A Hare Krishna view of Buddhist practice in Bhutan

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A Hare Krishna view of Buddhist practice in Bhutan

Postby JKhedrup » Sun Dec 23, 2012 6:06 pm

I sometimes enjoy reading Indradyumna Swami's online journal and found this piece of his about a visit to Bhutan interesting, though the last part was a bit disappointing in terms of returning to run-of-the-mill dogmatism. I thought others might enjoy reading the article as well:

http://www.travelingmonk.com/21964/happ ... -a-place-2
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: A Hare Krishna view of Buddhist practice in Bhutan

Postby AdamAnt » Sun Dec 23, 2012 6:10 pm

Thanks for sharing
Om Mani Peme Hung
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Re: A Hare Krishna view of Buddhist practice in Bhutan

Postby chokyi lodro » Sun Dec 23, 2012 6:56 pm

Oh yes, thank you! I too used to love reading his journals.
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Re: A Hare Krishna view of Buddhist practice in Bhutan

Postby kirtu » Sun Dec 23, 2012 10:28 pm

JKhedrup wrote:I sometimes enjoy reading Indradyumna Swami's online journal and found this piece of his about a visit to Bhutan interesting, though the last part was a bit disappointing in terms of returning to run-of-the-mill dogmatism. I thought others might enjoy reading the article as well:

http://www.travelingmonk.com/21964/happ ... -a-place-2


I didn't read every word but at the end he seemed to make a case for understanding rather than dogmatism. It reminds me to not bristle when the term "God" is used. I was surprised at how uninformed about Buddhism he and his companions were though.

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Re: A Hare Krishna view of Buddhist practice in Bhutan

Postby plwk » Mon Dec 24, 2012 3:11 am

On the long descent back down the mountain trail Sakhi Rai spoke.
“Guru Maharaja,” he said, “is it all right for us to have such close association with Buddhists?”
“We offer our respects to all classes of transcendentalists,” I said. “We don’t embrace their teachings, but we accept that they are not ordinary souls.”

“Either you follow Buddha philosophy or Sankara philosophy or Vaisnava philosophy, the ultimate goal is Krsna.
:? :D
“You know,” I continued,
“I was impressed with the focus they have in their spiritual practices. For twelve hours a day they chant and pray. I would like to have that determination in my own sadhana.”

“But their determination is to become void,” said Sakhi Rai. “How can we be inspired by that?”
:lol:

And now for my pre Christmas treat.... :mrgreen:
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Re: A Hare Krishna view of Buddhist practice in Bhutan

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Mon Dec 24, 2012 4:07 am

It was not a bad piece at all, regardless of their beliefs it was nice to see someone from ISKCON talk so respectfully of Buddhism. It shows some real misunderstanding to think that Buddhists desire "non existence" though, I was kind of surprised to see someone bothering to go to Bhutan etc. but not understanding that Buddhism is not a kind of Nihilism, and not having any concept of Anatta etc. he seemed very confused on what Buddhism actually is.

Again though, the tone was perfectly reasonable and I enjoyed reading it.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: A Hare Krishna view of Buddhist practice in Bhutan

Postby JKhedrup » Mon Dec 24, 2012 9:35 am

I was kind of surprised to see someone bothering to go to Bhutan etc. but not understanding that Buddhism is not a kind of Nihilism, and not having any concept of Anatta etc.


I think that is exactly the reason that it is good he went. Unfortunately, though he seemed to respect the lamas he met, there was not really a chance for a meaningful discussion. In the days of Nalanda Monastery in India there was a fair amount of dialogue between Hindu and Buddhist scholars that enriched both traditions.

It also seems that Swamiji acknowledged that there were some gaps in their understanding of Buddhism. The funny part was when they stated that one of their Krishna Bhakti ancestral gurus said that some Buddhists didn't really understand Buddhism-

Thank you for your explanation,” I said. “But I would like to know if the soul remains an individual when attaining enlightenment. In our philosophy the liberated soul goes to a spiritual abode to associate eternally with the Supreme Soul, God.”

The guru looked puzzled. He thought for a moment. “In Vajrayana Buddhism,” he said, “we also believe in a heavenly abode: the land of Buddha.”

“But what exactly is it like there?” I asked.

“That, no one knows,” he said.

“Thank you,” I said. “We will take our leave now.”

On our way back to the car Sakhi Rai turned to me. “Guru Maharaja,” he said, “I thought Buddhism advocated impersonalism. He was referring to a heavenly abode.”

As we started driving Sri Prahlada took out his computer. “Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur had a similar encounter with a Buddhist monk,” he said. “He writes in text 13 of his Tattva-viveka, First Realization, ‘I once asked some questions of a Buddhist monk from Myanmar. He answered my questions by saying, “God is beginningless. He created the entire world.
Assuming the form of Buddha, He descended to this world and then again, assuming His form as God, He returned to Heaven.” From what he told me, I could see that this Buddhist monk from Myanmar did not know the true Buddhist philosophy.’”


We can see that ISKCON like many other Hindu-based organizations tries to place Lord Buddha in the role of an avatar of Vishnu, whose philosophy was only established to prevent the killing of animals-

“The conclusion is that Buddha actually did advocate an atheistic philosophy,” I said. “But he did so because people at that time were using the Vedas to condone the killing of animals. Therefore Buddha said, ‘Don’t follow the Vedas. Follow me.’ Thus he tricked them into following the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

“By doing so they would gradually become purified and eventually be able to once again understand the soul as the eternal servant of God. Because the guru we just spoke to is on that path, we must respect him.”



As for the video posted of the people chanting and dancing, I don't see that as reason to think less of their practice or judge them, when it seems that the path they are following brings them true joy. It is true ISKCON struggled with child abuse, but then again, so have Buddhist organizations. In terms of the teachers of the Krishna philosophy I did not find them that appealing but to be dead honest the average ISKCON practitioner was nicer and more approachable than the average Buddhist practitioners I encountered at the beginning of my journey.

I am not convinced following their path can lead to liberation or enlightenment but due to the strong emphasis on discipline and morality I think it could lead to higher rebirth. You see them all the time in India distributing blessed vegetarian food to the poor people, and even in Amsterdam a small group of them distributes food in low income/drug affected areas.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
JKhedrup
 
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Re: A Hare Krishna view of Buddhist practice in Bhutan

Postby plwk » Mon Dec 24, 2012 4:18 pm

We can see that ISKCON like many other Hindu-based organizations tries to place Lord Buddha in the role of an avatar of Vishnu, whose philosophy was only established to prevent the killing of animals-

“The conclusion is that Buddha actually did advocate an atheistic philosophy,” I said. “But he did so because people at that time were using the Vedas to condone the killing of animals. Therefore Buddha said, ‘Don’t follow the Vedas. Follow me.’ Thus he tricked them into following the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

“By doing so they would gradually become purified and eventually be able to once again understand the soul as the eternal servant of God. Because the guru we just spoke to is on that path, we must respect him.”
Yet...read this. I used to have a set of links posted on a similar topic from various sites refuting the Buddha as Vishnu's avatar from Hindu sources back on the now defunct E-Sangha....
As for the video posted of the people chanting and dancing, I don't see that as reason to think less of their practice or judge them, when it seems that the path they are following brings them true joy.
In my country, the ISKCON have their celebration of Krishna on every Christmas Day as far as my memory serves me...it's Christmas eve here and that video reminded me of their celebrations. There used to be some debates on Krishna's birth as seen here coinciding with December's winter solstice / Christmas Day but that is beyond my purview and interest....
...but to be dead honest the average ISKCON practitioner was nicer and more approachable than the average Buddhist practitioners I encountered at the beginning of my journey.
My experience was the opposite, having met some of them and one particular one, I recall having some near debate discussions, who's an ex ISKCON, now following another Vaishnava guru and recall how I had a first hand taste of ultra Brahmin like contempt (he's a Brahmin btw) when he told me that Buddhists are regarded as heretical atheists and are not to be consorted with like we're some kind of low caste creatures plus started an ancient rant on how 'defective' the entire Buddha Dharma is, pointed out to me that the Saddharmapundarika Sutra for example is a hopeless reconstruction similar to some parts of the Gita and other Hindu texts, how the Pali Suttas on anatta were misconstrued by Buddhists compared with the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra, how Sankaracarya did a better job than the Buddha in correcting the misguided back to the true Vedic teaching and practice although Sankaracarya was not exactly what the Vaisnavas had in mind until Caitanya came along... don't even talk about mentioning the Buddha, mention Shiva at your own risk to them...

And the above are just the 'nice' ones... and these attitudes are not unknown online either, see this as one example. Read the comments especially... recalling such experiences, it reminds me of what the first line of the Four Great Vows entails... Sentient beings are innumerable, I vow to deliver and the Sixth Patriarch Huineng's Sentient being of own mind, I vow to deliver
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Re: A Hare Krishna view of Buddhist practice in Bhutan

Postby Rakshasa » Mon Dec 24, 2012 7:48 pm

On the contrary, it is more likely that the Bhagavad Gita was created based on stuff taken from Lotus Sutra and other texts. The Brahmins had very different religious ideas before BG was created as opposed to the Shramanas. Brahmins did not even believe in karma, transmigration etc, and they were closer to the Zoroastrians and Iranians in religious identity than to the Sramanas of India.

Buddha had become extremely popular by the time some Brahmins appended BG to the epic "Mahabharata". Krishna, which ironically means "dark", has no mention as a god in any of the Vedas, Brahmanas, Upanishads and other early Brahmanical literature. Even the later puranas, which are written AFTER BG, point a very mundane picture of Krishna who died a very worldly death through starvation.

I feel that the Brahmins just invented "Krishna" as a parallel myth to counter the popularity of Buddha - and they did so by leisurely lifting many of the concepts and ideas from Buddhism itself. Even "Vishnu" is just a younger brother of Indra in the Vedas. The central teaching of Brahmanism will always remain the caste system, and even the ISKON founder, Prabhupada, went to various western countries preaching Varnasramadharma - which fortunately had few takers. Trust me, if western people install a caste system in their society, it wont take much long for those places to resemble India today, with all its poverty and enormous disparity in income and classes (which is tolerated solely because people are divided into castes and only care about their own caste, and sometimes feel jealous of other castes).

Some of you may find this article interesting:
http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh150-p.html
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Re: A Hare Krishna view of Buddhist practice in Bhutan

Postby JKhedrup » Mon Dec 24, 2012 10:36 pm

plwk,

I have no doubt that the ISKCON people are fundamentalists in the truest sense of the word, don't get me wrong. I think this is why Indradyumna Swami in the diary entry had to quantify what was obviously his high regard for the spirituality of Bhutan with traditional Vedic phrases taken from a book. Lest he be considered "too admiring" of the "voidist" Buddhists.

The fact that they try to relegate Lord Buddha's role simply to that of an avatar who preached a (wrong, in their view) philosophy simply to stop people from eating meat boggles the mind. We all know that the teachings of Lord Buddha are unimaginably more vast than that.

I will definitely take a look at your links as this is a topic that interests me.

Although weary of ISKCON's fundamentalism, I can appreciate their discipline, social work and artistic endeavours. I am always treated well (I wear my Buddhist robes all the time, including when traveling) when I visit their temples in India for lunch (good clean vegetarian food, especially when I am in an unfamiliar city and want to avoid getting sick).

What you say about the "Brahmin" you encountered rings true because I have found their leaders generally lacking in humility and hard to communicate with. But the simple run of the mill practitioners (at least in India) are always friendly and ready for a chat, while the people at Buddhists centres (not all of course, but many) tend to be a bit cliquey. Where I am staying now is fortunately more friendly that many places, but Buddhists can be a pretty aloof bunch.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
JKhedrup
 
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Re: A Hare Krishna view of Buddhist practice in Bhutan

Postby chokyi lodro » Mon Dec 24, 2012 11:50 pm

Rakshasa wrote:Buddha had become extremely popular by the time some Brahmins appended BG to the epic "Mahabharata". Krishna, which ironically means "dark", has no mention as a god in any of the Vedas, Brahmanas, Upanishads and other early Brahmanical literature. Even the later puranas, which are written AFTER BG, point a very mundane picture of Krishna who died a very worldly death through starvation.


How "late" is the Bhagavata-Purana (Srimad-Bhagavatam) in which Krishna is the prime figure?
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Re: A Hare Krishna view of Buddhist practice in Bhutan

Postby kirtu » Tue Dec 25, 2012 1:40 am

JKhedrup wrote:I am not convinced following their path can lead to liberation or enlightenment but due to the strong emphasis on discipline and morality I think it could lead to higher rebirth. You see them all the time in India distributing blessed vegetarian food to the poor people, and even in Amsterdam a small group of them distributes food in low income/drug affected areas.


But low income places in Amsterdam are generally places where people can live well compared to other low income places in other countries (actually I cannot recall actually seeing any place in Amsterdam that I could actually say was low income) - with the possible exceptions of illegal immigration situations or some sex trade situations where people don't know that the Dutch police will really protect them. Holland is a true social democracy.

Drug affected areas are in one sense all of Amsterdam - so you mean serious drug abuse situations. That's very admirable.

Growing up in Hawaii there was constant Hare Krishna dancing outside the International Marketplace in downtown Honolulu.

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"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
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Re: A Hare Krishna view of Buddhist practice in Bhutan

Postby kirtu » Tue Dec 25, 2012 1:47 am

JKhedrup wrote:
Thank you for your explanation,” I said. “But I would like to know if the soul remains an individual when attaining enlightenment. In our philosophy the liberated soul goes to a spiritual abode to associate eternally with the Supreme Soul, God.”

The guru looked puzzled. He thought for a moment. “In Vajrayana Buddhism,” he said, “we also believe in a heavenly abode: the land of Buddha.”

“But what exactly is it like there?” I asked.

“That, no one knows,” he said.

“Thank you,” I said. “We will take our leave now.”


I wonder if there was just a language problem. While the Pure Lands can be taught as a heaven that's not the same conception as in ISKON or any other creator deity system. And why the lama stopped there is not clear either.

As we started driving Sri Prahlada took out his computer. “Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur had a similar encounter with a Buddhist monk,” he said. “He writes in text 13 of his Tattva-viveka, First Realization, ‘I once asked some questions of a Buddhist monk from Myanmar. He answered my questions by saying, “God is beginningless. He created the entire world.
Assuming the form of Buddha, He descended to this world and then again, assuming His form as God, He returned to Heaven.” From what he told me, I could see that this Buddhist monk from Myanmar did not know the true Buddhist philosophy.’”


I have had some Burmese tell me something similar because they either don't know or because they thought that I held a creator deity as an inviolable tenant.

We can see that ISKCON like many other Hindu-based organizations tries to place Lord Buddha in the role of an avatar of Vishnu, whose philosophy was only established to prevent the killing of animals-


I've had ISKON influenced people assert exactly this about Shakyamuni Buddha.

“The conclusion is that Buddha actually did advocate an atheistic philosophy,” I said. “But he did so because people at that time were using the Vedas to condone the killing of animals. Therefore Buddha said, ‘Don’t follow the Vedas. Follow me.’ Thus he tricked them into following the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

“By doing so they would gradually become purified and eventually be able to once again understand the soul as the eternal servant of God. Because the guru we just spoke to is on that path, we must respect him.”


See - "All's well that end's well" :thinking: :stirthepot:


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"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
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Re: A Hare Krishna view of Buddhist practice in Bhutan

Postby Music » Wed Dec 26, 2012 6:54 pm

Iskconites are plain weird, not to mention vulgar and antagonistic toward anyone who doesn't acknowledge their perverted version of reality. There may be a few good iskconites like indrymya swami, but that's for PR more than anything else.
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Re: A Hare Krishna view of Buddhist practice in Bhutan

Postby catmoon » Wed Dec 26, 2012 10:36 pm

If you think they are weird now, you should have seen them in the 70's. Big improvements have occurred. If this trend is not stopped it won't be long before they win widespread respect, maybe even admiration. Crazier things have happened.
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Re: A Hare Krishna view of Buddhist practice in Bhutan

Postby JKhedrup » Wed Dec 26, 2012 11:53 pm

IMO They are ahead of both Buddhism and the Catholic Church in terms of making reparations to victims of child abuse and setting up systems to protect children from abusers.

It would be great if Buddhist organizations would set up an office of child protection like they have- all situations where adults are handling children should be subject to oversight because we know child abuse can happen anywhere- religions, boyscouts, families etc.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
JKhedrup
 
Posts: 2324
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India


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