Is modernity bad for practice?

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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby viniketa » Fri Dec 07, 2012 6:37 pm

floating_abu wrote:I feel that any tradition which is genuine and in the hands of a realised person has the capacity to bring the student to fruition, if the student also has the capacity and the willingness to do so also.


Abu - Just as an FYI, I have become convinced that ChNN is a genuine and realized teacher from reading and watching some of his teachings and particularly after watching the documentary My Reincarnation, in which one can see he is a genuine and humble person.

I would not have come to this conclusion from observing his students here on this forum, where they are almost invariantly rude, arrogant, and prideful. In fact, it was this that drove me to seek-out more information on ChNN. It is also this that contributes to my reluctance to seek-out ChNN as my own teacher. I cannot reconcile the two presentations.

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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Simon E. » Fri Dec 07, 2012 6:50 pm

If my words have contributed in any way to that conclusion for you vineketa, then I apologise and urge you not to let my bumbling be an obstacle to your having contact with ChNN.

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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby viniketa » Fri Dec 07, 2012 7:05 pm

Simon E. wrote:If my words have contributed in any way to that conclusion for you vineketa, then I apologise and urge you not to let my bumbling be an obstacle to your having contact with ChNN.


Your exchange with Abu above was a bit arrogant, but I had come to my conclusions before that. I have no intention to "lay a guilt trip" on anyone. As I said, the behavior of ChNN's students on this forum is only one factor contributing to my decision. There are others, as well.

I wish everyone well in their practices, including and especially ChNN's students. :meditate:

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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby tobes » Fri Dec 07, 2012 10:54 pm

Jikan wrote:
Simon E. wrote:At the risk of laboring the point...The Dzocgchen corpus of teachings are ultimately a response to the Kaliyuga.
To reduce them to mere " skillful means" is in fact to deny their very raison d'etre.


I agree with the thrust of your arguments in this thread Simon, but I'm not sure how to read this post. In the Lotus Sutra, for instance, Buddha Shakyamuni basically claims that all he does is produce different kinds of teachings for different times and places in order to reach people where they are. This is how skillful means or upaya is described in this context (and I think this may be where abu is coming from).

I suppose I don't see how it is reductive to regard the Dzogchen approach to the Dharma as skillful means if it prescribes an effective practice (and by "effective" I mean "leads beings to Buddhahood," another point of contact with the LS). And as someone who is getting ready to tune in to a webcast from Tenerife in about an hour, I'm of the opinion that it is such.


It seems to me that a highly specific cosmology of time is a necessary predicate of Dzogchen teachings, in which the basic distinction between awakened and unawakened is drawn from - and makes no sense without. That is, there is some originary locus in cosmological time when beings 'fell into' samsaric existence. The teachings do not really make sense without that notion.

In this respect, I don't think these matters can really be an expression of upaya; which would imply that the highly specific cosmology is merely a conventional truth.

I agree with Simon that the relationship between awakened/unawakened/cosmological time is more essential than a conventional truth. I think it has the status of an ontology - these things are woven together as an ontology.

It would certainly settle the question of modernity, because modernity would also be understood - temporally - in lieu of that cosmology, and that soteriology of awakened/unawakened.

However, I think it is very distinct from many, or indeed most other Buddhist views, including other Vajrayana approaches. The parts of the Abhidharma/Abhidhamma which endure today in other Buddhism's are more the moral psychology/phenomenology of mind, and less so the cosmology.

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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Simon E. » Fri Dec 07, 2012 11:17 pm

You put it very well Tobes..of course in the Dzogchen View both the inner psychological/phenomenological and outer cosmological are not different to primordial nature.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Ukigumo » Sat Dec 08, 2012 12:51 am

Modernity is certainly not conducive to practice. This fact makes practice all the more necessary.
Last edited by Ukigumo on Sat Dec 08, 2012 1:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby tobes » Sat Dec 08, 2012 12:51 am

I think that might also be the reason why people who don't hold that view can feel that Dzogchen practitioners can come across as a little arrogant: it is a view which contains ready made answers to a whole series of questions, which may be more open ended from other standpoints.

In this sense, it can inadvertently take the form of an imposition upon other less holistic accounts of things. At worst, there may be an attempt to say that the less holistic accounts are less complete, and thus, less adequate and subordinate to the more complete picture. But on these boards, I don't think that has happened too often.

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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby viniketa » Sat Dec 08, 2012 1:03 am

tobes wrote:But on these boards, I don't think that has happened too often.


Could you please specify your "that"?

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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby tobes » Sat Dec 08, 2012 3:13 am

viniketa wrote:
tobes wrote:But on these boards, I don't think that has happened too often.


Could you please specify your "that"?

:namaste:


Was specified thus: "At worst, there may be an attempt to say that the less holistic accounts are less complete, and thus, less adequate and subordinate to the more complete picture."

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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby viniketa » Sat Dec 08, 2012 3:57 am

tobes wrote:
viniketa wrote:
tobes wrote:But on these boards, I don't think that has happened too often.


Could you please specify your "that"?


Was specified thus: "At worst, there may be an attempt to say that the less holistic accounts are less complete, and thus, less adequate and subordinate to the more complete picture.":


I'll admit, the occurrence has gone down recently but, for awhile, was happening pretty regularly.

Highlighting a "subordinate" or "inferior" position of other practices is not, in itself, a good practice. In doing this, at best, one is saying that other teachers/traditions are ignorant of how to practice and, at worst, saying that other teachers/traditions know better, but teach inferior methods anyway for some reason - most likely personal gain, for why else would someone knowingly teach inferior methods?

There's no problem with someone saying "my teacher/tradition provides a better (or even "the best") solution to practice for me in the kaliyuga. As is my teacher, I am certain that the kaliyuga is upon us and we need new/improved methods of practice." Some people may be more greatly affected in their ability to practice dharma because of kaliyuga. Great, I'm glad they have a favored method they can practice. No problem with that, at all. Maybe others are not as distracted by kaliyuga and can continue other traditions.

It is the constant and unwavering claim that one's own practice is "superior", therefore denigrating other traditions, teachers, and practitioners that seems unworthy of a dharma practitioner.

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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby futerko » Sat Dec 08, 2012 4:32 am

Simon E. wrote: …the whole concept of the Kali Yuga is not simply an upaya..but refers to an objective reality according to many Dzogchen teachers.


I'm not entirely sure what you are trying to say here, but it does appear as if you are differentiating between kadag and lhungrub.

Equally, you seemed to dismiss the idea of the unity of kadag and lhungrub as "papanca".

The only basis you have given for this is because you think you heard ChNN say so.

Personally, I find it hard to believe that he would contradict himself and the fundamentals of Dzogchen in this way.

On the basis that you cite one aspect of Kaliyuga as being, "the propensity of moderns to align themselves at the level of belief with concepts that they had no experiential knowledge of..." are we then to understand that you are speaking from experience here or is it simply based upon what you think you heard?
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby JKhedrup » Sat Dec 08, 2012 8:39 am

Highlighting a "subordinate" or "inferior" position of other practices is not, in itself, a good practice. In doing this, at best, one is saying that other teachers/traditions are ignorant of how to practice and, at worst, saying that other teachers/traditions know better, but teach inferior methods anyway for some reason - most likely personal gain, for why else would someone knowingly teach inferior methods?


:good:

In fact, the humility, approachability and cultivation of the practitioners of any method is what will attract people to it, rather than claims of superiority that most of the methods contain somewhere in their literature.
A foolish man proclaims his qualifications,
A wise man keeps them secret within.
A straw floats on the surface of water,
But a precious gem placed upon it sinks to the depths
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Simon E. » Sat Dec 08, 2012 10:36 am

I can only apologise to Rinpoche and any D.C. members who may be reading, that my ill chosen words should have caused unnecessary controversy.
I am a poor and slow learner...but I do learn.


:namaste:

S.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby floating_abu » Sat Dec 08, 2012 10:47 am

viniketa wrote:
floating_abu wrote:I feel that any tradition which is genuine and in the hands of a realised person has the capacity to bring the student to fruition, if the student also has the capacity and the willingness to do so also.


Abu - Just as an FYI, I have become convinced that ChNN is a genuine and realized teacher from reading and watching some of his teachings and particularly after watching the documentary My Reincarnation, in which one can see he is a genuine and humble person.

I would not have come to this conclusion from observing his students here on this forum, where they are almost invariantly rude, arrogant, and prideful. In fact, it was this that drove me to seek-out more information on ChNN. It is also this that contributes to my reluctance to seek-out ChNN as my own teacher. I cannot reconcile the two presentations.

:namaste:


Dear viniketa,

That is interesting. I have not investigated much of this good teacher, but would trust that he is good. That said, I agree that students and culture are often a very good indicator of a system. (I would also counter though that internet Buddhists, for balance's sake, are not always representative of a whole culture - most practicing Buddhists I know, including some very dear ones to me, do not ever come on the internet for Buddhism, nor discuss/debate on forums like this. In fact my beloved one thinks it is a poor habit of mine :hug: but I have been doing this for .. 2,4,6,8,9 years etc so it is a harder habit to break :smile: )

I used to have exchanges with Namdrol on e-Sangha - a good forum which deteriorated and ultimately broke down because of the very insistent and strong ... I would say prejudice of people like Namdrol at the time who insisted on the superiority of some schools, and degraded others... I understand from other posts that Malcom recently expressed regret on that but as always the proof is in the pudding, and it does not matter so much because I guess at the end of the day we are all (individually) responsible for the (whole) picture i.e this world. Still, a very good Buddhist resource and community and very good words/learnings broke down (and Dharma Wheel is one of the forums that came up as a result of the deterioration of e-Sangha and an old meeting place for many of us refugees :)) but of course such behaviour never inspired me to people that perhaps thought intellectual knowledge equalled to genuine Buddhist realisation.

I have a lot of respect for Dzogchen teachings though and the resonance is the same to Zen Buddhism to me i.e. the outcome and realisations are exactly the same. And I think the writings of the old masters are good, very lucid in explanation and description and accurate guides. I respect the context of their teaching and the system they have set up to teach. I have not read many of the modern accounts though but trust that the school is very well and good - and I have confidence and trust in its abilities and potentials under good guidance.

I also do not have a problem with different traditions claiming general superiority -- as Jikan wisely points out it is the practice and the student and the teacher that roll the ball though. And each school probably does need to to a degree encourage and motivate its students - and the efficacy of practices do vary, but how and what is not so easy to pinpoint perhaps.

One of my Zen teachers ie. one I have sat with once said approximately 'If anyone here says Zen is the best the only etc, then you are not a real Zen student' I defer to his encouragements, and his kind wisdom in that regard.

As I do not know the good Rinpoche, I cannot say too much about him, but I would not disbelieve in his realisation of course. That said, the capacity, the kammic connections and the means used to guide students is often another thing. Arrogance and rigidity as a starting point may be understandable, and therefore forgiveable for all of us students -- but if it is a longer standing trait over long years, then I would say the system of teaching might need some review. Or perhaps they (we) are all just still ripening.

In the end all genuine traditions are similar in the fruit of the realisation: and that result is typically one of compassion, kindness and humility -- not to mention the ultimate truth/recognition that all beings are one, all life is united, and all people contribute to the outcomes that will come. The transcendence aspect can also not be denied.

Please choose one that resonates with you, you feel basic comfort in, but above all the practice and the guides will come to you if you are sincere and continue to practice. At least, that is what I believe only :namaste:

Well wishes to you my friend.

Abu
Last edited by floating_abu on Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby floating_abu » Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:13 am

JKhedrup wrote:
So where does that leave me... Well, I have to believe that those holy beings make such statements because they are true- for their followers. But so much of what makes a path successful, effective and beneficial for a certain person has to do with that person's individual situation, karma, past life connections, which teachers they meet in this life etc....

So my point it, considering the diversity of beings, I don't think one method can be said to be supreme for all. It can be supreme for those with a connection with and affinity to that method.

BTW I like the discussions over on Vajracakra but since they are Dzogchen dominated and I have very little knowledge of that tradition, I read rather than post.

I am totally open to Dzogchen as well- when I meet a teacher who resonates with me and who I can have the time to check out and build a relationship with, I'd be very open to receiving some transmissions/teachings.


Dear friend,

I would say it leaves you with you. Your trust and intution to take you forward. What school that is in is up to you, but take one and just practice it.

I concur that systems may make such claims, I trust they do so either because 1. they genuinely believe it 2. they were taught this and pass it on as a belief or 3. because they are trying to help their students through the means they think will work.

One can only hope it is because of 3 :smile: but bypassing that, I would say it is good to keep the head on and practice with your heart. I am not a student in the Vajrayana schools because the context and system is just not for me.

What worked for me is resonance, when I found it, I would follow it, and that has served me very well...in a long road...when often I was very unsure of how to proceed and many times wanted to give up because I thought I was going crazy with Buddhism....of course the story is always easier to tell after a fact, but in my own life, a sincere intention from the heart, and a trust in resonance, plus I would say a good dose of kindness and magic...helped me a lot...indelibly.

I cannot say how it is for every person but my wish is that there are many genuinely realised and compassionate people in this world who will help each other, and thus help us all. Perhaps we do live in a Dhamma ending age, when distractions and certainties abound -- the internet, the information age, the fast paced snap snap lifestyle, the mistaking of understanding for realisation -- these do lead to a greater incapacity for practice realisation, especially the intellectual (ego) dominance of it the world.

At the same time it is also the perfect opportunity. People, at least those on the internet, are on the whole wealthier, the men do not need to slave or try to protect their women from rape or hunger, women have rights and choices over their partners/their roles, people have access to other countries, other teachers, other students, and there may be a growing recognition that relative wealth and consumerism does not bring ultimate happiness which can plant a stronger seed for the want to practice Dharma.

It is all in our individual hands, and I hope that we will all learn a way to help each other and see that the only values worth living are those of the true heart.

Perhaps it is being a fool that I say such things, but it remains my hope and my wish for all sentient beings, all beings on this living planet that we call space and time.

Best wishes,
Abu
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby floating_abu » Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:20 am

tobes wrote:I think that might also be the reason why people who don't hold that view can feel that Dzogchen practitioners can come across as a little arrogant: it is a view which contains ready made answers to a whole series of questions, which may be more open ended from other standpoints.


At the end of the day, these practitioners would, I assume, (through practice) also have to let go of those views -- there is also a view in this world, for example, that Christianity is the only savior, ditto in Islam. Some Christians can really try to shove it down your throat too, there is a word for such things.

At least in Buddhism which is more of a pacifist religion, we have an opportunity (over a long time perhaps :smile: ) to learn to see the mind that insists on its own superiority. I cannot speak for all people as to what is best for them in their lives, in their context, their karma, their desires and wishes etc. But I quite favor the Buddhist message which is : I have a way to the cessation of dukkha, come and try it if you so wish. PS It really works, ma! :popcorn:

Abu
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby floating_abu » Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:24 am

Simon E. wrote:I can only apologise to Rinpoche and any D.C. members who may be reading, that my ill chosen words should have caused unnecessary controversy.
I am a poor and slow learner...but I do learn.


:namaste:

S.


It is good to learn of how you are taught, but I would never assume the words of one student is representative of a whole school or teacher personally.

If you did however represent things accurately, then I would be more perplexed, but would give it its space and trust in its system of context. And also I believe, unless it becomes systematically obvious, that word/internet understanding is very limited - often misportrayed in fact - it is often it is the flesh and blood contact and experience that does proper justice to an experience and understanding and as I said before at least in my personal sphere, most of the practicing monks, nuns and students I know do not even come on the internet for discussion/debate - so I would never judge a large school by limited online contacts only.

In any case, I do wish the Rinpoche and his students every Dharma success and well being, and above all, non-harm for all beings......And I thank him and all of you for your services to the world of Dharma practice and realisation.

Best wishes,

Abu
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby futerko » Sat Dec 08, 2012 1:04 pm

Simon E. wrote:I can only apologise to Rinpoche and any D.C. members who may be reading, that my ill chosen words should have caused unnecessary controversy.
I am a poor and slow learner...but I do learn.


:namaste:

S.


Controversy is just sounds, lights and rays, just like Kaliyuga.

Like Rimpoche said early on today, "all root of good and bad is coming from our ego". This is something I take to be a fundamental teaching of all yanas. For me this suggests that Kaliyuga can't really be considered to be objective, despite being true, but the essence here is more about the prevalence of ego based thinking and judgements about good and bad.
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby floating_abu » Thu Dec 13, 2012 9:03 am

:namaste:
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Queequeg » Thu Dec 13, 2012 10:41 am

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/13/opinion/kristof-its-a-smart-smart-smart-world.html?smid=pl-share

Back to the original topic...

Does widely increasing intelligence mean better Buddhists? Maybe a well read monk towers among herders and farmers. How do they stack up when everyone is sliding up the intelligence scale? By the same token, if everyone, as mentioned lately in the thread, has the ease and opportunity to undertake Dharma practice, is modernity really bad for practice?

I don't know if this topic has run its course, but thought finding like those described in the above linked article might help to ground the discussion and offer another lens to consider the question.
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