Congratulations on turning your life around, and on the process you find yourself in. Seriously. It's a hard road to walk, but a worthwhile one.
The techniques you're talking about are valuable, no doubt. And I am positive there is great value in Goenka's method, and also in Eckhart Tolle's work. No one is dismissing them.
This road of dharma is a rocky road, self examination is difficult we often do not like what we see, the self can be very ugly. The tradition that suits me is free from these rituals, we do have chanting and people do say sadhu sadhu sadhu and people bow and people wear white clothing and we are also asked not to touch the dhamma seat or point are feet at the teacher. But if you ask a teacher about the reasons behind why we are not to do or do these things there is a common sense answer, no mystery, no secrets. I do not want to derail this thread but I am not allowed to discuss the work of Eckhart tolle anymore as it is judged not dharma teachings. I am to understand that he is teaching a different path and by discussing his work I am breaking the TOS by promoting another path as superior, I find this absurd and see no difference between what Eckhart teaches and what Goenka teaches.
conebeckham wrote: BUT-
There's a subtle (and sometimes, not so subtle) hint of superiority in the message you're trying to convey. Whether you admit it or not, you have put down "rites and rituals," passed judgement on "Religious Buddhists," and you made a statement in this thread that your teacher felt such behaviors "planted the seed for later"--which, by definition, means such actions and attitudes as those displayed by "religious devotees" are somehow immature when compared to your own view. You should own this, first of all, and admit that you've passed judgement. To me, it seems you're not quite there, yet.
If the confidence in which I speak is to be determined as superiority then I have no control over that, this is how I type, but understand that I do not feel superior to any other living being in this universe. Again I am not putting down "rites and rituals" unless they are being done blindly, they do have purpose for some, and they also can be a barrier for others, they can act like a fence seperating people, any action that leads to segregation is in my opinion contrary to Gotamas teachings or and true dharma teachings, it ultimatly will lead to duality. As for the "planting the seed for later" comment, I was referring to those who would attend a retreat, but not be ready to do the work necessary to finish a retreat, goenka says that these individuals have come to recieve the seed of dharma to be developed in another lifetime(not a failure or a waste of time). I was equating this with the people I notice at my temple, those individuals who do not seem ready to meditate but love the environment and socialization of the temple. Some just love the suttras and study them. Wonderful lovely people who are each on their own path, but I stick to my point that this is not enough for liberation, one must observe the nature of reality at the deepest level within the framework of ones body for liberation to occur.
conebeckham wrote:The Mind is primary. The mind is involved, whether we are sitting quietly in meditation, doing a "body scan," focusing on breath, or whatnot.....the mind is also involved when one is chanting devotionally, and when one is prostrating, and when one is making offerings. It's impossible to say what goes on in the minds of those involved in "religious activities"--no one can see another's mind, except Buddha--but there are teachings relating to all these "religious activities" which can turn such activities into powerful meditations, themselves. You should consider this, when you are evaluating the behavior of those around you.
Yes, I could not agree more with you. Again I'm not saying the mahayana path filled with it wonderful teachings is invalid, chanting and prosterations can be useful if they are not done in a manner of blind faith, if one understands their purpose then they become tools to aid in ones developement if they are clung to by people they can act like wedges seperating and dividing the teachings. This blind practice is what I would call religious behaviour, and I feel it is dangerous if it is done by a christian, a muslim, a jew, or a buddhist etc..... this is the behavior that sickened me. I have met christians who hold their cross not to blindly protect them but to remember the qualities of Jesus and to remind them to be mindful of their own actions when faced with difficult situations. I have met buddhists that pray to the statue of buddha to solve their problems, this is ineffective in my opinion, but take refuge in the qualites that Gotama represents, bow to these qualities, this in my opinion has merit. I am not here to judge individuals different practices how could I? It is not possible for me to understand the complexities of all the different indiviuals here from a few typed words. I am speaking in a generalised way not specific to anyone here. What I am advocating is for a place to share my interpretation of the dharma, this may or may not be a place for this but this determination will be decided eventually and everyone will be just fine whatever the result. No anger, no hard feelings. I have a different take on what is breaking the terms of service than the moderaters, this needs to be discussed openly.