Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

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

Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby smcj » Tue Jun 25, 2013 4:48 am

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.

M

That's the way it is supposed to be. When someone becomes realized, they automatically enrich the people around them. It is like throwing some salt into a pot of soup--the entire pot gets flavored. But this is more of a cultural happening rather than political.

The problem comes when the unenlightened try to take their interpretation of the Teachings (of any tradition), imagine "how things should be", then try to impose that on the society at large. In the crudest and worst form this becomes the Inquisition or Jihad. Better to practice, become enlightened, and only benefit. :meditate:
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby greentara » Tue Jun 25, 2013 4:59 am

smcj, I agree with you "That's the way it is supposed to be. When someone becomes realized, they automatically enrich the people around them. It is like throwing some salt into a pot of soup--the entire pot gets flavored. But this is more of a cultural happening rather than political"
I think it's beyond a cultural happening as it knows no bounds.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 25, 2013 2:00 pm

tobes wrote:
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.


First, when I say autonomous person, I am referring to a person, the most irreducible nominal basis of which is a unique and independent mind stream, with a unique and specific karma, as well as unique and specific causes and conditions. Invoking karana hetu [each and everything is a cause for all other things apart from itself] etc. is too broad and is an overapplication of the principle.

Autonomy is essential to the definition of "person" [pudgala]. A convention is understood on the basis its definition. Buddha deconstructed persons via the devices of skandhas, āyatanas and dhātus, etc. Nevertheless, karma ripens only on an autonomous person. So it is difficult to argue that Buddha denied autonomous persons conventionally.

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.


The function of the Dharma is to end samsaric dependent origination i.e. --> affliction --> action --> suffering, etc. This in turn is based upon afflictive obscurations. Afflictive obscurations in turn are based on knowledge obscurations, and the root of those is the habit of "I am".

This habit of "I am" (unreal as its supposed basis of designation may be) is sufficient for considering ordinary persons autonomous, since it is this very habit that gives them the capacity to act as autonomous agents i.e. acting solely with reference to their own interests.

The process of politics is entirely afflictive and afflicted, as far as I can tell, based on various false senses of identity, "I am", "We are", etc.


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).


All politics is reducible to parties with different sorts of self-oriented goals, including the politics of deep ecology (which has a self-oriented goal i.e. the preservation of the earth's ecosphere for all beings). But even saving the planet is not a Dharma goal. The goal of Dharma is concerned solely with the liberation of persons from samsara. If we extend this to Mahāyāna, still, all Mahāyāna schools are concerned with the liberation of persons from samsara.

The political process at all levels may be used to beautify samsara or control samsara, but politics is ultimately samsaric, that is the point of differentiating Dharma and politics.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Simon E. » Tue Jun 25, 2013 2:06 pm

:good:

Brilliant, bold, and timely.
The final two paragraphs should be required reading... :smile:
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Jun 25, 2013 4:42 pm

Malcolm wrote:
tobes wrote:
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.


First, when I say autonomous person, I am referring to a person, the most irreducible nominal basis of which is a unique and independent mind stream, with a unique and specific karma, as well as unique and specific causes and conditions. Invoking karana hetu [each and everything is a cause for all other things apart from itself] etc. is too broad and is an overapplication of the principle.

Autonomy is essential to the definition of "person" [pudgala]. A convention is understood on the basis its definition. Buddha deconstructed persons via the devices of skandhas, āyatanas and dhātus, etc. Nevertheless, karma ripens only on an autonomous person. So it is difficult to argue that Buddha denied autonomous persons conventionally.

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.


The function of the Dharma is to end samsaric dependent origination i.e. --> affliction --> action --> suffering, etc. This in turn is based upon afflictive obscurations. Afflictive obscurations in turn are based on knowledge obscurations, and the root of those is the habit of "I am".

This habit of "I am" (unreal as its supposed basis of designation may be) is sufficient for considering ordinary persons autonomous, since it is this very habit that gives them the capacity to act as autonomous agents i.e. acting solely with reference to their own interests.

The process of politics is entirely afflictive and afflicted, as far as I can tell, based on various false senses of identity, "I am", "We are", etc.


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).


All politics is reducible to parties with different sorts of self-oriented goals, including the politics of deep ecology (which has a self-oriented goal i.e. the preservation of the earth's ecosphere for all beings). But even saving the planet is not a Dharma goal. The goal of Dharma is concerned solely with the liberation of persons from samsara. If we extend this to Mahāyāna, still, all Mahāyāna schools are concerned with the liberation of persons from samsara.

The political process at all levels may be used to beautify samsara or control samsara, but politics is ultimately samsaric, that is the point of differentiating Dharma and politics.
Very well put. Just one issue, for me: seperating Dharma from politics seems to be like trying to seperate samsara from Nirvana, the relative from the absolute, etc... ie, as things stand right now, it just ain't happening!
"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."
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 25, 2013 5:21 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Just one issue, for me: seperating Dharma from politics seems to be like trying to seperate samsara from Nirvana, the relative from the absolute, etc... ie, as things stand right now, it just ain't happening!


Both samsara and nirvana are conventional states, as are the notions relative and absolute, etc. But unlike dharmin and dharmatā of water, for example; we can't really say that the intrinsic nature of politics [dharmin] is Dharma [dharmatā].
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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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 » Tue Jun 25, 2013 5:46 pm

Malcolm wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:Just one issue, for me: seperating Dharma from politics seems to be like trying to seperate samsara from Nirvana, the relative from the absolute, etc... ie, as things stand right now, it just ain't happening!


Both samsara and nirvana are conventional states, as are the notions relative and absolute, etc. But unlike dharmin and dharmatā of water, for example; we can't really say that the intrinsic nature of politics [dharmin] is Dharma [dharmatā].
So you are saying there is something (a dharma) which is not (included in the) Dharmakaya? Actually maybe Dharmadhatu would probably be the more correct term.
"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."
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 25, 2013 6:22 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:Just one issue, for me: seperating Dharma from politics seems to be like trying to seperate samsara from Nirvana, the relative from the absolute, etc... ie, as things stand right now, it just ain't happening!


Both samsara and nirvana are conventional states, as are the notions relative and absolute, etc. But unlike dharmin and dharmatā of water, for example; we can't really say that the intrinsic nature of politics [dharmin] is Dharma [dharmatā].
So you are saying there is something (a dharma) which is not (included in the) Dharmakaya? Actually maybe Dharmadhatu would probably be the more correct term.


Am I saying politics is not empty? Of course politics is empty, so is Dharma. Everything is included in the state of dharmakāya. But that has nothing to with the present discussion. At least, not as far as I can observe.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby tobes » Thu Jun 27, 2013 12:38 am

Malcolm wrote:
tobes wrote:
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.


First, when I say autonomous person, I am referring to a person, the most irreducible nominal basis of which is a unique and independent mind stream, with a unique and specific karma, as well as unique and specific causes and conditions. Invoking karana hetu [each and everything is a cause for all other things apart from itself] etc. is too broad and is an overapplication of the principle.

Autonomy is essential to the definition of "person" [pudgala]. A convention is understood on the basis its definition. Buddha deconstructed persons via the devices of skandhas, āyatanas and dhātus, etc. Nevertheless, karma ripens only on an autonomous person. So it is difficult to argue that Buddha denied autonomous persons conventionally.



I have no problem with this definition of autonomy. The point is that it is very distinct from western conceptions of autonomy: karma and conditions do not occur in a vacuum. The very notion of conventionally defining a person in terms of skandhas, karma, causes and conditions places that conventional person in a wider (non-autonomous) context. For example, if you consider the naming function of the samjnaskandha, it is clear that referents for objects of perception - let us say 'chair' - are socially given. So even something as seemingly 'individual' as perception clearly involves a social context. Likewise for actions and dispositions, both of which are fundamentally relational in character.

The pivot for a genuine autonomy is probably found in combinations of desire, willing and intentional choice making - but the Buddha did not posit this as a ground for autonomy, it is something that we may plausibly build up via a close examination of the Abhidharma.

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby tobes » Thu Jun 27, 2013 12:44 am

Malcolm wrote:
The function of the Dharma is to end samsaric dependent origination i.e. --> affliction --> action --> suffering, etc. This in turn is based upon afflictive obscurations. Afflictive obscurations in turn are based on knowledge obscurations, and the root of those is the habit of "I am".

This habit of "I am" (unreal as its supposed basis of designation may be) is sufficient for considering ordinary persons autonomous, since it is this very habit that gives them the capacity to act as autonomous agents i.e. acting solely with reference to their own interests.

The process of politics is entirely afflictive and afflicted, as far as I can tell, based on various false senses of identity, "I am", "We are", etc.



The process of a particular kind of politics might be predicated on various false senses of identity. But you have not established that politics per se necessarily expresses or manifests as those afflicted processes.

You just assert this as an immutable definition.

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Thu Jun 27, 2013 12:51 am

tobes wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
The function of the Dharma is to end samsaric dependent origination i.e. --> affliction --> action --> suffering, etc. This in turn is based upon afflictive obscurations. Afflictive obscurations in turn are based on knowledge obscurations, and the root of those is the habit of "I am".

This habit of "I am" (unreal as its supposed basis of designation may be) is sufficient for considering ordinary persons autonomous, since it is this very habit that gives them the capacity to act as autonomous agents i.e. acting solely with reference to their own interests.

The process of politics is entirely afflictive and afflicted, as far as I can tell, based on various false senses of identity, "I am", "We are", etc.



The process of a particular kind of politics might be predicated on various false senses of identity. But you have not established that politics per se necessarily expresses or manifests as those afflicted processes.

You just assert this as an immutable definition.

:anjali:



No, I assert this as a practical definition, since there are no other kinds of politics or political processes apart from those which I define above, AFAIK.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby tobes » Thu Jun 27, 2013 12:56 am

Malcolm wrote:All politics is reducible to parties with different sorts of self-oriented goals, including the politics of deep ecology (which has a self-oriented goal i.e. the preservation of the earth's ecosphere for all beings). But even saving the planet is not a Dharma goal. The goal of Dharma is concerned solely with the liberation of persons from samsara. If we extend this to Mahāyāna, still, all Mahāyāna schools are concerned with the liberation of persons from samsara.

The political process at all levels may be used to beautify samsara or control samsara, but politics is ultimately samsaric, that is the point of differentiating Dharma and politics.


Again, you just introduce a sweeping, immutable definition of politics - without reasons or evidence.

I do not think politics is reducible to this.

Two reasons why the goal of all Mahayana schools is itself - innately - political:

1. Practicing the Dharma requires negative liberty (freedom from coercion, either physical or epistemic).
2. Practicing the Dharma requires positive liberty (freedom to make use of ones potentiality).

This denies your basic claim that politics is necessarily ultimately samsaric: the goal of politics might be to liberate persons from samsara. Nagarjuna certainly thought that was plausible.

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby LastLegend » Thu Jun 27, 2013 1:58 am

tobes wrote:
Two reasons why the goal of all Mahayana schools is itself - innately - political:

1. Practicing the Dharma requires negative liberty (freedom from coercion, either physical or epistemic).
2. Practicing the Dharma requires positive liberty (freedom to make use of ones potentiality).

This denies your basic claim that politics is necessarily ultimately samsaric: the goal of politics might be to liberate persons from samsara. Nagarjuna certainly thought that was plausible.

:anjali:


It does not have to be political. There were masters who was persecuted by the PRC, and they had to leave and did not fight back.

Currently in Vietnam, monks have to preach in a way that does not seem to pose a threat to Vietnamese Communist Party.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Nilasarasvati » Thu Jun 27, 2013 3:43 am

LastLegend wrote:
tobes wrote:
Two reasons why the goal of all Mahayana schools is itself - innately - political:

1. Practicing the Dharma requires negative liberty (freedom from coercion, either physical or epistemic).
2. Practicing the Dharma requires positive liberty (freedom to make use of ones potentiality).

This denies your basic claim that politics is necessarily ultimately samsaric: the goal of politics might be to liberate persons from samsara. Nagarjuna certainly thought that was plausible.

:anjali:


It does not have to be political. There were masters who was persecuted by the PRC, and they had to leave and did not fight back.

Currently in Vietnam, monks have to preach in a way that does not seem to pose a threat to Vietnamese Communist Party.



This actually supports Tobe's point: that the negative/positive liberties required for the practice of the Dharma means that Mahayana Buddhism is "innately" political, as Tobes is claiming. You can't (or anyway it's incredibly difficult to) practice Dharma in a land where it is against the law, oppressed, etc. Thus you have historical examples of Buddhist monks and masters becoming emissaries/missionaries to the monarchy in order to pave the way for the Dharma. Or, in more modern terms, you have Tibetan masters in Kham and Sichuan becoming friendly with the Good Old Boys of local PRC officials so that they can retain their ability to teach freely within their own temples and monasteries without ruffling the feathers of the establishment.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby LastLegend » Thu Jun 27, 2013 4:10 am

There is coercion, but is there really coercion within the Dharma? The ultimate goal is to liberate sentient beings. Buddhadharma does not dwell in worldly dharmas.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby smcj » Thu Jun 27, 2013 6:03 am

In all the various wonderful descriptions of Amitabja's Pure Land, has anyone heard their political system described?
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby jeeprs » Thu Jun 27, 2013 7:23 am

I did read somewhere the other day that angels have no need for speech.



That would rule out politics automatically, I would have thought.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby muni » Thu Jun 27, 2013 7:25 am

Nilasarasvati wrote:To make us realize the oppressor wasn't outside but inside.



I read this in the first post and Tobes answer: Great post. Nailed.

Yes, wonderful post. :namaste: Inside mind. Then it depends 'there' what stick on our head we need.
Last edited by muni on Thu Jun 27, 2013 7:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jun 27, 2013 7:31 am

smcj wrote:In all the various wonderful descriptions of Amitabja's Pure Land, has anyone heard their political system described?
Yup: Amitabha is the boss, Chenrezig and Vajrapani are his henchmen/sidekicks and everybody else just shuts up, sits still and listens! :tongue:
"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 » Thu Jun 27, 2013 3:12 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
smcj wrote:In all the various wonderful descriptions of Amitabja's Pure Land, has anyone heard their political system described?
Yup: Amitabha is the boss, Chenrezig and Vajrapani are his henchmen/sidekicks and everybody else just shuts up, sits still and listens! :tongue:

So, as Buddhists, we are supposed to advocate a theocratic dictatorship?
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