Is modernity bad for practice?

No holds barred discussion on the Buddhadharma. Argue about rebirth, karma, commentarial interpretations etc. Be nice to each other.

Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby shel » Fri Nov 30, 2012 3:29 am

jeeprs wrote:
shel wrote:It sounds like you're trying to say that moral law exists by itself, that it exists even where no sentient beings exist. Metaphysical and unchanging?


If you say 'where does this law exist?', the answer is the same as when you ask where the Buddha 'goes' when he dies. That answer that is given rhetorically as 'where does the fire go, when it is extinguished'? (more here.)

So the law doesn't 'exist where no sentient beings exist' - but it will never fail to operate wherever they do, and furthermore, it is through its operation that they come into existence in the first place. Even so it is never a question of 'where it exists' or whether it is 'external or internal' and so on.

You remind me of Gregory Wonderwheel in manner and ability to spin a tale.

It is through the operation of moral law that we come into existence. That's quite a thought!
shel
 
Posts: 1346
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 9:38 pm

Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Indrajala » Fri Nov 30, 2012 3:41 am

kirtu wrote:We can change that an create an actual Shambhala on Planet Earth. This doesn't mean that we can transform established countries into Shambhala though but we can build an actual enlightened society that isn't rooted in either a materialistic or a medieval mind view.

Kirt


I don't believe this is realistic in our present age of kaliyuga. Afflictions are too strong. In this age the common mindset is marked by lies, deceit, greed, anger and ignorance, all of which mean that while people can collectively work for war, they are unlikely to collectively act to create a society which is ecologically harmonious and not founded on violence.

There are plenty of Buddhists who still think this is possible, but I don't subscribe to such views. I simply don't see it being realistic in our lifetimes or in future generations for many centuries to come.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5563
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby kirtu » Fri Nov 30, 2012 3:43 am

Huseng wrote:
kirtu wrote:We can change that an create an actual Shambhala on Planet Earth. This doesn't mean that we can transform established countries into Shambhala though but we can build an actual enlightened society that isn't rooted in either a materialistic or a medieval mind view.

Kirt


I don't believe this is realistic in our present age of kaliyuga. Afflictions are too strong. In this age the common mindset is marked by lies, deceit, greed, anger and ignorance, all of which mean that while people can collectively work for war, they are unlikely to collectively act to create a society which is ecologically harmonious and not founded on violence.

There are plenty of Buddhists who still think this is possible, but I don't subscribe to such views. I simply don't see it being realistic in our lifetimes or in future generations for many centuries to come.



Step 1: we buy some land .... or go to an established Buddhist place and work to improve it ....


Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
Hevajra Tantra
kirtu
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4101
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:29 pm
Location: Baltimore, MD

Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Indrajala » Fri Nov 30, 2012 3:53 am

kirtu wrote:
Step 1: we buy some land .... or go to an established Buddhist place and work to improve it ....


With a few people it might work, but too many and things would start to require arbitration, hierarchy, leadership, punitive measures, a written constitution and so on. You could count on at least a few neurotic people raising a ruckus when they felt they were mistreated, as well as some pedantic types who would have fits when someone said the wrong thing.

In past ages it is said that rules and even precepts were unnecessary for the sangha. The first three of the seven past buddhas (Vipaśyin, Śikhin and Viśvabhū) never had to establish precepts. This demonstrates that in earlier ages people were less prone to negative behavior, though in time with the cycle of time progressing afflictions have only increased, not decreased. We can expect this to continue for the time being and to only get worse. This is a time of decline. Hence, trying to build a utopia, even a small one, is doomed to failure in this age. As disappointing and pessimistic as that might sound, it is the reality we live in and as a Buddhist you'd be hard pressed to deny it given the overwhelming canonical sources which say what I'm saying here.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5563
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby viniketa » Fri Nov 30, 2012 3:56 am

If Buddhadharma predicts that the Dharma must perish before Buddha Maitreya will emerge, then must one "work" to maintain the conditions of Kaliyuga? Would not one desire the end of the Dharma-ending Age so that Buddha Maitreya will arrive?

(NOTE: I realize this is rather like fundamentalist Christians who decry efforts at peace under the assumption that Armageddon must take place before Christ returns and his 1000 year Reign of Peace begins).

:namaste:
If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
User avatar
viniketa
 
Posts: 819
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 2:39 am
Location: USA

Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Jnana » Fri Nov 30, 2012 3:59 am

kirtu wrote:We can change that an create an actual Shambhala on Planet Earth. This doesn't mean that we can transform established countries into Shambhala though but we can build an actual enlightened society that isn't rooted in either a materialistic or a medieval mind view.

This is what Trungpa Rinpoche was trying to do, replete with land and an anthem....
Jnana
 
Posts: 1106
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:58 pm

Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby jeeprs » Fri Nov 30, 2012 4:02 am

shel wrote:
jeeprs wrote:
shel wrote:It sounds like you're trying to say that moral law exists by itself, that it exists even where no sentient beings exist. Metaphysical and unchanging?


If you say 'where does this law exist?', the answer is the same as when you ask where the Buddha 'goes' when he dies. That answer that is given rhetorically as 'where does the fire go, when it is extinguished'? (more here.)

So the law doesn't 'exist where no sentient beings exist' - but it will never fail to operate wherever they do, and furthermore, it is through its operation that they come into existence in the first place. Even so it is never a question of 'where it exists' or whether it is 'external or internal' and so on.

You remind me of Gregory Wonderwheel in manner and ability to spin a tale.

It is through the operation of moral law that we come into existence. That's quite a thought!


I take that as a compliment!

:thanks:

But what I said is straight out of the texts:

When this is, that is.
From the arising of this comes the arising of that.
When this isn't, that isn't.
From the cessation of this comes the cessation of that.


It is what the Buddha teaches and it is indeed a universal principle.

We see it through Western eyes as some kind of 'religious lore' which deeply but subtly influences the way we see it.
He that knows it, knows it not.
User avatar
jeeprs
 
Posts: 1411
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Indrajala » Fri Nov 30, 2012 4:06 am

viniketa wrote:If Buddhadharma predicts that the Dharma must perish before Buddha Maitreya will emerge, then must one "work" to maintain the conditions of Kaliyuga? Would not one desire the end of the Dharma-ending Age so that Buddha Maitreya will arrive?



I don't think anyone is suggesting hastening the demise of the Buddhadharma.

The idea is just that eventually after Buddhadharma is long forgotten Maitreya will rediscover it and turn the Wheel of Dharma.

It really boils down to fate via a vast array of causes and conditions we were collectively born into. I don't really believe we can change the overall direction of things, but as an individual you still have options.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5563
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby deepbluehum » Fri Nov 30, 2012 4:19 am

What practitioners need is to connect with a lineage of blessing and realization so that, under the tutelage of a realized master, one can achieve balance between the world and practice. Then, in this or a future life one can attain complete liberation for oneself and be of most use to others.
deepbluehum
 
Posts: 1302
Joined: Sat Aug 13, 2011 2:05 am
Location: San Francisco, CA

Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby tobes » Fri Nov 30, 2012 4:52 am

jeeprs wrote:
Tobes wrote:By virtue of what is the Buddha a world honoured one and by virtue of what could Buddhism be considered a universal religion?


The Buddhist answer is: by virtue of awakening to pratītyasamutpāda, the Law of Conditioned Origination. From the Buddhist perspective, this is indeed a universal law, and it governs the affairs of every living being, even those in other realms.

There is no compulsion for you to believe that this is a law, but I think it is safe to say that Buddhists generally do so consider it.


But what is this but a very particular metaphysics of causation? I think you essentialise it here, and in doing so, fundamentally distort what it is.

But I agree that this it is so whether it is asserted or not, whether it is believed or not.

This means: we are talking about metaphysics here - how reality functions, and how beings living in that reality, function.

What you refer to as the scientific-secular view, if it may be so generalised, is very similar. What is Darwinian theory but a very particular metaphysics of causation? What is Newtonian physics but a very particular metaphysics of causation?

These too, are often referred to as laws. The law of gravity, for example.

However, the question of morality: how should we act, what should we do - given this particular metaphysics of causation - is a distinctly different kind of question.

It presupposes interpretation, value judgements, discourses (and the cultural-linguistic context in which discourses are embedded): these are necessarily contextual, particular.

"Given that, we should do this. Given that, we should do this."

The very structure of Buddhist moral discourse, is imbued with the logic of dependent co-arising: it must be dependent. Thus, it cannot be universal.

So I think you are slipping between metaphysics and ethics, and failing to see that the normative moments in Buddhist thought - the Vinaya, lay precepts, paramita's etc - cannot be universal moral laws.

If we are just talking about metaphysics, then I agree, we are in a domain of universality.

:anjali:
User avatar
tobes
 
Posts: 985
Joined: Fri Dec 24, 2010 5:02 am

Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby shel » Fri Nov 30, 2012 4:55 am

jeeprs wrote:I take that as a compliment!

Of course.

But what I said is straight out of the texts:

When this is, that is.
From the arising of this comes the arising of that.
When this isn't, that isn't.
From the cessation of this comes the cessation of that.


It is what the Buddha teaches and it is indeed a universal principle.

We see it through Western eyes as some kind of 'religious lore' which deeply but subtly influences the way we see it.


Subtly? Isn't the topic about modernity? Western eyes can see it in a variety of ways.

Another point of correction, what you wrote, "it is through its [moral law] operation that they [sentient beings] come into existence in the first place" has not been shown to be out of any text.
shel
 
Posts: 1346
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 9:38 pm

Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby tobes » Fri Nov 30, 2012 5:00 am

catmoon wrote:@ Tobes:


I am wondering if you would agree that your gist could be phrased as follows:

A modern highly technological society is a very different environment from a pre-tech, agrarian one. Dharma can be practiced equally well in either, but we are a bit short in the skillful means department these days. This shortage makes current, urban practice a bit difficult.


I'm not convinced that people were endowed with abundant skillful means in agrarian days either. In either case, dharma practice is extraordinarily difficult, and takes extraordinary effort. In either case, with extraordinary effort, difficult conditions may be overcome. I live in a city with 4 million people: before dawn, it is not hard to find tranquil conditions to sit.

:anjali:
User avatar
tobes
 
Posts: 985
Joined: Fri Dec 24, 2010 5:02 am

Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby kirtu » Fri Nov 30, 2012 5:03 am

Jnana wrote:
kirtu wrote:We can change that an create an actual Shambhala on Planet Earth. This doesn't mean that we can transform established countries into Shambhala though but we can build an actual enlightened society that isn't rooted in either a materialistic or a medieval mind view.

This is what Trungpa Rinpoche was trying to do, replete with land and an anthem....


Well an anthem is too much (as well as uniforms, etc.). But why didn't the Shambahalla people follow through on this idea (perhaps they did to an extent - I thought Gesar Mukpo was living for a while with a group of people in Halifax who had built /bought their own houses)?

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
Hevajra Tantra
kirtu
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4101
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:29 pm
Location: Baltimore, MD

Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Jnana » Fri Nov 30, 2012 5:31 am

kirtu wrote:Well an anthem is too much (as well as uniforms, etc.). But why didn't the Shambahalla people follow through on this idea (perhaps they did to an extent - I thought Gesar Mukpo was living for a while with a group of people in Halifax who had built /bought their own houses)?

AFAIK they're still at it. The Sakyong is running the show. Opinions vary on how it's all progressing....
Jnana
 
Posts: 1106
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:58 pm

Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby jeeprs » Fri Nov 30, 2012 5:37 am

Tobes wrote: If we are just talking about metaphysics, then I agree, we are in a domain of universality.


With respect, I think you are seeing the whole question through the lens of metaphysics. That conditions your response.

shel wrote: Another point of correction, what you wrote, "it is through its [moral law] operation that they [sentient beings] come into existence in the first place" has not been shown to be out of any text.


All beings come into existence on account of the Law of Dependent Origination.
He that knows it, knows it not.
User avatar
jeeprs
 
Posts: 1411
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby shel » Fri Nov 30, 2012 6:04 am

jeeprs wrote:
shel wrote: Another point of correction, what you wrote, "it is through its [moral law] operation that they [sentient beings] come into existence in the first place" has not been shown to be out of any text.


All beings come into existence on account of the Law of Dependent Origination.


Please tell me you're not saying that ignorance is immoral.
shel
 
Posts: 1346
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 9:38 pm

Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby jeeprs » Fri Nov 30, 2012 6:15 am

In Buddhism the fundamental flaw is not 'sin' in the Augustinian sense, but 'avidya, or 'ignorance'. That is where I started off in this thread. 'Modernity', in the Western form, has no conception of what 'ignorance' means. There is nothing that even maps against it. There used to be, but it is long-forgotten. I sense that is what you're having difficulties around.

Actually I have another comment on Tobes' post.
Tobes wrote:What you refer to as the scientific-secular view, if it may be so generalised, is very similar. What is Darwinian theory but a very particular metaphysics of causation? What is Newtonian physics but a very particular metaphysics of causation?

These too, are often referred to as laws. The law of gravity, for example.

However, the question of morality: how should we act, what should we do - given this particular metaphysics of causation - is a distinctly different kind of question.

It presupposes interpretation, value judgements, discourses (and the cultural-linguistic context in which discourses are embedded): these are necessarily contextual, particular.

"Given that, we should do this. Given that, we should do this."


This actually is the point I was making. The fact that they are regarded as different kinds of question is the root of the issue I was talking about.

Here you are interpreting the Law of Conditioned Origin as a kind of moral commandment. I think this is a very Western way of looking at it. In fact this law is very different from the Mosaic law, handed down by God to Moses. It originates in the observation by the Buddha, of a real principle, one which is in operation at every moment, with or without your assent or co-operation. It is in this sense that it is much more like the law of gravity than a 'cultural construct'. And while Buddhism is indeed, as you say, 'embedded in a cultural discourse', there has also always been an insight in Buddhism that this is the case, which is the meaning of 'the parable of the raft'.

So the Law of Dependent Origination is not 'given this, we should do that' - or rather, that is a conscious construct based on that understanding. But that is not the law itself, but the path that is suggested by it.
He that knows it, knows it not.
User avatar
jeeprs
 
Posts: 1411
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby shel » Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:04 am

jeeprs wrote:In Buddhism the fundamental flaw is not 'sin' in the Augustinian sense, but 'avidya, or 'ignorance'. That is where I started off in this thread. 'Modernity', in the Western form, has no conception of what 'ignorance' means. There is nothing that even maps against it.

You seemed to map it with intrinsic moral law, or something like that, but all the while you were talking about dependent origination. :tongue:

There used to be, but it is long-forgotten. I sense that is what you're having difficulties around.

As I mentioned before, the difficulties seem to be with misleading statements.
shel
 
Posts: 1346
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 9:38 pm

Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby tobes » Fri Nov 30, 2012 9:04 am

jeeprs wrote:In Buddhism the fundamental flaw is not 'sin' in the Augustinian sense, but 'avidya, or 'ignorance'. That is where I started off in this thread. 'Modernity', in the Western form, has no conception of what 'ignorance' means. There is nothing that even maps against it. There used to be, but it is long-forgotten. I sense that is what you're having difficulties around.

Actually I have another comment on Tobes' post.
Tobes wrote:What you refer to as the scientific-secular view, if it may be so generalised, is very similar. What is Darwinian theory but a very particular metaphysics of causation? What is Newtonian physics but a very particular metaphysics of causation?

These too, are often referred to as laws. The law of gravity, for example.

However, the question of morality: how should we act, what should we do - given this particular metaphysics of causation - is a distinctly different kind of question.

It presupposes interpretation, value judgements, discourses (and the cultural-linguistic context in which discourses are embedded): these are necessarily contextual, particular.

"Given that, we should do this. Given that, we should do this."


This actually is the point I was making. The fact that they are regarded as different kinds of question is the root of the issue I was talking about.

Here you are interpreting the Law of Conditioned Origin as a kind of moral commandment. I think this is a very Western way of looking at it. In fact this law is very different from the Mosaic law, handed down by God to Moses. It originates in the observation by the Buddha, of a real principle, one which is in operation at every moment, with or without your assent or co-operation. It is in this sense that it is much more like the law of gravity than a 'cultural construct'. And while Buddhism is indeed, as you say, 'embedded in a cultural discourse', there has also always been an insight in Buddhism that this is the case, which is the meaning of 'the parable of the raft'.

So the Law of Dependent Origination is not 'given this, we should do that' - or rather, that is a conscious construct based on that understanding. But that is not the law itself, but the path that is suggested by it.



I don't know how you could possibly arrive that conclusion - I explicitly described dependent co-arising as a particular metaphysics of causation; in no way a moral commandant. I said precisely, that it was akin, in this sense, to a law of gravity.

My point was that when move from the level of talking how things function, to how we should act such that we are best attuned to how things function, we are necessarily moving from a description of how things are (metaphysics - I am happy if you consider this grounded in the Buddha's insight) to what we should do (ethics).

And we when we talk about we should do, we are necessarily talking about the kinds of mundane intentions and actions - both kusala and akusala - which are not laws at all, but are merely mental events, formations, processes.

:anjali:
User avatar
tobes
 
Posts: 985
Joined: Fri Dec 24, 2010 5:02 am

Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby jeeprs » Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:56 am

tobes wrote:So I think you are slipping between metaphysics and ethics, and failing to see that the normative moments in Buddhist thought - the Vinaya, lay precepts, paramita's etc - cannot be universal moral laws.


I agree that as soon as they are written down or codified they are specifically 'Buddhist'. But I also believe they are based on universal principles. I can't really see why such principles can't be depicted as 'moral laws', and I am surprised (and also a bit dismayed) that word 'moral' is so contentious on this forum.

But I do appreciate your comments on my posts and will continue to think them over.

:namaste:
He that knows it, knows it not.
User avatar
jeeprs
 
Posts: 1411
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

PreviousNext

Return to Open Dharma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: tobes and 12 guests

>