What's wrong with sorcery if it works?

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What's wrong with sorcery if it works?

Postby Jangchup Donden » Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:13 pm

Topic split from here:

viewtopic.php?f=40&t=9546

deepbluehum wrote:I have found that it helps me think of the whole Tibetan thing as one thing. There's so much cross-fertilization there. All the stuff about inter-lineage rivalry and debate is Tibetan business. I look for good wisdom from the whole tradition. I do the same for South and East Asian Buddhism. As Western dharma people, we don't owe any loyalties. The onus is on them to substantiate their claims about their practices and tenets. We can do what we want with it. The era of Western Buddhism is ahead. At first it will be a non-sectarian deal that syncretically digests all these traditions. Later, Western buddhist sectarianism will arise, just like it did in all these other regions. But there is no duty to make friends. Scientists have no duty to incorporate the teachings of sorcery. If a teaching is scientific it will survive as long as a better science doesn't replace it. Where there is really good ancient science, clouded over by sorcery, it would be better to redact the sorcery. This is basically what Western buddhists are facing with all these traditions.


What's wrong with sorcery if it works?

Just abandoning something because it sounds mystical is not scientific. That's just wielding a blind faith believe, treating science like a religion. What would be scientific would be to put aside biases and test the method to see if it is effective or not. Most often the "western secular" Buddhists I converse with (usually over the interwebs) are just wielding materialism as a religion and calling it science. They aren't using the scientific method or being scientific (coming up with and testing hypotheses) in their analysis.

Just as science has shown mindfulness is effective at improving the mental state, it could be used to validate the higher practices, assuming you could get a target population large enough and qualified to perform them willing to be part of an experiment.
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Re: A directive for a non-sectarian approach to practice (HHDL)

Postby Blue Garuda » Fri Aug 03, 2012 7:56 pm

It is quite possible that, unlike cultures of the past, members of Western cultures may be keen to adopt an alien religion precisely because it is exotic and mystical.

If this is true then it may be that most Westerners will continue to learn to perform their practices with the cultural accretions of, for example, Tibet or Japan, rather than using their own cultural references. To that extent there may be a form of discrimination by Westerners against the Western cultures, perhaps accompanied by clinging to the Tibetan sect they joined and expressing sectarianism to protect their adopted lineage.
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Re: A directive for a non-sectarian approach to practice (HHDL)

Postby Indrajala » Sat Aug 04, 2012 2:36 am

Blue Garuda wrote:It is quite possible that, unlike cultures of the past, members of Western cultures may be keen to adopt an alien religion precisely because it is exotic and mystical.


In East Asia there is an exotic appeal that Christianity possesses. It is western and in some cases associated with modernity and strength. Also can be a source of social networking for professionals.
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Re: A directive for a non-sectarian approach to practice (HHDL)

Postby Indrajala » Sat Aug 04, 2012 2:50 am

Jangchup Donden wrote:What's wrong with sorcery if it works?


In most Mahāyāna cultures historically sorcery of some kind has actually been the mainstay practice and source of income for professional clergy of some form or another.

We're often prejudiced in thinking Buddhism is supposed to be about meditation and loving kindness, though in reality historically it was presumably seldom ever like that.

In any case, the reason sorcery or magic has been so popular is because it actually does, at the bare minimum, affect a change in consciousness of the practitioners and people thus have seen great value in it.


Just abandoning something because it sounds mystical is not scientific.


Some people prefer mysticism as is without examining it scientifically because mysticism when employed properly can make your life easier to live and more interesting. In the Buddhist context at least the whole point is to overcome suffering and many tried and tested mystic methods have worked for centuries.

Repentance methods come to mind where the practitioner confesses their past misdeeds until they see some auspicious vision, which they then view as karmic obstacles having been removed. There is nothing scientific about this, though the result is having less worry about the future and consequently a more stable mind which facilitates deeper meditation (remorse being one of the fetters). I think it would also reinforce positive behaviours and moreover someone who has done serious repentance practice will probably avoid further misdeeds. It would be like spending much time scrubbing filth off your body only to throw more mud on yourself for no good reason.

Again, none of this is scientific, but in the religious context it makes sense and actually works. I know this from personal experience.

Of course there are also rites and so on for worldly benefits like summoning rain. It isn't all about personal cultivation.
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