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Thread: All Paths lead....

  1. #1

    All Paths lead....

    I disappeared, and came back briefly, then disappeared again, owing to some major and frustrating “personal” occurrences (not including an odd and almost humorous destruction of my computer--just got a new one ^.^ )

    Anyway,
    I wish to pose a topic that I do not recall if it has been directly addressed before here (I'm sure it has…)

    But it is in regards to the sheer diversity of Buddhism, and “religious” paths in general.
    I’m someone who has tried countless spiritual traditions. From ISKON to Kabbalah, from chanting with Krishna Das to performing the Dance of the whirling Dervishes on Rumi’s birthday celebration within Sufi orders, and pretty much everything in between (including some more “questionable” traditions led by individuals with “questionable morals”)

    For the most part, if someone said they had an insight, or a methodology, I wanted to see for myself.

    One can never know what will be the rock that hits the bamboo for oneself.

    That being said, one thing a vast majority of the traditions I have looked into have in common, is a kind of superiority feeling. Where even if its not a direct statement such as, “only through chanting Hare Krishna will you find true peace and happiness,” there does seem to be a vibe of
    “Yes, other traditions are viable and helpful, but our is a little bit better and/or faster…” (to what depends on the tradition of course. )

    Yet, there does seem to be an interesting issue:
    If Islam, for example, is correct then anyone not Muslim is in for a very unpleasant surprise at the end of this life.
    If Hinduism is correct, then we all have some more lives to go through before finding ourselves in an incarnation that sees Hinduism as correct.

    When people speak of all traditions teaching the same thing, or leading to the same end, they seem to be addressing basic moral teachings as encased in the “Golden Rule”
    Yet, these traditions provide more than just a moral framework, but actually attempt to give a metaphysical explanation of the world.

    And these metaphysical explanation don’t always jive with each other.
    The after death world of the Christian, is very different than the after death world of the Jew.

    And from a seemingly logical standpoint, someone has to be wrong about something.


    Anyway, I rambled a bit….
    Just curious to hear some thoughts…..

    SAT

    Seiryu
    Humbly,
    清竜 Seiryu

  2. #2
    Member Anna's Avatar
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    In all honesty, I don't really care about what others are doing in regards to whatever they practice. It's their practice.
    Gassho
    Anna
    stlah

    Sent from my Lenovo TB-8304F1 using Tapatalk
    Life's too serious to be taken seriously.
    No Gods No Masters.

  3. #3
    Hello Seiryu,

    it probably doesn't help to try and apply logic to metaphysics. If we do that we fall through a trap door that's leads to fundamentalism and that's a very bumpy descent which doesn't help us at a personal or global level.

    If we can accept that there is no one 'correct' view, and accept all the different stories as a rich variety of myths, we can relax and take the personal journey of discovering what sings to the heart.

    I think as humans we are always searching for certainties - unfortunately that is what tends to lead to fundamentalism. Myths aren't meant to be taken as literal truths.

    So in our Zen way - dropping all thought of right/wrong, certainty/uncertainty we can allow our minds to relax and let go of the search. I think that's why Zen
    has the potential to sit comfortably with a whole panoply of myths/stories.

    Thanks for an interesting question,

    Gassho

    Jinyo

    Sat today

  4. #4
    Member brucef's Avatar
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    Encounter Bay, South Australia, Australia
    Hi Seiryu

    I can totally relate to this! One of my sins at University was philosophy. But while everyone else including the official syllabus was into Hegel and Marx and dialectical materialism - it was the late 60s – I found myself falling in love with Neo-Platonism. And then Hermeticism and the Western Occult tradition, Kabbalah and Theosophy. And then Vedanta. And then Siddha Yoga (Swami Muktananda) and suddenly I was playing harmonium in an Ashram.

    And later, two decades of Tibetan Buddhism, until finally being disqualified by my growing doubts about karmically driven rebirth.

    So many competing models of the "Truth"

    So yeah, I guess I’ve arrived here by a pretty long and winding road. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

    Anyway, I’ll follow this thread with interest. For now, I just wanted to say that you might find this article interesting. Some rabbit holes go very deep indeed.

    https://www.embodiedphilosophy.com/w...al-philosophy/

    Gassho
    Bruce
    st/lah

  5. #5
    Hi Seiryu

    In Zen, there is the phrase 'the finger pointing at the moon' which, as you probably know, notes the fact that religious teachings and ideas are not themselves reality but instead point towards it.

    Another similar phrase is 'the map is not the territory'.

    Religions are all ways of providing man with a finger pointing at the moon, or a map of the territory of reality in terms of the great matter of life and death. They are a way of trying to understand the world and setting out a way of living in order to make life meaningful.

    In Zen, we see these for what they are - models of reality, some of which may be more accurate than others. However, all are speculative. If we hold tightly onto any particular idea of cosmology, it is human to look for ways to confirm that and to reject evidence which goes against it. We also get into a state of 'right and wrong', 'us and them'. That does not mean we have to see all possibilities as equally likely and does not mean you cannot have your own faith (some members may believe in rebirth, others not so much, some members come from a strong Judaeo-Christian background) or reject some religious morality as harmful. However, we should understand that all beliefs are still only our best mental map which we project onto our experience of life.

    The heart of Soto Zen is shikantaza, and when we sit we drop all our preconceived ideas and sit with all of life, just as it is, in fullness and wholeness. We go beyond right and wrong, gods or no gods, heaven and hell, rebirth and non-rebirth. It does not matter what we believe or do not believe.

    In this way we let go of clinging to one particular finger pointing to the moon, and look directly at the moon itself.

    The more we let go of fixed ideas, the less we will project our own beliefs onto experience and instead live more intimately with life as it is rather than comparing it to how we think it should be. Many religious practices work in the same way to drop our preconceptions but dogma achieves the opposite.

    I find the following story helpful:

    Dizang asked Fayan, "Where are you going?"
    Fayan said, "Around on pilgrimage."
    Dizang said, "What is the purpose of pilgrimage?"
    Fayan said, "I don't know."
    Dizang said, "Not knowing is most intimate."


    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    Last edited by Kokuu; 11-04-2019 at 11:16 AM.
    ------------------------------------
    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.

  6. #6
    Ditto Jinyo and Kokuu.

    Gassho, Jishin, __/stlah\__

  7. #7
    When it comes to the topic of God or god or gods I am agnostic.

    Meanwhile i will
    - Sit Zazen every day
    - Live according to the Precepts to the best of my ability
    - Chop wood and carry water


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  8. #8
    Others have expressed it nicely.

    I will just add that, in Shikantaza, one sits as what is.

    If ISKON or Kabbalah or Jesus or whirling Dervishes are right, just sit and live gently. That is what is.

    And if neither ISKON nor Kabbalah nor Jesus nor whirling Dervishes are right, just sit and live gently. That is what is.

    It is the same as one can sit Shikantaza if it is raining outside or not raining.

    Personally, I do not practice ISKON or Kabbalah or Jesus or whirling Dervishes, but some folks may find something there. I tend to shy away from belief systems, even in Buddhism (even traditional Soto Zen has its share of rather wild beliefs), that to my mind offer rather fantastical explanations for the world and how it works that do not seem to bear up to reality or go much beyond human imaginings. However, I am not the last word, and someone might find value and truth there in such belief and faith.

    I feel that one can practice Zen with many beliefs, so long as they are not hateful or violent (the hate, violence and mental divisions would cause this Practice to go to a very dark place, so not that).

    Good to see you, Seiryu.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Others have expressed it nicely.

    I will just add that, in Shikantaza, one sits as what is.

    If ISKON or Kabbalah or Jesus or whirling Dervishes are right, just sit and live gently. That is what is.

    And if neither ISKON nor Kabbalah nor Jesus nor whirling Dervishes are right, just sit and live gently. That is what is.

    It is the same as one can sit Shikantaza if it is raining outside or not raining.

    Personally, I do not practice ISKON or Kabbalah or Jesus or whirling Dervishes, but some folks may find something there. I tend to shy away from belief systems, even in Buddhism (even traditional Soto Zen has its share of rather wild beliefs), that to my mind offer rather fantastical explanations for the world and how it works that do not seem to bear up to reality or go much beyond human imaginings. However, I am not the last word, and someone might find value and truth there in such belief and faith.

    I feel that one can practice Zen with many beliefs, so long as they are not hateful or violent (the hate, violence and mental divisions would cause this Practice to go to a very dark place, so not that).

    Good to see you, Seiryu.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    I appreciate this and what others have shared.

    I still find it a fascinating topic.

    What happens when you get your degree in philosophy of religion. Hehehe


    An area of discussion that really interests me though, is interfaith dialogue as we all can recognize that all faiths do have something beautiful to contribute to those who follow them. But in speaking with other faiths there are certain areas that cannot be touched upon as they become really sensitive.
    But in not taking about them, it's like looking away from the elephant in the room.


    I would love to hear if any one has thoughts on this as well...


    SAT

    Seiryu


    Sent from my SM-G965U using Tapatalk
    Humbly,
    清竜 Seiryu

  10. #10
    Hi Seiryu

    I have never engaged with formal interfaith dialogue but I have heard from Buddhists who have that it can often involve rather glossing over differences to present an 'all roads lead to god' type approach rather than a fuller understanding of where everyone is coming from. As the usually sole non-theistic path, this tends to also set Buddhism aside from other faiths.

    However, we have to start from somewhere and I imagine that greater understanding can occur over time.

    In my own experience, I have an elder from a neighbouring Anabaptist community visit me every week. We have wonderful discussions around compassion, suffering, renunciation and similar topics. However, there are areas we mostly avoid which are God and homosexuality. We are good friends and sometimes will go there but basically understand that we each have different points of view which will hold quite firmly and there is no point in going there. Sometimes I push a little a I do think seeing homosexuality as a sin is problematic and the Biblical case against it is very weak, but do not want to cause bad blood. Likewise, he talks about God and The Bible but is never too pushy.

    Other members of the community are creationists and that is also something that I avoid talking about. As a former evolutionary biologist, I am able to argue that one pretty effectively but don't see the point in using my knowledge to try to find holes in their belief system. The fact is that they are good people whose community reaches out to the neighbouring areas to offer support to those in need, and provide a weekly meal that anyone can attend. They have even taken care of my children when I have been too unwell to do so. As with homosexuality, I firmly disagree with their conclusions but given their numerous good characteristics, what point going to town on creationism especially when they are in a tiny minority here in the UK?

    Also as Jundo points out, Zen and Buddhism are not without their beliefs that are taken on faith and there are elements that might make us uncomfortable to discuss in terms of our personal practice and commitment. Why I am a Zen priest-in-training with so many material possessions? How was it benefitting all beings to be watching the Rugby World Cup final on Saturday morning? (not at all it turns out, especially if you were an England supporting sentient being! ) Why are Buddhist monks in Burma oppressing the Rohingya Muslim minority?

    To start with I think it is good to build commonality and trust before we can go into the more sensitive areas. However, even then, it is not that we should think we know best and want to make everyone think the same. Understanding each other is definitely a better place than misunderstanding, though, so I think that even if interfaith discussions can be hard and may often be superficial and flawed, they are an improvement on no discussion at all.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    Last edited by Kokuu; 11-04-2019 at 09:30 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.

  11. #11
    Member Anna's Avatar
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    Rural Queensland, Australia
    Interfaith dialogue is just dialogue. If respectful, I'll engage. If not I'll choose not to.
    I walk every afternoon with an older bloke who lives nearby. He's a Christian of Baptist background who reads his Bible daily and looks to his religious texts to guide him through life. He knows I'm a Soto Zen Buddhist student who doesn't believe in a God head. When we walk we walk. When we drink tea and have a yarn we drink tea and have a yarn. Naturally our yarns extend into the realm of faith and religion regularly and he's always got his Bible next him with some passage or other earmarked to discuss or share with me. So we discuss and share but it's just dialogue. Nothing more, nothing less. I don't look for any hidden agenda he may have and I feel that that's how he views me and Buddhism. Dialogue in my humble opinion doesn't have to be about winning. Life's not a competition for me so I choose not to compete.
    Gassho
    Anna
    st
    Life's too serious to be taken seriously.
    No Gods No Masters.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by brucef View Post

    Anyway, I’ll follow this thread with interest. For now, I just wanted to say that you might find this article interesting. Some rabbit holes go very deep indeed.

    https://www.embodiedphilosophy.com/w...al-philosophy/
    There is one aspect of the "perennial philosophy" that is true and personally taste-able for a Zen Buddhist ...

    ... namely, when one just sits, dropping all names and categories, borders and judgments ... beyond Christian or Krishna, Jain or Jew, Atheist or Agnostic or Anabaptist, beyond "Buddhist" ... beyond gay or straight, liberal or conservative, me and you and the other fellows, mountain and stars ...

    ... there is some wholeness (we sometimes misleadingly say "emptiness") which sweeps in and out of all those names. From that freedom from names, many Christians, Jews, Pure Land folks and others are able to practice Zen too.

    Of course, not all Christians and Jews can practice Zen because they are convinced that there is something wrong about it. That is their hang up. I also know many Buddhists who insist that one cannot practice Buddhism combined with Christianity because one absolutely, positively cannot believe in some "God." That is the Buddhist's hang up. (Personally, I feel that the Buddha really never directly addressed the existence or non-existence of some "God," let alone the Judeo-Christian version). I believe that sitting and Zen Practice can leap through and beyond all words and conceptions of "God" vs. no "God." One can sit believing in a "God," one can sit not believing in a "God." In fact, one can find one's "God" as that which is the leaping beyond all names and categories! However, not all Christians or Buddhists agree (I have been called "not a Buddhist" by a few rather conservative Buddhist folks for saying so). Other Christians and Buddhists do.

    That said, how to have an "inter-faith dialogue"? Pretty much as Kokuu describes: respectful of each others' paths, patient, tolerant and sometimes tip toeing over certain sensitive areas, or just agreeing to disagree.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-05-2019 at 12:26 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  13. #13
    Many paths lead to the mountain top.

    And yet it is so easy to lose one's way. Many appealing paths lead to no good end.

    Gassho, Shinshi

    SaT-LaH
    空道 心志 Kudo Shinshi
    I am just a priest-in-training, any resemblance between what I post and actual teachings is purely coincidental.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Shinshi View Post
    Many paths lead to the mountain top.

    And yet it is so easy to lose one's way. Many appealing paths lead to no good end.

    Gassho, Shinshi

    SaT-LaH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  15. #15
    It is no small thing that this thread can exist here.

    There is an online subscription forum that most veterinarians belong to. I commented (pages down, in a huge thread) my small opinion on the topic article, which was about the high rate of suicide in the veterinary profession. The article mentioned solutions like mindfulness. I thought my post an innocuous one, about how I felt that we should discuss among ourselves our belief systems and faiths openly so that more of us could find support in a faith that resonated. I cited myself as an example, having found lifesaving strength from Zen Buddhism.

    What a can of worms! I was promptly e-mailed by the president/founder of the forum admonishing me, and our e-mails somehow got one of my friend/mentor Veterinarians involved as someone we both knew who was very faith-oriented, and basically I felt like I got called into the principal’s office I am so used to the safety here that I walked right into it completely unsuspecting.

    However, I still am of the opinion that individual exploration of our connection to That Which Cannot Be Described, the Universe, God, the Absolute, or whatever, is a hardwired part of being human and without that connection we flounder about, always searching. As Shinshi said, there are many paths up the mountain. Here at Treeleaf we get to sit with all of them!

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    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).

  16. #16
    I began simple explanation that for me Zen was exemplified especially with the simple Rakusu given to me by my wife. I have on certain occasions when I traveled used my beautiful Rakusu my wife purchased in Kyoto when she visited our daughter in Date, Hokkaido four years ago, and the two women traveled to Kyoto (was it on the Bullet Train?) because of the City's beauty. I believe they visited the primary seat of Soto Zen, name escapes me? My wife entered a "religious" store in Kyoto, and there purchased a beautiful Rakusu of a silk two to three inch Rakusu for me as a gift from this beautiful country. Then I explained to brother and lady friend that I had been practicing Zen Buddhism for five years, and that it had helped change and fashion certain attitudes which allowed me to appreciate my brother and his friend to the fullest. They have been together for more than eight years. There was no discussion. They simply accepted who I am. My brother and I have sometimes been at odds over the past fifty years, and with this three day visit which I made on the bus to his home just outside the capitol of Iowa, Des Moines, by bus, a distance of about 350 miles, he accepted me for who and what I am, and I did explain that the most important part of my practice was Zen sitting, and that I wore this simple Rakusu made in a monastery somewhere in Kyoto when I sat Zazen, this without going into too much detail, and all seemed good and accepted.

    Tai Shi
    sat/lah
    Gassho
    "Faith is one with the fruit of enlightenment; the fruit of enlightenment is one with faith." Eihei Dogen: Mystical Realist

  17. #17
    I find it so interesting to see this topic come up after I came across an explanation of how one is supposed to understand the context of certain teachings given in Tibetan Buddhism:

    ... when they say, "Say this mantra one time and you’ll never be born in the lower realms….” That’s not true, because if it were true there would be no need for the Buddha to have given 84,000 other teachings. All he would have taught is this one mantra and that’s it. But it’s something that encourages people to recite the mantra, and to develop faith and confidence by imagining that particular deity, and so forth. We just have the tendency to take everything literally. That’s how we were taught in our culture. In Tibetan culture, and Asian culture in general, things are not taken so literally.
    I see the wisdom in this and it's something that we practice when we chant the Heart Sutra when we chant about the "incomparable mantra" or the "supreme mantra". If it were literally that, there would be no need to practice even prajna paramita or zazen - we should just have to chant the mantra and we'd be perfectly liberated! Thus, I think we're to understand that such statements are meant to encourage us to practice with our whole hearts as though that is the only practice. We know that, rationally, there are other practices, but when we're in the midst of doing a practice we should do it with everything we are. Thus, that practice becomes the supreme practice.

    Gassho
    Sen
    Sat|LAH
    "Air stays fresh when it’s moving."

  18. #18
    The Western cultural mindset (or at least the liberal version) seems deeply wedded to the idea of equality and I have no issue with that at all - it is a good thing. But, it is a cultural phenomena and quite a recent one. All roads do not lead to (God / gods / whatever) as, someone above noted, there are some roads that lead no where very nice at all. As gay man who has been part of a fairly fundamentalist Christian community - they are loving and supportive and caring and deeply committed and can still cause terrible harm to individuals. I survived my exorcism fairly undamaged but I've known others who have nightmares and can wake up crying in the night as adults. All paths are not equal and some lead to self destruction.

  19. #19
    ... when they say, "Say this mantra one time and you’ll never be born in the lower realms….” That’s not true, because if it were true there would be no need for the Buddha to have given 84,000 other teachings. All he would have taught is this one mantra and that’s it. But it’s something that encourages people to recite the mantra, and to develop faith and confidence by imagining that particular deity, and so forth. We just have the tendency to take everything literally. That’s how we were taught in our culture. In Tibetan culture, and Asian culture in general, things are not taken so literally.
    If one truly recites the mantra one time ... or sits Zazen one time ... knowing deep in the bones that there is no other time, no place to go, nothing lacking ... then one cannot be born in any lower realm, and one is already the realm that is where one would wish to be.

    In fact, one has always been in such realm.

    Getting up from sitting ... or quitting the chanting ... we just tend to forget where we are.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Stewart View Post
    The Western cultural mindset (or at least the liberal version) seems deeply wedded to the idea of equality and I have no issue with that at all - it is a good thing. But, it is a cultural phenomena and quite a recent one. All roads do not lead to (God / gods / whatever) as, someone above noted, there are some roads that lead no where very nice at all. As gay man who has been part of a fairly fundamentalist Christian community - they are loving and supportive and caring and deeply committed and can still cause terrible harm to individuals. I survived my exorcism fairly undamaged but I've known others who have nightmares and can wake up crying in the night as adults. All paths are not equal and some lead to self destruction.
    Sorry to hear about such suffering Stewart, and I can see the truth of it in my own experiences, attempting to shield my kids from similar harm. I don't think that means Christianity is not a path up the mountain, but that some folks trying to follow that path get lost and wander into the woods. I doubt they will find the peace they truly seek.

    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).

  21. #21
    Stewart I go to a Unitarian Universalist Church sometimes we speak of the Buddha I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in. The Dharma, I take refuge in the Sangha and after five years I get this and sometimes we speak of Walt Whitman and sometimes we speak of Elersonboth of these men I sing of myself and what I shall assume yo shall assume, all of nature is alive, and sometimes we speak of Moses, thou shalt not kill, and sometimes we speak of Jesus Love one another, look my friend the great truths are within. I myself am bisexual and I have a wife (woman) and a beautiful daughter and when I was in college I had a great male friend, I love my little family with all my heart, and gay people are celebrated in my church! Go figure? Life is within! Life is without!
    Tai Shi
    sat/lah
    Gassho


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    "Faith is one with the fruit of enlightenment; the fruit of enlightenment is one with faith." Eihei Dogen: Mystical Realist

  22. #22
    All these different traditions are different methods for self inquiring and understanding on the subtlest level. How we direct our attention is very important. You can’t fully entrust in Jesus if you can’t decide whether it’s “better” to entrust in him or Krishna. You can’t sit zazen if every time you sit down you change from zazen to vipassana to Kriya to some new age method etc.

    Personally I think they are all coming from the same source in the most general sense. But knowing the similarities does not replace proper practice. Establishing a solid practice within any tradition is the only way to really understand the importance of practice. Human beings are diverse. There are diverse methods. How we come to the method that suits us best is a deeply personal decision that requires right effort.

    Gassho

    Sat Today

  23. #23
    I know now that I am agnostic and sometimes even atheist, an the moods come and go and as I look back from a vantage point of age 68, I see no God, and Jesus the man who believed universal love was the best way, and the Buddha who was a man who believed because we are flesh that passes back to earth, we must have compassion on our neighbors and the earth, and Copernicus who said of the western world the Earth is round, and Jews who believed. Moses brought down a list of things to better life, and Mohamed who believe prophecy foretold of good things and the good in all.
    And Theravada that placed supreme possibilities
    And Mahayana that believed in mortality
    And as TS Eliot wrote
    All shall be well,
    And All things shall be well,
    And the peace that passes all understanding
    Shall be well
    And all shall be well.

    Tai shi
    sat
    Gassho
    "Faith is one with the fruit of enlightenment; the fruit of enlightenment is one with faith." Eihei Dogen: Mystical Realist

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