Spiritual Arrogance

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Spiritual Arrogance

Postby thornbush » Wed May 06, 2009 4:41 am

This interesting excerpt from the late Ven Master Sheng-yen:
http://www.ddm.org.au/Downloads/CHANPRA ... 092004.pdf
However there are those who hear the Chan saying,
‘everyone possesses the Buddha nature’ and consider themselves equivalent to the Buddha with complete wisdom. They are, in fact, worthless and arrogant beings. They then, upon seeing the image of a Buddha, not only refuse to prostrate, but exclaim in mockery that present Buddhas do not prostrate to clay, coloured and carved images of Buddha!

Such people only believe that their own mind is Buddha and that there is no Buddha outside of themselves. When they see other people prostrate, they call it attachment.
When they see people prostrate to Venerable Masters, these so-called ‘Chan practitioners’ shake their heads and sigh: “There is no need to prostrate to the Buddha let alone the Sangha.”

Once a person, while prostrating to me, was pulled up by a layman who said to that person, “Don’t prostrate! Don’t harm the master!”
I, being prostrated to, was being harmed? I was puzzled. I asked, “What do you mean? How can he harm me?”
He said, “If you are really an accomplished and great monk, why do you still need people to prostrate to you? If you do, that means in your mind there is attachment.
The more he prostrates the more you feel like a great monk. You’ll never attain liberation and enlightenment in this life.”
Oh! I thought he has a point.
He continued, “If you really have attained liberation then when he prostrates to you, you should reproach him: don’t be attached to form, no form of self, no form of others, no form of sentient beings and no form of longevity, obviously no form of Master and disciples. Why are you prostrating then?”
Oh! This layman really has sharp tongue. I asked him, “Do you prostrate to the Buddha?”
He said, “I prostrate to the Buddha in my mind.”
I asked, “How do you do that?”
He replied, “I don’t use my body to do it, I use my mind.”
I asked, “How do you use your mind to do it?”
He said, “Having my mind liberated is prostration. Having no hindrance in the mind is prostration.” He implied that there was no need to prostrate to Buddha and Bodhisattvas and he believed in nothing other than himself.

Actually, this is neither Buddhism nor Chan but a type of arrogance, an erroneous view that lacks faith. This type of person may have had some experiences in meditation and developed a kind of pride and overconfidence. After having read some so-called Chan text, they become ‘bound’ and they think that they have attained liberation.

A very similar admonishment parallel here:
http://www.dharmaweb.org/index.php/Sutr ... cumstances
Bhikkhu Fa Da, a native of Hung Zhou...came to pay homage to the Patriarch, he failed to lower his head to the ground. For his abbreviated courtesy the Patriarch reproved him, saying, "If you object to lower your head to the ground, would it not be better do away with salutation entirely? There must be something in your mind that makes you so puffed up. Tell me what you do in your daily exercise."

"Recite the Saddharma Pundarika Sutra," replied Fa Da. "I have read the whole text three thousand times."

"Had you grasped the meaning of the Sutra," remarked the Patriarch, "you would not have assumed such a lofty bearing, even if you had read it ten thousand times. Had you grasped it, you would be treading the same Path as mine. What you have accomplished has already made you conceited, and moreover, you do not seem to realize that this is wrong. Listen to my stanza:--
Since the object of ceremony is to curb arrogance
Why did you fail to lower your head to the ground?
'To believe in a self' is the source of sin,
But 'to treat all attainment as void' attains merit incomparable!

What do you think? Comments? :thanks:
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Re: Spiritual Arrogance

Postby genkaku » Wed May 06, 2009 11:26 am

I seem to recall that my teacher's teacher, Soen Nakagawa Roshi, was once upbraided by a student for bowing to the altar. The student said something like, "I spit on the altar." And Soen replied mildly, "You choose to spit. I choose to bow."
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Re: Spiritual Arrogance

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Wed May 06, 2009 4:39 pm

Great topic, Thorny. :namaste:
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Re: Spiritual Arrogance

Postby Drolma » Wed May 06, 2009 9:09 pm

thornbush wrote:This interesting excerpt from the late Ven Master Sheng-yen:
http://www.ddm.org.au/Downloads/CHANPRA ... 092004.pdf
However there are those who hear the Chan saying,
‘everyone possesses the Buddha nature’ and consider themselves equivalent to the Buddha with complete wisdom. They are, in fact, worthless and arrogant beings. They then, upon seeing the image of a Buddha, not only refuse to prostrate, but exclaim in mockery that present Buddhas do not prostrate to clay, coloured and carved images of Buddha!

Such people only believe that their own mind is Buddha and that there is no Buddha outside of themselves. When they see other people prostrate, they call it attachment.
When they see people prostrate to Venerable Masters, these so-called ‘Chan practitioners’ shake their heads and sigh: “There is no need to prostrate to the Buddha let alone the Sangha.”

Once a person, while prostrating to me, was pulled up by a layman who said to that person, “Don’t prostrate! Don’t harm the master!”
I, being prostrated to, was being harmed? I was puzzled. I asked, “What do you mean? How can he harm me?”
He said, “If you are really an accomplished and great monk, why do you still need people to prostrate to you? If you do, that means in your mind there is attachment.
The more he prostrates the more you feel like a great monk. You’ll never attain liberation and enlightenment in this life.”
Oh! I thought he has a point.
He continued, “If you really have attained liberation then when he prostrates to you, you should reproach him: don’t be attached to form, no form of self, no form of others, no form of sentient beings and no form of longevity, obviously no form of Master and disciples. Why are you prostrating then?”
Oh! This layman really has sharp tongue. I asked him, “Do you prostrate to the Buddha?”
He said, “I prostrate to the Buddha in my mind.”
I asked, “How do you do that?”
He replied, “I don’t use my body to do it, I use my mind.”
I asked, “How do you use your mind to do it?”
He said, “Having my mind liberated is prostration. Having no hindrance in the mind is prostration.” He implied that there was no need to prostrate to Buddha and Bodhisattvas and he believed in nothing other than himself.

Actually, this is neither Buddhism nor Chan but a type of arrogance, an erroneous view that lacks faith. This type of person may have had some experiences in meditation and developed a kind of pride and overconfidence. After having read some so-called Chan text, they become ‘bound’ and they think that they have attained liberation.

A very similar admonishment parallel here:
http://www.dharmaweb.org/index.php/Sutr ... cumstances
Bhikkhu Fa Da, a native of Hung Zhou...came to pay homage to the Patriarch, he failed to lower his head to the ground. For his abbreviated courtesy the Patriarch reproved him, saying, "If you object to lower your head to the ground, would it not be better do away with salutation entirely? There must be something in your mind that makes you so puffed up. Tell me what you do in your daily exercise."

"Recite the Saddharma Pundarika Sutra," replied Fa Da. "I have read the whole text three thousand times."

"Had you grasped the meaning of the Sutra," remarked the Patriarch, "you would not have assumed such a lofty bearing, even if you had read it ten thousand times. Had you grasped it, you would be treading the same Path as mine. What you have accomplished has already made you conceited, and moreover, you do not seem to realize that this is wrong. Listen to my stanza:--
Since the object of ceremony is to curb arrogance
Why did you fail to lower your head to the ground?
'To believe in a self' is the source of sin,
But 'to treat all attainment as void' attains merit incomparable!

What do you think? Comments? :thanks:


:bow: :bow: :bow:
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Re: Spiritual Arrogance

Postby Luke » Thu May 07, 2009 10:14 pm

Buddhist Badboy, Dharma Desperado, Refuge Rogue, Nirvana Ninja, Sutra Psycho... :spy: :guns:

Yes, there is something comical about the "tough guy" attitude that people sometimes get wrapped up in while trying to practice one of the meditation-intensive schools of Buddhism....Yet, the intensity of these schools is part of their mystique. I admit that I've had some of this bravado in me for a long time, and now that I've found a real teacher, I find myself slowly having to unlearn this way of thinking as I try to relax more and awaken my inner compassion.
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Re: Spiritual Arrogance

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu May 07, 2009 10:30 pm

Sharon Salzberg, U.S. vipassana teacher once started a meditation group meeting with a deep bow to the Buddha statue. After the meditation session one student came to her and said something like, "how could you bow to a Buddha statue? Don't you know how archaic and backwards and superstitious that is?"

And then another student came to her and said, "thank you for bowing to the Buddha statue, there was something so serene and peaceful about that deep bow that you did."

I don't know, but it seems the second student who admired the bow appears more spiritually advanced.
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Re: Spiritual Arrogance

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Thu May 07, 2009 10:48 pm

I think the first student wasn't aware that it's not about the statue, but the mind.

:bow:
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Re: Spiritual Arrogance

Postby Luke » Sat May 09, 2009 3:41 pm

I'm no expert at these things, but ancient masters have seemed to always do what their students were not expecting. If their students were very traditional and devout Buddhists, then the masters did something crazy like throwing around Buddha statues or hitting their students with assorted objects. For modern westerners, bowing might feel much more shocking.

When I first went to my current sangha, I admit that I did feel very strange being around other westerners who made three prostrations when they entered the temple (the western part of my mind was saying "Hey, I'm not a slave or a cult member. What is this?"). Although now I've gotten used to it and I do it now too.

I can picture a "tough guy" sangha:

ATTENTION: Now entering the Black Dragon Zendo
Headband REQUIRED!
Scowling mandatory.
Martial arts encouraged.

Image
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Re: Spiritual Arrogance

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Sat May 09, 2009 5:49 pm

I can picture a "tough guy" sangha:

ATTENTION: Now entering the Black Dragon Zendo
Headband REQUIRED!
Scowling mandatory.
Martial arts encouraged.


:lol:
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Re: Spiritual Arrogance

Postby sraddha » Fri Jun 05, 2009 1:28 am

Great topic!

To me, bowing with this body, is Mara bowing down to Buddha.
This body, mind, speech, created by ignorance a slave to Mara, bowing down to Buddha.
Ignorance and enslavement bows down to knowledge and freedom!
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Re: Spiritual Arrogance

Postby genkaku » Mon Jun 08, 2009 5:21 pm

I wonder how the arrogance of 'understanding' compares with the arrogance that can display itself in 'humility.'
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Re: Spiritual Arrogance

Postby Heruka » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:46 pm

Can you not recognize the real master in front of you?
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Re: Spiritual Arrogance

Postby ShadedLotus » Thu Jun 18, 2009 10:04 pm

I think, for those of us born in the West, it is easy to view prostration and bowing not as acts of reverence but as acts of worship. For example, I remember a time, when I was around 13 years old, that my family and I while on vacation visited a local Buddhist temple (I believe it was advertised, so it's not like we were just barging in). I saw a man bowing down to what I now assume was a Shakyamuni statue. I was a Christian at the time and didn't know much about Buddhism, so I figured that he was worshiping the statue. Looking back, I wonder if it was around that time that the seeds for Buddhism were planted in my life. It is sort of funny; I had a lot of encounters with it through various mediums around that point of my life.

Anyway, I think it really comes down to what your intentions are. We should show reverence to any great teacher, whether that involves prostration or something else. But, if that reverence (for Shakyamuni or any Buddha, for example) evolves into worship, then I think we have missed the point.

Looking back, this might not really have anything to do with the topic at hand. But I thought I would share it anyway, ha.
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Re: Spiritual Arrogance

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Fri Jun 19, 2009 4:40 am

Heruka wrote:Can you not recognize the real master in front of you?


:namaste:
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Re: Spiritual Arrogance

Postby dumb bonbu » Fri Jun 19, 2009 11:20 am

i wonder if arrogance, of any kind, is in part brought about by a lack of honesty in the way in which one faces oneself and others. i don't know, perhaps.
Although I too am within Amida's grasp,
Passions obstruct my eyes and I cannot see him;
Nevertheless, great compassion is untiring and
illumines me always.
- Shinran


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Re: Spiritual Arrogance

Postby ShadedLotus » Sat Jun 20, 2009 4:38 pm

Yes I think you are right. I think arrogance relies on an inflated view of one's self (i.e. we view ourselves as being better than we actually are). Good thought. :)
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Re: Spiritual Arrogance

Postby LastLegend » Sat Apr 16, 2011 9:06 am

David N. Snyder wrote:Sharon Salzberg, U.S. vipassana teacher once started a meditation group meeting with a deep bow to the Buddha statue. After the meditation session one student came to her and said something like, "how could you bow to a Buddha statue? Don't you know how archaic and backwards and superstitious that is?"

And then another student came to her and said, "thank you for bowing to the Buddha statue, there was something so serene and peaceful about that deep bow that you did."

I don't know, but it seems the second student who admired the bow appears more spiritually advanced.


Bowing to ask for something such as a material gain other than showing respect is superstition. Bowing to Buddha is a way to decrease our arrogance. So respect is very important in Buddhism. If we show people and everything we encounter with respect, then we are not showing them arrogance. So bowing is actually a practice. And I practice this.
Last edited by LastLegend on Sat Apr 16, 2011 2:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Spiritual Arrogance

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Apr 16, 2011 1:20 pm

Some people need to (be made) bow, some people need to (be made) to stop bowing. I don't think that there is any definite answer or right/wrong action.

For me, I needed to be made to bow (ngondro prostration accumulations) but I can see circumstances where people need to be told to not bow.
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"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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