffering they were causing more people to suffer. Compassion, of course, for their suffering and the suffering they were causing to others.

    Over the summer I saw some guys putting up a poster downtown for a neo-Nazi group. As my husband and I walked by I whispered to him, "On our way back we're going to have to take that poster down." At the time, I didn't feel angry about the poster or the attempt to recruit locals to a violent extremist group - I felt regret that there are people in my city who feel so alienated and lost that they think their only resort is extremism. I cultivate compassion for them, wishing for them to be free and happy.

    So I think the feeling of being offended is a mis-fire of the mind. It's good to recognize when something wrong has happened - when someone has said or done something harmful and damaging - but how we choose to respond to that wrong is very important. I'm sure some would think that there is a kind of "righteous anger" that can be used in the service of compassion, and it's said that Bodhisattvas are able to cultivate and use this kind of wisdom-anger, but I'm not so confident that it's a good thing for us deluded beings to try to cultivate on purpose; I'm not sure we have the wisdom to make good use of such wisdom-anger, so I think shifting our reaction toward compassion is better for ourselves and others and, done correctly, compassion should give us a lot of energy and free us from limiting fears as well. Compassion asks us to be brave, after all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ishin View Post
    Can we see with a Buddhist lens, that the suppressor and the suppressed are both suffering?
    This is very important! It's sometimes said that no one can send you to the Hell Realms - the worst someone else can do to you is take your life (although I don't exactly agree with that), so it's only you who can send yourself to Hell (whether or not you believe in a literal or metaphorical hell is another matter). I think it's important that we are able to cultivate compassion for oppressors as well as those they oppress. Those who commit horrible acts are doing incredible harm to themselves and their societies, their minds are full of hate and anger and ignorance and if they were free from all that garbage then they would be happy and wouldn't harm anyone. So it's important that we try to wish for them to be happy and free.

    This doesn't mean we ignore their actions or let them go consequence-free into the world. People like that need to face what they've done and need to work to remedy the harm as best they can, to work on the mind and its contents to root out the causes and conditions for what they did, and to pay some kind of penance or reparation to society which was harmed. Letting people go with no consequence is doing them further harm, training them to think they can do whatever they want and there'll be no problem.

    So it's important for us to see that even the oppressors are suffering, because they are.

    There's a story in the Jataka Tales wherein the Buddha in a past life was a captain on a ship that was boarded by a pirate who was going to kill everyone and take their jewels and money. The Buddha killed the pirate with the thought of saving the people on the ship from being murdered, and of saving the pirate from committing such a horrendous act. I don't think we're supposed to literally believe this happened; I think the important thing is the idea of having concern for the well-being of those who have done harm or would do harm to others.

    Gassho
    Sen
    Sat|LAH
    橋川
    kyō (bridge) | sen (river)

  42. #42
    Hi Tyler,

    I may be totally wrong but I think Buddhism is a spiritual practice that promotes compassion. And that means to help other sentient beings.

    Mahayana goes even further teaching us the way of the bodhisattva, who is a being that puts aside her own benefit in order to save all beings from dukkha. So our duty is to help others, beyond political or social comment.

    We vow to save all sentient beings one instant at a time.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Sat/LAH
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  43. #43
    Sen that was fantastic - absolutely fantastic

    Gassho

    Risho
    -stlah

  44. #44
    Over the summer I saw some guys putting up a poster downtown for a neo-Nazi group. As my husband and I walked by I whispered to him, "On our way back we're going to have to take that poster down." At the time, I didn't feel angry about the poster or the attempt to recruit locals to a violent extremist group - I felt regret that there are people in my city who feel so alienated and lost that they think their only resort is extremism. I cultivate compassion for them, wishing for them to be free and happy.
    Sen

    I wonder if you feel your response might have been different if you were a women on her own from an ethnic background?

    In the UK in the 1970s people of colour were routinely abused by skinheads on a daily basis. At that point is taking offence in their heads?

    As I said to Risho, some of us are privileged to be in a position where we can choose to be offended or not, rather than fearing for our safety.

    It is great to feel compassion for those who have a mindset of persecuting others but let us not forget those who are persecuted even if we are not.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    Last edited by Kokuu; 10-29-2019 at 05:25 PM.
    ------------------------------------
    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.

  45. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post

    As I said to Risho, some of us are privileged to be in a position where we can choose to be offended or not, rather than fearing for our safety.
    We all have a choice to how we react. Or maybe we cannot control our reactions, but we all have a choice if we are going to be led by them or not.

    I mean if we take Islamophobia. In his book, The End of Faith, Sam Harris cites a scientific poll which got a percentage of Muslims who supported or participated in Jihad - you know the killing of infidel Westerners. Interestingly, 25% supported. This wasn't some Twitter poll either. This was a scientific poll; this was legit. Also keep in mind that it didn't include known hotbed countries for terrorism (e.g. I think Lebanon was excluded).

    So 25% - we are talking 350 million Muslims - out of 1.25 billion worldwide.

    Think about that - how many white nationalists are there? Nazi gets thrown out a lot - but 350 millions is the population of the United States.

    So when people get concerned about Muslim terrorists, specifically "White privileged" people, it's racist or Islamophobic. I'd say it's actually quite justified.

    Now I'm not saying people should act on their fear and anger; I believe we (and this is what being human is) control our emotion and reactions; but that fear is justified.

    And this is an example of left leaning - always ethnic minorities (in the US) are viewed as victims but the reality is that racism is not under the purview of White people; racism is human-wide.

    Racism against anyone is bull; racism against White people is not reverse racism. It's racism.

    Gassho

    Risho
    -stlah

  46. #46
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
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    St. John's Newfoundland, Canada.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ishin View Post
    Hoseki, yes. I am certainly not saying we should ignore the issues outside our hut. But, on the other hand I don't think we should all assume we subscribe to one way or philosophy/ideology about those issues. I do think it's a fine line between politics and what we DO or think about some of the current events in the world as Buddhists. But, portraying ourselves as liberal, or Marxist, or feminist, or socialist and then thinking that THOSE are inherently Buddhist is problematic.
    If we take anything, say Feminism and look at it. Have women been suppressed over the centuries in numerous cultures around the globe? Of course yes. Should we, as Buddhists be concerned over this issue, and or take action? Yes! But do we take action as "Feminists" and create a separation with an us versus them mentality, or do we look at the issue of suppression of any kind with compassion. Do we then go against men? If we do we are just as bad as misogynists. Can we see with a Buddhist lens, that the suppressor and the suppressed are both suffering?

    I would like to just share this going back to the issue of Engaged Buddhism. I really like what Thich Naht Hahn said here in one of the precept readings and I think it applies to the subject of engaged Buddhism and something to ponder.

    "I know a man named Bac Sieu in Thua Thien Province in Vietnam, who has
    been practicing generosity for fifty years; he is a living
    //bodhisattva//. With only a bicycle, he visits villages of thirteen
    provinces, bringing something for this family and something for that
    family. When I met him in 1965, I was a little too proud of our School
    of Youth for Social Service. We had begun to train three hundred
    workers, including monks and nuns, to go out to rural villages to help
    people rebuild homes and modernize local economies, health-care
    systems, and education. Eventually we had ten thousand workers
    throughout the country. As I was telling Bac Sieu about our projects,
    I was looking at his bicycle and thinking that with a bicycle he could
    help only a few people. But when the communists took over and closed
    our School, Bac Sieu continued, because his way of working was
    formless. Our orphanages, dispensaries, schools, and resettlement
    centers were all shut down or taken by the government. Thousands of
    our workers had to stop their work and hide. But Bac Sieu had nothing
    to take. He was a truly a bodhisattva, working for the well-being of
    others. I feel more humble now concerning the ways of practicing
    generosity."

    Gassho
    Ishin
    Sat/lah
    Hi Ishin,

    I think the labels can help but they need to be skillful means. So I use some of those labels to describe myself and at times I feel very strongly about them but at other times I see them as being aspects of me or even less (Buddhist is also a label!). Whether or not they are important depends on what I'm doing. Say I have blood type O (I actually don't know what is it) that's something I could say about myself and in some circumstances it would be important. Such as whether or not I could give blood to someone in need. At other times, it doesn't matter much at all like whether or not I should go to a party my friend is throwing. Its the same with the labels. If they are used as a kind of shorthand to provide information to others it can be helpful. Of course it could also go the other way and raise people's ire. But sometimes its the squeaky wheel that gets the grease other times the tallest blade of grass is the first to be cut by the scythe so there are no guarantees.

    If women didn't fight for the right to vote would it have happened? Maybe! But then again maybe not. I'm not confident that the arc of history bends toward justice. If Thich Naht Hahn had been successful then his organization would have helped a great number of people. But it failed because of the war so it didn't. I don't think that means organizations are bad or that we shouldn't try to bring about positive change on a large scale if that's something we can do. I actually think we need both approaches trying to influence structural change on a large scale as well as being compassionate and helpful on the small scale. But that's me and things feminism and Marxism are attractive because they look like (to me) useful sets of ideas for moving forward.

    The last thing I don't think we can honestly say engaged Buddhism isn't Buddhism. If that was the case then Zen isn't Buddhism either because it has all that wacky Taoism mixed in there. At the end of the day there are multiple Buddhisms like branches on the same tree. If Engaged Buddhism doesn't jive for someone that' OK. It is what it is. If Engaged Buddhism is problematic for someone it might have to do with their values and what not. On the other side of the coin Engaged Buddhism really seems like the right way to go. Zen doesn't give us all the answers. Nothing does. We are always operating on incomplete and partial knowledge of the world. A wise man than me once said "when one side is illuminated the other side is dark."

    I should add that for my own part I don't see these things are being separate. They are all combined in a kind of a mishmash that is this (my) life. So my practice influences my politics and vice versa. In much the same way that the influence of my parents growing up undoubtedly affect them as well. I think the distinctions are the result of us (people) try to cope with the world.

    Anyway just my thoughts.

    Gassho
    Hoseki
    Sattoday

  47. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    Sen

    I wonder if you feel your response might have been different if you were a women on her own from an ethnic background?

    In the UK in the 1970s people of colour were routinely abused by skinheads on a daily basis. At that point is taking offence in their heads?

    As I said to Risho, some of us are privileged to be in a position where we can choose to be offended or not, rather than fearing for our safety.

    It is great to feel compassion for those who have a mindset of persecuting others but let us not forget those who are persecuted even if we are not.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    As a martial artist and instructor of martial artists, I think it is completely different to defend oneself,physically if need be, and to do so with hatred in your art. If you are overcome with anger and hate, you have already lost. You can fight against injustice, oppression, bigotry, and hatred without letting yourself go down that road too.

    Gassho
    Ishin
    Sat/lah
    Grateful for your practice

  48. #48
    All anger is poison

    Donít react to anything, respond to the situation

    Save all beings, thatís your true self

    Just some thoughts while reading all the interesting stories


    Sat/lah


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

    I may be wrong and not knowing is acceptable

  49. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    Sen

    I wonder if you feel your response might have been different if you were a women on her own from an ethnic background?

    In the UK in the 1970s people of colour were routinely abused by skinheads on a daily basis. At that point is taking offence in their heads?

    As I said to Risho, some of us are privileged to be in a position where we can choose to be offended or not, rather than fearing for our safety.

    It is great to feel compassion for those who have a mindset of persecuting others but let us not forget those who are persecuted even if we are not.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    A small detail that is sometimes forgotten about history is that the Nazis also rounded up queer individuals and put them away into labor camps and had them executed. I am very worried about the rise of right-wing extremism in my city (and my country) for reasons that are very close to home. I have faced some pretty ugly displays of homophobia: being spit on, chased in the street, beaten (my ugliest scar from this has faded quite a bit which I like to think is symbolic of how my mind has changed over time) and robbed, etc., so the concern of those who are targets of these kinds of extremist groups is one I share as I am a target of these extremist groups.

    Even so, I have compassion for the people who would like to seriously harm my husband, myself, and our closest friends just for existing. I still think that if they were happy and wise they would not even think to harm people like us.

    Gassho
    Sen
    Sat|LAH
    橋川
    kyō (bridge) | sen (river)

  50. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by Sen View Post
    A small detail that is sometimes forgotten about history is that the Nazis also rounded up queer individuals and put them away into labor camps and had them executed. I am very worried about the rise of right-wing extremism in my city (and my country) for reasons that are very close to home. I have faced some pretty ugly displays of homophobia: being spit on, chased in the street, beaten (my ugliest scar from this has faded quite a bit which I like to think is symbolic of how my mind has changed over time) and robbed, etc., so the concern of those who are targets of these kinds of extremist groups is one I share as I am a target of these extremist groups.

    Even so, I have compassion for the people who would like to seriously harm my husband, myself, and our closest friends just for existing. I still think that if they were happy and wise they would not even think to harm people like us.

    Gassho
    Sen
    Sat|LAH
    Sadly these attitudes still persist. I lost a client recently because I did not agree with her ideas about homosexuality. I will sit for all those persecuted for intrinsically being them.

    Gassho
    Sat/lah
    Grateful for your practice

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