Is modernity bad for practice?

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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby gad rgyangs » Sat Nov 24, 2012 4:32 pm

Huseng wrote:
gad rgyangs wrote:hey its your proposal.



No, you're suggesting that I'm advocating something entirely other than what I've stated.


nostalgia for the "good old days", whatever one's fantasy version of that that happens to be, is always escapist. that is not good for practice.

and if, instead of nostalgia, what you are proposing is that the here and now should be different from what they are, then that is equally escapist.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Sherlock » Sat Nov 24, 2012 4:34 pm

gad rgyangs wrote:
Sherlock wrote:Mindset isn't the main point here. The opportunity for practice is.


if you cant practice as you are, where you are, in the time you are, then you're already in trouble.


Of course one has to work with circumstances. But you cannot deny that most modern people generally cannot afford to spend years in retreat, that is all.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Indrajala » Sat Nov 24, 2012 4:42 pm

BuddhaSoup wrote:Your experience in Ladakh sounds wonderful. A place you can go to in your mind, now, when life gets too infused with modern static. I spent some time as a samanera in a Wat in Thailand, and go there in my mind when I need a quiet place....the temple dogs still bark, though....:)


I plan to simply abandon a lot of the modern lifestyle in due time.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby gad rgyangs » Sat Nov 24, 2012 4:42 pm

Sherlock wrote:
gad rgyangs wrote:
Sherlock wrote:Mindset isn't the main point here. The opportunity for practice is.


if you cant practice as you are, where you are, in the time you are, then you're already in trouble.


Of course one has to work with circumstances. But you cannot deny that most modern people generally cannot afford to spend years in retreat, that is all.


do you really think most "pre-modern" people spent years in retreat? anyone who cares to spend years in retreat can do so right now in several traditions including christianity as well as buddhism. nothing is stopping you.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Indrajala » Sat Nov 24, 2012 4:44 pm

gad rgyangs wrote:nostalgia for the "good old days", whatever one's fantasy version of that that happens to be, is always escapist. that is not good for practice.


You just smacked a strawman. I've not proposed anything like this.

and if, instead of nostalgia, what you are proposing is that the here and now should be different from what they are, then that is equally escapist.


Modernity is a mentally incapacitating experience for a lot of people and hence the high suicide rates, anti-depressant use, perpetual unease, stress-related illnesses and other forms of neurosis.

To abandon the causes for such things is only wise.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby gad rgyangs » Sat Nov 24, 2012 4:46 pm

Huseng wrote:
Modernity is a mentally incapacitating experience for a lot of people and hence the high suicide rates, anti-depressant use, perpetual unease, stress-related illnesses and other forms of neurosis.



you can easily escape modernity and its ills in places like Iran.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby BuddhaSoup » Sat Nov 24, 2012 4:48 pm

Huseng wrote:
BuddhaSoup wrote:Your experience in Ladakh sounds wonderful. A place you can go to in your mind, now, when life gets too infused with modern static. I spent some time as a samanera in a Wat in Thailand, and go there in my mind when I need a quiet place....the temple dogs still bark, though....:)


I plan to simply abandon a lot of the modern lifestyle in due time.


My thought, once I have my kids educated, and their educations paid for, is to shave the head, reordain, and live out life in the study and practice of the Dharma. That's the grand plan. Hopefully, my mind remains intact (it may be slipping already...:) ) so that when I'm at that age, I can function competently in a sangha and even teach a bit...
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Indrajala » Sat Nov 24, 2012 4:48 pm

gad rgyangs wrote:do you really think most "pre-modern" people spent years in retreat? anyone who cares to spend years in retreat can do so right now in several traditions including christianity as well as buddhism. nothing is stopping you.


Actually in many countries a lot of monasteries were secluded and out in the countryside, so you were in retreat by contemporary standards if you lived in one. Unless you lived in a city, this was the basic living arrangement for practitioners: seclusion and simple living.

Now to arrange such a lifestyle requires a constant source of funding, a safe and reliable place to do it with no funny business (i.e., no weird behaviour on the part of the residents or leadership), and even then there are other obstacles (passports and visas if you're away from your home country, etc...).
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Indrajala » Sat Nov 24, 2012 4:49 pm

gad rgyangs wrote:you can easily escape modernity and its ills in places like Iran.


Iran as I'm sure you know has internet, television, automobiles, mobile phones, scheduled work hours, universal education, etc...
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Indrajala » Sat Nov 24, 2012 4:55 pm

BuddhaSoup wrote:My thought, once I have my kids educated, and their educations paid for, is to shave the head, reordain, and live out life in the study and practice of the Dharma. That's the grand plan. Hopefully, my mind remains intact (it may be slipping already...:) ) so that when I'm at that age, I can function competently in a sangha and even teach a bit...


One should live with few possessions
And dwell with one's back turned
To the things that cause grasping
Be as a wanderer in foreign lands
Taking food as it is found
Like the birds in migration.

-Atiśa
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby BuddhaSoup » Sat Nov 24, 2012 4:58 pm

Atiśa, sadhu! Sadhu! sadhu!

You too, Huseng.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Sherlock » Sat Nov 24, 2012 5:04 pm

gad rgyangs wrote:do you really think most "pre-modern" people spent years in retreat? anyone who cares to spend years in retreat can do so right now in several traditions including christianity as well as buddhism. nothing is stopping you.


Finances during the retreat as well as a dead-end to most career paths when I come out stops me -- unless I want to be a monk. Many Western monks even seem to need to hold down jobs to survive.

What is there to dispute about many spiritual paths not being suitable for modern society? You are a Dzogchen practitioner right? This is the very reason why some teachers have said that Dzogchen is the most suitable path for modern life. You should read Malcolm's posts here.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Indrajala » Sat Nov 24, 2012 5:09 pm

Sherlock wrote:Finances during the retreat as well as a dead-end to most career paths when I come out stops me -- unless I want to be a monk. Many Western monks even seem to need to hold down jobs to survive.


I suspect for a lot of people, too, their family wouldn't be pleased with them taking a few years to go into retreat.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Astus » Sat Nov 24, 2012 6:06 pm

Huseng wrote:
Astus wrote:It is misleading to say that people are generally materialist just because state education consists mostly of non-religious subjects.


No, I'm saying state education teaches materialism (without calling it materialism) as the default worldview. If you got educated in pre-modern Tibet your worldview would be thoroughly Buddhist with the whole cosmology, karma and rebirth taught as explicitly real and realistic, whereas now there is an alternative worldview.

This is why so many people (not just in the west, but in Asia too) have problems with the idea of rebirth and karma.


Should rebirth be part of education? One could as well make it a theistic view. It is the very idea of removing all religious ideas from public education that helped pushing back religions from the front. Teaching or studying science is not the same as materialism. I'm not a science fan and I've never really been interested in it. But bringing religion back into education sounds like a very bad move to me. Buddhism should be ready for the challenge and prove its teachings instead of expecting people to just follow because the Buddha said so. The Dalai Lama is very clever in emphasising that kind of attitude, returning to the Indian teachers where they had to argue and defend their views in face of others who followed many different kinds of world views. Buddhism started its career in the West first by donning the robe of a rational philosophy. Today it is studied and spread by its meditation methods of helping people. Buddhism must stay humanistic in the sense of something tangible and close to everyday life. That way it might have a chance of staying alive. I trust and believe in Buddhism because I know it works and I find it logical. If I had just followed my culturally ingrained instincts about spirituality I would have left Buddhism long ago for a nice Christian church or some other Western philosophy, because that's where my inclinations were.

As for practice, I don't see any special hindrances created by technology. Is it really more difficult today to become a renunciate than before? What is it that stops anyone from ordaining? The government is not a problem, nor is travel, unlike before. There are monasteries now even in Europe, America and Australia where one can go. Food is not a problem in any developed country. In fact, if one really wanted to imitate the early Buddhist community, being a homeless beggar is less risky today than in ancient India, and one can still access public libraries and internet, not to mention healthcare, soup kitchens and shelters.

Are people in general more exposed to sensual pleasures today? Sure, because the society can afford it. And that is what the majority is interested in. Not surprising at all in the realm of desire, is it? But nobody forces anyone to watch TV, play games and go to parties. People have enough wealth and free time to support the industries based on entertainment, beauty products, travelling, etc. At the same time, one can put that time and money into spiritual endeavours as well. And many do. In developed countries more people live in better conditions today than the lesser nobility and burghers/bourgeoisie did a few hundred years ago.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Lhug-Pa » Sat Nov 24, 2012 7:33 pm

Reminds me of a somewhat recent post:


Lhug-Pa wrote:True indeed, Greentara.

The only problem with advocating celibacy in these times and contemporary circumstances, is that there usually isn't an alternative to repression offered; which is why I'd posted:

"And for monks and nuns who are not allowed to practice Karmamudra—and for bachelorettes & bachelors in general—there are always practices such as Trul Khor or 'Khrul 'Khor (Yantra Yoga), Tsa-Lung, Tummo, Pranayama, etc. in order to work with ones Sexual Energy (Thigle, Dhatu, Bindu, Prana, Srog, Lung, Nadis, Tsa, Chakras, various Glands & Hormones etc.). In this way it is said that one can much more easily keep one's monastic, Mahayana, and/or Tantric commitments without repression, as one is directly working with the Sexual Energy and sublimating It."

I think one of the main problems that confronts monks and nuns nowadays, is that celibacy is only realistic for people who can retreat to the forests to meditate, that is unless one has access to a powerful method such as Yantra Yoga or Tsa-Lung.

Without a said powerful Vajrayana type of method, celibacy would be nearly impossible considering all the lustful images, talk, etc. currently going on all around us, not to mention all the pollution and various forms of radiation which negatively effect our Nadis or inner channels.


The last part in bold there^ is a big one too. Non-organically-grown food is contaminated with synthetic-chemicals and its genes are often adulterated; and it's usually more expensive to eat all organic (however if you shop at local Farmer's Markets and even look for deals/sales at places like Whole Foods Market, it's not that much more expensive), and, some cities are so polluted that residing there would have to be detrimental to one's practice, and sometimes people can't afford to move away. Although the receiving of Empowerments regularly if possible, and also doing various Pranayama breathing practices can help to purify the Nadis, and take various herbs, etc.

Work with circumstances, yes. However even in Dzogchen, it seems that for most, we should at least complete the Rushens (or at least the Inner Rushen). And even though the Inner Rushen for example isn't necessarily as lengthy as doing Tantric Ngondro, it's still not so easy to do in contemporary circumstances, particularly in regard to people who cannot take time off from their jobs for say a two or three month retreat. If we have somewhere to practice at home though, it shouldn't be too difficult to do an hour or so Tun session of Rushen practice everyday in the morning and/or evening, despite our "job".

I say "job", because most "jobs" are owned directly or indirectly by the international-banksters/global-corporatist-dictatorship. And it's not always easy to find a job period nowadays, let alone one that supports positive things like organically-grown food, natural healthcare, affordable clothing made of natural material that's not made in outsourced sweatshops, etc.
Last edited by Lhug-Pa on Sat Nov 24, 2012 7:59 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Nov 24, 2012 7:50 pm

gad rgyangs wrote:you can easily escape modernity and its ills in places like Iran.
Why would he bother going to Iran? America has done pretty well with a string of God sent uber-Christian presidents sowing Christian Corporatist fundamentalism across the entire globe. They gave a whole new meaning to the phrase "body of Christ"!
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One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby JKhedrup » Sat Nov 24, 2012 8:00 pm

We know that the three higher trainings in morality, concentration and wisdom are essential for the cultivation of the path.

In our electronic age, it has been shown that attention spans are decreasing, the ability to focus on one task for an extended period is decreasing, and in fact the very way that our minds operate are changing.

My feeling is that this will make attainment of samadhi more difficult for most people growing up in the digital age.
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A wise man keeps them secret within.
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But a precious gem placed upon it sinks to the depths
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sat Nov 24, 2012 9:50 pm

Sure..it certainly makes any kind of spiritual pursuit more difficult. I think it's hard to argue otherwise, modern life is an explosion of nonsense, confusion, and crazy wandering..emotionality I guess you could call it.

Then again, paradoxically it is elements of that same modernity that made the Dharma available at all to those of us not born near it. Undeniable there are more people practicing the Dharma now (however imperfectly) due to it.

So do what you can with it...
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby shel » Sat Nov 24, 2012 9:56 pm

Huseng wrote:Modernity is a mentally incapacitating experience for a lot of people...


This is an interesting topic, but the very important question, imo, of exactly why modernity is bad (or good for that matter) has not been clarified. What is the essential difference "mentally" "for a lot of people" between modern and premodern times?
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby muni » Sat Nov 24, 2012 10:06 pm

Huseng wrote:[
One should live with few possessions
And dwell with one's back turned
To the things that cause grasping
Be as a wanderer in foreign lands
Taking food as it is found
Like the birds in migration.

-Atiśa


No focus = no grasping mind.

No focus on (impermanent) appearances .

Two cents. :anjali:
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