Confessions of a stupid head Buddhist.
Everybody does their best with what they bring to the table.
When I read some of the posts on Dharma Wheel, I am reminded of the scenario in a grammar school courtyard where one kid pushes another kid and shouts, ”you’re a stupid head.” Then the other kid pushes back and shouts, “no, you’re a stupid head.” Not that this ever happens on Dharma Wheel but you might want to think about it.
Summary: Perhaps if a disclaimer, explaining the context, is attached to "shock" Dharma of any brand, then conservative old timers and innocent newcomers won't be put off and run away.
For a Buddhist to give the appearance of slandering the sutras or ANY of the 84,000 (means a lot of ) Teachings of Lord Buddha for shock value, or to advance personal preference or power, is like a hunter shooting himself in the foot. The goal of Buddhism is liberation, not shooting yourself in the foot.
Promoting liberation is the Path of Buddhism.
Lord Buddha's intent is likened to the sun shining equally on everybody, or the earth supporting all different types.
This is how we need to be in regards to all expressions of Buddhism too. But that said, you don’t want to be off-putting to anyone who night not understand unconventional speech.
Some background as to where I am coming from.
When I visited my first Teacher in 1963 my co-seekers included Jeffery Hopkins and Alexander (Robert) Thurman. My nickname was "Nasty Boy" and I can still hear Bakshee, Geshe Wangyal, screaming across the compound, "NASTY BOY COME HERE." I would "stop" whatever I was doing and report for a scold or a pat on the head, never knowing which was coming next. I observed my ego bouncing up and down, and at some point stopped expecting. This was my first Buddhist Teaching from a Master. Building the Retreat House in Freewood Acres and later in Washington NJ was my introduction to Buddhism. Jeffery and Alexander took to studies like fish to water, but comparing myself to them, I felt like a dunce. Abhidharma was a foreign language, let alone Tibetan. I just had no talent for it. So when I discovered the Nyingmapa, I was very happy. Though the Nyingmapa’s also have great scholars, they also have a place for stupid heads like me. I took to it like a fish to water.
Hey - this I could handle. Banging my head on the floor and saying holy mantras, worked for me. After 2 nundros I jumped into the bottomless ocean of Dzogchen and no longer had any hope of attaining enlightenment or fear of Samsara. My practice, at first was to collect and practice all the practices I could find. Then my practice was not to worry about what practice I should be doing and just to observe what occurred in my continuum without comment. Now I am happy with all practices and am content to do my best with what arises in my continuum – not Dzogchen, but whatever it is, I am fine with it.
Then, one day, I realized I was like a child who did not know who his parents were and decided to read the sutras and the Mahayana texts. I gathered the Long Discourses, the Connected discourses and the Short Discourses, the Questions of King Milinda, The Jataka Mala, the Large Sutra on Perfect Wisdom, and the great foundational collections of The Pali Text Society Collection, and the Motilal Banarsidass Collection. For a Buddhist book worm, walking into the Motilal book store in New Delhi, or the Buddhist Cultural Center book store in Sri Lanka, is like dieing and going to heaven. There is enough to read for 10,000 life times: or at least to provide a good way to distract yourself until death, in this life. There are many books that I own that I have never read. Sometimes I used to put one under my sleeping pillow as a comfort.
I did my best, but reading the stilted English of Rhys Davids, and Max Muller wasn't easy. Along with Edward Conze, Burton Watson, H. Kern, Tom Cleary and many others, these giants of the Western translation school opened the door into Buddhism for many Westerners. Some people call this "Dead Buddhism": dusty words about the experience of Buddhism. I can't imagine this approach being useful to the "wired" children of today, who are used to 50 reality jumps in a minute of video, but for many who like to read, these translations were and are, a valid door into Buddhism.
Today, The Dhammapadha, The Diamond Sutra, and The Crystal and the Way of Light, all sit very comfortably next to each other, on my shelf.
On the shelf without characteristics, those three great, enlightened texts, and everything else, fits very harmoniously in the Golden Temple of Lord Buddha.
This all sounds like I am praising myself but that is not the issue. (I am giving some background so you can understand, how I got to where I am.) The key point is that it is possible for all views to co-exist in harmony, and that if a stupid head like me can do it, anybody can.
I have no capacity to understand anything myself, or to explain anything of value myself, but as a stupid head Buddhist of the fundamentalist Buddha-Seed, no seat school, I have faith in the Golden Temple of Lord Buddha and am content to sit anywhere and hold all views.
Perhaps, to remain in contemplation for the length of time that an ant could walk from the tip of your nose to your forehead is more valuable than memorizing all the texts.
So perhaps for those who can contemplate, experience trumps intellectual understanding.
Some people call this, "Living Buddhism": juicy experience beyond words. Anyone can "understand" this. But how do you understand your experience in the realm of words?
Without words there is no way to communicate the experience of Buddhism in the realm of words, either from yourself to yourself or between self and other.
Lineal transmission is the actual sharing of the 'state" of Lord Buddha, in the realm without words, but it doesn't work for everyone.
Each path has its function and these two methods of teaching Buddhism are complimentary. Sudden or gradual, dry or juicy it is ALL Buddhism.
William Burroughs and Alan Ginsburg showed that shock value has a place in poetry. Shock value is at work when you are looking at your reflection in the Duchamp wall in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. (I am not going to tell you the salacious secret.) Shock has its attractor value. Turn on any prime time cable line up and most of the TV shows utilize "shock value:" vampires / zombies / and slash and bash shoot-em-ups rule. Shock has the value of making an emphatic statement to get your attention. Shock speaks to those whose language is shock. Shock can be skillful means to attract those who are alienated by traditional means. If someone with lineal transmission wants to use shock value to communicate to those who would not otherwise come into contact with the holy teachings of Lord Buddha, there is a place for that in the 84,000 teachings of Lord Buddha. Shock Buddhism with transmission, is a Turning of the Wheel. Shock Buddhism without transmission, perhaps might have a value too, but is at the same level as a word-bound text.
Perhaps traditionalists have to allow that, "Kill the Buddha," meaning kill the concept of the Buddha, is not rocket science and can be readily understood by any semi-conscious human. And so with the other "Zen" shock statements. Dzogchen also utilizes shock statements: the 8 Amazing things, and the 12 Vajra Laughs, are examples of this.
Try to take the big picture and try not to be offended by anything.
Therefore, in emptiness, no forms, no sensations, perceptions, impressions, or consciousness: and no slander either.
If someone takes the, on the face of it, very shocking, Zen statements, and the, on the face of it, very Shocking, Dzogchen statements, literally, there is no way to allow this as respectable Buddhism. How can you take the position that cause and effect doesn't function, or that there is nothing to be done except relax? As literal statements they are blasphemy. (Help, call the Dharma police, my logical righteous conceptions are being stolen.) In the context of seeing these statements as teaching tools, they make perfect sense. Throw the sutras in the garbage - well come on now - this is crazy talk until you look at the context and then, perhaps, it makes perfect sense: and, in fact, is fully respectful skillful means, the same as prostration to a dogs tooth relic of Lord Buddha, Sutra, real relic of Lord Buddha or to a Teacher.
Perhaps if a disclaimer explaining the context is attached to "shock" Dharma of any brand, then conservative old timers and innocent newcomers won't be put off and run away.
But reading the "knickers in a twist," feeding frenzy, posts on Dharma Wheel and one would think that someone had thrown dust on Lord Buddha's perfect representation, and that this would somehow have an effect on the perfect body of Lord Buddha or the perfect body of his holy Teachings. - HOLY SCANDAL - they shout. (Quick, someone call the Dharma Police: quick, dial 108) "Off with their heads" shouted the Red Queen. "I'm going to get you my sweetie and you little dog Toto too!" The Red Queen is a place holder for the savage Buddhists who would destroy into smithereens anyone holding views not the same as theirs. Dorothy is a place holder for any poster on Dharma Wheel who dares voice a differing opinion, and Toto is a place holder for an innocent guest cruising around DW for the first time, and the Wicked Witch of the West - -- well if the wand fits---.
Maybe we need to have a little sympathy for Dorothy and Toto in the "It's not Kansas anymore" world of Dharma Wheel.
Buddhism is a serious business that includes every one who wants to be included. Everyone's views and the right to express those views should be respected, even if they are upside down from yours, make no sense to anyone but the person posting them, are shock Dharma, or non-sense stupid head views like mine.
Maybe we can pray for peace and remember why we are here.
IT"S ALL OK - we whisper back in a voice that fills the universe.
quietly and respectfully,