Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:38 am

Ben Yuan wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:Really? Can you give a source for this line of thinking coz it seems to me that "codes of ethical conduct" (Noble Eightfold Path for example) are anything but about letting things be?

Astasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra: 16 wrote:"Subhuti: As the non-observation of all dharmas, to be sure, is this dharma taught. Nowhere is this dharma obstructed. Through its identity with space this dharma is, to be sure, marked with non-obstruction, since no traces of it are noticed. It has no counterpart, because it is without a second. It has no opponent, because it has gone beyond all opposites. It is without a trace, because it has not been caused to become. It is unproduced, because there is no occasion for rebirth. It is pathless, because no path is noticed."
:anjali:
And what of relative truth? The quote you provide is talking about the ultimate level.
"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: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Zhen Li » Tue Jun 18, 2013 11:53 am

gregkavarnos wrote:And what of relative truth? The quote you provide is talking about the ultimate level.

Yes, relative truth is relative truth.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby muni » Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:25 pm

Jikan wrote: What is the word for conduct that is based on wisdom and not on thinking and judging and choosing? How would you characterize such activity?


May I add here a question...Compassionate?

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:55 pm

tobes wrote:
Malcolm wrote:The difference, Jikan, is that Dharma is based on wisdom, and politics is based on the limitations of thinking and judging and choosing.

M


This seems to me to be an arbitrary demarcation.

Unless wisdom is trapped eternally in some Platonic realm, then it must be able to interact with phenomena. If it can interact with phenomena, then it can be political.

:anjali:



It's really not hard — the purpose of Dharma is to transcend worldly entanglements like politics, power, government etc.

Politics is fundamentally about accepting and rejecting — the basis of the eight so called worldly dharmas i.e. praise/blame and so on.

So advice about conduct in Dharma, any Dharma, is ultimately about becoming free from those eight worldly dharmas.

This is why Dharma and politics are incompatible, and why, even though Dharma practitioners may act politically if they choose, they should understand that those actions are based in human ethics rather then sublime Dharma.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:57 pm

Jikan wrote:
OK. What is the word for conduct that is based on wisdom and not on thinking and judging and choosing? How would you characterize such activity?


Rare.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Jikan » Tue Jun 18, 2013 1:28 pm

Malcolm wrote: So advice about conduct in Dharma, any Dharma, is ultimately about becoming free from those eight worldly dharmas.


Here I am in agreement with you completely, down to the emphasis on "any Dharma." Earlier in this thread, someone posted a very fine quotation on this topic by Thinley Norbu Rinpoche; a nearly identical description of this is given in Peter Hershock's book Liberating Intimacy, which uses a Ch'an vocabulary rather than a Dzogchen one.

I'm interested in the political in the etymological sense, of that which concerns the polis: that is, conduct which is oriented toward the public good. How to be of benefit to beings? I don't claim to know the answer to that, nor do I think that conventional politics of the kind Malcolm describes is the best or last answer.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Nilasarasvati » Tue Jun 18, 2013 3:23 pm

Jikan wrote:
Malcolm wrote: So advice about conduct in Dharma, any Dharma, is ultimately about becoming free from those eight worldly dharmas.


Here I am in agreement with you completely, down to the emphasis on "any Dharma." Earlier in this thread, someone posted a very fine quotation on this topic by Thinley Norbu Rinpoche; a nearly identical description of this is given in Peter Hershock's book Liberating Intimacy, which uses a Ch'an vocabulary rather than a Dzogchen one.

I'm interested in the political in the etymological sense, of that which concerns the polis: that is, conduct which is oriented toward the public good. How to be of benefit to beings? I don't claim to know the answer to that, nor do I think that conventional politics of the kind Malcolm describes is the best or last answer.


And once again we need to take it back to the semantics! Jikan does a perfect simple job of taking the word to its greek root--concerning the town, the public. How you relate, act, engage in a public, in a community.


Or as I said in a recent post:
"To clarify, the SCOPE the range the extent of the OP was about: our personal politics as Buddhists; our lived-experience, our communities, our lives, our choices, our relationships with people abroad and at home. Our attempts or lack thereof to stand for justice, whatever that means."


It seems like the word "political" can only bring to mind two extremes here:

Image

Either you're thinking of corrupt, narcissistic politicians who make Democratic change a very hopeless and difficult task.

Image

Or you're thinking of radical activists like this lady who chained herself to a tree.

(Admittedly, at the beginning of the thread, I would have been interesting in talking about her. Now it seems I have a more modest task.)

Ben Yuan, I apologize for using you as a hypothetical example. Ben has expressed that it's important to abstain from the "political" as we've been calling it (even though I'm still not sure if we agree on what defines that). Nevertheless, let's go with my definition for a moment:

Let's say Ben never votes, never confronts his children's principal and school board about their experiences with a verbally-abusive teacher, and never helps organize with his neighbors to have a neighborhood block party. He has in all three of these examples made a political choice.

This is my main argument and the one I'm begging you to focus on if you have something to say in response to this post:
Our hypothetical Ben Yuan has possibly made those choices with a genuine motivation of bodhicitta (where in my opinion he's is then blameless as much as I may disagree with his means), however, he could as as easily have made completely engaged choices based on bodhicitta as well.

Abstention (can be) the 8 worldly dharmas as well. Specifically avoiding shame, pain, blame and seeking anonymity.

All mind training is a practice of turning the 8 worldly dharmas into the raw material of merit and wisdom--how then, can engagement with community be said to be an obstacle for the Bodhisattva? Sure there are pitfalls, the lure pride, the lure of fame, etc. But the pitfalls are in you, not the situation. Mara is in you, not the activity. He's waiting in the shrine room, he's sitting on your shoulder when you are in the presence of your Guru, he's omnipresent until enlightenment is reached. What matters is intent.

Also, the Thinley Norbu quote has a lot of really amazing implications that have gone undiscussed. I may have completely misunderstood it, but I posted it with you in mind, Malcolm.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Adamantine » Tue Jun 18, 2013 4:35 pm

Malcolm wrote:So advice about conduct in Dharma, any Dharma, is ultimately about becoming free from those eight worldly dharmas.

This is why Dharma and politics are incompatible, and why, even though Dharma practitioners may act politically if they choose, they should understand that those actions are based in human ethics rather then sublime Dharma.



But you must acknowledge that bodhisattvas are acting in varying forms and ways for the benefit of beings, even - or especially - sometimes involved in activities that may appear political.

The Buddha's own indifference towards the caste system in his social organizing of his sangha was itself a political act, seen from one vantage.

Also, I am surprised we have not discussed HHDL's political role in exiled Tibet and how his emphasis on non-violence, compassion, mutual understanding and interfaith respect and dialogue -which are all grounded in Mahayana principles according to his understanding arisen from Dharma practice-- has influenced people on a global scale and inspired many people to embark on the Dharma path of practice. If one is acting in the world on whatever scale with compassionate motivation to benefit all living beings, grounded in a view of sunyata: isn't this essential mahayana practice? Where do you draw the line between Great Compassion and "human ethics"?

Granted, most of us barely have a taste of Great Compassion, but it is something we are all cultivating and hopefully attaining as a sustained quality of being in this life, at the very least.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby MalaBeads » Tue Jun 18, 2013 4:40 pm

Adamantine wrote:If one is acting in the world on whatever scale with compassionate motivation to benefit all living beings, grounded in a view of sunyata: isn't this essential mahayana practice?


To me it is.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 18, 2013 6:42 pm

Nilasarasvati wrote:Also, the Thinley Norbu quote has a lot of really amazing implications that have gone undiscussed. I may have completely misunderstood it, but I posted it with you in mind, Malcolm.



Yes, because you misunderstand what I am getting at. I am not suggesting that Dharma practitioners should refrain from being active in politics. I am merely suggesting that politics and Dharma do not mix.

For example, we have a Dharma practitioner who is a free market neo-liberal advocate of corporate globalization; we have another Dharma practitioner who is a conservative royalist who believes in mercantile economics; we have a Dharma practitioner who is a leftist labor social activist; and we have someone like myself, a proponent of deep ecology/left-biocentrism. We can many more variations and flavors.

Whose politics are right? Whose politics are in line with Dharma? Whose selective point of view wrapped up in accepting and rejecting, biased opinion and limited thinking is the one that accords best with the principles of Buddha's teachings?

My point of view is that no political position is in accordance with Dharma.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Adamantine » Tue Jun 18, 2013 6:55 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Nilasarasvati wrote:Also, the Thinley Norbu quote has a lot of really amazing implications that have gone undiscussed. I may have completely misunderstood it, but I posted it with you in mind, Malcolm.



Yes, because you misunderstand what I am getting at. I am not suggesting that Dharma practitioners should refrain from being active in politics. I am merely suggesting that politics and Dharma do not mix.

For example, we have a Dharma practitioner who is a free market neo-liberal advocate of corporate globalization; we have another Dharma practitioner who is a conservative royalist who believes in mercantile economics; we have a Dharma practitioner who is a leftist labor social activist; and we have someone like myself, a proponent of deep ecology/left-biocentrism. We can many more variations and flavors.

Whose politics are right? Whose politics are in line with Dharma? Whose selective point of view wrapped up in accepting and rejecting, biased opinion and limited thinking is the one that accords best with the principles of Buddha's teachings?

My point of view is that no political position is in accordance with Dharma.


When you frame it this way, I see your point. I attended a Robert Thurman panel talk once and he was so completely over-the-top with his political left views (really entertaining and funny for those of us who agreed) framed within a Dharma talk - that at the end of the talk two people (at least-- we only know because they spoke up) who were Republican conservatives were deeply upset. They came looking to learn about meditation, and this was the last thing they expected or wanted.. possibly they'll abandon the desire to learn now and lose a precious human rebirth? It occurred to me as a real danger. Of course, that's my opinion.. which perhaps we share. And Robert Thurman has a strong opinion as well, and these opinions about what is appropriate and not appropriate to mix with Dharma is perhaps a political choice too. . .in so far as consciously trying to hide your views about politics could be a political choice.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby kirtu » Tue Jun 18, 2013 7:10 pm

Malcolm wrote:Politics is fundamentally about accepting and rejecting — the basis of the eight so called worldly dharmas i.e. praise/blame and so on.
...
This is why Dharma and politics are incompatible, and why, even though Dharma practitioners may act politically if they choose, they should understand that those actions are based in human ethics rather then sublime Dharma.


However we have the mythological example of Shambhala where enlightened Dharma rulers were able to act politically without their actions based on human ethics. We can begin over time to actualize this archetype.

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 18, 2013 7:58 pm

kirtu wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Politics is fundamentally about accepting and rejecting — the basis of the eight so called worldly dharmas i.e. praise/blame and so on.
...
This is why Dharma and politics are incompatible, and why, even though Dharma practitioners may act politically if they choose, they should understand that those actions are based in human ethics rather then sublime Dharma.


However we have the mythological example of Shambhala where enlightened Dharma rulers were able to act politically without their actions based on human ethics. We can begin over time to actualize this archetype.

Kirt


One word there, Kirt, and it is a big one: "mythological".

Secondly, your scenario requires a monarchy.

Third, Shambhala was destroyed by other humans, so it didn't really work out so well for the Shambhalians, kind of like Stalin's Socialism in One Country. That didn't work out either. Anyway Buddhist utopianism is as much a fantasy as any other kind of utopianism.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jun 18, 2013 8:00 pm

Adamantine wrote:in so far as consciously trying to hide your views about politics could be a political choice.


I don't try to hide my political views, I merely understand that they are not Dharma.

M
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Nilasarasvati » Tue Jun 18, 2013 8:46 pm

Malcolm:

For example, we have a Dharma practitioner who is a free market neo-liberal advocate of corporate globalization; we have another Dharma practitioner who is a conservative royalist who believes in mercantile economics; we have a Dharma practitioner who is a leftist labor social activist; and we have someone like myself, a proponent of deep ecology/left-biocentrism. We can many more variations and flavors.

Whose politics are right? Whose politics are in line with Dharma? Whose selective point of view wrapped up in accepting and rejecting, biased opinion and limited thinking is the one that accords best with the principles of Buddha's teachings?

My point of view is that no political position is in accordance with Dharma.


That's an accurate assessment, I think. And a very diplomatic one to have amid such diverse political views.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby greentara » Wed Jun 19, 2013 1:01 am

Indeed no political position is in accordance with the dharma. Discord resides anywhere where people are urged to take sides in a way that urges them, as Iago does in Shakespeare's Othello, to ''mock the meat'' on which hate, jealousy and desire for power feeds.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby tobes » Wed Jun 19, 2013 10:33 am

Malcolm wrote:
Nilasarasvati wrote:Also, the Thinley Norbu quote has a lot of really amazing implications that have gone undiscussed. I may have completely misunderstood it, but I posted it with you in mind, Malcolm.



Yes, because you misunderstand what I am getting at. I am not suggesting that Dharma practitioners should refrain from being active in politics. I am merely suggesting that politics and Dharma do not mix.

For example, we have a Dharma practitioner who is a free market neo-liberal advocate of corporate globalization; we have another Dharma practitioner who is a conservative royalist who believes in mercantile economics; we have a Dharma practitioner who is a leftist labor social activist; and we have someone like myself, a proponent of deep ecology/left-biocentrism. We can many more variations and flavors.

Whose politics are right? Whose politics are in line with Dharma? Whose selective point of view wrapped up in accepting and rejecting, biased opinion and limited thinking is the one that accords best with the principles of Buddha's teachings?

My point of view is that no political position is in accordance with Dharma.


I think that this intuition is a very good and common one amongst contemporary Buddhists.

However, under a little more sustained examination, it does not actually hold.

Example 1: if from the perspective of the Dharma, there can be no grasping to phenomenal entities, no sense of 'mine', no sense of possession....then it follows that there cannot be a grounding for individual ownership - in the form of natural, innate or even positivist rights. Therefore, if a Buddhist practices a politics predicated on the preservation of those rights, they are out of accord with the Dharma. However, if a Buddhist practices a politics which is explicitly the negation of those individual rights to ownership, than she is in accord with the Dharma. The negation may even itself be predicated on a conceptual (i.e. Madhyamika) or direct (various accounts) realisation of the Dharma. i.e. because I see that grasping to things is not in accord with the Dharma, I will act in accord with this seeing. That act is (partly) political - because it denies the logic and practice of a very specific political tradition (i.e. rights based versions of individual ownership in liberal capitalism).

It is not the case that both of those positions are equal with respect to the Dharma, and that therefore, there is no relationship between the political and the Dharma. One is in accord with it, one is not in accord with it.

That is just one example, many more can be found.

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby tobes » Wed Jun 19, 2013 10:45 am

greentara wrote:Indeed no political position is in accordance with the dharma. Discord resides anywhere where people are urged to take sides in a way that urges them, as Iago does in Shakespeare's Othello, to ''mock the meat'' on which hate, jealousy and desire for power feeds.


Are you somehow not taking a side here?

Is your position somehow not political/free of politics?

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Jun 19, 2013 10:47 am

greentara wrote:Indeed no political position is in accordance with the dharma. Discord resides anywhere where people are urged to take sides in a way that urges them, as Iago does in Shakespeare's Othello, to ''mock the meat'' on which hate, jealousy and desire for power feeds.
Really? And what of King Menander and Ashoka then?
"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: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Wed Jun 19, 2013 12:15 pm

tobes wrote:
Example 1: if from the perspective of the Dharma, there can be no grasping to phenomenal entities, no sense of 'mine', no sense of possession....then it follows that there cannot be a grounding for individual ownership - in the form of natural, innate or even positivist rights.



False, if this were the case, there could be no precept against taking what is not given. Property is recognized as a natural right in Dharma. I.e. the precept against taking what is not given.

For example, in Dharma, it is illegal to destroy the homes of beings. For example, the bodhisattva vow maintains that it is violation of that vow to destroy cities, towns and so on. One could extend this to ant hills and so on.

Therefore, if a Buddhist practices a politics predicated on the preservation of those rights, they are out of accord with the Dharma.
However, if a Buddhist practices a politics which is explicitly the negation of those individual rights to ownership, than she is in accord with the Dharma.


False, as above.

It is not the case that both of those positions are equal with respect to the Dharma, and that therefore, there is no relationship between the political and the Dharma. One is in accord with it, one is not in accord with it.


Those positions are equal with respect to Dharma since neither position has to do with achieving liberation in Dharmic sense.
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