"Free of ritual" & expectations on Buddhist practice

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Re: "Free of ritual" & expectations on Buddhist practice

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Thu Oct 10, 2013 4:03 pm

Jikan wrote: Sometimes I get the feeling that "radical acceptance" is taken to mean that Buddhist practice is about making yourself more comfortable with the samsaric aspects of your life, rather than any kind of realization or transformation.


I share this same criticism of the 'secular Buddhism' movement, at the same time, I also wonder if for many, this isn't an important first step..I know it was for me.

If a person is willing to consider the possibility of basic psychological well-being as attainable and good, the minute that extends out to others or is contemplated more deeply, it opens up all kinds of questions that seem to lead to a more "Buddhist" view I think. Maybe i'm wrong, the sanitized Dharma teachings bug me in many ways too.

There's a social aspect to the attractiveness "ritual free" teachings too - "what will people think of me with all these crazy statues etc. in my house". Where I live in the PNW, basically you are either a hippy/counterculture person to some degree (in which case you're fine with crazy stuff), or you are so whitebread that you would have a hard time being caught dead around a bunch of thangkas, mantra chanting or whatever. I know it sounds mean to put it that way, but it's true, the mainstream culture here is just..white, white, white..growing up in New Mexico it was different, pretty much everyone was weird and individuality/eccentricity was far more tolerated, and expected in social interaction.

I think in regards to the OP, the problem is that maybe someone is ready to go beyond just "mindfulness" classes or whatever philosophically, but their cultural or other conditioning makes them have such a knee-jerk reaction to "rite and ritual" that they exclude anything but mindfulness/insight classes as a possibility.
Last edited by Johnny Dangerous on Thu Oct 10, 2013 4:18 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: "Free of ritual" & expectations on Buddhist practice

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Oct 10, 2013 4:14 pm

Explaining the inner, outer and secret characteristics of a ritual can help. Some people though, they just cannot get into ritual/rites. No matter how you to try to package it. Sometimes karmic preponderances (habit) are just too hard to break, so you just work with what they can handle.

I had a student that hated visualisations and mantra. She said it all seemed just too theistic to her. This was after having explained in detail the visualisation, the mantra, the (historical and mythical) background to the deity, etc... So one day I recommended she practice the Heart Sutra, to chant the Sutra and to do the mantra and visualisation of Prajnaparamita. I got her to combine the intellectual practice of understanding the Sutra, with the practical application of the meditational absorption in the visualisation and mantra. That worked just fine.

Mind you, Greek Orthodox Christianity is FULL of rites and rituals, so if one rebels against that, I doubt that replacing it with Tibetans rites and rituals may be the right move. In that instance Shine-Lhaktong is probably going to be infinitely more beneficial.

Ultimately you just have to work with people where they are at. For instance, a yoga teacher I know, asked my lama if she can combine Buddhist practice with the Surya Namskara. He gave her a detailed program of effectively combining the two practices. End of problem. Mind you, he is infinitely more experienced than I am, I personally would never consider trying to do something like that.
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Re: "Free of ritual" & expectations on Buddhist practice

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Oct 10, 2013 8:10 pm

If you hate rituals
then rituals take you out of your comfort zone.
Not wanting to move out of one's comfort zone
is a basic manifestation of ego clinging.
How can a person stop clinging to a concrete notion of a 'self'
when their response to ritual is,
"that sort of thing just isn't me"
???
.
.
.
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Re: "Free of ritual" & expectations on Buddhist practice

Postby KeithBC » Thu Oct 10, 2013 8:15 pm

Beneath the surface, the essence of new age beliefs is worship of the ego. Ritual is rejected because it comes from outside. Only "doing one's own thing" is acceptable to ego-worshippers.

Buddhism is, on the surface, acceptable to New Agers because it doesn't have a monolithic institutional heirarchy the way Christianity, or at least Catholicism, has. The idea that all phenomena lack inherent existence has been taken to mean that you [can, should] create your own reality. Of course, when the reality of the Sangha and Dharma practice come up, they are either swept under the rug or rejected outright. They are of course antithetical to the worship of ego.

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Edit: You posted while I was typing. Exactly!!
PadmaVonSamba wrote:If you hate rituals
then rituals take you out of your comfort zone.
Not wanting to move out of one's comfort zone
is a basic manifestation of ego clinging.
How can a person stop clinging to a concrete notion of a 'self'
when their response to ritual is,
"that sort of thing just isn't me"
???
.
.
.
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Re: "Free of ritual" & expectations on Buddhist practice

Postby disjointed » Thu Oct 10, 2013 9:04 pm

Here I am talking about the "ritual" from Jikan's blog. http://dctendai.blogspot.com/2013/10/an ... ce-or.html

You can explain it like this.
These are recollections, the come in a particular order because they build upon each other in sequence to refine an attitude and preserve it.
The reason these recollections are put into a particular set of verses is to function as a guide to the execution of this mental activity.

The particularity of the verses are like the rhythm and tone of the ABC's as they are taught to children in that they aid in the mental activity of recalling 26 letters in their proper order.

I hope that helps. The example is particularly useful for two reasons.
1) Everyone knows the value and purpose of the ABC rhyme.
2) People would liken those that dispute the explanation as obstinate children who object to learning their ABC rhyme. Which is a fair comparison but not something you would generally want to say directly.
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Re: "Free of ritual" & expectations on Buddhist practice

Postby yan kong » Thu Oct 10, 2013 9:16 pm

Sometimes it's just heard for people to empty their cup I suppose...
"Meditation is a spiritual exercise, not a therapeutic regime... Our intention is to enter Nirvana, not to make life in Samsara more tolerable." Chan Master Hsu Yun
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Re: "Free of ritual" & expectations on Buddhist practice

Postby Alfredo » Thu Oct 10, 2013 11:46 pm

I doubt if the resistance to ritual is because it attacks the ego. (If you wanted that, you should stick to your original religion, not go shopping for Buddhist practices.) I suspect it is because ritual tends to be boring and meaningless. "Outer, Inner, and Secret" aspects are not much help if the inner aspect is some culture-bound metaphysical thing involving chakras or the flat earth or whatnot, and the "secret" aspect looks like a couple of devils having sex. (Okay, that would be less boring, I admit, but it's a bit like getting your religion off of an album cover.) The advantages of ritual--comfort, familiarity, cultual cache, ability to unite a community--would not usually apply to convert populations.
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Re: "Free of ritual" & expectations on Buddhist practice

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Oct 11, 2013 12:56 am

Alfredo wrote:I doubt if the resistance to ritual is because it attacks the ego. (If you wanted that, you should stick to your original religion, not go shopping for Buddhist practices.) I suspect it is because ritual tends to be boring and meaningless.


But we want things to be not-boring, and "meaningful" because that fits within the range of our happy experience, and that is what we cling to.

Take sitting meditation for example.
It is boring, and essentially meaningless
because as soon as you impute meaning to it,
rather than just watching your breath, or allowing the mind to rest in its natural state,
as soon as it starts to be something,
it becomes something to cling to.

That is why, I think, for example,
one is generally advised not to grasp on to signs of 'progress' along the path,
but to let it go and just keep practicing.

Buddhist practice continuously pushes one out of one's comfort zone
because the more you move out of your comfort zone,
the bigger it becomes
until at last there is no dualism, no distinction,
because there is no "me" operating.

I think that the comforts of ritual, that you mention,
do bring people together if that is what they are into,
but if it isn't then it is a turn-off.
But then, 'ritual' is a pretty big word. it can mean just about anything.
.
.
.
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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
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