Baloney! and Jundo Cohen

Re: Baloney! and Jundo Cohen

Postby seeker242 » Thu Jun 07, 2012 12:21 pm

shel wrote:
seeker242 wrote:It seems to me just that he is correctly noticing the fact that not everything written in the scriptures should be taken literally nor is it intended to be taken literally.


He's saying that his beliefs or experiences (nothing holy or unholy, etc.) are "real" and "beautiful," and that they are more magical and fantastic than anything a "storybook writer could cook up." He's calling the people who wrote the sutras "storybook writers," which is slanderous. Why does he do that instead of just saying as you do that not everything written in the scriptures should be taken literally?


I don't think he is saying any of that in this video. I think you are completely missing the point of what he is saying, attaching to the words while missing the real meaning behind them. Similar to how a cat will only look at your finger if you were to point at something across the room. He is a zen teacher. More than one zen teacher has shredded/burned the scriptures. Furthermore, why does it even matter what he says? Is it relevant to your personal practice? It seems to me that the only reason you posted this is to criticize him. What benefit comes from doing that other than bolstering your own ego? I don't see any! You asked what people think of it. That's what I think of it. I really don't have an interest in arguing over why, because that's pointless.

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Re: Baloney! and Jundo Cohen

Postby Jikan » Thu Jun 07, 2012 1:23 pm

seeker242 wrote:He is a zen teacher. More than one zen teacher has shredded/burned the scriptures.


Which returns us to Astus' point earlier: Cohen's performance conforms to a particular set of conventions, stylistic norms, that are expected in the English-speaking world of a "Zen teacher." He's playing the part. The "radical act" of killing the Buddha and ditching the sutras is actually the safe route in this context.

:shrug:

A radical act would be for him to find a means of presentation that is not conventional, or directly contravenes the conventional expectations that are projected onto a Zen teacher. One way to do it? Make a video of yourself... reading the sutras. Or reading Hegel. &c. Use your imagination.

Ziporyn's book _Being and Ambiguity_ is worthwhile on this topic.
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Re: Baloney! and Jundo Cohen

Postby shel » Thu Jun 07, 2012 3:59 pm

seeker242 wrote:
shel wrote:
seeker242 wrote:It seems to me just that he is correctly noticing the fact that not everything written in the scriptures should be taken literally nor is it intended to be taken literally.


He's saying that his beliefs or experiences (nothing holy or unholy, etc.) are "real" and "beautiful," and that they are more magical and fantastic than anything a "storybook writer could cook up." He's calling the people who wrote the sutras "storybook writers," which is slanderous. Why does he do that instead of just saying as you do that not everything written in the scriptures should be taken literally?


I don't think he is saying any of that in this video.

Those are direct quotes, Seeker242. You should probably do your homework before responding to what people post. Just a suggestion.

seeker242 wrote:I think you are completely missing the point of what he is saying, attaching to the words while missing the real meaning behind them.

I haven't commented on "real meaning," so how do you know that I missed it. And judging by the above, it appears as though you have not watched the video, so how do you know what the real meaning is? Is it that just because a Zen Master has said something it must have great meaning?

seeker242 wrote:More than one zen teacher has shredded/burned the scriptures.

Then it should be easy to show where other Zen teachers have slandered sutras and their writers. Can you show us?

seeker242 wrote:What benefit comes from doing that [criticizing others] other than bolstering your own ego?

That is partly my point also. But for a Zen teacher like Jundo it may also have to do with promoting his particular 'school'. Though rather primal in nature, a tactic to bolster group allegiance is to make rival groups appear crazy or corrupt.
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Re: Baloney! and Jundo Cohen

Postby seeker242 » Thu Jun 07, 2012 5:34 pm

Why are you so upset about what some guy on youtube says? I don't get it.
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Re: Baloney! and Jundo Cohen

Postby shel » Thu Jun 07, 2012 5:40 pm

:tongue:
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Re: Baloney! and Jundo Cohen

Postby jundo cohen » Fri Jun 08, 2012 6:00 am

Hi,

I am always willing to discuss these issues with anyone, and whether Buddhist practice is possible ... thrives, shines ... with and without the (maybe) traditional superstitions, fabricated legends, hagiographical exaggeration, seeming hocus-pocus, decorative hoo-hah, funny hats and the like. Can we be free of Buddhist beliefs that are no more or less believable than those of a UFO cult, simply because "our Holy Book said it, therefore I believe it"?

What shines in/as/through-and-through all that, all being-time-space and the most mundane?

I am working on a book now, working title ...

I DON'T BELIEVE IN BUDDHA!
(That's why I believe in Buddha)
A Guide for the Buddhist Skeptic

by Rev. Jundo Cohen



Here is a taste ...

Gassho, Jundo

====================


I have a confession to make: I don't believe in Buddha.

It may be shocking for a Buddhist priest to say so, as shocking as hearing a Catholic priest say he "doesn't believe in Jesus". But it's true nonetheless. I am a Buddhist priest who thinks "Buddha" is largely bunk and baloney.

At least, I think there's a lot of "bull" to how Buddha is typically portrayed. I think many of the utterly fantastic Mahayana Sutra stories of Buddhas are ridiculous ... hyper-exaggerated ... just unbelievable! (meaning that they cannot be taken literally any more than children's fairy tales). The imagery is incredibly beautiful ... but the tale just incredible beyond credence, purely the product of human religious imagination. I think the image of a "Perfect Buddha" ... either in this world or some Buddha Land ... as a flawless being beyond all human weakness, conflict and ignorance ... is a fable, a religious myth. I think most of the old miracle filled stories are well meaning fictions, sometimes holy lies, and the golden statues and paintings of Buddhas are but depictions of exaggerated dreams.

...

One powerful aspect of Zen Practice is that [Buddhist Truths] can be true even if some choose to abandon much of the smoky incense, fancy dances and funny hats ... true even as we realize that many of the stories and koans are fabricated skits and set-ups with little historical basis ... true even if we do not believe literally in magical Kannon with 1000 hands and eyes. The profound Truth of this Way is not dependent on particular Indian, Chinese, Korean or Japanese ways, can be just as well lived with or without bells, drums and whistles. The 1000 hands and eyes of Kannon can be seen as our 100000000 human hands and eyes when acting with Compassion in tending to those in need, not dependent on whether Kannon is Kan-nonsence.

This Practice is Bottomless Treasure even as we come to learn that many of our beliefs, stories, koans, histories, lineages, Sutras and Suttas are no less fictional than Peter Pan. The Mahayana Sutras replaced the sometimes silly stories of the Pali Suttas with a bunch of other often even sillier stories ... yet the powerful Truths in each stand undiminished ... and the power of the Zen Way is that historical truth or fiction does not matter in the least. A fictional Kannon is just as compassionate and real as the one of legend.

In fact, Peter Pan speaks to the timeless child in all of us!

So much of Buddhist identity (modern understanding has come to see) is baloney. Buddha is often bull crackers, Bodhisattva tales mostly bogus. Nonetheless, Buddhist Truths are as real as real can be, and Buddhas and Bodhisattvas too (true in every drop of wisdom and compassion in the human heart)! Funny how that works, and the power of this practice is that it can easily hold such truth or falsity without loss of its vitality.


...


Thus, Buddhas are but fables and lies, Buddhas are human aspirations, Buddhas are True Teachings, Buddhas are Whole and Complete beyond "full" or "lack" or "true" or "false", Buddhas live and breathe in the world when we live and breath Buddhas.


The Buddhist Path is Real



Liberation is Real



Buddha is Real


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Re: Baloney! and Jundo Cohen

Postby Kunzang » Fri Jun 08, 2012 8:02 am

I have a confession to make: I don't believe in Buddha.


So brave.
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Re: Baloney! and Jundo Cohen

Postby Tara » Fri Jun 08, 2012 12:53 pm

jundo cohen wrote:*snip*
One powerful aspect of Zen Practice is that [Buddhist Truths] can be true even if some choose to abandon much of the smoky incense, fancy dances and funny hats ...


A quick web search produced several images of someone named "Jundo Cohen" who can be seen wearing what could be described as a "funny dress" no offence intended. (The list above does not include "funny dresses" however which may be an oversight on the authors part.) For a person (who is doing what looks like some advance publicity for a book) to highlight the wearing of (funny) hats for example when in the images below it can be clearly seen that the author is wearing a (funny?) dress does seem to be a bit of a double standard.


ImageImage

and oh er what is that on your companion's head, not one of those "funny hats" per chance? Image maybe the garb worn in these images is different somehow to that worn in other traditions.... once again, no offence.

Regards,
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Re: Baloney! and Jundo Cohen

Postby plwk » Fri Jun 08, 2012 1:52 pm

Gawd this thread is fast becoming like blue cheese turning green...
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Re: Baloney! and Jundo Cohen

Postby jundo cohen » Fri Jun 08, 2012 2:05 pm

Hi Tara,

It is a funny hat, and funny clothes and my funny face. The only question is whether we need those funny hats and clothes.

Our Treeleaf Lineage encourages the hand sewing of the Kesa (Buddhist outer robe), which we choose to interpret as Zazen practice with a needle, the Buddha's Teachings, a cloth of Formless Liberation which covers all Boundless Time and Space and the Bodhisattva' Vows. The Kesa is so because we choose to see it as such a Talisman, a symbol, a religious fetish object. Otherwise, it is just a piece of old rag.

All Buddhist myths, ceremonies, traditions, objects, statues etc. can be treated in like fashion. I do not favor throwing out all old stuff just because it is old, tossing out the "Baby Buddha with the Bathwater".

At the same time, I would say the hats and clothes are not "necessary" to Buddhist Practice, we don't "need" them. In fact, they can often hide things behind the distracting, exotic show. One need not dress like a 1000 year old Chinese or Tibetan man on this Path. One can sit Zazen just as well in a pair of jeans, shorts or buck naked.

So in that sense, the funny hats and funny clothes are not necessary.

The funny face, I am stuck with that! The Original Face just the same.

Gassho, J
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Re: Baloney! and Jundo Cohen

Postby Jikan » Fri Jun 08, 2012 3:34 pm

Hi Mr. Cohen,

What's the Treeleaf Lineage? What makes it distinct from other lineages of practice?

thanks
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Re: Baloney! and Jundo Cohen

Postby Tara » Fri Jun 08, 2012 3:47 pm

jundo cohen wrote:Hi Tara,

It is a funny hat, and funny clothes and my funny face. The only question is whether we need those funny hats and clothes.

Our Treeleaf Lineage encourages the hand sewing of the Kesa (Buddhist outer robe), which we choose to interpret as Zazen practice with a needle, the Buddha's Teachings, a cloth of Formless Liberation which covers all Boundless Time and Space and the Bodhisattva' Vows. The Kesa is so because we choose to see it as such a Talisman, a symbol, a religious fetish object. Otherwise, it is just a piece of old rag.

All Buddhist myths, ceremonies, traditions, objects, statues etc. can be treated in like fashion. I do not favor throwing out all old stuff just because it is old, tossing out the "Baby Buddha with the Bathwater".

At the same time, I would say the hats and clothes are not "necessary" to Buddhist Practice, we don't "need" them. In fact, they can often hide things behind the distracting, exotic show. One need not dress like a 1000 year old Chinese or Tibetan man on this Path. One can sit Zazen just as well in a pair of jeans, shorts or buck naked.

So in that sense, the funny hats and funny clothes are not necessary.

The funny face, I am stuck with that! The Original Face just the same.

Gassho, J


Clear communication seems to be bypassing me right now :lol:

The only point I was trying to make is the irony involved in being informed about there being "no need" in this case for the wearing of "funny hats" etc by someone depicted in the images in my previous post as actually wearing "funny attire". It reminded me of an old saying "do as I say not as I do" which never sat comfortably with me. By the way I do not feel the need to wear any particular garb and therefore don't so it could be said "I practice what I preach" :lol: and that is all I have to say. I will now revert to my general level of participation which is not much.

Regards,
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Re: Baloney! and Jundo Cohen

Postby jundo cohen » Sat Jun 09, 2012 7:26 am

Astus wrote: If by common you mean that there are Zen teachers who talk ill of the Mahayana sutras, that is not a usual practice at all, and never was. It's equivalent of slandering the Dharma. The result of this is that his followers will not study the teachings and so fail to understand it. The idea that "Buddha was only human" - what is called "secular Buddhism" - is failing to understand the complexity and the meaning of Mahayana teachings about buddhahood.


Hi Astus,

I believe that the perspectives I offer will welcome people into the doorway of the Buddhist Teachings who would be otherwise alienated, distracted and driven away by a more "Sutra-literalist" and "magic-miraculous" presentation of the Buddhist Teachings and Practice whereby even the most fantastic of claims is accepted much as folks of that other religion might accept that the world was created in only 7 days because their literalist reading of their Sacred Book says so. Many people would be denied the beauty and power of the Buddhist Path without what someone like me presents which tells them to look past, and right through, all that possible hoo-haw and embellishment.

LIKEWISE, what I present may alienate, repulse and chase away many a Buddhist faithful who needs what some other Teacher presents, and a more "The Sacred Book says it, therefore I believe it" approach! Of course, for to each their own Path.

In fact, the boundless Buddhist World is certainly spaciousness enough to hold all of us, and we need each other. I would never say that it's "my way or the highway", or that the medicine I prescribe suits all patients. Far from it.

What is more, I am certainly not someone who seeks to reject all tradition and the value of every old story. Rather, I believe I seek to make many old tales and practices approachable to folks who would be quite skeptical of such things if taken on faith and face value alone, and try to help them see through to the underlying Teachings that shine through the surface appearance. An example of this is how I might present Kannon to some who might take his-her literal existence as Kan-nonsense.

I have heard from folks who have trouble incorporating many figures such as Kannon and Jizo into their Practice ...

I have some words I would offer both to people who say (a) these things do exist in a concrete way, and those folks who say (b) they do not. While both those extremes may be correct (only the universe knows for sure, and I remain an open minded mystic-skeptic), I have come to see "them" as archtypes, representing real characteristics of human life and (since we are just the universe) thus the universe.

In other words and in a nutshell: When we feel in our hearts and act upon love and compassion, thereby love and compassion exists as a real, concrete aspect of the world which our hearts and acts create. And since, in our view, there is no "inside" or "outside" ultimately, what is inside you is just as much "the universe" and concrete reality as the moon, gravity and the stars. That is "Kannon", in that way a real and concrete aspect and 'force' of the world.


... or the literal existence of hells and heavens when we die ...


Now, don't get me wrong: I believe that our actions have effects, and I believe that we create "heavens" and "hells". I see people create "hells" within themselves all the time, and for those around them, by their acts of greed, anger and ignorance. .I see people who live in this world as "Hungry Ghosts", never satisfied. I also believe that we are reborn moment by moment by moment, so in that way ... we are constantly reborn, always changing (the "Jundo" who began writing this essay is not the same "Jundo" who will finish it). Futhermore, I believe that our actions will continue to have effects in this world long after this body is in its grave ... like ripples in a stream that will continue on endlessly.

But what about those future lives, heavens and hells? Will I be reborn as an Asura or a cocker spaniel?

My attitude, and that of many other Buddhist teachers, is that ...

If there are future lives, heavens and hells ... live this life here and now, seek not to do harm, seek not to build "heavens" and "hells" in this world ... let what happens after "death" take care of itself.

And if there are no future lives, no heavens or hells ... live this life here and now, seek not to do harm, seek not to build "heavens" and "hells" in this world ... let what happens after "death" take care of itself.


Thus I do not much care if, in the next life, that "gentle way, avoiding harm" will buy me a ticket to heaven and keep me out of hell ... but I know for a fact that it will go far to do so in this life, today, where I see people create all manner of "heavens and hells" for themselves and those around them by their harmful words, thoughts and acts in this life.

And if there is a "heaven and hell" in the next life, or other effects of Karma now ... well, my actions now have effects then too, and might be the ticket to heaven or good rebirth.

In other words, whatever the case ... today, now ... live in a gentle way, avoiding harm to self and others (not two, by the way) ... seeking to avoid harm now and in the future too.



While such explanations of Buddhist Teachings may not speak to you or someone like you, they may speak to me and others who could not begin to accept such Buddhist teachings on faith and face value without skepticism. We can come to encounter the realms of Buddhism beyond/behind/right-in-the-heart of all argument over "true" and "false" ... and the truly magical and miraculous, not only in cheap claims of magic and miracles, but even in the most mundane.

Do I "slander the Buddha"? I cannot begin to conceive of a Buddha who could be slandered! :buddha1:

Zen folks have certainly had a love-hate (beyond all aversions and attractions) relationship with scripture, a finger pointing to the moon. Rinzai, while so often cherishing and teaching from the Sutras (as do I too, for what it is worth) described the twelve divisions of the Buddhist Canon as "nothing better than waste paper to wipe up privy filth. ' A similar iconoclastic statement was made by Rinzai's contemporary, Deshan Xuanjian, who called the Buddhist canon, "the census records of demons and spirits, paper [fit only] for cleaning running sores." (http://www.scribd.com/doc/53147551/Ruth ... d-of-Linji). Theravadan Buddhists have frequently declared that the Mahayana sutras are the fabrication of heretics or of the Evil One, and not the teachings of the Buddha, while Mahayanists have been quick to characterize both Sutras and Suttas they did not approve of as "lesser", "provisional" or "expedient means". Dogen, a great fan of the Lotus Sutra and other Sutras, was known to "rewrite" the contents to express his own view of Truth, and had this interesting critical dialalogue with his own teacher on the Surangama. He wrote in the Hokyo-ki of a conversation on this with his teacher, Ju-Ching, also not a Surangama fan, calling it "not as skillful as other Mahayana Sutras" (pg 6 and 7 here) ...

http://books.google.co.jp/books?id=mHJL ... 22&f=false

Gassho, Jundo
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Re: Baloney! and Jundo Cohen

Postby Indrajala » Sat Jun 09, 2012 4:42 pm

jundo cohen wrote:Zen folks have certainly had a love-hate (beyond all aversions and attractions) relationship with scripture, a finger pointing to the moon.


Most of Zen in Japan has historically been about studying Zen (Japanese masters) and Chan (Chan records from China) literatures. It was largely a literary movement tied in with sectarian politics.

This is why zengaku 禅学 in Japan refers to the study of their literary canon, not zazen.

Descriptively, Zen is all about the scriptures. Prescriptively, it is all about the meditation and not relying on letters or verses.

The former is the reality, the latter the ideal.
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Re: Baloney! and Jundo Cohen

Postby jundo cohen » Sat Jun 09, 2012 5:06 pm

Huseng wrote:
jundo cohen wrote:Zen folks have certainly had a love-hate (beyond all aversions and attractions) relationship with scripture, a finger pointing to the moon.


Most of Zen in Japan has historically been about studying Zen (Japanese masters) and Chan (Chan records from China) literatures. It was largely a literary movement tied in with sectarian politics.

This is why zengaku 禅学 in Japan refers to the study of their literary canon, not zazen.

Descriptively, Zen is all about the scriptures. Prescriptively, it is all about the meditation and not relying on letters or verses.

The former is the reality, the latter the ideal.


Hi Huseng,

I also cherish, and teach from, Mahayana Sutras and many Suttas, if I may say.

It is just that I see some core parts as Timeless and True, some parts perhaps True when taken as allegory, some parts as untrue, merely the opinion of the very human (although religiously inspired) author, some parts to be just the product of the age and traditional Asian culture in which they were written. It is up to each of us to find out for ourselves which parts are which, and certainly anyone's personal right to believe that it is ALL Timeless and True and/or the literal word of the Buddha.

It is not all that different (save that these are our "Holy Books" and not their "Holy Books") from how some might choose to read the Old Testament of the Bible, finding some teachings there which are Timeless and True, some parts perhaps True as allegory (a burning bush perhaps), some parts as untrue, merely the opinion of the very human (although religiously inspired) author, some parts to be just the product of the age and traditional culture in which they were written (the parts about stonings, homosexuals or keeping slaves perhaps).

However, the Timeless True in the Sutras and Suttas is still worth the whole price of admission despite the other parts and, of course, one must not confuse the Moon with the finger pointing at the Moon. Further, as Dogen might say, even a painted fictional mooncake will satisfy hunger to those who can so see.

Gassho, Jundo
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Re: Baloney! and Jundo Cohen

Postby Astus » Sat Jun 09, 2012 5:16 pm

Hi Jundo,

You teach as you please of course, and you are not alone in that kind of symbolic interpretation of the teachings. And not alone I mean among the contemporary teachers who grew up within a materialist culture. Naturally, that kind of teaching appeals to a certain audience. And as long as it brings people the decrease of unwholesome states and the increase of the wholesome ones, it is wonderful. What lies beyond that, the ending of afflictions and the awakening of bodhicitta, is another matter. What are your goals in teaching? Zen is said to be the sudden path to buddhahood. Is that what you teach?
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Re: Baloney! and Jundo Cohen

Postby jundo cohen » Sat Jun 09, 2012 5:25 pm

Astus wrote: What are your goals in teaching? Zen is said to be the sudden path to buddhahood. Is that what you teach?


Hi Astus,

Yes, the Sudden Path realized and brought to life in each step by step, choice by ethical choice, on the road to the paradigm of Buddhahood. For Shikantaza folks like me, on our trip along the Pathless Path, every step is a Total Arrival, and the Whole Hike is the Finish Line ... yet we keep on marching forward, Bodhisattvas vowing to Save All Sentient Beings no matter how long it takes.

If I am wrong about all this and the literal existence of places like the Naraka Hells, well, may I burn in Naraka Hells.

Gassho, Jundo
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Re: Baloney! and Jundo Cohen

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Jun 09, 2012 5:47 pm

Astus wrote:If by common you mean that there are Zen teachers who talk ill of the Mahayana sutras, that is not a usual practice at all, and never was. It's equivalent of slandering the Dharma. The result of this is that his followers will not study the teachings and so fail to understand it.
Slander is when you say something that is not true, or if it is true, when it is not a matter of public interest. Saying that the Mahayana Sutras were written by humans that were attempting to idealise the properties of the Buddha seems a valid and of public interest. If this leads to his students not studying the Sutras then this is discloses more about the students frame of mind then anything else. But here in Greece we say apples fall under apple trees... "Luckily" I had the advantage of reading both Sutra and Sutta before being introduced to Buddhist sectarian polemics (via e-sangha actually) and so had the benefit of seeing both sides before knowing there are two (or more) sides.
The idea that "Buddha was only human" - what is called "secular Buddhism" - is failing to understand the complexity and the meaning of Mahayana teachings about buddhahood.
The idea that the Buddha was only human is not limited to sectarian Buddhism. Theravadrans do not really prescribe to the idea of a divine nature to the Buddha either. The capacities that arose as a consequence of his enlightenment is a different story. Okay, there is the walking seven steps at birth stuff, but again this was not due to his divine nature but as a consequence of his actions in previous lifetimes which culminated in his birth here on earth and his enlightenment (and Mahaparinibbana).
:namaste:
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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: Baloney! and Jundo Cohen

Postby shel » Sat Jun 09, 2012 8:46 pm

jundo cohen wrote:I believe that the perspectives I offer will welcome people into the doorway of the Buddhist Teachings who would be otherwise alienated, distracted and driven away by a more "Sutra-literalist" and "magic-miraculous" presentation of the Buddhist Teachings and Practice whereby even the most fantastic of claims is accepted...

I'm sorry to point this out to you Jundo, but there is a glaring contradiction, or flaw, in your alleged purpose stated here. In the video, and probably elsewhere, you say that your practice is "more magical and fantastic than anything a storybook writer [those who wrote the sutras] could cook up." This is indeed true and I would wager that your "magic" is far more off-putting to people investigating Buddhism than anything written in a sutra. People can relate in different ways to what's written in the sutras. How inviting are your claims like, "nothing holy or unholy," etc, to people unfamiliar with Buddhism. Add to that the fact that you don't even abide by the vows you've taken, like the vow to cultivate and encourage respectful speech and not slander others. That makes it appear that your school has no real core values and that is quite off-putting also. Why do you think Zen is one of the least popular religious traditions in the world?

Again, you're just saying that your "magic" is more "real" and "beautiful" than other peoples magic. Some religious teachers do this and it's not uncommon, but they don't do it for the reasons you claim to be doing it for. Your 'reasoning' sounds more like a rationalization.

Maybe you're just tired of living in the shadow of your dharma brother Brad Warner, so following his lead you're attempting to out-sensationalize what he's done to get more attention than he gets?

Do I "slander the Buddha"? I cannot begin to conceive of a Buddha who could be slandered!


And it is that conception that allows you to slander.
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Re: Baloney! and Jundo Cohen

Postby ground » Sun Jun 10, 2012 4:29 am

Mr Cohen seems to be just another gusher. But no problem the world is filled with gushers.

:meditate:
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