Dry Hump of Buddhist Philosophy

Discuss your personal experience with the Dharma here. How has it enriched your life? What challenges does it present?

Re: Dry Hump of Buddhist Philosophy

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed May 02, 2012 6:24 pm

Clarence wrote:
conebeckham wrote:
Namdrol wrote:I never said don't receive transmission and teachings. I am saying, turn your dharma teachings and transmissions in Dharma. Use them to understand yourself. Don't leave them as an intellectual pursuit. For the most part, every dharma text I ever studied, am studying, and will study, was for the purpose of understanding something about my path, about myself, my own state. I learned Tibetan to enhance my practice, not to become a skilled translator who is expert in dancing on books (though I am pretty good). I did not learn Dharma to come to places like Dharma wheel and have debates. So I am pointing out that Buddhist Philosophy, the intellectual study of Buddhism divorced from a path, is a waste of time. If you want to study Madhyamaka, first understand how it is relevant to solving the Buddha's existential question: what is suffering, it's cause, it's cessation and the path. If you keep this in mind, then this study becomes Dharma.


this should be required reading. Thanks.


Seconded! Very nice indeed.

Indeed. Very good post.
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Re: Dry Hump of Buddhist Philosophy

Postby Mr. G » Wed May 02, 2012 7:17 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:
conebeckham wrote:
Namdrol wrote:I never said don't receive transmission and teachings. I am saying, turn your dharma teachings and transmissions in Dharma. Use them to understand yourself. Don't leave them as an intellectual pursuit. For the most part, every dharma text I ever studied, am studying, and will study, was for the purpose of understanding something about my path, about myself, my own state. I learned Tibetan to enhance my practice, not to become a skilled translator who is expert in dancing on books (though I am pretty good). I did not learn Dharma to come to places like Dharma wheel and have debates. So I am pointing out that Buddhist Philosophy, the intellectual study of Buddhism divorced from a path, is a waste of time. If you want to study Madhyamaka, first understand how it is relevant to solving the Buddha's existential question: what is suffering, it's cause, it's cessation and the path. If you keep this in mind, then this study becomes Dharma.


this should be required reading. Thanks.
Seconded! Very nice indeed.

Indeed. Very good post.


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    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
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Re: value of Buddhist Philosophy

Postby Yudron » Fri Jul 20, 2012 5:09 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Will wrote:

I don't say these things idly. I say these things because I observe many people over the years, westerners as well as so called Geshes, Lamas, Khenpos and so on, who, while being quite expert in myriad ancient opinions about this and that fine point of Buddhist philosophy, nevertheless never succeed in integrating the meaning of the Dharma into their personal life. And so for these people, Dharma remains a religion and a culture, rather than a personal experience.

N


̄


Malcolm 2012 agrees 100% with my teachers on this specific topic. Intellectualism, East and West, is viewed as a serious obstacle to Enlightenment. The proverb Lama Tharchin Rinpoche often quotes in relation to this topic is that, just as you can't get butter from churning water, you can't get realization from stirring intellectual mind. When one has an intellectual habit, like I do, one isn't able to even identify when one is being intellectual. Given the vastness of the Buddhadharma, which can turn into huge playground for our thinking mind, one of the most important functions of my wisdom lama is to tell me what to focus on and what not to focus on. Otherwise, this brief opportunity to practice is this life can quickly slip away.
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Re: value of Buddhist Philosophy

Postby Indrajala » Fri Jul 20, 2012 5:25 pm

Yudron wrote: Intellectualism, East and West, is viewed as a serious obstacle to Enlightenment.


What exactly is intellectualism here?
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Re: Dry Hump of Buddhist Philosophy

Postby duckfiasco » Fri Jul 20, 2012 6:51 pm

I think I understand what is meant here since it's one of my biggest stumbling blocks.

Intellectualism is trying to make everything "make sense" and fit into a logical framework, almost always within our present (samsaric) understanding of the world. That's the pitfall. We use our current intricate knots of "this leads to that," "this means this" that smack of dualism/materialism and try to squeeze the Dharma into that understanding.

Then when you get things like karma, enlightenment, things that can't be empirically shoved into a dualistic mindset, we struggle greatly because we're so used to relating to the world with this scientific, purportedly logical mind.

See how tidily it all fits together? Intellectualism on intellectualism :)

I think the koan, "If you meet the Buddha, kill him" precisely addresses the problem.
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The Perfect Way knows no difficulties
Except that it refuses to make preferences;
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Re: Dry Hump of Buddhist Philosophy

Postby Indrajala » Sat Jul 21, 2012 1:52 am

duckfiasco wrote:I think I understand what is meant here since it's one of my biggest stumbling blocks.

Intellectualism is trying to make everything "make sense" and fit into a logical framework, almost always within our present (samsaric) understanding of the world. That's the pitfall. We use our current intricate knots of "this leads to that," "this means this" that smack of dualism/materialism and try to squeeze the Dharma into that understanding.

Then when you get things like karma, enlightenment, things that can't be empirically shoved into a dualistic mindset, we struggle greatly because we're so used to relating to the world with this scientific, purportedly logical mind.

See how tidily it all fits together? Intellectualism on intellectualism :)




By this reasoning the Buddha is guilty of the error you condemn. He was quite logical and would say, "This leads to that." "This means this..." He would offer clear definitions on things.

He taught karma in a very logical way. Unwholesome deeds lead to suffering. Wholesome deeds lead to ease.

Moreover, not all of us are guilty of having intricate knots of thoughts while stuck in dualism/materialism.
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Re: Dry Hump of Buddhist Philosophy

Postby duckfiasco » Sat Jul 21, 2012 2:40 am

I didn't make myself quite clear :spy:

We all have pre-existing concepts and a framework for understanding the world that we're unaware of. That's a huge part of our ignorance problem as human beings. For the intellectuals, the problem is doubly compounded because everything that could chip away our worldview must pass through a filter of logic and meaning based on this very same framework of ignorance. The tool is flawed, yet the tool is cherished. The Buddha may have used dualistic speech and logic to reach dualistic and logical minds, but it was a stepping stone, wasn't it?

So you get things like people asking for empirical proof of rebirth or enlightenment. Or quite expertly dismantling the reality of perception, then turning around and reifying the perceiving self. Or you end up with those who have made the Dharma something like a difficult math problem with an elegant solution, having little to do with life and much to do with a special brand of hedonistic logic. I've seen all of these and can relate, because I come up against this often in myself.

An example of what I mean can be found in this thread: viewtopic.php?f=77&t=8743
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Re: Dry Hump of Buddhist Philosophy

Postby Indrajala » Sat Jul 21, 2012 3:18 am

duckfiasco wrote:The tool is flawed, yet the tool is cherished. The Buddha may have used dualistic speech and logic to reach dualistic and logical minds, but it was a stepping stone, wasn't it?


I think the Buddha was quite logical. In fact, most of what he is recorded as saying includes dual opposites. For example, desire is suffering, cessation is peace. You might claim that all that was expedient means, but then the Buddha did spend his entire teaching career using such language and ideas to educate people on how to overcome suffering.

What you seem to be getting at is that you think words, thinking, thoughts and conceptions are the problem because they are a product of ignorance.

While they are a product of ignorance, they are the stem of the problem and not the root. We have to work within conventional reality with all its limits in order to realize ultimate reality. Without conventional means, there is no realization of the ultimate. It is necessary to work with language and conceptions in order to overcome suffering.

Naturally, when the medicine has remedied the illness, it is no longer needed. However, unless you are quite certain you no longer need the medicine, why would you throw the medicine away?

All too many people with a self-declared anti-intellectual agenda are barely even on the raft before they kick it away.



So you get things like people asking for empirical proof of rebirth or enlightenment.


It is with good reason that people ask for proof or at least evidence of such things, otherwise it is just blind faith.


Or you end up with those who have made the Dharma something like a difficult math problem with an elegant solution, having little to do with life and much to do with a special brand of hedonistic logic. I've seen all of these and can relate, because I come up against this often in myself.


Are they really making the Dharma something like a difficult math problem with an elegant solution, or are you just upset that you fail to grasp the purport of their ideas?
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Re: Dry Hump of Buddhist Philosophy

Postby duckfiasco » Sat Jul 21, 2012 4:37 am

I'm not sure we're on the same page here, as I agree with what you say but you respond as if in disagreement with what I'm saying. So there's a disconnect happening somewhere, probably between my brain and my words as I write them :)

It's difficult to talk skillfully about subtle struggles in the Dharma. I'm trying to get at a recurrent difficulty I have that I saw reflected somewhat in the statement about intellectualism. We have no disagreement about anything really so far. I'll try again, but more metaphorically: intellectualism is peering through a samsara microscope at the mind and wondering why all you can see is samsara, intellectualism is trying to use a dirty rag to clean a mirror with a few specks on it, intellectualism is trying to squeeze the mind into a pretty dress for a Dharma date :rolling: There's very much dirty talking and very little getting it on :twisted:

I'm also not so upset by these types of things as difficulties are just part of the path. It's all just trying to get a feel for these things and how to handle them, not condemn others. Maybe I was too grandiose in using "we"?

Anyway, I apologize for not being able to explain better my point of view, especially when I feel I can relate to others who feel their own good sense gets in the way rather often. Have you thought of this, dear Huseng, that maybe you're fortunate enough not to have this difficulty as strongly as others? Maybe that's why we're having trouble understanding... How fortunate if so! :cheers:
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Except that it refuses to make preferences;
Only when freed from hate and love,
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Re: value of Buddhist Philosophy

Postby Yudron » Sat Jul 21, 2012 7:55 pm

Huseng wrote:
Yudron wrote: Intellectualism, East and West, is viewed as a serious obstacle to Enlightenment.


What exactly is intellectualism here?


The point of studying the Dharma is to convince your conceptual mind into to practice. Intellectualism -- and I am calling it that, my teachers would call it being a ""Dharma Scholar"-- is not practicing, or not practicing much and continuing to study Buddhist ideas. Chatral Rinpoche is quoted as saying "I would rather be a lawyer than a Dharma Scholar." The idea is that, at least it makes you money so you can practice, whereas being a Geshe does not (generally) Chaltral Rinpoche was a an accomplished scholar, then own teacher burnt all his books in front of him and told him to go practice. Now he is 100 years old and one of the most highly respected yogis in the Nyingma tradition.

There are said to be many Tibetan Khenpos and Geshe's who do not practice. I don't personally know that to be true because I have never been to Asia, but I do know there are a lot of academics and other people here in the U.S. who read about Dharma and go to teachings, but do not practice. Few people in this culture are serious practitioners in this culture, and it just seems like a shame people wasting days, months, years of their lives reading and listening to dharma and not implementing it.
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Re: value of Buddhist Philosophy

Postby Indrajala » Sun Jul 22, 2012 1:25 am

Yudron wrote:There are said to be many Tibetan Khenpos and Geshe's who do not practice. I don't personally know that to be true because I have never been to Asia, but I do know there are a lot of academics and other people here in the U.S. who read about Dharma and go to teachings, but do not practice. Few people in this culture are serious practitioners in this culture, and it just seems like a shame people wasting days, months, years of their lives reading and listening to dharma and not implementing it.


You're talking primarily about academics, not intellectuals.

If someone just wants to read books and write papers, that's their right. You can't force anyone to take up a practice.

I know plenty of academics who become extremely well-read in Buddhism and just treat it as a canon of literature.

They really are the minority, however.

That being said, I don't think there is anyone here who qualifies as such.
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Re: value of Buddhist Philosophy

Postby Yudron » Mon Jul 23, 2012 12:16 am

Huseng wrote:
Yudron wrote:There are said to be many Tibetan Khenpos and Geshe's who do not practice. I don't personally know that to be true because I have never been to Asia, but I do know there are a lot of academics and other people here in the U.S. who read about Dharma and go to teachings, but do not practice. Few people in this culture are serious practitioners in this culture, and it just seems like a shame people wasting days, months, years of their lives reading and listening to dharma and not implementing it.


You're talking primarily about academics, not intellectuals.

If someone just wants to read books and write papers, that's their right. You can't force anyone to take up a practice.

I know plenty of academics who become extremely well-read in Buddhism and just treat it as a canon of literature.

They really are the minority, however.

That being said, I don't think there is anyone here who qualifies as such.


I think I'm taking about both intellectuals and academics. My dictionary defines the intellect as 1. the faculty of reasoning and understanding objectively, esp. with regard to abstract or academic matters. Intellectuals are those who both have that capability and like to use it a lot, right?

What do you think? So reasoning and understanding, in themselves, bring one closer to enlightenment?

As far as whether most people on Dharma Wheel have a daily practice or not, I have no way of knowing. It would be in interesting poll.
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Re: Dry Hump of Buddhist Philosophy

Postby Yudron » Mon Jul 23, 2012 12:27 am

I posted a poll about how often people practice in the Meditation Forum. Perhaps it has already been done, I don't know, but it seems like an interesting topic. :popcorn:
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Re: value of Buddhist Philosophy

Postby dharmagoat » Mon Jul 23, 2012 12:28 am

Yudron wrote:What do you think? So reasoning and understanding, in themselves, bring one closer to enlightenment?

I would attempt to explain it like this: Reasoning brings us to understanding, which allows us to practice correctly, which in turn reveals enlightenment.
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Re: value of Buddhist Philosophy

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jul 23, 2012 1:09 am

Yudron wrote:I think I'm taking about both intellectuals and academics. My dictionary defines the intellect as 1. the faculty of reasoning and understanding objectively, esp. with regard to abstract or academic matters. Intellectuals are those who both have that capability and like to use it a lot, right?

What do you think? So reasoning and understanding, in themselves, bring one closer to enlightenment?


Do you think having no sense of reason or understanding will help one become liberated?

Reasoning about the causes of suffering and how to remedy them is all part of the Buddha's prescribed program. Engaging in fruitful discussion about the topic is likewise to be encouraged, as it was in the Buddha's time.

Academic analysis of Buddhism as a "world religion" or even textual analysis of a given work are in the realms of ivory towers and often done by non-Buddhists. There may not be immediate soteriological value to such work, but it isn't done with liberation in mind. It is just scholarship. Nobody claims that examining vocabulary usage in a given text will bring about liberation. Nevertheless, it would qualify as one of the five sciences which a bodhisattva may engage in: grammar. It benefits the greater world and our collective base of knowledge. This is the work of bodhisattvas, though most academics with a few exceptions just see it as their research and career.

There is nothing wrong with thinking and reasoning. The problem is misguided thinking and erroneous reasoning.
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Re: value of Buddhist Philosophy

Postby dharmagoat » Mon Jul 23, 2012 1:27 am

Huseng wrote:There is nothing wrong with thinking and reasoning. The problem is misguided thinking and erroneous reasoning.

Or, excessive thinking and too much reliance on reasoning.
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Re: Dry Hump of Buddhist Philosophy

Postby Quiet Heart » Mon Jul 23, 2012 2:26 am

:shrug:
It's rather like the Zen story (koan?) isn't it?

A monk climbs to the top of a 100 foot pole.
There he clings in terror at the top of that pole....swaying in the wind.
What is he to do?

Sometimes you just have to take that leap of faith and just let go.
:smile:
Shame on you Shakyamuni for setting the precedent of leaving home.
Did you think it was not there--
in your wife's lovely face
in your baby's laughter?
Did you think you had to go elsewhere (simply) to find it?
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The Layman's Lament
From What Book, 1998, p. 52
Edited by Gary Gach
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Re: value of Buddhist Philosophy

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jul 23, 2012 5:42 am

dharmagoat wrote:
Huseng wrote:There is nothing wrong with thinking and reasoning. The problem is misguided thinking and erroneous reasoning.

Or, excessive thinking and too much reliance on reasoning.


One can remedy suffering through reasoning based on right view. This is what contemplative meditation is for. One contemplates, for example, the causes of suffering, how they are disagreeable and how they should no longer be pursued, thus transforming one's mind in the process.
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Re: value of Buddhist Philosophy

Postby Yudron » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:48 pm

Huseng wrote:
dharmagoat wrote:
Huseng wrote:There is nothing wrong with thinking and reasoning. The problem is misguided thinking and erroneous reasoning.

Or, excessive thinking and too much reliance on reasoning.


One can remedy suffering through reasoning based on right view. This is what contemplative meditation is for. One contemplates, for example, the causes of suffering, how they are disagreeable and how they should no longer be pursued, thus transforming one's mind in the process.


These kind of contemplations have been very important in my practice. I think perhaps you don't have the dharma scholars in your tradition that we do in ours--people who really don't integrate with practice much at all and just know the textual tradition by rote and can debate well. This is not uncommon. Not contemplation but memorization and regurgitation, or a delight in debate. The causes of suffering is a topic worth deliberation, the exact length designated by the term "one incalculable aeon" is almost pointless.
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