Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby tobes » Mon Jun 24, 2013 11:35 am

smcj wrote:
The Dharma opens us up to an ontology of interdependence, which radically undermines the distinctions between the personal and the social.

That in itself is highly political, because it denies the kinds of politics predicated on atomistic, autonomous individuals.

I'm really not sure how this could be denied.....

If something is interdependent, it is impermanent and pervaded by dukha. Or, simply put, it is samsara, and cannot ever be made perfectly right...


Fine, so it denies the politics of naive utopians who want to make everything perfectly right.

It does not deny politics.

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby tobes » Mon Jun 24, 2013 11:47 am

Simon E. wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Nilasarasvati wrote:
I still think your conception of "individual only" dharma is slanted by Western romanticism, individualism, the enlightenment or something---I mean, I agree with all the consequences you probably have in mind (when Dharma and Politics go wrong--our current situation in Myanmar for example) but I'm afraid you have your head in the ether cloud of ideal shoulds and shouldn'ts rather than talking about people's ordinary lived realities.


My opinion is a product of my direct observation of people in action with each other "in the name of the Dharma" over the past 25 years; and having studied the socio-political history of Buddhism as it has existed for the past 2500 years in this epoch.

Just as there is no group karma, there is also no group Dharma. Dharma is solely about personal evolution and transformation. If enough people evolve and transform, well then, what a nice place to live that would be.


In fact, it is the observation of people's ordinary lived realities that has lead me to my present conclusion. It is one of the reasons I made a radical distinction between Dharma and Buddhism.

M


I don't see how THAT can be denied.


I deny it flatly.

The Dharma as discourse, practice, value, culture is clearly social. The very nature of conventions gives us that unambiguous understanding, as does even the most rudimentary of historical examinations. Buddhism is an ism because it unfolded as shared practices, understandings, realisations et al. If you extract 'the Dharma' and 'Buddhism' from that context and claim it to be some purified thing which has never intersected (and grown, dialectically) between subjects or groups of subjects - then whatever we're doing here cannot be Buddhism or Dharma.

And both terms thus become meaningless referents for some essence which no one can ever touch, share, express or reach.

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Simon E. » Mon Jun 24, 2013 12:06 pm

Your denial is duly noted.

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Jun 24, 2013 12:58 pm

The social character of Dharma is also clearly evident in the "other-oriented" attitutde of the Bodhisattvas.
"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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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jun 24, 2013 1:20 pm

tobes wrote:
It clearly cannot be contained to the sphere of the personal.

The Dharma opens us up to an ontology of interdependence, which radically undermines the distinctions between the personal and the social.


We don't attain liberation through Dharma practice in groups.

That in itself is highly political, because it denies the kinds of politics predicated on atomistic, autonomous individuals.

I'm really not sure how this could be denied.....


Can you point to some teaching by the Buddha where he rejected autonomous persons conventionally? The same arguments that negate the identity of the person can be used to negate the identity of the polis. Certainly the Buddha's intent was not to replace a sense individual personhood with a sense of collective or dependent personhood. His intent was to expose absence of identity, the lack of recognition of which is the primary cause of suffering.

Your "ontology of interdependence" is something that has been abstracted out of Dharma teachings by intellectuals; but it is not point of Dharma itself. The point of Dharma teachings is to overcome that fact of interdependence. The point of Dharma is the personal reversal of samsaric dependent origination.

Where does the Buddha instruct us to use our Dharma conscience to join the political party of our choice, for example the Green Party, The Tea Party, etc.?
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jun 24, 2013 1:28 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:The social character of Dharma is also clearly evident in the "other-oriented" attitutde of the Bodhisattvas.


Bodhisattvas are "other-oriented" because they see how sentient beings are suffering. They engage in deeds to benefit others.

But whether those deeds are transformative or are worldly does not depend on the social relationships in which those deeds take place.

Their function as deeds depends on the depth of realization of the person, and not the social context of the deeds themselves.

For example, the acts of giving away bread to the hungry performed by an ordinary person, a bodhisattva and a buddha do not have the same value. The deed is evaluated on the realization of the agent, not on the plight of the recipient, since all recipients are assumed to be suffering equally by virtue of their all being trapped in the three realms of samsara.
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http://atikosha.org
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he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Jun 24, 2013 1:42 pm

Malcolm wrote:But whether those deeds are transformative or are worldly does not depend on the social relationships in which those deeds take place.

Their function as deeds depends on the depth of realization of the person, and not the social context of the deeds themselves.
I did not say they were. The very fact that a Bodhisattva requires an other to act on, undeniably immediately places them in a social and political context. The example of giving away bread to the hungry is a perfect case. In some countries trying to give bread to the hungry can get you killed by people that consider you an economic and political rival, regradless of the purity of your intention.
"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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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jun 24, 2013 2:06 pm

gregkavarnos wrote: The very fact that a Bodhisattva requires an other to act on, undeniably immediately places them in a social and political context.


That does not bear the consequence that Dharma and politics are mutually inclusive.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Jun 24, 2013 2:55 pm

Malcolm wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote: The very fact that a Bodhisattva requires an other to act on, undeniably immediately places them in a social and political context.


That does not bear the consequence that Dharma and politics are mutually inclusive.
Nor is it evidence that they are mutually exclusive. They are inextricably interelated though. I cannot see how one can practice Dharma in this world system without impacting on a social/poltical level. Seems impossible to me.
"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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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jun 24, 2013 2:57 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:I cannot see how one can practice Dharma in this world system without impacting on a social/poltical level. Seems impossible to me.


Did I ever say that Dharma practitioners were incapable of impacting society or politics? No, I never suggested such a thing. In fact I acknowledged several times that Dharma practitioners could have such impacts.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby smcj » Mon Jun 24, 2013 3:07 pm

As a footnote, when I was living at a Karmapa center in the '70s, we were told that HHK wanted us to stay out of politics.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Adamantine » Mon Jun 24, 2013 4:14 pm

smcj wrote:As a footnote, when I was living at a Karmapa center in the '70s, we were told that HHK wanted us to stay out of politics.


In the 70's I am guessing he was referring to political activism and not running for office? > :tongue:
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Jun 24, 2013 4:38 pm

smcj wrote:As a footnote, when I was living at a Karmapa center in the '70s, we were told that HHK wanted us to stay out of politics.
I guess he was being facetious then, especially given the political nature of his position?
"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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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby smcj » Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:00 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
smcj wrote:As a footnote, when I was living at a Karmapa center in the '70s, we were told that HHK wanted us to stay out of politics.
I guess he was being facetious then, especially given the political nature of his position?

All I know is that we were asked/told to stay out of politics. I suspect that if you were to contact KTD and ask, that they'd tell you the same thing today. If anyone wants to make the effort, feel free.

As a balancing footnote, the night that Reagan won his first term as president, Shamar R. was staying at our center. We were all a bunch of leftie hippies and expressed our absolute horror at the outcome, so much so that Shamar R. became alarmed. He asked if Reagan was going to be like Hitler, and we had to reassure him that in America there are checks and balances, so that such a thing couldn't happen.

At the time I found it odd that he took that much interest, given HHK's apolitival admonition. But you can take from that story whatever you like.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby pemachophel » Mon Jun 24, 2013 8:32 pm

"We don't attain liberation through Dharma practice in groups."

Actually, sometimes we do. There are many stories of groups of practitioners at ganachakras and drubchens attaining realization together "cham-chig," as one group.

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Adamantine » Mon Jun 24, 2013 10:01 pm

pemachophel wrote:"We don't attain liberation through Dharma practice in groups."

Actually, sometimes we do. There are many stories of groups of practitioners at ganachakras and drubchens attaining realization together "cham-chig," as one group.

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Yeah, and there's aspiration prayers to that effect as well.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby tobes » Tue Jun 25, 2013 12:05 am

Malcolm wrote:
tobes wrote:
It clearly cannot be contained to the sphere of the personal.

The Dharma opens us up to an ontology of interdependence, which radically undermines the distinctions between the personal and the social.


We don't attain liberation through Dharma practice in groups.

That in itself is highly political, because it denies the kinds of politics predicated on atomistic, autonomous individuals.

I'm really not sure how this could be denied.....


Can you point to some teaching by the Buddha where he rejected autonomous persons conventionally? The same arguments that negate the identity of the person can be used to negate the identity of the polis. Certainly the Buddha's intent was not to replace a sense individual personhood with a sense of collective or dependent personhood. His intent was to expose absence of identity, the lack of recognition of which is the primary cause of suffering.

Your "ontology of interdependence" is something that has been abstracted out of Dharma teachings by intellectuals; but it is not point of Dharma itself. The point of Dharma teachings is to overcome that fact of interdependence. The point of Dharma is the personal reversal of samsaric dependent origination.

Where does the Buddha instruct us to use our Dharma conscience to join the political party of our choice, for example the Green Party, The Tea Party, etc.?


The Buddha does reject the autonomous person conventionally. It is not a question of finding a place where he does so explicitly, as it is about realising the disjuncture between the kind of conventional person posited by the Buddha, and the kinds of autonomy westerners tend to mean when they say autonomy. Sure there is still a conventional person of some kind, but the kind of conventional person given (by the Buddha) is - necessarily - a process and relational conventional person. i.e. there is no moral autonomy of the kind favoured by western theologians or philosophers, grounded in a concept of soul or rationality or will or transcendental ego. There is perhaps something akin to what is favoured by the British empiricists - a dispositional theory of agency where there is some kind of autonomy found in choice making....but this is still a very social conception of agency.

I agree that that the argument which rejects individual autonomy also rejects the identity of the polis. But this does not leave us with nothing. Whatever remains is where the sphere of the political may be found (something of a sāmargrī). And I would argue that it is something of a middle way which overcomes the extremes of reifying either the individual or the collective/community, which are the two poles which contemporary political philosophy tends to gravitate towards.

The question of dependent origination probably lies at the heart of this conversation; this is where the two truths become important. I think that the Dharma leads us into an apprehension of the dependently originated nature of things, not away from dependent origination per se. But I'm fairly sure you think otherwise - and this is probably the reason for our disagreement.

Obviously the Buddha does not instruct us to join a political party - but it does not follow from that that the Dharma is distinct from politics. For many reasons - namely that politics is not reducible to party politics and that a contemporary Buddhist cannot read the Buddha's advice in the Nikaya's and apply it as if we are still in ancient India (i.e. obviously there was not party politics taking place there).



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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby tobes » Tue Jun 25, 2013 12:13 am

Malcolm wrote:
We don't attain liberation through Dharma practice in groups.



It does not follow from this that the Dharma is a solely personal phenomena.

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby LastLegend » Tue Jun 25, 2013 1:08 am

Is engaging in political or politics an effective way to transform samsara?
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby tobes » Tue Jun 25, 2013 1:20 am

LastLegend wrote:Is engaging in political or politics an effective way to transform samsara?


I think so, for the following reason:

One cannot practice the Dharma without sufficient structural conditions - at the very least, sufficient food, security, health and enough literacy/logic/cognitive ability to make sense of the teachings.

So political concern is not about transforming samsara into nirvana; it is about making sure each and every human being has the conditions necessary to reach their (Dharmic) potential.

Rejecting that concern as incommensurable with the Dharma, for me, is tantamount to rejecting compassion in the name of or for the sake of personal liberation.

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