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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby underthetree » Mon Aug 06, 2012 3:32 pm

ReasonAndRhyme wrote:
underthetree wrote:For all the lip-service to the Goddess and the feminine, Buddhism, like the New Age, can be quite startlingly chauvinistic.


That is absolutely true. But believe me, women, too, have their ways of giving you the oh-you-know-nothing-you've-learned-nothing-don't even-try-comparing-yourself-to-me-before-you've-been-to-a-real-retreat. I've experienced that from women just as bad and as often as from men. Maybe even worse. generally speaking men are allowed to act out their aggressions openly, while women are not. Which is why some women (not all) develop ways of being passively aggressive and/or backstabbing. I, personally, find the directly and openly aggressive style easier to deal with.


I'm sorry to hear it. I suppose men get the treatment more from other men than from women.

I often think about how different things might have been if the Indian Shakta traditions had managed to assert themselves more strongly in Buddhism...
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Indrajala » Mon Aug 06, 2012 3:36 pm

underthetree wrote:With the greatest respect, Huseng, may you never have to deal with the consequences when someone you know decides to 'just leave their family.' What 'immeasurable opportunities' could be opened up by an act of such monstrous selfishness?


When I did it I didn't think it was monstrously selfish.

Maybe you come from a stable family, but I had a very unstable family life. It was quite liberating to leave the hailstorm, so to speak.

Leaving your family frees you from restrictions, expectations and responsibilities, most of which is just samsaric nonsense. Social expectations and such. If you do what society (and consequently your family) tells you to do, you'll sink deeper into samsara.


Yes, the Buddha did it. But a) he was the Buddha, b) he was a prince, and Yasodhara presumably didn't have to get a job stacking shelves at Tesco after he'd left.


Stocking shelves at Tesco and living in a 1st world country as a working class joe/jane might be crap to you, but to much of the rest of the world it is an unattainable dream. It is all really quite relative. The fact that you think it is some horrid destiny to stock shelves at Tesco just goes to show your decadence.

Yes, I have worked minimum wage jobs equivalent to Tesco.

In the third world people work tooth and nail without human rights or a functioning government just to barely scrape by while their kids are forced to work for a few extra rupees. To them working at Tesco for eight hours a day while their kids go to school for free in the west would be a dream.

Leaving your family behind in a country with decent healthcare, social safety nets and guaranteed minimum wage in the global perspective is equivalent to leaving your princess wife behind in a palace.

The Ugra(datta)-paripṛcchā-sūtra suggests that the bodhisattva leaves beings but never forgets them in their solitary practice. The motivation to practice is driven by concern for beings. However, if you want to do more than palliative care for beings you need attainments. Attainments only come from serious practice. Serious practice is usually not done by family men or women. Let's be realistic and honest.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Malcolm » Mon Aug 06, 2012 3:46 pm

Huseng wrote:Renunciation doesn't mean departing from worthwhile friends (kalyāṇa-mitra), though generally speaking mundane affairs and a lot of social engagements take people away from spiritual cultivation and practice. The Buddha himself was keen on the value of likeminded friends, though he cautioned everyone about mundane attachments and strong social ties and duties. This is what I have in mind at the moment.


You have to eat. You have to have clothes. You have to have shelter.

That means you have to make money. This is how it is in our world. We cannot go begging door to door. This is not realistic.

Everyone must have a job.

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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Malcolm » Mon Aug 06, 2012 3:47 pm

Huseng wrote:
underthetree wrote:With the greatest respect, Huseng, may you never have to deal with the consequences when someone you know decides to 'just leave their family.' What 'immeasurable opportunities' could be opened up by an act of such monstrous selfishness?


When I did it I didn't think it was monstrously selfish.



I think he meant wife and kids. Did you leave a wife and kid behind?
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Malcolm » Mon Aug 06, 2012 3:49 pm

Huseng wrote:Serious practice is usually not done by family men or women. Let's be realistic and honest.


Serious practice is not usually done by anybody, including people in long retreats. Let's be realistic and honest.

It has nothing to do with wether one is in retreat, or is a farmer.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Indrajala » Mon Aug 06, 2012 3:52 pm

Malcolm wrote:You have to eat. You have to have clothes. You have to have shelter.

That means you have to make money. This is how it is in our world. We cannot go begging door to door. This is not realistic.

Everyone must have a job.

M



Of course. Though it is possible to set aside sufficient funds to go practice for extended periods and then come back to the ordinary world. If I'm not mistaken you went on extended three year retreat in the past, right? Clearly you came back alive and well.


I think he meant wife and kids. Did you leave a wife and kid behind?


Nope. I don't have a wife and kids. My point above was that if you can, it might be best to avoid having a wife and kids. If you're already hitched with kids in tow, then Vimalakīrti might be worthy of emulation.

I've heard of some Tibetan families where a man goes off on retreat with the support of his wife and kids. They understand this is important and don't get emotionally distraught over it. I don't know how common this is though.

However in the west a guy leaving his wife and kids behind to do a three year retreat is probably going to be called a deadbeat. Maybe we can't avoid that.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Malcolm » Mon Aug 06, 2012 4:21 pm

Huseng wrote:
Malcolm wrote:You have to eat. You have to have clothes. You have to have shelter.

That means you have to make money. This is how it is in our world. We cannot go begging door to door. This is not realistic.

Everyone must have a job.

M



Of course. Though it is possible to set aside sufficient funds to go practice for extended periods and then come back to the ordinary world. If I'm not mistaken you went on extended three year retreat in the past, right? Clearly you came back alive and well.



I did a three year retreat. It was valuable. I had a hard time adjusting however, and most people do, when they get out.





However in the west a guy leaving his wife and kids behind to do a three year retreat is probably going to be called a deadbeat. Maybe we can't avoid that.


He is a deadbeat, unless his wife and kids are on board with it in a postive sense. The Buddha clearly never intended that people abandon their families.

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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Virgo » Mon Aug 06, 2012 4:22 pm

The thing is it isn't always necessary to do retreats-- at least not long ones. Any one who is serious can integrate their mind with the teachings anywhere.

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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby *Om* » Mon Aug 06, 2012 4:38 pm

I really want to address one thing you said in particular Huseng

Ideally someone who is inclined to practice will devote themselves to it before creating a lot of commitments. That means not having a family or property. Not having a girlfriend helps a lot, too, because you always run the risk of unwanted pregnancies or getting married in the hopes of securing a good life which may or may not happen in the long-term.


The first part of that. That is often not how it works. Many many people I know actually discovered Buddhism after years of marriage plus children. People all over are lead to Buddhism for different reasons with different things they want to get out of it.

I do not think Buddha planned for enlightenment to be only for people who don't have families. Quite the opposite. We are all trying to gain enlightenment with a vast majority of different backgrounds and the good thing about Buddhism? It's not a fixed path, everyone can eventually reach their own peace and it's not all done through the same ways as others.

Well.... that's just my thoughts on it at least. I'm not very eloquent so I hope you can understand what I am saying.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Indrajala » Mon Aug 06, 2012 4:44 pm

*Om* wrote:I do not think Buddha planned for enlightenment to be only for people who don't have families. Quite the opposite. We are all trying to gain enlightenment with a vast majority of different backgrounds and the good thing about Buddhism? It's not a fixed path, everyone can eventually reach their own peace and it's not all done through the same ways as others.


I don't disagree with you. I'm happy that everyone can play a part and enjoy the fruits of spiritual practice in whatever way they can, be it big or small.

However it seems many people (especially younger people) say they would like to practice, travel and study, but then turn around and go do what mainstream society suggests: buy a house, get married, have kids and try to manage a career. Spiritual practice and study becomes extremely difficult in such circumstances.

Worldly pleasures and pursuits are more appealing than Dharma quite often.

If someone is already married with kids, then of course they have options available to them, but going off to Asia on pilgrimage or to study or practice (or even doing any of that domestically) is simply more difficult. Hence if such obstacles can be avoided in the first place, they best be avoided.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Nemo » Mon Aug 06, 2012 5:00 pm

I don't like excuses. Human potential is almost unlimited, but it is only attainable if you have high standards and work hard. Buddha took 7 years to become realized. Not because he needed to, but as an example to be followed. He probably practiced 38,000+ hours in that time. An hour or two a day will largely be spent untying the emotional knots of your worldly life. Very little exploring and mastery of meditation can be done in such a setting. 1000 hours would be the most basic familiarity in meditation. To be effective it needs to be done in larger chunks. Pretend to be Marpa if you like but without retreat I think you are deluding yourself.

If you take the plunge the price is high. Poverty, no sex and being told what to do can become difficult. I've watched many people with no imagination of how hard it is completely crash and burn. I actually used to entertain myself by watching the minutiae of people freaking out in slow motion on retreat. You will never attain the wages you could have earned. Statistics say that losing those formative years causes permanent wage scarring. Your health will suffer from poor diet and poverty in general. You will lose social contacts and status. If at a later time you seek a mate you will have no property or career to bring to the table. Life will be harder. I can see people not being able to do that. At 40 I certainly can't do it. Embracing poverty is easy when you are young. I understand that if you are finally waking up to the spiritual life at 40 it is probably too late for you. Sorry I touched a nerve but to see human potential disparaged is blasphemous.

To pretend that you know Dharma without actually having done the thousands of hours required is a bit shallow. Even doing thousands of hours is no guarantee. Obviously ;)
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Malcolm » Mon Aug 06, 2012 5:05 pm

Huseng wrote:Spiritual practice and study becomes extremely difficult in such circumstances.

Worldly pleasures and pursuits are more appealing than Dharma quite often.



This is simply because people do not have teachers that teach them how to integrate. Frankly, most of the so-called Buddhists I have met are very non-integrated people. After years of so called Dharma practice they just do not have their shit together, and they cannot manifest what they need.
Last edited by Malcolm on Mon Aug 06, 2012 5:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Jikan » Mon Aug 06, 2012 5:25 pm

Malcolm wrote:This is simply because people do not have teachers that teach them how to integrate. Frankly, most of the so-called Buddhists I have met are very non-integrated people. After years of so called Dharma practice they just do not have their shit together, and they cannot manifest what they need.


I have seen this myself. That is, I have been that person: after practicing (or having thought I was practicing) since I was a teenager, I had no idea how upside down and backwards I was until my teacher called me on it while on retreat when I was in my early 30s, in such a way that I could see it directly myself. Intense.

I'm hardly an ideal practitioner now, but I think I can say with confidence that I do practice in good faith, that what I practice is Dharma, &c.

I will remain thankful to that teacher until the day I die.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Pero » Mon Aug 06, 2012 5:31 pm

Nemo wrote:I don't like excuses. Human potential is almost unlimited, but it is only attainable if you have high standards and work hard. Buddha took 7 years to become realized. Not because he needed to, but as an example to be followed. He probably practiced 38,000+ hours in that time. An hour or two a day will largely be spent untying the emotional knots of your worldly life. Very little exploring and mastery of meditation can be done in such a setting. 1000 hours would be the most basic familiarity in meditation. To be effective it needs to be done in larger chunks. Pretend to be Marpa if you like but without retreat I think you are deluding yourself.
...
To pretend that you know Dharma without actually having done the thousands of hours required is a bit shallow. Even doing thousands of hours is no guarantee. Obviously ;)

I guess I sort of agree with you in general. But I don't think it's necessary to do such long retreats, just that doing some retreat is necessary. How much, depends totally on the person. For myself I think I probably won't achieve any great realization without doing quite a bit more retreat.

Malcolm wrote:This is simply because people do not have teachers that teach them how to integrate. Frankly, most of the so-called Buddhists I have met are very non-integrated people. After years of so called Dharma practice they just do not have their shit together, and they cannot manifest what they need.

I believe you but first there needs to be something to integrate with too.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Andrew108 » Mon Aug 06, 2012 5:32 pm

Malcolm wrote:This is simply because people do not have teachers that teach them how to integrate.

Yep this is it. You need a teacher who shows you how to integrate.
Again and again it is important to say that realization is not an attainment. It's really important to be open to the idea that realization is not an attainment. You can struggle for years and years trying to attain and actually you move further and further away from the teachings. Five minutes of washing the dishes can mean more than months of solitary retreat if you know how to integrate. If you have a teacher who teaches you how to integrate.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby ReasonAndRhyme » Mon Aug 06, 2012 5:53 pm

Yes, agree, we need to integrate. And we cannot compare the Buddha's situation with ours. The Buddha was practicing in India. The climate was such that he didn't even need a hut, and the villagers around offered him food. He also wasn't depending on the Tibetan clergy to give him teachings and initiations (which of course he would only receive if he could pay for them). And he wasn't depending on a monastery's structure, including all these stupid little power games that people use to play.

You cannot practice like that in the West. First of all, we are not the Buddha, we do need teachers and teachings. And we have to pay for them. We have to pay for the teachings. We have to pay for the initiations. We have to pay for the accomodation, the food, the cook and so on. We have to have very generous sponsors or we have to be very rich. At the times of the Buddha going into retreat meant to make things easier. For us it makes things more complicated. That's the difference.

I've never heard that people who were born in the Himalaya region have to pay for dharma teachings, btw. So maybe I should correct myself and instead of saying "You cannot practice like that in the West" I should maybe be saying "You cannot practice like that if you're a Westerner"?
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby conebeckham » Mon Aug 06, 2012 5:57 pm

People in the Himalayan region spend money to attend teachings and go to retreats, without a doubt. The structure is different--no big marketing, no webcasts, no 1/2 page ads in Snow Lion or Shambhala Sun....but, without doubt, it costs money to go into retreat, or to attend teachings, etc., and devotees in North India, Nepal, Sikkim, Ladakh, Bhutan, certainly are financially impacted by Dharma.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby ReasonAndRhyme » Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:02 pm

Well, then I stand corrected. What I know is that people in Sikkim for instance do not need to pay for the teachings when they study Buddhism at a shedra. Their families only have to pay a small amount of money for the accomodation and the food. But they don't have to pay for the teachings. A Sikkimese friend of mine was absolutely shocked when he heard that we have to pay a fee for the studies when we go to an institute like Rangjung Yeshe.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby ReasonAndRhyme » Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:05 pm

When e.g. the Dalai Lama teaches in India it is entirely based on donations. Same for the Monlams in Bodhgaya.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Pero » Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:06 pm

ReasonAndRhyme wrote:When e.g. the Dalai Lama teaches in India it is entirely based on donations. Same for the Monlams in Bodhgaya.

Yes so you see, it isn't free at all. In general that is just fantasy.
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