Meeting Taiwan's new-age Buddhists

A place for discussion of current events. Buddhist news would be particularly appreciated.

Re: Meeting Taiwan's new-age Buddhists

Postby Zhen Li » Sun Feb 09, 2014 10:59 pm

I have no idea about schedules or routines, on which you are probably correct that it is not the primary emphasis, but as far as places and resources go, as far as I have seen Theravada temples and Tibetan ones, the amount at FGS was more, and impressive. The Theravada and Tibetan temples I have seen did not have large meditation specific buildings, usually they would convert a shrine room or something like that into a meditation room, or just use their bed rooms. Then again, I haven't seen any Tibetan or Theravada ones as big as FGS, and I don't even think there are many of that size, so naturally FGS would have to have more places.
User avatar
Zhen Li
 
Posts: 1119
Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:15 am
Location: Canada

Re: Meeting Taiwan's new-age Buddhists

Postby Zhen Li » Mon Feb 10, 2014 12:06 am

Just to add to that: yes, I was speaking based upon only what I have seen, so there is certainly a bias, but I am pretty sure that without going to South or South East Asia, which may not happen for another year or two, I probably won't see anything bigger.

But I think the idea that you won't experience any meditation at FGS is not true, you definitely will, and in the end, how you use and develop your mind depends on your own effort. While the majority of the path is not meditation, you can effectively meditate while doing any other part of the path. Meditation is seeing and understanding dependent origination, watching the coming and passing away of feeling, and noticing when you grasp to objects, and how your mind attaches to them and causes you suffering. It is then actively relaxing and releasing the tension and tightness in your body and mind, and allowing any feeling to be there without pushing it away, or attaching to it. It's seeing when the hindrances arise, and pass away, and replacing them with wholesome and loving states of mind directed at the object of meditation, whatever it happens to be at the time.

That's not just sitting in a large building or having a centre set apart. That's life.

I'm not a big fan of the idea of super long retreats. I think that if progress can't be made in a short meditation retreat, let alone a month, or even in daily life, then something is wrong with the practice or instruction that needs to be fixed. That's as far as Shravaka and Mahayana goes, devotion to a tantric practice is probably a different case however.
User avatar
Zhen Li
 
Posts: 1119
Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:15 am
Location: Canada

Re: Meeting Taiwan's new-age Buddhists

Postby Indrajala » Tue Feb 11, 2014 1:15 pm

Qianxi wrote:Helping others is at odds with the Boddhisattva path?


The bodhisattva is not about salvation through good works. A pauper cannot pay the debts of another. A bodhisattva requires wisdom lest their meritorious deeds are mundane and at best result in palliative care.


So what? Without donations of money all charitable organisations would have to rely on donations of other goods. There's no need to live as if the apocalypse has already happened. Think of all the temples in Buddhist history that have been erected and then fallen to dust. Does the fact of impermanence make all action futile?


Given the terrifying energy crisis humanity is facing in the coming decades (it is already starting), relying on an increasingly strained financial class just to maintain your organization is unwise.

The whispers on the wind as of late is that the money is drying up. I've heard this around Asia. Business isn't doing as well as it used to (the slowed economic growth around Asia is proof of this), and consequently donors of various stripes and colors simply don't and won't have the same funds available to give as they once did.

The same concerns apply anywhere else in the Buddhist world. Around Nepal and India I see magnificent Tibetan monasteries and wonder if the money will be available in the decades to come to maintain such facilities.

It was created as a response to foreign invasion, grew during the Second World War and was taken to Taiwan by war refugees. Lots of their monastic colleagues and family members were killed during the war or during the Cultural Revolution. How much more war and death is needed to complete the test?


Humanistic Buddhism was developed after the war in Taiwan primarily. Taiwan was not actually subject to the actual state of full out war. Humanistic Buddhism has flourished in times of relative peace and economic prosperity. Now, it remains to be seen if it will survive times of great hardship. Traditional Chinese institutions, like decentralized non-sectarian temples, got through many dynasties and civil wars. It was arguably inefficient compared to what exists now, but efficiency is bought with complexity, which entails fragility.
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5986
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Taiwan

Re: Meeting Taiwan's new-age Buddhists

Postby Indrajala » Tue Feb 11, 2014 1:18 pm

Zhen Li wrote:And I'd be curious really to know what war experiences are lacking, Buddhists in China experienced lots of persecution just as they did in Tibet, and Master Hsing Yun's own teacher was killed by the Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution. The kind of total war that Indrajala was talking about really aren't likely to occur any time in the near future, and have become more rare these days everywhere in the world.


Progress is neither perpetual nor permanent.

The relative peace and prosperity we enjoy now was bought with the energy surplus gained from burning through several hundred million years of concentrated solar energy in the form of fossil fuels. Unfortunately, our resources are finite and we can expect a return to the old normal of perpetual conflict and resource related conflicts.
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5986
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Taiwan

Re: Meeting Taiwan's new-age Buddhists

Postby Jikan » Tue Feb 11, 2014 2:20 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Zhen Li wrote:And I'd be curious really to know what war experiences are lacking, Buddhists in China experienced lots of persecution just as they did in Tibet, and Master Hsing Yun's own teacher was killed by the Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution. The kind of total war that Indrajala was talking about really aren't likely to occur any time in the near future, and have become more rare these days everywhere in the world.


Progress is neither perpetual nor permanent.

The relative peace and prosperity we enjoy now was bought with the energy surplus gained from burning through several hundred million years of concentrated solar energy in the form of fossil fuels. Unfortunately, our resources are finite and we can expect a return to the old normal of perpetual conflict and resource related conflicts.


Actually, those resource related conflicts are already underway, and have been for a long time. The relative peace and prosperity you describe is enjoyed by a minority of the planet's population, who are insulated from the violence of the scramble for mineral wealth. The 11 September 1973 coup in which Nixon's state department pushed a democratically-elected president, Allende, out of power in Chile largely had to do with access to copper, bringing in Pinochet's neoliberal reign of terror. Bush & Blair's great patriotic adventure in Iraq *may* have had a thing or two to do with petroleum, as did the forceful ouster of the democratically-elected Mossadegh in Iran in the mid-1950s (the latter explaining the deep historical resentment felt by Iranians toward the UK & US; look up "operation ajax"). I could go on but it suffices to point out that the bloodiest war on planet earth right now is a mineral war in in the Congo, so three cheers for the coltan in your smartphone. Maybe ask Siri if it matters when brown people die or go hungry...

http://books.google.com/books/about/Pla ... oaDLPB2jAC

Not a rhetorical question: does objecting to violent policies, that is to say policies and practices predicated only in aggression and hatred, greed and lust for power and wealth, pride, envy, and blind ignorance of consequences amount to trying to "fix samsara"?

Samsara can't be fixed, but human conduct can be.

http://blogs.dickinson.edu/buddhistethi ... iberation/
Need help getting on retreat? Want to support others in practice? Pay the Dana for Dharma forum a visit...

viewtopic.php?f=114&t=13727
Jikan
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5772
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm

Re: Meeting Taiwan's new-age Buddhists

Postby Zhen Li » Tue Feb 11, 2014 2:21 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Zhen Li wrote:And I'd be curious really to know what war experiences are lacking, Buddhists in China experienced lots of persecution just as they did in Tibet, and Master Hsing Yun's own teacher was killed by the Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution. The kind of total war that Indrajala was talking about really aren't likely to occur any time in the near future, and have become more rare these days everywhere in the world.


Progress is neither perpetual nor permanent.

The relative peace and prosperity we enjoy now was bought with the energy surplus gained from burning through several hundred million years of concentrated solar energy in the form of fossil fuels. Unfortunately, our resources are finite and we can expect a return to the old normal of perpetual conflict and resource related conflicts.

:crying: Negativity, negativity, negativity.

Get away from me with that stuff. That's not relevant to the Buddhist path. :buddha1:

Unbeneficial, unendearing, and disagreeable. Also assumptive. :juggling:

I don't trust you to predict the weather tomorrow, why should I trust you with predictions of future history? :coffee:
User avatar
Zhen Li
 
Posts: 1119
Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:15 am
Location: Canada

Re: Meeting Taiwan's new-age Buddhists

Postby pueraeternus » Tue Feb 11, 2014 2:55 pm

Zhen Li wrote::crying: Negativity, negativity, negativity.

Get away from me with that stuff. That's not relevant to the Buddhist path. :buddha1:

Unbeneficial, unendearing, and disagreeable. Also assumptive. :juggling:

I don't trust you to predict the weather tomorrow, why should I trust you with predictions of future history? :coffee:


Eh? Recognizing negativity is certainly essential to the Buddhist path.
If you believe certain words, you believe their hidden arguments. When you believe something is right or wrong, true of false, you believe the assumptions in the words which express the arguments. Such assumptions are often full of holes, but remain most precious to the convinced.

- The Open-Ended Proof from The Panoplia Prophetica
User avatar
pueraeternus
 
Posts: 805
Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:10 pm

Re: Meeting Taiwan's new-age Buddhists

Postby Zhen Li » Tue Feb 11, 2014 3:15 pm

Yeah, but some people believe in promoting it's propagation.
User avatar
Zhen Li
 
Posts: 1119
Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:15 am
Location: Canada

Re: Meeting Taiwan's new-age Buddhists

Postby Indrajala » Tue Feb 11, 2014 3:23 pm

Zhen Li wrote:I don't trust you to predict the weather tomorrow, why should I trust you with predictions of future history? :coffee:


Perhaps you are unaware of the Limits to Growth study which is proving increasingly accurate:

Image
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5986
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Taiwan

Re: Meeting Taiwan's new-age Buddhists

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Feb 11, 2014 3:57 pm

You know, I work as a translator in FPMT. So I give a lot of my energy and heart at the centre here. Also, FPMT ran the TIbetan course where I gained my skills and helped financially to study on it.
So we are very much intertwined back and forth.
Still, I try to make sure I don't get too emotionally invested in an organization. FPMT has been criticized here, so have the Maitreya Project and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Rather than getting offended and impatient, I try to evaluate some of the arguments. If I feel they don't have merit, why let them bother me?
Like you said, FGS is made up of all types of people. Why be so emotionally invested in defending it? If Ven. Indrajala is off base, surely the many contented practitioners of Humanistic Buddhism will not be swayed by his opinions.
Hearing opinions we don't like can be a really good practice of patience.
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: 2327
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

Re: Meeting Taiwan's new-age Buddhists

Postby Zhen Li » Tue Feb 11, 2014 4:02 pm

Sometimes, if you express an idea the same way 20 times, and it still doesn't resonate, it might make sense to try a different way. I'm not emotionally effected really, except I find it all extremely humorous and it makes me laugh.

It's not really a question of just seeing some flaws, it's a question of thinking that the whole thing is corrupt to the core, that it's an abusive cult, and that it's doomed to extermination.

Really, does this sound like a normal thing to suggest? Does this really seem to be correct, or maybe, just maybe, a little bit skewed.
User avatar
Zhen Li
 
Posts: 1119
Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:15 am
Location: Canada

Re: Meeting Taiwan's new-age Buddhists

Postby Qianxi » Tue Feb 11, 2014 7:07 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Qianxi wrote:Helping others is at odds with the Boddhisattva path?

The bodhisattva is not about salvation through good works. A pauper cannot pay the debts of another. A bodhisattva requires wisdom lest their meritorious deeds are mundane and at best result in palliative care.

In the list of six perfections in the Lotus Sutra and Prajnaparamita sutras Dāna is first perfection and Prajñā is the sixth. I'd say starting with mundane meritorious deeds is exactly in line with the standard Boddhisattva path.

Indrajala wrote:Humanistic Buddhism was developed after the war in Taiwan primarily..

No that's totally wrong. In 1933 Taixu gave a speech "How to create a Humanistic Buddhism?" (怎樣來建設人間佛教), in 1934 the popular Buddhist magazine Sound of the Tide 海潮音 published a special edition dedicated to Humanistic Buddhism, during the second world war there were two magazines published with Humanistic Buddhism in their title (《人間佛教》in Malaysia and 《人間佛教月刊》 in Zhejiang, mainland China). Yinshun was 43 when he left mainland China in 1949. He had already published dozens of essays (eg. Buddhism: Crisis and the Cure 佛法之危機及其救濟, 1932; The Buddha Among Us 佛在人間, 1941; On Reforming Monks' Clothing 僧裝改革評議, 1947) and several books (eg. Indian Buddhism 印度之佛教, 1942)

The reason why this is important is that Humanistic Buddhism is actually a very philosophically subtle tradition, and the story of its creation is full of interest and drama (influence of Christian missionaries and New Confucianism http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Confucianism , Japanese invasion...). It was one of the first sustained attempts to reconcile Buddhist theory to the modern world and to modern Buddhist scholarship. As such its highly relevant to western Buddhist practitioners.

I'd suggest you ignore Xingyun and read some Yinshun.
Qianxi
 
Posts: 102
Joined: Mon Aug 12, 2013 11:23 pm

Re: Meeting Taiwan's new-age Buddhists

Postby Indrajala » Tue Feb 11, 2014 7:22 pm

Qianxi wrote:In the list of six perfections in the Lotus Sutra and Prajnaparamita sutras Dāna is first perfection and Prajñā is the sixth. I'd say starting with mundane meritorious deeds is exactly in line with the standard Boddhisattva path.


Where does liberating wisdom come into play with Humanistic Buddhism?

I'm not so sure you see much discussion of such things, at least at the popular level. It isn't like a Tibetan teacher who immediately gets to the point of Buddhadharma, which is liberation from suffering.

There's also widespread abandonment of Buddhist gods in Humanistic Buddhism, which I find disappointing. Their icons and rites seem to have been largely removed.


No that's totally wrong.


Note how I qualified my statement with 'primarily'. I'm aware the ideology was formulated in previous decades, but it really took shape and direction after the war.


As such its highly relevant to western Buddhist practitioners.


If that were so, there would be a lot more westerners flocking to Taiwanese Buddhism, but you don't see that. FGS tries to reach out to youth through their Woodenfish program, but frankly when I did it a lot of people walked away with a negative impression of not just FGS, but the version of Buddhism they presented us with. The word "cult" was used in discussions rather liberally.

The general message of Tibetan Buddhism strikes a cord with a lot more western minds than anything coming out of modern Chinese Buddhism (note also how modern Japanese Zen is popular while modern Chinese Chan is not).
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5986
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Taiwan

Re: Meeting Taiwan's new-age Buddhists

Postby Zhen Li » Tue Feb 11, 2014 8:56 pm

If the shrines are already too big to be affordable according to you, then I do think it is reasonable to expect the to emulate the baroque elaborateness of historic temples. And it's just not a value in humanistic Buddhism. But your disappointment in this regard is understandable.

Ven. Khedrup and I discussed FGS extensively last summer over coffee, and he can certainly testify that I do not have a purely starry eyed view of FGS, I am well aware of their faults. But that westerners aren't drawn to it, which I fully admit and that they do not really make much effort to draw westerners, doesn't mean that it is a cult and doesn't mean that it's wholly valueless as aBuddhist organization I the twenty first century. It is still the largest organization of Buddhists inTaiwan. They do a lot of good, charity, disaster relief, education. If it were a cult you would see more demands to separate from families, you would see more denouncing of other sects. I recently discovered what a cult is first hand, discovering that there is one in a neighbourhood just north of me that is worldwide. It's really a different animal.

If Ven. Khedrup is wondering, my opinion of FGS is the same it was in the summer, some flaws, but my experience in Taiwan was also eye opening to the humanity of the organization too. I'm not inclined to say that FGS is more suited to the needs of Buddhists than FPMT or CTTB, I'm simply not inclined to pan it out of hand also, since it does have a lot of value in certain regards. Every organization has it's strengths and weaknesses, and I believe that you could say that "they ignore some of the Buddhas teachings" to all of them.
:anjali:
User avatar
Zhen Li
 
Posts: 1119
Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:15 am
Location: Canada

Re: Meeting Taiwan's new-age Buddhists

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Feb 11, 2014 8:58 pm

Hahaha I had no idea who I was talking to in this thread! Good to see you! Hope all is well with your studies!

I think the immense cermonies that are considered "chuangyen" (dignified) in Chinese culture may seem cult-like to Westerners. But this is not really based on anything other than different cultural mores.

And honestly, if that type of stuff creeps you out Dhammakaya would set your cult radar off the grid. FGS has nothing on Dhammakaya in terms of scale.

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: 2327
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

Re: Meeting Taiwan's new-age Buddhists

Postby Seishin » Tue Feb 11, 2014 9:11 pm

Topic locked for clean-up sorry for any inconvenience.
User avatar
Seishin
Former staff member
 
Posts: 1468
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:53 am

Re: Meeting Taiwan's new-age Buddhists

Postby Seishin » Tue Feb 11, 2014 9:25 pm

I'd like to take this opportunity to remind everyone of our new polite discourse policy
http://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=109&t=15421 Right Speech and Enlightened Discussion

Topic opened

Gassho,
Seishin
Last edited by Adamantine on Tue Feb 11, 2014 9:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: to fix formatting
User avatar
Seishin
Former staff member
 
Posts: 1468
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:53 am

Re: Meeting Taiwan's new-age Buddhists

Postby Qianxi » Tue Feb 11, 2014 9:31 pm

Yeah, I take back "totally wrong". Modern Taiwan and 1930s China are obviously two very different places. I just find 1930s China more interesting!

Indrajala wrote:Where does liberating wisdom come into play with Humanistic Buddhism?

Well, I don't know. Humanistic Buddhism is more of an attitude or a general emphasis rather than a set of dogmas. Yinshun wrote a lot about prajnaparamita and about the history of 'emptiness' in Buddhism, if that's the kind of thing you mean.

I think you associate Humanistic Buddhism with the organisational atmosphere of Foguang Shan monastery, whereas I know nothing about that and i'm not interested (although their role in facilitating bhikkhuni ordination is very laudable, see these videos: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_q ... 20sravasti ).
I associate Humanistic Buddhism with the writings of Yinshun and Shengyan, which I find very relevant to myself as a westerner interested in Buddhism. Yinshun is especially interesting on questions such as "how does a Mahayana Buddhist make sense of the fact that Mahayana scriptures were composed long after the Buddha's death?" Shengyan on topics like "are the Indian scriptures even relevant to a Zen practitioner?"
Qianxi
 
Posts: 102
Joined: Mon Aug 12, 2013 11:23 pm

Re: Meeting Taiwan's new-age Buddhists

Postby Zhen Li » Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:23 pm

Yes my dharma name changed, I thought you knew it was me. :P

Well, I kind of grew up with FGS, so maybe now I am not shocked by the ceremonies, but I do remember at first I didn't like the either. I think it all comes back to ones perspective of the ceremonies, you can view them as a chore, or as meditative. I have all sorts of fun in my mind during a ceremony.

As for cult like, I'm not sure why people would really think that, since the main feature of a cult is really a restriction of movement and contact with your old acquaintances, and disparaging of any alternative organizations. Maybe Indrajala could clarify.
User avatar
Zhen Li
 
Posts: 1119
Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:15 am
Location: Canada

Re: Meeting Taiwan's new-age Buddhists

Postby Indrajala » Wed Feb 12, 2014 7:14 am

Zhen Li wrote:If the shrines are already too big to be affordable according to you, then I do think it is reasonable to expect the to emulate the baroque elaborateness of historic temples.


An old fashioned Tang style wooden structure is not that difficult to build and maintain with simple hand tools. They also need not be elaborate or even that big.


But that westerners aren't drawn to it, which I fully admit and that they do not really make much effort to draw westerners, doesn't mean that it is a cult and doesn't mean that it's wholly valueless as aBuddhist organization I the twenty first century. It is still the largest organization of Buddhists inTaiwan. They do a lot of good, charity, disaster relief, education.


Sure, it does a number of good activities, though like I said I've met several ex-FGS monastics and they complained about mistreatment of some sort or another. I also spent some time with the organization. Their administrative decisions leave me wondering about the moral qualities of their top brass, too. Moreover, I have contacts which tell me things in private, both from Taiwan and elsewhere like India and Singapore. This is why I am morally obligated to warn people about getting involved in FGS. I wish I didn't have to.

I also don't issue these warnings lightly. This isn't just some random bloke on an internet forum complaining. You have to realize I'm burning some bridges and shooting myself in the foot. FGS is involved in the academic world and run conferences, like on translation of Buddhist Chinese texts, which relate to what I do. My public criticism and earlier blog entry (it got a lot of hits) basically means I won't have anything to do with FGS or their sponsored activities ever again, which closes some doors in the future presumably.
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5986
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Taiwan

PreviousNext

Return to News & Current Events

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests

>