Is modernity bad for practice?

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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby tobes » Mon Dec 03, 2012 2:15 am

jeeprs wrote:
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.


I also think that the postmoderns - and maybe I lump myself very uncomfortably into that category - unreflectively construct modernity in certain ways, and are very un-self-aware of such a construction.

Everyone knows how to deconstruct Hegel these days, but who actually reads him? And how can you deconstruct without engagement?

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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby catmoon » Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:03 am

tobes wrote:
Everyone knows how to deconstruct Hegel these days, but who actually reads him? And how can you deconstruct without engagement?

:anjali:


If by "everyone" you mean a vanishingly small fraction of humanity, well ok... but it is still a pretty odd use of the term, doncha think?
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby tobes » Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:43 am

catmoon wrote:
tobes wrote:
Everyone knows how to deconstruct Hegel these days, but who actually reads him? And how can you deconstruct without engagement?

:anjali:


If by "everyone" you mean a vanishingly small fraction of humanity, well ok... but it is still a pretty odd use of the term, doncha think?


I'll grant you that one Catmoon.

I was kind of speaking metaphorically - what I meant was: these days everyone knows how to deconstruct tradition (be they aesthetic, philosophic, social, religious), but no one bothers to properly engage with that they are so busy deconstructing.

Which means: the real and interesting possibilities of deconstruction do not occur.

To overcome a tradition, you have to know it intimately.

Are we really sure we know what modernity is?

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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby shel » Mon Dec 03, 2012 8:45 am

I didn't even know Hegel was a tradition.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Simon E. » Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:28 am

floating_abu wrote:It is in the mud that the lotus blossoms ..

:namaste:

That we are living in the Kali Yuga is a basic teaching of my teacher and all my previous Vajrayana and Dzogchen teachers. I would hazard a guess that it is basic to the majority of Vajrayana teachers.
It is as basic to the fabric of their teachings as is Guru Yoga or Deity Practice.
Now anyone is free to reject each of those teachings.
But no one is free to say that they do not exist, or that they are not part and parcel of the Vajrayana world view. They come as a package. Albeit one that is capable of shades of interpretation. One is either on or off the bus.
Clearly they are also part of the wider Mahayana view too.
The root of the problem is the view that there is some kind of Pan Buddhism which negates the considerable differences that exist within the group of religions which calls itself Buddhist.
There are commonalities to be sure.
There are also vital differences, and to deny that is a kind of of conceptual Imperialism that seeks to level all views to one that we feel comfortable with.
That we are living in the Kaliyuga is not a matter of personal belief or disbelief in isolation for a Vajrayana practitioner. It is of the essence. The only debate I am aware of of within the Vajrayana is to do with the timing and extent...
Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche gives particular emphasis to a group of teachings that he says are essential in this Kaliyuga..
I say this not to convert anyone to this view, but as an example of the fact that in the Vajrayana the fact of the Kaliyuga is a given, and that our response to this is of the essence.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:55 am

catmoon wrote:If by "everyone" you mean a vanishingly small fraction of humanity, well ok... but it is still a pretty odd use of the term, doncha think?
Guilty as charged, but I only did it to gain a better understanding of Marx, I swear! And I tried not to deconstruct him, honestly, I didn't deconstruct him! :tongue:
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One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Simon E. » Mon Dec 03, 2012 10:16 am

The most interesting question for me is to ask what the Kaliyuga looks like in terms of our own practice. For most Buddhists it is more subtle than issues of modernity or materialism.. ( Incidentally numerous studies have shown that while an endorsement of materialism is a widespread collective phenomenon it is relatively rare in terms of motivating personal behaviour.. :smile: )
My first teacher was very aware of the propensity of moderns to align themselves at the level of belief with concepts that they had no experiential knowledge of..he saw that as part of a group of behaviours that dubbed " spiritual materialism ", and he saw that premature affirmation as a direct result of the Kaliyuga as much as is indecision and doubt.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Dec 03, 2012 10:57 am

shel wrote:I didn't even know Hegel was a tradition.
Hegel belongs to the philosophical tradition of German Idealism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georg_Wilh ... rich_Hegel
"When one is not in accord with the true view
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 futerko » Mon Dec 03, 2012 11:27 am

gregkavarnos wrote:
shel wrote:I didn't even know Hegel was a tradition.
Hegel belongs to the philosophical tradition of German Idealism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georg_Wilh ... rich_Hegel


Actually Hegel should've meant the end for German Idealism, but add a couple of hundred years of misinterpretation and you get wikipedia! :woohoo:
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby jeeprs » Mon Dec 03, 2012 11:31 am

:twothumbsup:

Actually I am a lifelong fan of T R V Murti's The Central Philosophy of Buddhism: A Study of the Madhyamika System. His book is somewhat out of fashion in the academy, but I love it, and it draws many parallels between various Western philosophical ideas and the Madhyamika. Hegel is mentioned throughout. I like those German idealists a lot. They run rings around most of the subsequent philosophers, although their economy of expression left a lot to be desired.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby viniketa » Mon Dec 03, 2012 1:42 pm

tobes wrote:Are we really sure we know what modernity is?


Good question. We may not have a firm grasp on an answer until sometime after modernity ends. We certainly have enough discussion of it over the last 300 years. I'm not, in general, a Kantian thinker, but I'm rather drawn to his characterization of modernity as the paradox of the human effort to achieve maximum individuality within maximum community.

The processes of modernity can be described, in general, as the rate of social change moving from additive to multiplicative proportions, particularly in relation to the increasing complexity of human relationships. Elsewhere, I have argued that what most describe as postmodernity is simply late-stage modernity, wherein the rate of change has moved from merely multiplicative to exponential.

Notice all the talk of human relationships. Another marked characteristic of modernity is anthropocentrism. Perhaps we may not move beyond modernity until we move beyond anthropocentric thinking.

In any case, in terms of dharma and kaliyuga, it would seem that the tendency in postmodern arts to use the past as a treasure trove to fill the present contributes to the general decline of dharma. There are a lot of complaints on this forum about various corruptions of the dharma, those of "New Age" variety in particular. This would seem to be postmodernism at its height.

As others have indicated, I suppose it means practice must be much more diligent. However, I also think it has implications to "intellectual" aspects of dharma, such as preservation of the history, if we wish to be conservative.

:namaste:
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby shel » Mon Dec 03, 2012 5:02 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
catmoon wrote:If by "everyone" you mean a vanishingly small fraction of humanity, well ok... but it is still a pretty odd use of the term, doncha think?
Guilty as charged, but I only did it to gain a better understanding of Marx, I swear! And I tried not to deconstruct him, honestly, I didn't deconstruct him! :tongue:

Don't worry, no one is going to arrest you. No one was even charged for the death of God.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:06 pm

That's coz it was due to natural causes. Nietsche just announced it, he didn't do the killing himself. :tongue:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby shel » Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:33 pm

viniketa wrote:Another marked characteristic of modernity is anthropocentrism. Perhaps we may not move beyond modernity until we move beyond anthropocentric thinking.


Let me take a wild guess. We should be Dharma-centric, right? Coz that's how the universe works.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:49 pm

tobes wrote:Everyone knows how to deconstruct Hegel these days, but who actually reads him?


I tried once. I didn't make it past page 4 of the preface. I think my brain still hurts. That was about 10 years ago.
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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby tobes » Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:27 pm

Simon E. wrote:
floating_abu wrote:It is in the mud that the lotus blossoms ..

:namaste:

That we are living in the Kali Yuga is a basic teaching of my teacher and all my previous Vajrayana and Dzogchen teachers. I would hazard a guess that it is basic to the majority of Vajrayana teachers.
It is as basic to the fabric of their teachings as is Guru Yoga or Deity Practice.
Now anyone is free to reject each of those teachings.
But no one is free to say that they do not exist, or that they are not part and parcel of the Vajrayana world view. They come as a package. Albeit one that is capable of shades of interpretation. One is either on or off the bus.
Clearly they are also part of the wider Mahayana view too.
The root of the problem is the view that there is some kind of Pan Buddhism which negates the considerable differences that exist within the group of religions which calls itself Buddhist.
There are commonalities to be sure.
There are also vital differences, and to deny that is a kind of of conceptual Imperialism that seeks to level all views to one that we feel comfortable with.
That we are living in the Kaliyuga is not a matter of personal belief or disbelief in isolation for a Vajrayana practitioner. It is of the essence. The only debate I am aware of of within the Vajrayana is to do with the timing and extent...
Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche gives particular emphasis to a group of teachings that he says are essential in this Kaliyuga..
I say this not to convert anyone to this view, but as an example of the fact that in the Vajrayana the fact of the Kaliyuga is a given, and that our response to this is of the essence.



I do not think it is of the essence for all Vajrayana traditions, and therefore, practitioners.

I agree that for Dzogchen, which has deep roots in Abhidharmika cosmology, it is critical and perhaps inseparable, as you say. Add in Kalachakra practitioners, add in followers of certain terma's....

But there are also Vajrayana traditions in which, even if Kaliyuga is there implicitly as a broader cosmological view, it is hardly central and cannot be called essential in the same way as guru yoga and other methods are.

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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby tobes » Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:32 pm

jeeprs wrote::twothumbsup:

Actually I am a lifelong fan of T R V Murti's The Central Philosophy of Buddhism: A Study of the Madhyamika System. His book is somewhat out of fashion in the academy, but I love it, and it draws many parallels between various Western philosophical ideas and the Madhyamika. Hegel is mentioned throughout. I like those German idealists a lot. They run rings around most of the subsequent philosophers, although their economy of expression left a lot to be desired.


I was actually reading his chapter on the comparison with Kant and Hegel the other day ~ I think he gets Madhyamaka interestingly wrong, quite badly wrong in fact, but there are certainly some insights to be gained.

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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby tobes » Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:34 pm

futerko wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:
shel wrote:I didn't even know Hegel was a tradition.
Hegel belongs to the philosophical tradition of German Idealism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georg_Wilh ... rich_Hegel


Actually Hegel should've meant the end for German Idealism, but add a couple of hundred years of misinterpretation and you get wikipedia! :woohoo:


= the steady progression to absolute knowledge!

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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby tobes » Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:41 pm

Karma Dondrup Tashi wrote:
tobes wrote:Everyone knows how to deconstruct Hegel these days, but who actually reads him?


I tried once. I didn't make it past page 4 of the preface. I think my brain still hurts. That was about 10 years ago.


Yeah, I don't want to make out that I'm some kind of gun Hegelian ~ for a long time I totally avoided him, and only this year have I made a serious effort. It has been slow, slow, slow and challenging. Nonetheless, I think his reputation for obscurity precedes him.

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Re: Is modernity bad for practice?

Postby jeeprs » Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:43 pm

tobes wrote:Are we really sure we know what modernity is?


For convenience's sake, I think 'modernity' can be seen as the period between the publication of Newton's Principia Mathematica, in 1687, and the publication of Einstein's four seminal papers in 1905 (including Special Relativity).
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