Author Topic: MY vs. TV  (Read 2343 times)

Offline Timbo

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MY vs. TV
« on: March 17, 2010, 06:54:34 pm »

I'm not sure if I will ever be able to consider myself a Mahayana Buddhist, or a Theravada Buddhist, either. (Some people would say I'm not a Buddhist at all.) However, I do sincerely take refuge in the three jewels, or at least I intend to.

I'm sympathetic to metta practice. I'm a pretty big fan of Pema Chodron, a student of Chogyam Trungpa. I like the way she teaches about tonglen. Her lineage is definitely Mahayana. I am somewhat uneasy with Zen. I doubt that I will ever be a serious student of Zen.

On the other hand, I'm a really big Stephen Batchelor fan. I share his agnosticism about reincarnation. I'm equally dubious about bodhisattvas, transfer of merit, and the miraculous appearance of the Mahayana sutras, 500 years after Gautama Buddha's death. (Batchelor is equally dubious about these things, I suppose.) You get the picture. I think I might be most at home in the "vipassana movement." That puts me more in the Theravadin tradition, it seems.

Right now, it doesn't matter that much, because I don't have a teacher or a sangha. I meditate at home and study the dharma on my own. I need a teacher and a sangha, I think, but I really don't want to "take sides," either. I will probably look for a sanga first, then a teacher. I will probably have to drive long distances to find either. This could get awkward.

(I had a wonderful teacher, many, many years ago, a Hindu sanyassi, from whom I took initiation. He's been dead a long time, and I was not able to stay in touch with him once I left India. I think he would encourage my current interest in Buddhism.)

My dilemma has no easy or obvious answers. I'd be interested to hear comments and suggestions, though.

Hugs and puppies,


Offline t

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Re: MY vs. TV
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2010, 07:15:25 pm »
Ever heard of the 'One Buddha Vehicle'? All Dharma Doors are within it, whatever vehicle you choose to ride on...
Thus Have I Heard...Once...on bowing to the Triple Gem...
'Before you bowed, were you a Theravadin or Mahayanist? After you bowed, are you a Theravadin or Mahayanist?'

Offline Michael_S

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Re: MY vs. TV
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2010, 07:26:54 pm »
Hi Timbo
I guess the important thing is what they all have in common.
Four noble truths, and Eightfold Path.
As one who generally follows Theravada tradition, I also find many
wonderfully insightful commentaries within the Mahayana literature.
Its really all about what works for you. I prefer to take what works for me,
and that which is difficult to accept I table for later consideration. Best
for me to keep it fairly simple and as rational as I need it to be.

Offline Webgoji

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Re: MY vs. TV
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2010, 11:08:48 am »
Keep an open mind and listen intently.  You don't have to agree with anything you hear, just consider it.  After that, your path with naturally open itself to you.
Creating a kinder, gentler world by flinging poo.

Offline Caz

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Re: MY vs. TV
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2010, 11:36:31 am »
Theravada Sutta's are no more valid then Mahayana ones, its not like anyone had a pen and paper at the time of Buddhas preaching anyway.  :pray:
« Last Edit: March 30, 2010, 03:20:19 pm by Caz »

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Offline humanitas

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Re: MY vs. TV
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2010, 02:46:59 pm »
Dearest Timbo,

I can greatly empathize with your position.  I would speculate there are a great many of us who are in our hearts completely committed in our refuge-taking and the triple gem, but for reasons altogether intrinsic to our own individual paths find ourselves "on the fence" of a specific tradition or may find ourselves skeptical of forms of practice that don't make much logical rational sense.  I also like Batchelor, and resonate with much of his skepticism and reservations about certain points of the dharma as it has been taught for a long time. 

However, something that comes to mind that a teacher once told me is that the difference between theory and practice is the experience of the practice.  When we experience something directly without conceptualization of our experience, the experience transcends the intellectualization process we tend to filter everything through.   When we talk of realization through vehicles and the methods of Mahayana and Theravada, we're speaking of intellectual systems and method for our practice.  The heart of our realization though cannot be through anything but direct experience.  At the cost of being painfully cliche and trite, you don't know TILL you know.   Till you know you can have faith in this very moment that you must let the stillness reveal the noise so to speak, and that in itself may be the faith aspect of your path, but being able to verify your practice in tangible results which are a key part of direct experience is essential.  What good is the dharma if one never feels the benefit of its practice?

I like what Webgoji wrote, and I agree with it.  Sometimes just keeping an open mind, quieting the preconceptions and listening is enough to expose you to your next clue that comes in the form of realization of some potential.  That's what we call growth, right?  When we can stop and learn from what we are tuning into...

It is also true that all todays dharma is probably somewhat diluted from diversification, introductions of different expressions of ritual and conceptualization that resonated with local populations, so we can take many writings with a grain of salt.  But we are questioning what we hear, not who wrote it.  There's a key difference.  We are encouraged to to question what we hear and put our own verification into practice, but to verify we have to have an open heart/mind (whatever you call it, I call it mind).  My root teacher is Pema Chodron's teacher, so indirectly she is my sangha sister.  I resonate greatly with her teachings and her warm application of the dharma.  She always encourages us to be gentle with ourselves and this is how we learn to be gentle with others. 

Don't worry about your feeling of zen.  You're actually quite off the mark about it, but it's ok, it's clearly not your fit right now or it would call to you.   Go towards the dharma that gives you the best tools to live joyfully.  I always remind myself, it's about the joy, not about the suffering.  Only through joy have I ever purified the poison of my own special brand of suffering, the best antidote to my suffering has been to keep a humble heart.   Which means accepting when I'm sharply reminded of my own pettiness or selfishness, watching myself and weakening the impulse to be so every time I observe it happening.  Mindfulness is at the heart of compassion, no?

So does it matter what vehicle you choose if you even choose a specific one if you keep the heart of the buddha's message close to your awareness in your everyday mind?  Perhaps it suffices to just listen to the noise and apply the eightfold path to the four noble truths in your own life.  I like you, am in a situation where I lack a closeby sangha, any fellow buddhists, or even friends to talk to.  FS is the sangha I have. 
 From the time I started here 4 months ago, I have practiced daily with the encouragement of my peers, I've stopped and observed my arrogance, pride, egostates, all thanks to our dharma brothers and sisters.  I've had many chances to practice kindness where I may at another point have used a harsh word, and I've become so much richer a person for this experience.  From reflecting on impermanence with loss or gain of members, people going on in their lives, to the ugliness of death and samsara when reflecting on threads posted in the Danger Zone, and also reflecting on my constructive studies in the Mahayana and Theravada forums.  I've taken away so much from this forum that I can never repay.  So I volunteer to help keep it a nice place.  That is practice too.  The intent, the thought-karma, listening to my life one breath at a time.

I guess I'm trying to say, take what resonates in the dharma and what gives you the joy of life, and then you'll see more and more opens up for you because you open up more and more.

This post was made with 100% recycled karma

Offline TongueTied

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Re: MY vs. TV
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2010, 11:51:46 pm »
Don't take the distinction between schools too seriously.  Some people are best served by staying narrowly focused.  Others are better off splashing around.  It's not really important.  Just do what brings you peace.  If you are trying to get enlightened... do it harder.   :cheesy:


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Re: MY vs. TV
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2010, 12:55:22 am »
I'm equally dubious about bodhisattvas, transfer of merit, and the miraculous appearance of the Mahayana sutras, 500 years after Gautama Buddha's death.

Psst.  That's when the Pali scriptures also appeared, but laid claim to an oral tradition which accurately recorded Buddha's teachings. Hmmm.

There is a huge circular argument to be had about who wrote what where and when and whether any of it had any connection to the historical or mythical being identified as 'the Buddha', who may or may not be the first or last and may or may not have created a new path or just given Vedic traditions a bit of a tweak.

Personally, I think you are right not to attach a label to yourself.  Just engage in practice based on what teachings come your way and stick with ones which seem to work for you.

I know of nobody who has any evidence that they are 'right' about Buddhism, except with reference to themselves and their own path. ;)

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: MY vs. TV
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2010, 02:00:36 am »
I'm not sure if I will ever be able to consider myself a Mahayana Buddhist, or a Theravada Buddhist, either.

I don't see that's a problem.  Just keep practising.
"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream"

Offline Monkey Mind

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Re: MY vs. TV
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2010, 10:21:32 am »
I am not wanting to join a debate about whose Dharma is more authentic. I agree with Yeshe, the arguments become progressively more circular on all sides of the debate. I think it is a matter of which presentation of the Dharma appeals to you the most? Which one will inspire you to practice? What Sangha and lay groups are nearest to you, and what is your reaction to those groups when you visit them?

These are the characteristics of different traditions that I considered at length before joining any "clubs": Do you want to believe that you can achieve enlightenment or Boddhisatva awakening in this lifetime, or does it make more sense to you that you have many lifetimes to work towards this goal? Do you feel that developing yourself through meditation is more accurate a path towards the goal, or are you drawn to developing the character traits of the Boddhisatva? Is chanting as effective or more effective than meditation? How important is Sangha and spiritual community? Do you have to work with a specific teacher, or can you study the Dharma with any Sanghan? Do you prefer to work with a teacher to measure your progress on the Path, or will progress on the Path be self evident? How does a specific tradition react to the changes of modern times, e.g. specifically the role of women and gays within the Sangha?


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