Buddh-ism without the -ism?

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Buddh-ism without the -ism?

Postby Ogyen » Fri Jun 08, 2012 5:28 am

The longer I practice, the more turned off I am by the things I attach and cling to within the -ism of Buddhism. Most days, I don't even claim to be a buddhist. I keep feeling a dissatisfaction with the desire I notice within myself that reaches out for labels like tiny rafters of self trying to affirm their existence (yes, yes I know, typical doesn't even have Ngondro empowerment newbie...). I guess, I've been on these boards long enough to see the dialectic 'battles', the diatribes, the fine and the subtle, sometimes wonderful, sometimes confusing exchanges and banter - some of it great, some of it less so. But I get tired of the Buddhist rhetoric just like any other politic and religion because it seems to keep missing the point. WHAT is the point? the question keeps returning. Perhaps a lifelong journey in itself that's simply realized in the walking.

Someone wrote something in the Dzogchen -the two stages thread that struck me, I'm paraphrasing loosely here, so bear with - Nature cannot be explained, it's non-duality is experienced directly, or not. Recently Dzogchen has fallen into my sphere of awareness like a door creaking open. I honestly admit, I know next to nothing of it. Come to think of it, I know next to nothing of Buddhism. I know sutras, and some practices, and I know what people tell me, and what I'm told about this or that reality. But in truth, it's easiest let it all go and just be 'human.' At least I know what that means and how it connects me to the rest of the world... Maybe this is just a selfish question, maybe it's valid, maybe both... but it comes back to me frequently - What is this Buddhist thing but a set of labels and identity to compound even more upon the pile of BS I've told myself over the years of what I am or am not. Reify less, rest more in stillness. This is the answer that keeps coming back to me. Maybe why Dzogchen is suddenly knocking on my mental doors? Time will tell.

One thing that strikes me every time I read our many colorful discussions is all the things we invest in what "WE" believe is or isn't Buddhist, from our inward experience, sometimes from the interpretation of something a teacher taught. So a question posed to you dharma wheel... what do you think? What would Buddhism look like without the -ism? Or is that a blasphemous question that is completely revealing of my extensive ignorance? :namaste:
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Re: Buddh-ism without the -ism?

Postby steveb1 » Fri Jun 08, 2012 6:52 am

I'm no historian, but did Buddha and his first disciples even have the term "Buddhism" at their disposal? If pressed to identify their path, perhaps they would simply reply in words like, "Our path is the Dharma".
Didn't Buddha say not to mourn his death because, in a sense, the Dharma is greater than Buddha - that he left the Dharma to his disciples, so his presence was not necessary? Therefore one could say, "I follow and practice the Dharma" without even mentioning "Buddha" or following it with "ism" or "ist".

If someone asks, you could just tell them that you are currently practicing "X" as a means of insight, enlightenment, mindfulness, whatever. If they press you further and say, "That sounds like Buddhism", you could just reply "Yes, it is a practice that is located within Buddhism, but it identifies me only as a practicer, not as a Buddhist. The practice, not Buddhism, leads me along my own path". That way you can drop the "ism" and the "ist" and even the "Buddh" ... if that makes any sense. Let the practice - as a psycho-spiritual method and process - speak for itself :)
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Re: Buddh-ism without the -ism?

Postby duckfiasco » Fri Jun 08, 2012 7:28 am

Thank you for writing this. I really relate to what you wrote.

I struggle with this a lot, trying to discern what the heck I'm doing. I sometimes feel rather silly during visualizations or chanting, with all kinds of doubts. Then I keep doing it anyway. There seems to have been benefit. It may not be what specifically you do, what -ism you carry around, but how you respond to it that can teach you the most.

I think the important thing is to trust what your innate wisdom is telling you :) Separating that from the incessant babble of karma and ego is no easy task, though.

Thank goodness there are so many different Dharma paths developed for so many different people in all of life's situations. It sounds to me like you may even find the utter simplicity of Zen to your liking.

Peace :heart:
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The Perfect Way knows no difficulties
Except that it refuses to make preferences;
Only when freed from hate and love,
It reveals itself fully and without disguise.
- Sengcan (tr. Suzuki)
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Re: Buddh-ism without the -ism?

Postby alpha » Fri Jun 08, 2012 12:55 pm

there is only one thing to do---discover your own nature.
forget everything else.
everything else is extraneous...
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Re: Buddh-ism without the -ism?

Postby Jikan » Fri Jun 08, 2012 1:23 pm

Well spoken, Ogyen.

:thanks:
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Re: Buddh-ism without the -ism?

Postby Jinzang » Fri Jun 08, 2012 1:33 pm

alpha wrote:there is only one thing to do---discover your own nature.
forget everything else.
everything else is extraneous...


Buddhahood is explained as the completion of the two accumulations, the accumulation of merit and wisdom. Discovering your own nature is only the accumulation of wisdom. Buddhahood is also explained as accomplishing the two benefits, the benefit for oneself and others. Discovering your own nature is only the benefit for oneself. So it seems you are half right.
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Re: Buddh-ism without the -ism?

Postby alpha » Fri Jun 08, 2012 1:55 pm

Trying to acumulate merit after you've discovered your nature would be delusion.
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Re: Buddh-ism without the -ism?

Postby Blue Garuda » Fri Jun 08, 2012 2:01 pm

I sense a trend. ;)

Sometimes we carry the baggage around and forget to enjoy the vacation.
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Re: Buddh-ism without the -ism?

Postby Jinzang » Fri Jun 08, 2012 2:13 pm

alpha wrote:Trying to acumulate merit after you've discovered your nature would be delusion.


The traditional view is that bodhisattvas on the first bhumi and above continue to accumulate merit through one kalpa while they strive to attain enlightenment. I suppose form one standpoint you are correct: merit, enlightenment, and budhahood are all delusions. But that leaves us with nothing to talk about.

It seems that some people on this forum are trying to gift wrap Neo-Advaita and sell it as the highest vehicle of Buddhism.
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Re: Buddh-ism without the -ism?

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jun 08, 2012 2:29 pm

Jinzang wrote:
alpha wrote:Trying to acumulate merit after you've discovered your nature would be delusion.


The traditional view is that bodhisattvas on the first bhumi and above continue to accumulate merit through one kalpa while they strive to attain enlightenment. I suppose form one standpoint you are correct: merit, enlightenment, and budhahood are all delusions. But that leaves us with nothing to talk about.



This is the view enunciated by Haribhadra.


It seems that some people on this forum are trying to gift wrap Neo-Advaita and sell it as the highest vehicle of Buddhism.



I have not observed this to be the case.
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Re: Buddh-ism without the -ism?

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jun 08, 2012 2:57 pm

Jinzang wrote:Buddhahood is explained as the completion of the two accumulations, the accumulation of merit and wisdom.


In some systems.

M
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Re: Buddh-ism without the -ism?

Postby Jinzang » Fri Jun 08, 2012 3:33 pm

I rely on the instructions of my teachers, all who have emphasized the importance of the accumulation of merit.
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Re: Buddh-ism without the -ism?

Postby Simon E. » Fri Jun 08, 2012 3:56 pm

How about Buddh-ism without the ism...or the Buddh ?
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Re: Buddh-ism without the -ism?

Postby conebeckham » Fri Jun 08, 2012 5:17 pm

This is an internet forum. It's pretty hard to talk about "Buddh-" without the "ism. " Some might even say it's impossible.

Come to think of it, it seems pretty clear that it's virtually impossible to talk about "Dzockhen" without making it into one or another form of "Dzokchenism," either.
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Re: Buddh-ism without the -ism?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Jun 08, 2012 6:05 pm

I'm happy to identify as a Buddhist. There are things in Budhism that I like and things that I don't like. One time I was discussing with my Greek lama and I said to him: "You know where I reckon the whole Kagyu thing went wrong? When Gampopa went and introduced monasticism into the lineage. I mean don't get me wrong, I dig a lot of the stuff Gampopa said and did but... Wouldn't it have been so much cooler to hang with teachers like Milarepa and Rechungpa, and don't get me started on the Maha siddhas. :heart: "

But here we are, 17 Karmapas and countless tulkus later. So what do you do? Practice following your heart. Sometimes my sangha lets me down, other times it lifts me so high... I just try to let it go and keep on practicing. This is samsara after all.
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Re: Buddh-ism without the -ism?

Postby Blue Garuda » Fri Jun 08, 2012 6:56 pm

conebeckham wrote:This is an internet forum. It's pretty hard to talk about "Buddh-" without the "ism. " Some might even say it's impossible.

Come to think of it, it seems pretty clear that it's virtually impossible to talk about "Dzockhen" without making it into one or another form of "Dzokchenism," either.


That's very pertinent.

Humans seem to like and need labels. Of course, once you slap a label on something it becomes 'I' and 'other' depending where you are.

However, without labels and names for objects, phenomena etc. we can't really discuss much.

Perhaps that is the whole point - we can't use words to 'share' an experience of rigpa, enlightenment, or even compassion unless we are very very gifted with words - and even then we are only trying to describe our own experience which may be useless in helping anyone else.

Isn't this the basis of the whole enlightenment industry, though, be it Christian, Sufi or Buddhist ?

They used to call it selling the sizzle not the sausage. ;)
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Re: Buddh-ism without the -ism?

Postby Anders » Fri Jun 08, 2012 7:22 pm

conebeckham wrote:This is an internet forum. It's pretty hard to talk about "Buddh-" without the "ism. " Some might even say it's impossible.

Come to think of it, it seems pretty clear that it's virtually impossible to talk about "Dzockhen" without making it into one or another form of "Dzokchenism," either.


Yep. It's a mistaken assumption to think we can avoid -isms. -Isms get created as soon as two people sit down and talk to each other. Agreeing on the meaning of word, shared concepts - the codification of perception and action into "isms" is an unavoidable fact of social interaction.

There is nothing wrong with Buddh-ism as such. We just need to understand it properly and not grip it too tightly. The Buddha didn't give the simile of the raft to non-returners on the brink of full liberation who might need to leave it behind. Or for that matter, to encourage his followers to abandon the teachings before they've crossed over. He gave it to the assembly for them to bear in mind that all this Buddh-ism is something we ultimately have to let go of and as such, a tentative grasp is merited.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

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Re: Buddh-ism without the -ism?

Postby Ogyen » Tue Jun 12, 2012 11:11 pm

Agreed on the limitations of the internet forum medium... we will still have to use words to communicate... however, this has been needling me because it doesn't seem like we can just chalk it up to the forum's limitations. Many accomplished teachers CAN talk about dharma in similar mediums (print for example) and convey the heart of the Buddh withOUT the ISM in such a way that really shakes you up to abandon the -isms you have and actually in a way induce the experience of the unspeakable non-duality within yourself...

What keeps 'bugging me' about this thread is that there is something more than meets the eye... on the surface, I feel conventionally you are right. But in the heart of the matter, I feel it's being overlooked... something far less visible and far more organic in this internet mode of transmission that I've experienced myself... I almost feel that the limitation of the -ism, maybe sloppy logic here, is with us, not the internet medium. After all, you can read teachings that have almost no -ism in it... and they start the ball rolling. Or it could be an experience of something observed in something someone else says or does. It could be anything. I've had many an experience on an internet forum where someone just blew my mind and there was the budh - without the ism... And there I was, giving birth to a new state of realization which really physically changed a lot of my own approach to life from there on after... so the change was real. And so was the internet forum... and there was no -ism, just the experience of that truth.

The question originally was what YOU (my fellow dharma-lings) thought Buddhism would look like without the ism... -NOT: is looking at it not possible because we're on an internet forum... am I smoking something wild here? thoughts?
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Re: Buddh-ism without the -ism?

Postby Anders » Tue Jun 12, 2012 11:37 pm

Buddh-ism without the -ism, as I understand these words anyway, wouldn't reference any Buddhist teachings other than personal experience since that would create the codification such an endeavour seeks to avoid. So basically, more like non-denominational nondualist forums I suppose (I am guessing, I haven't really checked those out).

I don't mind the -isms. I think, rather than making it an either/or thing, it's more a case of a balancing act. We can enter and use these codifications, but at the same time the onus is on us to retain our spiritual vibrancy and and not too caught up sorting out the ashes of the words of actual adepts. Every once in a while, a counter reaction might be merited to do the trick. I see Zen Buddhism as a nice expression of that for me. It lives unapologetically within the 'Buddhist' system and doesn't seek to sever itself from it, but it's always with a tentative relationship, constantly urging practitioners not to get stuck with dead words, highlighting the limitations of merely comforming to frameworks (inner ones, moreso than outer ones), sometimes radically so, which is how the whole Zen speak thing started.

I mean, if you go and ask a Buddhist teacher 'does a dog have Buddha-nature' and he says 'no', how are we supposed to take this? Is this guy a madhyamikan, is he making commentary on the orthodoxy of the Tathagatagarbha doctrine? What Zhao Zhou was saying when he made his famous reply was taking a 'Buddhist' question and turning it around to answer the questioners own situation, not the situation of the abstract tenet system 'Buddhism'. And then he made the 'Buddhism' come alive. Another time, he said 'yes'.

But for me, the point is that while all these words and concepts may only be the remnant ashes of a vibrant experience left behind by others, it does not follow that we should not make use of it or stay away from it. We just need to recognise it for what it is. And sometimes, be reminded, maybe even a bit radically.

Of course, into all this you have to consider that in actual practise all this is just a part of the melting pot of affliction, wisdom, habit and moments of grace. Often all these from the same people. We are just people after all. There's attachment to the -isms, sometimes the contractions of dogma seem positively stiffling, sometimes there's wisdom shining through nevertheless, arguments, compassion, wild adharma, etc. Samsara, baby.

The bottomline for me is that trying too hard to avoid -isms reminds me a bit of a latin proverb: "Dum vitant stulti vitia, in contraria currunt."

I am not convinced the alternatives to Buddh-ism would necessarily come out any better once we step away from our idealised vision of how it might be like.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: Buddh-ism without the -ism?

Postby underthetree » Tue Jun 12, 2012 11:45 pm

I think that perhaps without the ism, we're left with a tree, a stand of kusha grass, the sun going down beyond a slow river. And we sit down beneath the tree.
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