Is modernity bad for practice?

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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby floating_abu » Sat Dec 01, 2012 5:39 pm

PS I don't hope for utopia either because this land is a specific one, but I do believe efforts count, and so do attitudes and beliefs - they also make up this collective world.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby floating_abu » Sat Dec 01, 2012 5:49 pm

Huseng wrote:
floating_abu wrote:Huseng, farming takes a lot of work, I don't know how well researched your assertions is, but perhaps it might be worth considering.


Working as a farmer is hard work, but in terms of the time it requires -- do you think it is more than 10 hour days at a plastic office plus commuting time?


I was responding to your assertion below but I don't know how many hours they work for sure to answer, I do know that generally farming is hard work and time consuming though as a general assumption I have.

"Non-industrial farmers have a lot of free time. This is why they develop rich folk culture, dances, music, stories, etc..."


And also I don't think you can really compare like this, some "modern" workers work part time, some more hours, some commute very little (I know people who live 10 minutes from their office), some farmers might commute, farmers might supplement their income through other means, they might work a lot - more than 10 hours, they might have 5 children to rear after a hard day of labor and be exhausted..etc. Your parameters are inexact and therefore not very trustworthy to make assertions with

i.e. I am saying I think maybe you would want to do more research before making these assertions so surely that's all

P.S. I asked a friend who has worked on farms - he said it depends on the type of farming, so there are variables etc but he said on the farm he works on in peak seasons he wakes at 4am to 10pm and one hour lunch as a break, and no other breaks...but he said during Winter there was much more free time indeed :smile:

Anyway my only point is your assertion would need more research as a suggestion, but hey this is just a chat forum so I guess it's OK as we're all just shooting balls around here :woohoo:
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Indrajala » Sat Dec 01, 2012 6:29 pm

floating_abu wrote:I think a more preferable state, in my opinion at least, is that we don't know what the age will bring. In a way afflictions, which naturally cause suffering to the person and those around them, is also the very ground fruit of Dharmakaya and Buddhist practices..so who knows..



Buddhist canon is quite certain about us living in an age of decline. The history of Buddhist literature over the centuries also points to an overwhelming agreement with such an assertion. You'd be hard pressed to find eminent authors throughout history in any culture believing that things would get better. A lot of the prophetic literature paints a grim future. The later works explicitly use the term 'kaliyuga' to describe this age which is characterized by physical, environmental, spiritual and social decline.



So you can believe that many are in a bad state, but I wouldn't spread that message too much especially as a certainty, because peoples' beliefs and spirits also matter in this day and age. i.e. everything counts, so best to just do (our) best rather than assume one way or the other.



I don't have to spread it around. Just read what Buddhists have been writing for twenty or more centuries. I'm not being innovative or original in assuming that kaliyuga is real and basing my outlook on the assumption that we live in an age of decline where things will inevitably worsen.




I believe for a Buddhist cultivator (if one is such a thing or wants to be) that is a more generous spirit, and more in line with the great vows of the Mahayana...(rather than - we are probably screwed especially in this 'age' etc)



To each their own. A bodhisattva in seeing the vicissitudes of the kaliyuga would react with increased compassion and concern, but not deny the reality of what is occurring.

One unfortunate aspect of modernity is the ever present assumption of perpetual progress. That technology, knowledge, civil rights, human rights and social development are all irreversible. History is seen as linear rather than cyclical. We go from the caves to the stars, and no matter whatever bumps along the way, progress will inevitably triumph. Unfortunately history doesn't really work like this and those who forget this always pay dearly.

On the other hand, assuming ongoing decline is easier to prepare for. If things don't really degenerate as much as you expected, you're no worse off for having made suitable mental and material preparations.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby shel » Sat Dec 01, 2012 7:20 pm

Check it out, even cavemen made time for the arts...

Image

Note that they painted only what they could observe and experience. No depictions of dragons, Gods, etc. So they were obviously empiricists, or to use the synonym for empiricist, they were nihilistic-secular-scientific-materialist-annihilationists. With a beginning like that no wonder maternity turned out so bad.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby floating_abu » Sat Dec 01, 2012 7:33 pm

Huseng wrote:To each their own. A bodhisattva in seeing the vicissitudes of the kaliyuga would react with increased compassion and concern, but not deny the reality of what is occurring.


kirtu suggested trying for something better, to which you responded with pessimistic clarity (called in your terms: realism) pointing out the declining age and affliction of the people of this age. That does not sound to me like 'increased compassion and concern' but rather theoretical application and certainty.

The system is a highly complex one, even amidst the so called degenerate age, there is much opportunity for blossoming and truth.

Concern would entail trying to ensure that as many as people as possible, who have the wish and the karmic connection, to be able to met the truth of such teachings: not pointing out that we are in the dark ages and just afflicted - as an example. See * below.

Huseng wrote: We go from the caves to the stars, and no matter whatever bumps along the way, progress will inevitably triumph. Unfortunately history doesn't really work like this and those who forget this always pay dearly.


Is that true, Huseng? Please back this with historical examples etc. It seems that people who you might call have paid dearly, example the current populace of war, torture, rape and famine are not "paying dearly" as a reasult of any belief or non-belief - but because of the workings of the world and samsara.

Huseng wrote:On the other hand, assuming ongoing decline is easier to prepare for. If things don't really degenerate as much as you expected, you're no worse off for having made suitable mental and material preparations.


Sure, that's a personal choice: akin to half full or half empty. But to pass on negativity and pessimism may not inspire people to their potentials and seeing the opportunities available even in so called dark times.

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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby floating_abu » Sat Dec 01, 2012 7:38 pm

*And another perspective on the so called Kaliyuga age from genkaku-again.blogspot.com:

..For all that, I only remember bits and pieces and the bit that floated up this morning was a quote attributed to Ramakrishna: "Bhakti is best in the Kaliyuga."

Among the Hindu yogas, Bhakti is founded on the exercise of the belief that all things are god. Everything, everywhere, always ... is god. There is nothing that is not god. And, coming in another door, Bhakti is founded on "iti, iti," meaning "this, this." Bhakti credits everything as god and encourages a love of everything ... sort of like Christianity before the church got hold of it. This is a loving and devotional practice, smooth and soft and warm as alpaca.

The "yugas" in Hinduism are million-plus-year life cycles that carry with them implications of spiritual awareness and attainment. I forget how many there are -- maybe three or four or more -- but the Kaliyuga is sometimes called the iron age, a time when spiritual life is at a disturbingly low ebb, a time when people don't give a shit and know less about spiritual clarity. Those inclined towards apocalypse and doom and hell would find the Kaliyuga inspiring and deliciously awful.

And Ramakrishna said, "Bhakti is best in the Kaliyuga."

Objectifying -- or pretending anyone might be able to see from a distance -- the Kaliyuga is not the point ... in fact it is the kind of fairy tale that might best exemplify the Kaliyuga. A deluded (wo)man cannot 'see' that s/he is deluded. S/he can only be deluded. The Kaliyuga is intimate, personal and woven in the heart. And Ramakrishna said, "Bhakti is best in the Kaliyuga." It is best to love without restraint, to love with utter trust, to love unremittingly and always ... everything. Everything is god and for those who would love god, it is best to let no thing be exempt from that love. "Iti, iti" -- this is god, this is god, this is god, this is god.... It's kinda Christian in its original format of "caritas."

And if everything is god, then what is not god? Or, alternatively, who is god? This, in my raggedy memory, is the central question for those inclined in their very own Kaliyuga to love god in keeping with Ramakrishna's observation.

The Hindus, with probably the oldest religion in the world, are not slackers. They are not narrowly confined. They don't rest of comfortable or comforting belief. Their arms are as wide as the human spectrum and, as a result, another yoga, "jnana yoga," takes a somewhat different approach.

This is not god, this is not god, this is not god, this is not god. Where "iti, iti" means "this, this," "neti, neti" means "not this, not this." If this is not god and this is not god and this is not god, then, for the seeker of god, who or what is god? This, approach, in rough terms, is Buddhism: When all things are set aside, then what is it that is experientially and empirically credible and hence peaceful?

It scared me when I transferred my allegiances from a loving devotion -- a book-reading, temple-hopping, excited and credulous devotee -- to something that seemed at first so chilling and parsimonious, something that took everything away as soon as I tried to grab it. Zen Buddhism in its meditational practice offered no place to run, no place to rest, no place in which to feel relief and wonder and awe. I missed the hell out of my love and yet something told me that facing the wall, still and erect and focused, was a sine qua non of any real love. But that didn't stop my longing for relief ... my Bhakti, my hope that there was some place or state of mind where ease was ... well, easy.

Neti, neti ... not this, not this... and yet I was all about iti, iti ... this, this. The whole matter, in its practical format, left me flopping like a fish on the dock, squirming and begging for a return to a world that loved and nourished me. I was not born to breathe air ... I was born to slip and zip through cool, nourishing waters, loving waters, Bhakti waters.

Wriggle and flop, wriggle and flop. Save me, PLEASE! I was purely dying to be alive and yet all around me spoke of nothing so much as death. No! No! No! It was all so uncaring ... and I cared. It was like a beautiful twinkling star ... that didn't give a shit ... and didn't give a shit to such an extent that saying it didn't give a shit was overstating the case by miles. A twinkling star, after all, is just a twinkling star.

Practice and practice and practice some more. I was never a very good Zen student, but I sure put a lot of time in on it. Sometimes it was smooth as water over a rock. Sometimes it was like being consumed by some mountain-side avalanche. Yum and ouch. Yum and ouch.

What of Bhakti, what of jnana, what of iti-iti, what of neti-neti ... what a tumult in this Kaliyuga of mine. Millions upon millions of people didn't care a fig for the effort I made. But I cared and of course, in that caring, brought down avalanche after avalanche, bliss after bliss. It was foolishness ... but I am grateful to have been such a fool.

What does it feel like when it becomes apparent that what you grasped with the most heart-felt devotion could never have been grasped in the first place? Well, it feels a bit silly, but it is the sort of silliness that is requisite to the task at hand. Sure, I was a remain a jackass. What's wrong with being a jackass? Being a jackass when you are a jackass is hardly a pastime for a jackass. Being a jackass does not mean you are a jackass.

But all this is just my jackass talking.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby duckfiasco » Sat Dec 01, 2012 7:53 pm

Another perspective: what's bad for practice is good for practice if actually put to use. And we sure have a lot of stuff to work with these days :rolleye:
Please take the above post with a grain of salt.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby floating_abu » Sat Dec 01, 2012 8:22 pm

It is in the mud that the lotus blossoms ..

:namaste:
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby shel » Sat Dec 01, 2012 8:46 pm

jeeprs wrote:
tobes wrote:So I think you are slipping between metaphysics and ethics, and failing to see that the normative moments in Buddhist thought - the Vinaya, lay precepts, paramita's etc - cannot be universal moral laws.


I agree that as soon as they are written down or codified they are specifically 'Buddhist'. But I also believe they are based on universal principles. I can't really see why such principles can't be depicted as 'moral laws', and I am surprised (and also a bit dismayed) that word 'moral' is so contentious on this forum.


Well, for one thing, like in science universal principles change with new knowledge and culture. For example, in recent years, "dharma" has evolved from an older, Bråhmanical dharma (which the king's support was required both financially and in protecting the earth), to a newer dharma called nåstika dharma. Nåstika dharma draws upon the principles and disciplines of yoga to encourage not dominance, as would be seen in the prior dharma, but equality and harmony among people, which in the end encourages selfless behavior.

Does that make the situation any clearer?
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Dec 01, 2012 9:00 pm

shel wrote:With a beginning like that no wonder maternity turned out so bad.
What did you say about my mother??? :tongue:
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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: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby shel » Sat Dec 01, 2012 9:02 pm

:tongue: Oops, Freudian slip!
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby viniketa » Sat Dec 01, 2012 11:41 pm

So, is postmodernity better for practice?

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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Indrajala » Sun Dec 02, 2012 3:35 am

floating_abu wrote:kirtu suggested trying for something better, to which you responded with pessimistic clarity (called in your terms: realism) pointing out the declining age and affliction of the people of this age. That does not sound to me like 'increased compassion and concern' but rather theoretical application and certainty.


That's your perception of my statements, not mine. To paint a rosy optimistic picture of the future might be initially comforting, but it would be unrealistic and because it is unrealistic it will be all the more painful when that reality fails to emerge.

This is saṃsāra. Things will inevitably always go wrong sooner or later. By understanding this there will be increased compassion and concern given that you see your own falsely imputed happiness for what it is (suffering) followed hopefully by a realization that this extends to all beings and a desire to help them.

This is not an idea you give immediately to newcomers, but if they read the literature of past masters they'll quickly see this has been the case and still is. There is no real happiness in saṃsāra. There is no utopia to be had. There is just suffering and suffering disguised as happiness. There is fortunately a cure for this which is why there is hope. There is cause for faith in this cure because of past and present individuals who have overcome suffering.




Huseng wrote: We go from the caves to the stars, and no matter whatever bumps along the way, progress will inevitably triumph. Unfortunately history doesn't really work like this and those who forget this always pay dearly.


Is that true, Huseng? Please back this with historical examples etc. It seems that people who you might call have paid dearly, example the current populace of war, torture, rape and famine are not "paying dearly" as a reasult of any belief or non-belief - but because of the workings of the world and samsara.


I don't understand your point.

I'm saying progress and stability are not eternal. Despite people thinking WWI was the "war to end all wars" a few years later WWII broke out and claimed more human lives than any other conflict to date. The Romans were rather confident in their system, but it eventually collapsed and the dark ages followed.




Sure, that's a personal choice: akin to half full or half empty. But to pass on negativity and pessimism may not inspire people to their potentials and seeing the opportunities available even in so called dark times.


You call it negativity, I call it being realistic.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby futerko » Sun Dec 02, 2012 3:59 am

Huseng wrote:This is saṃsāra. Things will inevitably always go wrong sooner or later.


Add quotation marks and you get an excellent definition. :tongue:
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby mañjughoṣamaṇi » Sun Dec 02, 2012 4:11 am

viniketa wrote:So, is postmodernity better for practice?


Are you from the future? :alien:

"When German (or American) philosophers today speak of the neoirrationalism of French thought, when Habermas gives lessons in progressive thought to Derrida and Foucault in the name of the project of modernity, they are seriously mistaken about what is at issue in modernity. The issue was not and is not (for modernity has not come to an end), the Enlightenment pure and simple, it was and is the insinuation of will into reason." -- Jean François Lyotard, A Svelte Appendix to the Postmodern Question
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Red Faced Buddha » Sun Dec 02, 2012 4:30 am

viniketa wrote:So, is postmodernity better for practice?

:namaste:


No.People just like to think things were better in the past.However,with all the distractions and gluttony,lust,hatred(those things certainly didn't exist eighty years ago :tongue: )it probably is harder for lamas and monks to keep to their vows.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sun Dec 02, 2012 10:00 pm

One thing possibly worth bringing up:

Regarding talk about a "new dark age", it's worth noting that during the 'original' dark ages, many did not think of them as dark ages, and in some respects they were also a time of great technological progress - most notably as regards warfare!

So, predicting a dark age as being a time when people return to an agrarian existence, can no longer sustain a certain living standard etc. may not be entirely accurate in terms of having a wokring definition of what a Dark Age actually is.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sun Dec 02, 2012 11:24 pm

This photo was taken last year.
I don't think they are letting "modernity" stand in their way.
Why should you or I?
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby jeeprs » Mon Dec 03, 2012 1:16 am

viniketa wrote:So, is postmodernity better for practice?


Actually, yes. I think that a lot of what the postmoderns are *trying* to do, is to show up how un-self-aware 'modernity' is in regards to its own assumptions and beliefs about the world. Whilst post-modernism is often a blight in the academic context, on account of its potential for total anarchy and verbose meaninglessness, it has nevertheless got some real nuggets of insight. The only book I ever bought on the topic was Walter Truett Anderson's Truth about the Truth, which had some great contributions from Huston Smith and Vaklav Havel about the shortcomings of materialism, and the importance of spirituality.

You could argue that the Mahdyamika Dialectic provided a template for the post-modern practice of 'deconstruction', millenia ago. In fact I saw a great presentation at the first Science and Non-duality Conference in 2009 on exactly that idea.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby tobes » Mon Dec 03, 2012 2:02 am

Huseng wrote:
floating_abu wrote:I think a more preferable state, in my opinion at least, is that we don't know what the age will bring. In a way afflictions, which naturally cause suffering to the person and those around them, is also the very ground fruit of Dharmakaya and Buddhist practices..so who knows..



Buddhist canon is quite certain about us living in an age of decline. The history of Buddhist literature over the centuries also points to an overwhelming agreement with such an assertion. You'd be hard pressed to find eminent authors throughout history in any culture believing that things would get better. A lot of the prophetic literature paints a grim future. The later works explicitly use the term 'kaliyuga' to describe this age which is characterized by physical, environmental, spiritual and social decline.



So you can believe that many are in a bad state, but I wouldn't spread that message too much especially as a certainty, because peoples' beliefs and spirits also matter in this day and age. i.e. everything counts, so best to just do (our) best rather than assume one way or the other.



I don't have to spread it around. Just read what Buddhists have been writing for twenty or more centuries. I'm not being innovative or original in assuming that kaliyuga is real and basing my outlook on the assumption that we live in an age of decline where things will inevitably worsen.



If you start from the cosmological predication of kaliyuga, and ask a question about modernity, the answer is always and immediately fixed.

Degenerate times, things are getting worse, dharma will disappear "and all of my observations confirm that."

What is to be gained by starting such a thread then, by asking a question?

Why not just produce a statement: modernity is worse for dharma practice because of kaliyuga.

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