Author Topic: Bodhidharma's teaching  (Read 1350 times)

Offline zafrogzen

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Bodhidharma's teaching
« on: November 04, 2016, 10:11:36 am »
This is from the Mount Baldy newsletter. I thought it might be of interest to some of the folks here.

Bodhidharma’s Four-fold Entrance of Practice
by Noritake Shūnan Rōshi

EXCERPTED FROM TEISHO GIVEN AT MOUNT BALDY ZEN CENTER
JULY 2016. TRANSLATION BY THOMAS KIRCHNER.
[After his audience with Emperor Wu], Bodhidharma
went north to the temple Shaolin on Mount Song, where
he sat in a cave in deep meditation for nine years. Later
generations extolled Bodhidharma’s practice, speaking of
his “nine years facing the wall” and referring to him as
“the wall-gazing Brahman.” Many of Bodhidharma’s
expressions, such as “not relying on words and letters” or
“a separate transmission outside of the teachings,” are
famous in Zen, and have come to define the essential
nature of the Zen school.
... But Bodhidharma did not stop with his nine years of
zazen in the cave. He also left behind a number of texts
and records of his exchanges with students. Particularly
well-known is the text known as the “Treatise on the Two
Entrances and Four Practices,” in which he outlines his
teachings on Zen. To summarize, there are various
approaches to entering the Way, but in the simplest terms
there are two approaches and four practices. The two
approaches are referred to by him as the entrance of
principle and the entrance of practice. The entrance of
principle consists of understanding the source of the Way
through study of the teachings, with deep faith that all
sentient beings, both ordinary and enlightened, equally
possess the same true nature, that is, the Buddha-mind,
and with the recognition that we fully live everyday life
in the suchness of Truth. It is only because of superficial
delusions and false thinking that this Truth is not clearly
visible. It is like the sun, which is eternally radiant but
whose light is temporarily hidden by clouds. Therefore
we read the sutras in order to grasp the fundamental
principle, which is also known as “the source” or
“Buddha-nature.”
The entrance of practice consists of entering the Way
through use of the four practices; all other virtuous acts
are incorporated within these. It is not sufficient to
understand the four practices intellectually—they must
be actually performed. 
The first practice is known as “the practice of accepting
adversity.” When we undergo suffering we should reflect
in this way: “In the past we have forgotten the root and
gone chasing after the branches and leaves, thus
wandering through the world of delusion, generating
enmity toward others and causing unlimited injury to
them. Thus I cannot avoid this suffering. When in the
past I experienced suffering I felt resentful, so now I will
endeavor to eliminate this feeling of resentment. I shall
patiently accept this suffering and bear no resentment
toward anyone.” When painful things or bad things
happen to us we disregard our own part in the matter
and place the blame on other people, on society, or on
nature. When our children are involved we don’t consider
our responsibility as parents but say instead that the
schools are responsible, or the teachers, or the society we
live in. Such attitudes do nothing to solve the problem.
We must return to the starting point of the ego. We must
closely observe ourselves.   
The second practice is known as “the practice of
accepting circumstances.” Originally there is no ego. We
must penetrate to the essence of this lack of ego—this is
the true spirit of no-self, of anatman. All of us are simply
acting in accordance with the law of causality. We human
beings have been born into this world according to
circumstances, and our existence here is merely
provisional. We have nothing that we truly possess, and
we will die according to circumstances. It is important
that we observe the true workings of nature—suffering
and pleasure, sadness and joy, all are entirely the result
of circumstances. All that we receive we will lose when
those circumstances are exhausted. There is nothing to be
happy or sad about—just move ahead, one with the Way,
in accord with circumstances through both gain and loss.
It is like the water in a river, which flows along smoothly
when unobstructed but throws up spray when hitting a
rock; if you allow yourself to be obstructed unsteadiness
sets in, and you undergo suffering. 
The third practice is known as “the practice of
nonseeking.” There is nothing to seek; simply be satisfied
with what suffices. People in their constant delusion
always covet this and covet that. This is what is called
craving. In the sutras it is said that where there is craving
there is suffering, and that where nothing is sought there
is ease. Human desires are limitless; there is no end to
them. The negative side of this is a constant state of
frustration; the positive side is that human desire drives
scientific progress, affluence, and human evolution. None
of this brings us spiritual peace, however, regardless of
how much we advance materially or culturally, no matter
how much we progress intellectually and technologically.
What eases our spirits is the Buddha’s teaching to be
content with what is enough. What satisfies the mind’s
limitless discontent is to accept, in the midst of one’s
discontent, the fact that “this is fully sufficient.” Do so
and you will realize that there is nothing lacking in
yourself. 
Last April Jose Mujica, the former president of Uruguay,
visited Japan. He was called “the poorest president in the
world” because of his simple lifestyle—he donated most
of his salary to the poor, refused to move into the
presidential mansion, and lived in the same way as the
ordinary people of Uruguay. He would appear on TV
driving around in his old used automobile, which he kept
in a dilapidated garage. He proclaimed that unchecked
greed constitutes true poverty, and said, “At some point a
time comes when people must stand in front of a mirror
and see the summation of their lives. Those who have not
given any time or space to other people will see in the
mirror only egoism, and no doubt will despair.” He also
said, “A person needs a certain amount of egoism in order
to live, but what is important is to apply the brakes to
greed and cooperate with other people.”
Such comments are clear indications to us of the true
way that people should live. A young Japanese woman,
when asked on Japanese TV what she thought of
President Mujica’s views on life, replied, “They were truly
wonderful. I’ve never in my life heard such refreshing
words.” Hearing what she said I was quite moved, and at
the same time made aware of how short I’ve fallen as a
Buddhist in teaching these same values. This young
woman is typical of the post-WWII generations who,
having grown up in a Japan that attempted to fulfill all
human desires, seek only their own affluence and the
satisfaction of their own wishes. Thus this woman, living
her ego-centered existence, had never heard of simple
living or of Shakyamuni’s teaching to be content with
what is enough, and knew nothing of applying the brakes
to desire. President Mujica’s words opened her eyes a bit,
I believe, and the eyes of other Japanese. His advice is
that of the Buddha, “Be content with what is enough”—
advice that all Japanese Buddhists know but have a hard
time putting into practice.
The fourth practice is known as “the practice of according
with the Dharma.” The principle of essential purity is the
Dharma. We must practice dana free of avarice in our
hearts, giving fully of our possessions and giving fully of
our essentially pure life, unstained by anything and
unattached to anything. Moreover, we should practice
dana with no thought of practicing dana; we should
perform good works with no thought of performing good
works. “Good works” are often talked of, but I
recommend that you actually do them. You see people,
however, who become full of pride in their contributions,
boasting to the world of all the wonderful things they’ve
done and thus negating the benefit they gain from their
good works. Good works must be performed in the true
spirit of Bodhidharma’s “no merit.” What is essential is
that acts leave no trace, just as birds leave no trace as
they fly through the sky.
An ancient master said, “Bodhidharma, gazing at the
wall, pacified peoples’ minds; outwardly cease all
attachments; inwardly grasp not with the mind. When
there is nowhere for dust to settle in your mind, then you
can enter the Way.” A precious teaching indeed!
Let all of us here in the beautiful surroundings of Mount Baldy
return to the spirit of Bodhidharma and give ourselves
fully to the practice of zazen.
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 VincentRJ

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Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2016, 04:51:40 am »
Quote
People in their constant delusion always covet this and covet that. This is what is called craving. In the sutras it is said that where there is craving there is suffering, and that where nothing is sought there is ease. Human desires are limitless; there is no end to them. The negative side of this is a constant state of frustration; the positive side is that human desire drives scientific progress, affluence, and human evolution. None of this brings us spiritual peace, however, regardless of how much we advance materially or culturally, no matter how much we progress intellectually and technologically.

Hi Zafrogzen,
Thanks for that very rational and sensible summary of Bodhidharma's teachings. I see from Wikipedia that in Chinese Buddhist art, Bodhidharma is depicted as an ill-tempered, profusely-bearded, wide-eyed non-Chinese person. He is also referred to as "The Blue-Eyed Barbarian".  :wink1:

From your long quote, I've selected  just a paragraph for discussion which I think implies a contradictory problem related to the Buddhist philosophy, from a political and economic perspective.

From an individual perspective, and also from my own personal perspective, the advice to 'let things flow' and 'don't resist', is good advice, which I try to practice.

However, I'm very much aware that my circumstances are dependent upon a modern economy, or, as you put it, the positive side of human desire which drives scientific progress, affluence and human evolution.

If everyone were literally a 'true' Buddhist, Homo Sapiens would become an extinct species. Is that not so?

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2016, 06:33:59 am »


From your long quote, I've selected  just a paragraph for discussion which I think implies a contradictory problem related to the Buddhist philosophy, from a political and economic perspective.

From an individual perspective, and also from my own personal perspective, the advice to 'let things flow' and 'don't resist', is good advice, which I try to practice.

However, I'm very much aware that my circumstances are dependent upon a modern economy, or, as you put it, the positive side of human desire which drives scientific progress, affluence and human evolution.

If everyone were literally a 'true' Buddhist, Homo Sapiens would become an extinct species. Is that not so?
I've often heard this before. There is no such thing as a 'True Buddhist'. Once people are enlightened they become the individuals we were always supposed to be, but denied by the demands of society. Finally letting go of Buddhism, the resulting 'species', full of enlightened people, would be interesting, but not heading for extinction like a load of lemmings.
“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 zafrogzen

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Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2016, 11:08:59 am »
That text I posted was from a recent talk by Noritake Roshi at Mount Baldy, a Rinzai Zen monastery high in the Mountains just East of Los Angeles. I get their newsletter on my email because I've done sesshins (intensive 7 day retreats) with them in the past. It was founded by Joshu Sasaki who died a few years ago at 107. He was an incredibly hardworking teacher who did sesshins almost every month and presided over a very rigorous form of zen throughout his over 50 years in L.A. He was Leonard Cohen's teacher as well as many others who have gone on to start zen centers around the world. However, before he died he was the subject of controversy when it came out that he made sexual demands on some of his female students.

Although Sasaki gave permission to teach to many, he never named a main successor, which might be why they are reaching out to teachers from Japan, like Noritake. I liked his talk and thought it might illuminate some zen teachings for those here who are not familiar with them.

All zen monks, or priests, are free to marry, unlike Theravada Monks, so the human race would survive a zen takeover. Zen in the West is also more open to lay practitioners (no pun intended).
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: Bodhidharma's teaching
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2016, 12:20:31 pm »
My favorite Bodhidharma story, a koan or "public case" used for meditation, is when Huike, his main disciple comes to him and says --

"I cannot pacify my mind. What can I do?"

Bodhidharma replies, "Bring me your mind and I will pacify it for you."

After some time Huike comes back and says, "No matter how hard I try, I cannot find my mind."

"There, I've pacified it for you," Bodhidharma exclaims.
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 VincentRJ

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Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2016, 05:53:25 pm »


From your long quote, I've selected  just a paragraph for discussion which I think implies a contradictory problem related to the Buddhist philosophy, from a political and economic perspective.

From an individual perspective, and also from my own personal perspective, the advice to 'let things flow' and 'don't resist', is good advice, which I try to practice.

However, I'm very much aware that my circumstances are dependent upon a modern economy, or, as you put it, the positive side of human desire which drives scientific progress, affluence and human evolution.

If everyone were literally a 'true' Buddhist, Homo Sapiens would become an extinct species. Is that not so?
I've often heard this before. There is no such thing as a 'True Buddhist'. Once people are enlightened they become the individuals we were always supposed to be, but denied by the demands of society. Finally letting go of Buddhism, the resulting 'species', full of enlightened people, would be interesting, but not heading for extinction like a load of lemmings.

Hi Stillpointdancer,
Since the sexual drive is such a powerful and fundamental instinct, I do not see any likelihood of the human race becoming extinct due to any wide-ranging acceptance of the ideal of celibacy. Such a prospect seems inconceivable to me.

What I'm really questioning is whether or not it is possible for anyone to become as enlightened as Gautama Buddha was, whilst continuing to engage in sexual practices, and if it is possible, can such practices correctly be named Buddhism?

I understand that the life of celibacy in Buddhism is not recommended for everyone and that it is accepted that most people are not ready to embark upon the path to enlightenment in this lifetime, perhaps as a result of an accumulation of bad deeds in previous lives. However, if one is espousing an ultimate ideal of achievement which necessitates refraining from all sexual activity, one would expect a certain optimism that eventually, as humanity progresses, more and more people would embark upon such a path of celibacy in order to achieve that ultimate goal of Nirvana.

Here's a rather strong criticism, attributed to the Buddha, of a monk who broke his celibacy vows without having first disrobed. (I presume this is from the Pali Canon, but I'm not sure where.)

"Worthless man, sexual intercourse is unseemly, out of line, unsuitable, and unworthy of a contemplative; improper and not to be done... Haven't I taught the Dhamma in many ways for the sake of dispassion and not for passion; for unfettering and not for fettering; for freedom from clinging and not for clinging? Yet here, while I have taught the Dhamma for dispassion, you set your heart on passion; while I have taught the Dhamma for unfettering, you set your heart on being fettered; while I have taught the Dhamma for freedom from clinging, you set your heart on clinging.

Worthless man, haven't I taught the Dhamma in many ways for the fading of passion, the sobering of intoxication, the subduing of thirst, the destruction of attachment, the severing of the round, the ending of craving, dispassion, cessation, unbinding? Haven't I in many ways advocated abandoning sensual pleasures, comprehending sensual perceptions, subduing sensual thirst, destroying sensual thoughts, calming sensual fevers?

Worthless man, it would be better that your penis be stuck into the mouth of a poisonous snake than into a woman's vagina. It would be better that your penis be stuck into the mouth of a black viper than into a woman's vagina. It would be better that your penis be stuck into a pit of burning embers, blazing and glowing, than into a woman's vagina. Why is that? For that reason you would undergo death or death-like suffering, but you would not on that account, at the break-up of the body, after death, fall into deprivation, the bad destination, the abyss.

Worthless man, this neither inspires faith in the faithless nor increases the faithful. Rather, it inspires lack of faith in the faithless and wavering in some of the faithful."


Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2016, 06:13:43 pm »
That text I posted was from a recent talk by Noritake Roshi at Mount Baldy, a Rinzai Zen monastery high in the Mountains just East of Los Angeles. I get their newsletter on my email because I've done sesshins (intensive 7 day retreats) with them in the past. It was founded by Joshu Sasaki who died a few years ago at 107. He was an incredibly hardworking teacher who did sesshins almost every month and presided over a very rigorous form of zen throughout his over 50 years in L.A. He was Leonard Cohen's teacher as well as many others who have gone on to start zen centers around the world. However, before he died he was the subject of controversy when it came out that he made sexual demands on some of his female students.

Although Sasaki gave permission to teach to many, he never named a main successor, which might be why they are reaching out to teachers from Japan, like Noritake. I liked his talk and thought it might illuminate some zen teachings for those here who are not familiar with them.

All zen monks, or priests, are free to marry, unlike Theravada Monks, so the human race would survive a zen takeover. Zen in the West is also more open to lay practitioners (no pun intended).

Hi Zafrogzen,
I wasn't aware that Zen monks are officially allowed to marry. Checking on the history of this development, I came across the following in some Wikipedia article.

"In Japan, celibacy was an ideal among Buddhist clerics for hundreds of years. But violations of clerical celibacy were so common for so long that, finally, in 1872, state laws made marriage legal for Buddhist clerics. Subsequently, ninety percent of Buddhist monks/clerics married."

Is this true Buddhism, I wonder?

Regarding Joshu Sasaki, I came across the following reference.

"Kyozan Joshu Sasaki  (1907-2014) was the founder of the Mt. Baldy Zen Center in  California (Rinzai School of Zen). Awareness of his sexual misconduct was known since the 1970s but was covered up or ignored for decades."

Sexual misconduct does seem to be a problem with Zen teachers. Here are a couple of other references.

"Taizan Maezumi (1931-1995) co-founded several Zen centers in the United States (Rinzai, Sōtō and Sanbo Kyodan schools of Zen). Maezumi admitted to being an alcoholic and to having sexual relations with his female students while he was still married."


"Eido Tai Shimano (1932-), the founding abbot of New York's Zen Studies Society (Rinzai School of Zen), resigned from its board in 1995 after acknowledging that over 30 years, trust had been "placed in an apparently wise and compassionate teacher, only to have that trust manipulated in the form of his sexual misconduct and abuse."
 


Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2016, 10:41:06 pm »
Vincent,

I don't know which is sicker and more reprehensible -- your quotes about the "worthless man" or the zen teachers who abused their power. Fortunately there are many more zen teachers who fulfill the simple zen precept "not to misuse sexuality."

I was voluntarily celibate for several years and now I've been married for many more. I didn't see that sexual repression accomplished anything on the spiritual path -- except perhaps to give one a little more time for meditation. It turns one of the greatest expressions of love we're blessed with into something dirty and evil. All religions indulged in this nonsense. You'd think Buddhists would know better.
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: Bodhidharma's teaching
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2016, 02:46:33 am »


From your long quote, I've selected  just a paragraph for discussion which I think implies a contradictory problem related to the Buddhist philosophy, from a political and economic perspective.

From an individual perspective, and also from my own personal perspective, the advice to 'let things flow' and 'don't resist', is good advice, which I try to practice.

However, I'm very much aware that my circumstances are dependent upon a modern economy, or, as you put it, the positive side of human desire which drives scientific progress, affluence and human evolution.

If everyone were literally a 'true' Buddhist, Homo Sapiens would become an extinct species. Is that not so?
I've often heard this before. There is no such thing as a 'True Buddhist'. Once people are enlightened they become the individuals we were always supposed to be, but denied by the demands of society. Finally letting go of Buddhism, the resulting 'species', full of enlightened people, would be interesting, but not heading for extinction like a load of lemmings.

Hi Stillpointdancer,
Since the sexual drive is such a powerful and fundamental instinct, I do not see any likelihood of the human race becoming extinct due to any wide-ranging acceptance of the ideal of celibacy. Such a prospect seems inconceivable to me.

What I'm really questioning is whether or not it is possible for anyone to become as enlightened as Gautama Buddha was, whilst continuing to engage in sexual practices, and if it is possible, can such practices correctly be named Buddhism?

The whole point of Buddhism is to get beyond Buddhism, as an enlightened being. On the path you have to let go of attachment to stuff. Which does not mean not doing stuff, but letting go in the right way. You can still have sex, but with the right mindset. Denying yourself sex is just as bad, if you are attached to celibacy in the wrong way. Many monastic organisations use celibacy to build up sexual energy and to channel it, tantric wise, in meditation. For me, I try to steer clear of people like that (running away screaming works for me), and those who use hatred towards women in a similar way.
Can you live 'normally' and become enlightened? Of course you can. It's the extremists who say you can't who hold you back from enlightenment. Just sit with the right non-attachment and you'll get there. And maybe treat people with love and compassion along the 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 zafrogzen

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Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2016, 11:23:48 am »
Fortunately, Buddhism is a living, changing tradition. It even went through a Tantric period when that movement grew up in India. Tantric Buddhism and some esoteric Tantric sexual practices migrated to Tibet with Padmasambhava and his two female consorts. Most of the figures in “Tankas” (Tibetan meditation paintings) are shown engaged in sexual union.

I think that the general view of Tantric practice towards sex, as a sacred act of transcendence and union, is very healthy. Meditation and sex is a tremendous combination. Making a ceremony out of sex is especially beautiful -- something most couples eventually do without even thinking about it, but a little Tantricism could make it even better.

The teachings regarding retention of ejaculation by males, the purpose of which is a “higher” form of orgasm or climax, is a bit overrated. I’ve experienced that kind of orgasm and it is phenomenal, but I don’t think it’s worth making it into a fetish. It’s probably not even good for the body. Plus, one can only save up a very limited amount of sexual energy -- it peaks after about two weeks of celibacy in normal males.

Now in the West, thanks to the changes it went through in China and Japan, the earlier aesthetic monasticism of Buddhism is developing a strong lay component that is making meditation practices available to the general population. I think that’s a very welcome development.
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: Bodhidharma's teaching
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2016, 11:31:55 am »
Oops, that should be ascetic not " aesthetic."

This topic of sex, always a hot one, should probably be a new topic, in deference to Bodhidharma.
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 VincentRJ

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Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2016, 07:45:20 pm »


From your long quote, I've selected  just a paragraph for discussion which I think implies a contradictory problem related to the Buddhist philosophy, from a political and economic perspective.

From an individual perspective, and also from my own personal perspective, the advice to 'let things flow' and 'don't resist', is good advice, which I try to practice.

However, I'm very much aware that my circumstances are dependent upon a modern economy, or, as you put it, the positive side of human desire which drives scientific progress, affluence and human evolution.

If everyone were literally a 'true' Buddhist, Homo Sapiens would become an extinct species. Is that not so?
I've often heard this before. There is no such thing as a 'True Buddhist'. Once people are enlightened they become the individuals we were always supposed to be, but denied by the demands of society. Finally letting go of Buddhism, the resulting 'species', full of enlightened people, would be interesting, but not heading for extinction like a load of lemmings.

Hi Stillpointdancer,
Since the sexual drive is such a powerful and fundamental instinct, I do not see any likelihood of the human race becoming extinct due to any wide-ranging acceptance of the ideal of celibacy. Such a prospect seems inconceivable to me.

What I'm really questioning is whether or not it is possible for anyone to become as enlightened as Gautama Buddha was, whilst continuing to engage in sexual practices, and if it is possible, can such practices correctly be named Buddhism?

The whole point of Buddhism is to get beyond Buddhism, as an enlightened being. On the path you have to let go of attachment to stuff. Which does not mean not doing stuff, but letting go in the right way. You can still have sex, but with the right mindset. Denying yourself sex is just as bad, if you are attached to celibacy in the wrong way. Many monastic organisations use celibacy to build up sexual energy and to channel it, tantric wise, in meditation. For me, I try to steer clear of people like that (running away screaming works for me), and those who use hatred towards women in a similar way.
Can you live 'normally' and become enlightened? Of course you can. It's the extremists who say you can't who hold you back from enlightenment. Just sit with the right non-attachment and you'll get there. And maybe treat people with love and compassion along the way.

Sounds to me as though you're just making excuses because Buddhist teachings, as found in the earliest Buddhist texts, are simply too difficult for most people to put into practice.

I would say that the whole point of Buddhism is to get beyond whatever one's current understanding of Buddhism is because, until one has arrived at the state of Nirvana, or the final goal, one's understanding and interpretation of Buddhist teachings will inevitably be flawed or misconstrued to some extent.

If the goal of Buddhism is to experience a state of Nirvana, then surely one cannot get beyond Buddhism unless one also gets beyond the state of Nirvana. Plain logic.

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2016, 07:53:38 pm »
The teachings regarding retention of ejaculation by males, the purpose of which is a “higher” form of orgasm or climax, is a bit overrated. I’ve experienced that kind of orgasm and it is phenomenal, but I don’t think it’s worth making it into a fetish. It’s probably not even good for the body. Plus, one can only save up a very limited amount of sexual energy -- it peaks after about two weeks of celibacy in normal males.

As I understand, the purpose of Buddhist practices is to eliminate all suffering through processes of self-control of all sensual pleasures and egotistical reactions such as anger, hatred, envy and so on.

Sex is not only a sensual pleasure, it is perhaps the quintessential sensual pleasure; a powerful force which is prevalent in all animals.
To control one's sexual desires (rather than repress them, which I would think is actually non-Buddhist) is surely the ultimate achievement. It's equivalent to a climber reaching the summit of Mt Everest.

Perhaps some of the confusion here is due to the personalisation of the sexual force. Because of ego and vanity, we tend to think of sex in intensely personal terms, when in fact it is just a force that flows through us and uses our emotions for its own ends, which are the continuation of the species.

The basic principle here, which makes complete sense to me (and I follow only what makes sense), is that complete control of one of the most powerful forces that flows through us (the sex drive), is absolutely essential if one is to achieve that ultimate goal of Nirvana.

I see no reason why abstinence from sexual activity could have any harmful effects. The physical body has its own intelligence. If there's a need to get rid of a build-up of semen, then spontaneous ejaculations will take place during sleep. That's perfectly natural and not against Buddhist principles.

Offline Pixie

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Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2016, 10:45:46 pm »
Fortunately, Buddhism is a living, changing tradition. It even went through a Tantric period when that movement grew up in India. Tantric Buddhism and some esoteric Tantric sexual practices migrated to Tibet with Padmasambhava and his two female consorts. Most of the figures in “Tankas” (Tibetan meditation paintings) are shown engaged in sexual union.

I think that the general view of Tantric practice towards sex, as a sacred act of transcendence and union, is very healthy. Meditation and sex is a tremendous combination. Making a ceremony out of sex is especially beautiful -- something most couples eventually do without even thinking about it, but a little Tantricism could make it even better.

The teachings regarding retention of ejaculation by males, the purpose of which is a “higher” form of orgasm or climax, is a bit overrated. I’ve experienced that kind of orgasm and it is phenomenal, but I don’t think it’s worth making it into a fetish. It’s probably not even good for the body. Plus, one can only save up a very limited amount of sexual energy -- it peaks after about two weeks of celibacy in normal males.

Now in the West, thanks to the changes it went through in China and Japan, the earlier aesthetic monasticism of Buddhism is developing a strong lay component that is making meditation practices available to the general population. I think that’s a very welcome development.



The later tantric practices and beliefs, or general obsessions and fantasies about sex, have little to do with the actual teachings of the historical Buddha of course. However luckily we have dedicated monks like Bhikkhu Analayo who are making in depth translations and studies of the early Buddhist texts available to lay practioners around the world.

As far as Zen teachings are concerned, I think its definately worth looking out for people like Soto Zen teacher Brad Warner, rather than get involved with the random opinions of strangers on the internet who try to set themselves up as teachers.

http://hardcorezen.info/form-is-emptiness/4935

« Last Edit: November 06, 2016, 11:11:30 pm 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 stillpointdancer

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Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2016, 03:30:19 am »

Sounds to me as though you're just making excuses because Buddhist teachings, as found in the earliest Buddhist texts, are simply too difficult for most people to put into practice.

I would say that the whole point of Buddhism is to get beyond whatever one's current understanding of Buddhism is because, until one has arrived at the state of Nirvana, or the final goal, one's understanding and interpretation of Buddhist teachings will inevitably be flawed or misconstrued to some extent.

If the goal of Buddhism is to experience a state of Nirvana, then surely one cannot get beyond Buddhism unless one also gets beyond the state of Nirvana. Plain logic.
Yes, that's what I said. Get enlightened and you get beyond Buddhism, which is after all the path to enlightenment, not enlightenment itself. Logic don't enter into it. If you experience Nirvana you know what you have to do next. For some it's going back to teach Buddhism for the sake of others. The rest just get on with life.
The Buddhist texts are attempts to record how individuals managed to attain enlightenment; what they had to do to get there. We can take many generalizations from them, but need to keep in mind that everyone's 'too difficult' is different. If you hate women, then it's pretty easy to give them up. The hard bit there is learning to unhate.
Monastic communities often need monks to go through attachment to sex, on to, and I've gone through this myself, a place where you can move on in your meditation. But it depends what you need to go through, as an individual, at each stage along the path.
“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

 


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