Gwenn Dana wrote:
Hmm. In my opinion that depends.
This is close to that "Ex Tibetan Buddhist" thread.
IMHO, if humility means lowering yourself in respect to a person (or thing that can be owned), it is submission. When we're talking practice, two even beings meet. In fact, there are only even beings. None better or worse than the other.
If we take for example the "hack", that Jesus made, it's basically born into a time of Roman slavery. The way out pointed towards never making some thing or person the object of your humility or submission (since that creates duality, it seems to me that's the non-dual aspect in his teachings), but only submit to a virtual concept that helps you along. Then you can say "Sorry, I cannot serve you, I already have a master." Then that method leads to liberation. Unfortunately Emperor Constantine hacked back and overtook even that, since they made the mistake with Petrus being the chief honcho, thus ruining the game in the very first generation.
That's exactly the same I would make a premise for Buddhism (or Yoga) for any sort. Never submit to any person (Lama, Teacher, or whatever). As long as concepts are being spoken, or practice is being offered, that's fine. They are vehicles, just like sages of math, computer science, sports, singing or any other discipline. They are "masters" in that they do not only teach, but also are expert level performers of their art. But there are also enough "teachers" out there who do not want to master the art, but only teach. Nevertheless, spirituality as a whole is there to empower you over yourself (not others, and not others over yourself!). It can never do that job when it comes with a side effect of having to submit to anything else than something outside the world of things. The practitioner needs to be able to stay self responsible at any time, and practice will help him or her to get along even better. As many old texts point, they warn of even submitting to particular, nameable deities, since you can easily create a hierarchy out of them (rulers incorporating them by decree to submit the masses). When looking at the many Buddhas appearing that are worshipped, I cannot but see just the same trap.
Being humble on the other hand would mean being able to trust a master, when he's pointing you to a point where your next hurdle has to be taken, that employing the practice will empower you, not him. That comes with the responsibility that the master may never ever ever do that, and instead, when he sees the apprentice becomes attached (to the practice or the master), points a way in the opposite direction.
I don't say that Buddhism as a general rule is flawed. There are many subtle hints and meditation practices that really can help. Also some who I find distracting from the path, and sending people off to realize that a certain practice is nonsense after 30 years is a pretty sadist approach. Buddhism is at least interwoven with a lot of ritual (Tibetan Buddhist practices one finds on the net sometimes feel like Bön revisited). You really have to look and can get lost. Whereas in Hinayana I find one important step in: Get beyond ritual. As I understand Buddha's basic message, then it points me towards being simple, getting rid of all that labyrinth stuff. Simpler than what's preached in the vedas. Simpler than endless repetition of ritual.
In modern terms you could say: Stay detached enough from things and emotions so that you can just do without keeping yourself from options, and a little toolbox to help with getting there, and oh, btw, the search is over. Just *do* this and never let doubt come back. Now I'm not proclaiming that is your eternal Buddhism truth. Everybody is entitled to their path. There are probably 10 times as many paths as practitioners. Such practice empowers the practitioner over himself. You can then add "do it for the sake of all beings on the planet", because when you feel empowered over others, your toolbox will collapse, since you're starting to do the same where you wanted to escape from in the beginning, which doesn't make it any better, but maybe worse. But well, submitting to living people will just as well ruin your toolbox, since the toolbox points towards liberation. Submission to people is not liberation, it is dependency. Don't need to read Dostojevski to understand that. That would be deconstructing the age of Aufklärung. For me, Buddha's message adds to Aufklärung, it does not demolish it. Just as Lao Tse wanted to overcome Confucianist Morality. In fact, I think Buddha, Jesus, Lao Tse and a couple of others at that time were the Aufklärers of their time. But as every new emergence goes through a lifecycle, it needs to be refreshed and resparked in never ending fashion, since it will lose its freshness in even the next generation, for what we have very old examples.
Yes, to many who encounter Tibetan buddhism, particularly Vajrayana, it appears cultish and full of empty rituals. Everything is not as it appears.