Author Topic: Questioning Buddhism  (Read 1551 times)

Offline jasoncanning

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Questioning Buddhism
« on: September 05, 2016, 10:11:14 am »
Last year I started to study Buddhism and it has helped me a great deal. There are still some things I am unsure about and if it is truly the right path to follow. Ajahm Brahm is the monk I listen to the most. However a series of talks by him that have been uploaded are quite dark and he says things to the extent of nothing really matters. Here is one of the talks I am referring to:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyMqc6Ipa9M

I would question that falling in love, enjoying the senses etc are worth doing as long as we stay in the present moment. If all these things are truly bad why don't Buddhists commit suicide? This is a serious question. Those who are enlightened are said to meditate and eat a bit of food a day. Why bother to eat and just let your body fade away? 

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Questioning Buddhism
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2016, 11:21:08 am »
That's the main thing in Theravada Buddhism that's always put me off. Fortunately, that's not the only form of Buddhism and some, such as zen, emphasize respecting and re-engaging with the world.

Love and the body are great gifts. Here and now is all there is, but it turns out to be quite a lot when you look into it -- and it is cultivated rather than rejected.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Questioning Buddhism
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2016, 11:31:49 pm »
Last year I started to study Buddhism and it has helped me a great deal. There are still some things I am unsure about and if it is truly the right path to follow. Ajahm Brahm is the monk I listen to the most. However a series of talks by him that have been uploaded are quite dark and he says things to the extent of nothing really matters. Here is one of the talks I am referring to:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyMqc6Ipa9M

I would question that falling in love, enjoying the senses etc are worth doing as long as we stay in the present moment. If all these things are truly bad why don't Buddhists commit suicide? This is a serious question. Those who are enlightened are said to meditate and eat a bit of food a day. Why bother to eat and just let your body fade away?

Don't bother listening to people like that. They use specialist language that takes years to understand. Yours are good questions which need to be answered by people who are better at talking to those uninitiated into Buddhist jargon.

These people don't tell you what you gain by 'letting go'. You get to see the world anew each second, each breath like the first, not the last. Once you see reality you understand what you have been missing, and then start to enjoy living like you never could before. It's a quality of life thing. Before my insight experiences I thought I knew what life was all about. Was I wrong!

Life before was like looking at the world through uncleaned glasses- cloudy and hard to see properly. Now I see clearly, it's pretty wonderful, from moment to moment. This Ajahm Brahm may be a great person and Buddhist, but if he isn't describing the incredible emotional dimension to the experience of enlightenment, then he isn't putting things over properly. The reality is the opposite of what you describe.

Why would you want to speed up the process of death? You know it will come soon enough, so enjoy every breath, every day of life. I guess some Buddhists feel guilty because they enjoy life so much more than those not following the path. The alternative name for Buddhists is the 'Happy People'.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline Pixie

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Re: Questioning Buddhism
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2016, 12:35:04 am »
Last year I started to study Buddhism and it has helped me a great deal. There are still some things I am unsure about and if it is truly the right path to follow. Ajahm Brahm is the monk I listen to the most. However a series of talks by him that have been uploaded are quite dark and he says things to the extent of nothing really matters. Here is one of the talks I am referring to:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyMqc6Ipa9M

I would question that falling in love, enjoying the senses etc are worth doing as long as we stay in the present moment. If all these things are truly bad why don't Buddhists commit suicide? This is a serious question. Those who are enlightened are said to meditate and eat a bit of food a day. Why bother to eat and just let your body fade away?



Hi Jason,

Theravada has teachings for monks and teachings for laypeople and in my opinion, the monk Ajahn Brahm, although popular, can be quite extreme in some ways. Maybe you could try exploring the teachings of Ajahn Chah instead?

As far as falling in love is concerned, this 4 minute video from the Tibetan Buddhist teacher Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo might be of interest to you.

http://www.buddhismwithoutboundaries.com/showthread.php?6498-The-difference-between-genuine-love-and-attachment&p=73820

Best wishes,

Pixie

« Last Edit: September 06, 2016, 12:40:32 am by Pixie »
May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May they all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May they never be deprived of true happiness devoid of any suffering.
May they abide in great impartiality, free from attachment to loved ones and aversion to others.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Questioning Buddhism
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2016, 09:24:13 am »
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Offline jasoncanning
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Questioning Buddhism
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2016, 10:11:14 am »
Quote
Last year I started to study Buddhism and it has helped me a great deal. There are still some things I am unsure about and if it is truly the right path to follow. Ajahm Brahm is the monk I listen to the most. However a series of talks by him that have been uploaded are quite dark and he says things to the extent of nothing really matters. Here is one of the talks I am referring to:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyMqc6Ipa9M

I would question that falling in love, enjoying the senses etc are worth doing as long as we stay in the present moment. If all these things are truly bad why don't Buddhists commit suicide?

Hi, Jason.  My wife raised the very same issue when we were discussing the number of human slayings through acts of terrorism, deranged individuals just shooting people in theaters, wars, acts of violence over gang territories, drug related violence and etc.  She asked the very same question:   "Why would anyone want to bring a child into this world?"....and this from a Doctor of Clinical Psychology.

I provided her with this from one of Buddha's teachings:

taken from:  Going for Refuge & Taking the Precepts
by
Bhikkhu Bodhi
© 1994


Excerpt: 

Quote
The first three realms of rebirth — the hells, the animal kingdom, and the realm of ghosts — together with the asuras, are called the "evil destinations" (duggati) or "plane of misery" (apayabhumi). They receive these names because of the preponderance of suffering found in them. The human world and the heavenly worlds are called, in contrast, the "happy destinations" (sugati) since they contain a preponderance of happiness. Rebirth in the evil destinations is considered especially unfortunate not only because of the intrinsic suffering they involve, but for another reason as well. Rebirth there is calamitous because escape from the evil destinations is extremely difficult. A fortunate rebirth depends on the performance of meritorious actions, but the beings in the evil destinations find little opportunity to acquire merit; thence the suffering in these realms tends to perpetuate itself in a circle very difficult to break. The Buddha says that if a yoke with a single hole was floating at random on the sea, and a blind turtle living in the sea were to surface once every hundred years — the likelihood of the turtle pushing his neck through the hole in the yoke would be greater than that of a being in the evil destinations regaining human status. For these two reasons — because of their inherent misery and because of the difficulty of escaping from them — rebirth in the evil destinations is a grave danger pertaining to the future life, from which we need protection.

B. Subjective aspect. Protection from a fall into the plane of misery cannot be obtained from others. It can only be obtained by avoiding the causes leading to an unfortunate rebirth. The cause for rebirth into any specific plane of existence lies in our kamma, that is, our willed actions and volitions. Kamma divides into two classes, the wholesome and the unwholesome. The former are actions motivated by detachment, kindness, and understanding, the latter actions motivated by greed, hatred and delusion. These two classes of kamma generate rebirth into the two general planes of existence: wholesome kamma brings rebirth into the happy destinations, unwholesome kamma brings rebirth into the evil destinations.

We cannot obliterate the evil destinations themselves; they will continue on as long as the world itself endures. To avoid rebirth in these realms we can only keep watch over ourselves, by controlling our actions so that they do not spill over into the unwholesome courses leading to a plunge into the plane of misery. But to avoid generating unwholesome kamma we need help, and that for two principal reasons.

First, we need help because the avenues of action open to us are so varied and numerous that we often do not know which way to turn. Some actions are obviously wholesome or unwholesome, but others are difficult to evaluate, throwing us into perplexity when we run up against them. To choose correctly we require guidance — the clear indications of one who knows the ethical value of all actions and the pathways leading to the different realms of being.

The second reason we need help is because, even when we can discriminate right from wrong, we are often driven to pursue the wrong against our better judgment. Our actions do not always follow the counsel of our dispassionate decisions. They are often impulsive, driven by irrational urges we cannot master or control. By yielding to these drives we work our own harm even while helplessly watching ourselves do so. We have to gain mastery over our mind, to bring our capacity for action under the control of our sense of higher wisdom. But this is a task which requires discipline. To learn the right course of discipline we need the instructions of one who understands the subtle workings of the mind and can teach us how to conquer the obsessions which drive us into unhealthy self-destructive patterns of behavior. Because these instructions and the one who gives them help protect us from future harm and suffering, they can be considered a genuine refuge.

This is the second reason for going for refuge — the need to achieve mastery over our capacity for action so as to avoid falling into the evil destinations in future lives.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2016, 09:27:34 am by Ron-the-Elder »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Questioning Buddhism
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2016, 10:52:25 am »
I Think rebirth would depend upon either a separate individual entity or "soul" to transmigrate, or a transcendent, impersonal oversoul (Atman) from which the phenomena of birth could re-arise. Since both concepts are anathema to traditional Buddhism, it would appear that the concept of rebirth was tacked onto Buddhism at some point by the popular belief in reincarnation prevalent in India. It's a way to get people to behave themselves and to justify inequities such as the caste system.

If rebirth is looked at as a re-occurrence of ones current life, then there are lots of are other intriguing possible modes of rebirth -- life withing life, like those Russian nesting wooden eggs, or parallel lives as in the "strings" of theoretical Physics.

But, if one actually has an insight into this PRESENT life, such speculative, conceptual models loose their appeal.

A visiting monk asked Master Bankei: "If one truly realizes the Unborn, after the four elements of the physical body have dispersed, will one be born again or not? The Master replied: "In the place of the unborn the whole question of being born or not being born is irrelevant."

"There is, monks, an unborn, unbecome, unmade, uncompounded. If there were not this unborn… then there would be no deliverance visible for what is born, become, made, compounded. But sincerely, there is an unborn, unbecome, unmade, uncompounded, therefore a deliverance is visible for what is born, become, made compounded." (Repeated in both the Udana and the Itivuttaka texts from the Khuddaka Nikaya, translated by Maurice Walshe, slightly modified.)





My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Questioning Buddhism
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2016, 11:19:15 am »
As for the issue of rejecting romantic love between individuals (which is integral to the survival of every species) -- the idea that one must give up the "lower" form of love for some idealized "universal" love is to my mind more of the same cowardly view of life evidenced by traditional Buddhism's abject fear of "suffering." Individual love and attachment don't exclude the possibility of universal love -- in fact it makes genuine compassion more likely.

When you reject suffering you reject your life. Life is both suffering and happiness and both can be embraced and appreciated. To be afraid to suffer is a pretty good definition of cowardly.

I think such attitudes come from an approach to meditation that tries to suppress the phenomena of life rather than see through it.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Questioning Buddhism
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2016, 02:48:01 am »
As for the issue of rejecting romantic love between individuals (which is integral to the survival of every species) -- the idea that one must give up the "lower" form of love for some idealized "universal" love is to my mind more of the same cowardly view of life evidenced by traditional Buddhism's abject fear of "suffering." Individual love and attachment don't exclude the possibility of universal love -- in fact it makes genuine compassion more likely.

When you reject suffering you reject your life. Life is both suffering and happiness and both can be embraced and appreciated. To be afraid to suffer is a pretty good definition of cowardly.

I think such attitudes come from an approach to meditation that tries to suppress the phenomena of life rather than see through it.
I think the problem with most religions is their attitude to the human condition of 'love', as if it precludes the ability to gain insight into the nature of reality. This monastic ideal often warps key teachings, and is really just a means of control of those who will go on to teach the stuff. It's a kind of catch 22. If people fall in love and move on to be part of a family- who is going to be left to carry on the traditions and teachings? If people stay, then they are living an abnormal life that removes them from the reality confronted by the majority of the population, and reduces their ability to communicate the teachings.

Historically we have therefore been left with, often openly misogynistic, elites who think that you can't love a person and also love the path to religious understanding. Mind you, I have to agree with some points. The idea of 'letting go' in the west is undermined by a twisted Hollywood notion of 'true love', meaning you can then go on to live happily ever after.

So how can you let go of love? By understanding what 'letting go' means in the first place. You can let go of love without getting rid it. You still love the person, but without the unhealthy, nonsensical dimensions imposed on us by films, songs, and society in general. Let go of love, understand it properly, and it comes back stronger than ever. And there's really no limit to what you can love in this way.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Questioning Buddhism
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2016, 08:44:07 pm »
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Stillpointdancer:  "So how can you let go of love? By understanding what 'letting go' means in the first place. You can let go of love without getting rid it. You still love the person, but without the unhealthy, nonsensical dimensions imposed on us by films, songs, and society in general. Let go of love, understand it properly, and it comes back stronger than ever. And there's really no limit to what you can love in this way."

In humans, when the word "love" is defined as desire, in Buddha's teachings this is certain to lead to dukkha' only if there is attachment, clinging, or an addiction which prevents letting go.  This can be the result of a biological need, such as for oxygen,water, reproductive urges, or hunger for any given food to which we have been habituated, and etc.  Loss of any of these will result to dukkha defined as pain, suffering, dissatisfaction.  The same can be said for psychological addictions or habituations.  Humans can also be said to be psychologically "in love" for example with or without the presence of sexual hormones or even pheromones, which seem to be more important in lower animals, such as animals which rely upon chemical scent to stimulate, and/or  intiate mating.  Observe any animal which participates in a rutting ritual of competition for a mate and you will see how this biological involvement results in both physical and psychological suffering and dissatisfaction.

Love can also cause dukkha when it is parental towards a child, or the reverse.  There is a story in The Dhammapada where motherly love became obsessive between a mother and her son, who had left home to enter he monastary.  The mother followed her son everywhere.  Seeing how much his mother was suffering as a result, the son scolded her, and banished her from his presense.  The mother finally realized what was happening to her as a result, and joined a monastary herself finally realizaing the dhamma or her suffering as a result of clinging to her son and not letting him go.

Love is a slippery path to disaster, especially when it leads to jealosy, as when an insecure spouse or the betrothed see affection being given to the one they love by others.  Such psychological pathology often leads to violence as a result of fending off perceived competitors and can even result in murder and suicide.  There is a reason why classic operas often use love stories in their plots, e.g. Romeo and Juliet, and Pagliacci.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2016, 08:46:40 pm by Ron-the-Elder »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Questioning Buddhism
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2016, 03:12:26 am »
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Stillpointdancer:  "So how can you let go of love? By understanding what 'letting go' means in the first place. You can let go of love without getting rid it. You still love the person, but without the unhealthy, nonsensical dimensions imposed on us by films, songs, and society in general. Let go of love, understand it properly, and it comes back stronger than ever. And there's really no limit to what you can love in this way."

In humans, when the word "love" is defined as desire, in Buddha's teachings this is certain to lead to dukkha' only if there is attachment, clinging, or an addiction which prevents letting go.  This can be the result of a biological need, such as for oxygen,water, reproductive urges, or hunger for any given food to which we have been habituated, and etc.  Loss of any of these will result to dukkha defined as pain, suffering, dissatisfaction.  The same can be said for psychological addictions or habituations.  Humans can also be said to be psychologically "in love" for example with or without the presence of sexual hormones or even pheromones, which seem to be more important in lower animals, such as animals which rely upon chemical scent to stimulate, and/or  intiate mating.  Observe any animal which participates in a rutting ritual of competition for a mate and you will see how this biological involvement results in both physical and psychological suffering and dissatisfaction.

Love can also cause dukkha when it is parental towards a child, or the reverse.  There is a story in The Dhammapada where motherly love became obsessive between a mother and her son, who had left home to enter he monastary.  The mother followed her son everywhere.  Seeing how much his mother was suffering as a result, the son scolded her, and banished her from his presense.  The mother finally realized what was happening to her as a result, and joined a monastary herself finally realizaing the dhamma or her suffering as a result of clinging to her son and not letting him go.

Love is a slippery path to disaster, especially when it leads to jealosy, as when an insecure spouse or the betrothed see affection being given to the one they love by others.  Such psychological pathology often leads to violence as a result of fending off perceived competitors and can even result in murder and suicide.  There is a reason why classic operas often use love stories in their plots, e.g. Romeo and Juliet, and Pagliacci.

You have a point, but I think if you deny love, that's the same as accepting it, in terms of suffering. Love is part of being human. To deny that is to deny that you are human. For me, following the path means getting the right attitude to love. Let the extreme operatic interpretations go, and the resulting insights will allow you to see love in the 'right' way. Rather than being reduced, it returns for everything. It's harder for the young, though, as the hormonal flood is difficult to resist when you are in your teens.

As for the story of the mother, it just goes to show the dire place of monasteries in the history of religion. If it only 'works' for people who hide away from life, then it's pretty worthless for me. We need to improve the teachings so that anyone, in any situation, can use them to make progress along the path. As a story it's out of place and out of time. Maybe useful as a 'shock' story to help understand 'letting go' in the right way, but still rather an anachronism. At it's best, she didn't stop loving her son, but understood that real love involves letting go. In this case, out of her sight. Thirty years of playground duty as a teacher is a great illustrator!
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline francis

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Re: Questioning Buddhism
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2016, 06:12:37 am »
Hi there, Jason. I think you ask some pertinent questions about Buddhism, and it’s fair enough to ask them in this community.

However, there are many benefits to having a good teacher to guide you along a path that includes some pretty difficult insights into the human condition.

I don’t think Ajahn Brahm is saying nothing really matters, that falling in love, enjoying the senses etc. are worth doing only as long as we stay in the present moment. 

I think it’s more that clinging or craving (taṇha) to love and the senses is the cause of unhappiness (dukkha), and that craving is born out of ignorance or delusion (avijjā).

Another way to understand this concept is to look at the Nidana chain as is represented on the outer rim of the Wheel of Life or Bhavacakra.

Ajahn Brahm describes present moment awareness in his book (pdf link) Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond, A Meditator’s handbook

If you are still looking for some light when Ajahn Brahm seems so dark, then it’s hard to go past his Loving-kindness Meditation

With metta
"Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean, is the moment the wave realises it is water." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Questioning Buddhism
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2016, 10:02:42 am »
I'm reminded of one of my favorite novels, “Thais,” by Anatole France, the story of a beautiful courtesan and a Christian monk from the desert who tries to reform her. She dies and because of her pure heart, she ascends directly to heaven, while he goes mad with unsatisfied lust. It illustrates the twisted pathology that results when natural urges, especially that most human of needs, love, are repressed in the name of an idealized view of religion. Well worth a read.

I find it ironic that so many Westerners, most of them supposedly freethinking, liberal types, have embraced the formal trappings of medieval religions that are hierarchical, misogynistic and psychologically repressive. I guess it's just another form of idealism and escapism, except in the opposite direction from hedonism. That's not to say that the meditation technologies that those religions developed are not worth exploring -- just beware of the attachments that come with them.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Questioning Buddhism
« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2016, 04:36:44 am »
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stillpointdancer:  "As for the story of the mother, it just goes to show the dire place of monasteries in the history of religion."
Quote

Monasteries have their place and beneficial applications.  I think of them more as centers of education, much like universities.  That is the purpose for, and to which Buddha configured them.  They were locations and gatherings which allowed separation from and for many escape from the distractions of lay communities, and allowed the experienced and successful in The Dhamma to share what they had learned with those, who wished to learn.  These communities for that reason were included in the Triple Gem of "Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha."  The original Sangha is referred to as "The Holy Sangha", one third of that in which Buddhists take refuge from the ignorance which prevents unbinding, release, and enlightenment.

Quote
The definition (ariya-sangha)
"The Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples who have practiced well... who have practiced straight-forwardly... who have practiced methodically... who have practiced masterfully — in other words, the four types [of noble disciples] when taken as pairs, the eight when taken as individual types — they are the Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples: worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of respect, the incomparable field of merit for the world."

— AN 11.12

"
Quote
Stillpointdancer: If it only 'works' for people who hide away from life, then it's pretty worthless for me."


Yes.  You make a valid point if the only reason for entering into this community is escape.  However, even for these the benefits of immersion in the teachings of The Buddha, The Dhamma, and The Sangha will provide benefit if maintained as The Buddha and members of the Holy Sangha are still practiced as originally configured.  That is why The Vinaya, Rules for Monks was created by members of this original community:

reference:  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/vin/

Quote
Stillpointdancer:  "We need to improve the teachings so that anyone, in any situation, can use them to make progress along the path.


Perhaps.  But, I think it pretty difficult to  improve upon the teachings of The Buddha, once they are personally validated and verified.  We can, through this process, improve our personal understanding and skill.  That is the true and beneficial purpose of "practice" to come to "right" and "harmonious" understanding of The Dhamma, what Buddha taught. 

Just like learning any subject matter, knowledge is of little use and benefit until we can correctly apply what we have learned.  That is why musicians play the compositions of masters until they have gained these skills, themselves, and have masted what the composer intended.  That is why students of mathematics study the definitions given in equations, and practice solving numerous problem sets until they understand the meaning of them, have mastered the process, but most importantly get the correct results. The same for athletes, writers, engineers, architects, builders, .....(ad nauseum/ ad infinitum)..., and yes, even bhikkhus and bhikkunis.  Unfortunately, laypersons do not often find the time for such devotion to study and practice.  Hence, the reason for universities and sanghas.


Quote
  Stillpointdancer:  "As a story it's out of place and out of time. Maybe useful as a 'shock' story to help understand 'letting go' in the right way, but still rather an anachronism. At it's best, she didn't stop loving her son, but understood that real love involves letting go. In this case, out of her sight. Thirty years of playground duty as a teacher is a great illustrator!"


I would agree with you, if it were not for the fact that some wisdom put forth by prophets, great teachers, demigods, and gods seems to be timeless and applicable through the ages.  The Golden Rule seems to be one of these, as does most of the teachings of Buddha.  As said before, the problem doesn't seem to be so much in the teaching, but in our right understanding and application of it, which requires study :-P, listening carefully :listen:, and a willingness to practice what we have learned to see if it actually works as described and to test our correct understanding of what we have learned  until we develop or exceed the ability of our teachers.  At that point, we become the teacher and pass on what we have learned for the benefit of others.
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Questioning Buddhism
« Reply #13 on: September 10, 2016, 06:28:28 am »
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stillpointdancer:  "As for the story of the mother, it just goes to show the dire place of monasteries in the history of religion."
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Monasteries have their place and beneficial applications.  I think of them more as centers of education, much like universities.  That is the purpose for, and to which Buddha configured them.  They were locations and gatherings which allowed separation from and for many escape from the distractions of lay communities, and allowed the experienced and successful in The Dhamma to share what they had learned with those, who wished to learn.  These communities for that reason were included in the Triple Gem of "Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha."  The original Sangha is referred to as "The Holy Sangha", one third of that in which Buddhists take refuge from the ignorance which prevents unbinding, release, and enlightenment.

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The definition (ariya-sangha)
"The Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples who have practiced well... who have practiced straight-forwardly... who have practiced methodically... who have practiced masterfully — in other words, the four types [of noble disciples] when taken as pairs, the eight when taken as individual types — they are the Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples: worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of respect, the incomparable field of merit for the world."

— AN 11.12

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Stillpointdancer: If it only 'works' for people who hide away from life, then it's pretty worthless for me."


Yes.  You make a valid point if the only reason for entering into this community is escape.  However, even for these the benefits of immersion in the teachings of The Buddha, The Dhamma, and The Sangha will provide benefit if maintained as The Buddha and members of the Holy Sangha are still practiced as originally configured.  That is why The Vinaya, Rules for Monks was created by members of this original community:

reference:  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/vin/

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Stillpointdancer:  "We need to improve the teachings so that anyone, in any situation, can use them to make progress along the path.


Perhaps.  But, I think it pretty difficult to  improve upon the teachings of The Buddha, once they are personally validated and verified.  We can, through this process, improve our personal understanding and skill.  That is the true and beneficial purpose of "practice" to come to "right" and "harmonious" understanding of The Dhamma, what Buddha taught. 

Just like learning any subject matter, knowledge is of little use and benefit until we can correctly apply what we have learned.  That is why musicians play the compositions of masters until they have gained these skills, themselves, and have masted what the composer intended.  That is why students of mathematics study the definitions given in equations, and practice solving numerous problem sets until they understand the meaning of them, have mastered the process, but most importantly get the correct results. The same for athletes, writers, engineers, architects, builders, .....(ad nauseum/ ad infinitum)..., and yes, even bhikkhus and bhikkunis.  Unfortunately, laypersons do not often find the time for such devotion to study and practice.  Hence, the reason for universities and sanghas.


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  Stillpointdancer:  "As a story it's out of place and out of time. Maybe useful as a 'shock' story to help understand 'letting go' in the right way, but still rather an anachronism. At it's best, she didn't stop loving her son, but understood that real love involves letting go. In this case, out of her sight. Thirty years of playground duty as a teacher is a great illustrator!"


I would agree with you, if it were not for the fact that some wisdom put forth by prophets, great teachers, demigods, and gods seems to be timeless and applicable through the ages.  The Golden Rule seems to be one of these, as does most of the teachings of Buddha.  As said before, the problem doesn't seem to be so much in the teaching, but in our right understanding and application of it, which requires study :-P, listening carefully :listen:, and a willingness to practice what we have learned to see if it actually works as described and to test our correct understanding of what we have learned  until we develop or exceed the ability of our teachers.  At that point, we become the teacher and pass on what we have learned for the benefit of others.


I try, but not very successfully. Your are right of course, but that shouldn't stop those of us who have some insight at least attempting to reinterpret for contemporary society- although when toes get trodden on I know that I've failed miserably  :namaste:
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Questioning Buddhism
« Reply #14 on: September 10, 2016, 09:45:05 am »
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stillpointdancer:  "I try, but not very successfully. Your are right of course, but that shouldn't stop those of us who have some insight at least attempting to reinterpret for contemporary society- although when toes get trodden on I know that I've failed miserably  :namaste:"

I try to keep in mind that unbinding and release is a process.  No need to be disheartened with failure or notice of imperfection, because this is what is to be expected when we practice reflection for both the purpose of preventing and correcting our mistakes.  Boths failures and successes are upon reflection but lessons learned to be applied during today's efforts.
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

 


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