Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jun 28, 2013 5:34 pm

Nilasarasvati wrote:
It seems like you're saying that working for a political situation that brings people the relative liberties to practice cannot be the ripening of karma...



There is nothing wrong with working for a political situation that brings people more samsaric liberty in general. Imagining that one is doing so to enable people to practice Dharma is a delusion — also nothing wrong with that either, apart from that fact that it is a useless occupation.

We contemplate the eight freedoms and ten endowments of a precious human birth in order to appreciate how truly rare is the opportunity to meet the Dharma and how truly difficult it is to put it into practice.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Nilasarasvati » Fri Jun 28, 2013 5:48 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Nilasarasvati wrote:
It seems like you're saying that working for a political situation that brings people the relative liberties to practice cannot be the ripening of karma...


Malcolm:
There is nothing wrong with working for a political situation that brings people more samsaric liberty in general. Imagining that one is doing so to enable people to practice Dharma is a delusion — also nothing wrong with that either, apart from that fact that it is a useless occupation.
We contemplate the eight freedoms and ten endowments of a precious human birth in order to appreciate how truly rare is the opportunity to meet the Dharma and how truly difficult it is to put it into practice.


And,
when we figure out which of those freedoms and advantages that are missing, we are told to do anything in our power to gain them. Even samsaric activities, right?
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby smcj » Fri Jun 28, 2013 5:54 pm

Nilasarasvati wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Nilasarasvati wrote:
It seems like you're saying that working for a political situation that brings people the relative liberties to practice cannot be the ripening of karma...


Malcolm:
There is nothing wrong with working for a political situation that brings people more samsaric liberty in general. Imagining that one is doing so to enable people to practice Dharma is a delusion — also nothing wrong with that either, apart from that fact that it is a useless occupation.
We contemplate the eight freedoms and ten endowments of a precious human birth in order to appreciate how truly rare is the opportunity to meet the Dharma and how truly difficult it is to put it into practice.


And,
when we figure out which of those freedoms and advantages that are missing, we are told to do anything in our power to gain them. Even samsaric activities, right?

Funny you should ask. One of the enumerated leisures is to have enough free time to meditate, which means a standard of living above constant struggle for survival--unless you're willing to be like Milarepa. So trying to get ahead enough to go on retreat, for example, is samsaric activity most people reading this are currently striving/struggling towards.

But that type of action is not what Malcolm & I object to (speaking without his permission). We object to Crusades, Jihad and the like, whether they be epic military undertakings or on the smaller community or the personal level. It can even be done totally internally within the individual, and that is just as bad. Dharma is ultimately freedom from causes and conditions, but fully acknowledging a requirement of some sort of personal freedom on a mundane level in order to start a practice.

A hell being cannot practice meditation, yet at the same time no amount of favorable circumstances in themselves will be able to actualize Dharma, to make it act-ual, to fulfill its promise. That is an entirely internal process. At some point, of one's own choosing, it becomes apparent that the ultimate task at hand is changing oneself, not the world at large. The traditional texts support this. That is what Santideva was talking about when he said (paraphrasing), "Don't try to cover the entire world in leather, put on some sandals instead."

Yes, you can be supportive of Dharma with mundane actions. You can support someone on retreat. You can become a retreat cook, or some other supportive activity. You can translate, you can organize events. All of those are necessary yet require no meditation or personal development. They are accruing good karma in those actions. But trying to import Himalayan marriage customs to America isn't going to fly.
Last edited by smcj on Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:49 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jun 28, 2013 5:59 pm

Nilasarasvati wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Nilasarasvati wrote:
It seems like you're saying that working for a political situation that brings people the relative liberties to practice cannot be the ripening of karma...


Malcolm:
There is nothing wrong with working for a political situation that brings people more samsaric liberty in general. Imagining that one is doing so to enable people to practice Dharma is a delusion — also nothing wrong with that either, apart from that fact that it is a useless occupation.
We contemplate the eight freedoms and ten endowments of a precious human birth in order to appreciate how truly rare is the opportunity to meet the Dharma and how truly difficult it is to put it into practice.


And,
when we figure out which of those freedoms and advantages that are missing, we are told to do anything in our power to gain them. Even samsaric activities, right?


For example, if someone is born in a country where even the name Dharma does not exist, what is there to do? If a sentient being is not born a human being, what is there to do? If one is born without sense organs, etc., what is there to do? There is no exhortation to supply conditions lacking in a human birth to make it "precious". You either have them or you don't. All of them are a result of karma, not one of them is a result of any kind of social activism. If you find you have the eighteen qualifications, then you should practice the Dharma. One either has these eighteen factors or one doesn't. If one has them, don't waste time on non-Dharmic activities.

M
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Will » Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:15 pm

Proselytizing is not an error, for Buddha sent out his 'missionaries', as did Ashoka and many others. Good grief, what are bodhisattvas up to anyway?

It is true that positive influence works best, if at all, if there is a karmic connection between a bodhisattva and his audience. So spending lifetimes making more & more of those connections and deepening those that exist, will influence folks toward or onto the Dharma path.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:30 pm

Will wrote: Good grief, what are bodhisattvas up to anyway?


Benefitting others, but I don't think they were putting up Dharma event posters.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
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-- Uttaratantra
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Will » Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:39 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Will wrote: Good grief, what are bodhisattvas up to anyway?


Benefitting others, but I don't think they were putting up Dharma event posters.


True - more likely pillars of Dharma wisdom - like Ashoka did.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:48 pm

Will wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Will wrote: Good grief, what are bodhisattvas up to anyway?


Benefitting others, but I don't think they were putting up Dharma event posters.


True - more likely pillars of Dharma wisdom - like Ashoka did.


Sad thing is no one could read them after a couple hundred years, and worse no one in india knew who ashoka was until his memory was revived by the brits in the 19th century.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Nilasarasvati » Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:54 pm

For example, if someone is born in a country where even the name Dharma does not exist, what is there to do? If a sentient being is not born a human being, what is there to do? If one is born without sense organs, etc., what is there to do? There is no exhortation to supply conditions lacking in a human birth to make it "precious". You either have them or you don't. All of them are a result of karma, not one of them is a result of any kind of social activism. If you find you have the eighteen qualifications, then you should practice the Dharma. One either has these eighteen factors or one doesn't. If one has them, don't waste time on non-Dharmic activities.

M


I was thinking of one of the five personal advantages which includes a lifestyle at odds with the dharma, in which case a caste system that dooms you to prostitution, butchery, or hunting etc. could be the sole exception to your being a fit and perfect vessel for the teachings;

Or one item in Longchenpa's list of "intrusive circumstances which make Dharma impossible." One of which is slavery to a master who forbids the dharma. That seems less wholly-out-of-your-control (like being born in a dark kalpa) and well within the realm of human politics. Admittedly all of the others are "personal defects" so to speak.


I'm really interested in where this has led the discussion because it seems like I'm grasping two opposed ideas that are emerging in a new way from before:


One is probably more traditional that assumes human political systems to be sort of inevitable and amoral if not evil (no major argument there) and thinks that it's irrelevant to try to change that and instead work for favorable rebirth in the privileged tiers of those societies so that one has the freedom to pursue the ultimate happiness of beings; (Malcolm, would you say that's a fair summary?)


The other is one (I generally fall into) that focuses on how human institutions are not monolithic and fated but conditioned and relative entities composed of causes and conditions that we can, and have in the past, successfully manipulated to bring about the relative happiness of (some) beings, and even the circumstances for them to attain (if not real happiness) the liberty to make an attempt at it. The major arguments against this are that it's futile, a waste of a dharma practitioner's valuable time, or an utterly misguided distraction away from pursuing the ultimate goal of beings. Or even that it perpetuates great delusion.

I guess the honest reason I'm so averse to the first idea is that it plays so well into the hands of the corrupt, the oppressive, and the malicious elements of every society. Religions, nearly universally promising another, better life after this one, have always been manipulated to justify the abuses of the power structure. Even if we do believe in rebirth, it shouldn't justify our complacence toward present injustice.

Also, I don't think both views are necessarily at odds. Bodhisattvas don't just descend into the hell realms with the intent of planting the seeds of dharma in future lives, right? They also try to assuage the suffering of the present.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby LastLegend » Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:37 pm

Nilasarasvati wrote:The other is one (I generally fall into) that focuses on how human institutions are not monolithic and fated but conditioned and relative entities composed of causes and conditions that we can, and have in the past, successfully manipulated to bring about the relative happiness of (some) beings, and even the circumstances for them to attain (if not real happiness) the liberty to make an attempt at it. The major arguments against this are that it's futile, a waste of a dharma practitioner's valuable time, or an utterly misguided distraction away from pursuing the ultimate goal of beings. Or even that it perpetuates great delusion.


That is not a good way to change the world. If it were, Buddha had adopted the political campaign already. The best way for all Buddhists to change the world is to focus on practice. The reason why this world is samsara is because sentient beings' minds are samsaric. So if all Buddhist practitioners could sincerely practice, that will help the world a great deal better than engaging in politics or political. And if everybody is practicing, this world would be like a Buddhaland-no suffering. But that's hard. Even Buddha did not go around to convince people to practice Dharma.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jun 28, 2013 11:42 pm

Nilasarasvati wrote:Religions, nearly universally promising another, better life after this one, have always been manipulated to justify the abuses of the power structure. Even if we do believe in rebirth, it shouldn't justify our complacence toward present injustice.

Also, I don't think both views are necessarily at odds. Bodhisattvas don't just descend into the hell realms with the intent of planting the seeds of dharma in future lives, right? They also try to assuage the suffering of the present.


Dharma never promises another better life. In fact it assures us that if we are passive and refuse to put the teachings into practice we will certainly not experience a better life in the hereafter.

The Buddha of the hell realms is Yamaraja.

M
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Lotus_Bitch » Sat Jun 29, 2013 2:04 am

Malcolm wrote:
Dharma never promises another better life. In fact it assures us that if we are passive and refuse to put the teachings into practice we will certainly not experience a better life in the hereafter.

The Buddha of the hell realms is Yamaraja.

M


That's the first time I've heard of Yama being referred to as a buddha. Yamaraja=Dharmaraja right?
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby smcj » Sat Jun 29, 2013 3:07 am

The other is one (I generally fall into) that focuses on how human institutions are not monolithic and fated but conditioned and relative entities composed of causes and conditions that we can, and have in the past, successfully manipulated to bring about the relative happiness of (some) beings, and even the circumstances for them to attain (if not real happiness) the liberty to make an attempt at it. The major arguments against this are that it's futile, a waste of a dharma practitioner's valuable time, or an utterly misguided distraction away from pursuing the ultimate goal of beings. Or even that it perpetuates great delusion.

Not exactly, but close.

Imagine a pedigreed Beverly Hills poodle. Never a care about food or shelter. With every imaginable want or need provided for, loved and pampered, and even lovely members of the opposite sex provided occasionally so the blood line is continued. You must admit, not a bad way to live a life, right?

The teachings tell us that there are gods realms like that, yet we here are better off than they. Why? Because their circumstances are too good, so they never feel the urge towards liberation.

This is not some throwaway teaching to be dismissed. The point is that no matter how good you get your samsaric existence, that's missing the point. Circumstances, no matter how desirable, will never be the final answer. Politics deals with situations and circumstances. They can be heaven or they can be he'll, but they can't be a final answer to the problem of dukha. Dharma practice is a different order of activity.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Nilasarasvati » Sat Jun 29, 2013 3:14 am

What makes you think I'm advocating for God Realm type samsaric pleasure/liberty/bliss? That's pretty extreme.

Image

I'm just coming from the place of thinking...there's no actually reason why people have to live like this. There are kids living in these shantytowns who have the intellect of Einstein or the spiritual capacity of Mohandas Gandhi but they are dying at the age of 14 because they're wading through toxic rubbish to salvage enough scrap to eat every day. You don't have to be some kind of pipesmoking hippie to think this is messed up and unnecessary :shrug: and there are ways it could change, if we so desired to help it happen.

The aim of social justice is to give people the power to, not the power over.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby smcj » Sat Jun 29, 2013 4:27 am

Nilasarasvati wrote:What makes you think I'm advocating for God Realm type samsaric pleasure/liberty/bliss? That's pretty extreme.

Image

I'm just coming from the place of thinking...there's no actually reason why people have to live like this. There are kids living in these shantytowns who have the intellect of Einstein or the spiritual capacity of Mohandas Gandhi but they are dying at the age of 14 because they're wading through toxic rubbish to salvage enough scrap to eat every day. You don't have to be some kind of pipesmoking hippie to think this is messed up and unnecessary :shrug: and there are ways it could change, if we so desired to help it happen.

The aim of social justice is to give people the power to, not the power over.

If that is your aspiration and wish, how wonderful! Charity is creating good karma. If that is how you want to contribute, that's your path.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby smcj » Sat Jun 29, 2013 4:30 am

Nilasarasvati wrote:What makes you think I'm advocating for God Realm type samsaric pleasure/liberty/bliss? That's pretty extreme.

Image

I'm just coming from the place of thinking...there's no actually reason why people have to live like this. There are kids living in these shantytowns who have the intellect of Einstein or the spiritual capacity of Mohandas Gandhi but they are dying at the age of 14 because they're wading through toxic rubbish to salvage enough scrap to eat every day. You don't have to be some kind of pipesmoking hippie to think this is messed up and unnecessary :shrug: and there are ways it could change, if we so desired to help it happen.

The aim of social justice is to give people the power to, not the power over.

If that is your aspiration and wish, how wonderful! Charity is creating good karma. If that is how you want to contribute, that's your path.

Just remember that man does not live by bread alone.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Sat Jun 29, 2013 4:52 am

Lotus_Bitch wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Dharma never promises another better life. In fact it assures us that if we are passive and refuse to put the teachings into practice we will certainly not experience a better life in the hereafter.

The Buddha of the hell realms is Yamaraja.

M


That's the first time I've heard of Yama being referred to as a buddha. Yamaraja=Dharmaraja right?


It is a Xitro thing.
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-- Uttaratantra
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Nilasarasvati » Sat Jun 29, 2013 5:07 am

smcj wrote:Just remember that man does not live by bread alone.


Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

Matthew, 4.4.

Thanks for trying to remind me of the importance of the gospel.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby smcj » Sat Jun 29, 2013 5:38 am

Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

Matthew, 4.4.

Thanks for trying to remind me of the importance of the gospel.

Also, "The kingdom of God is within you." Yes he healed the sick, but he didn't throw the Romans out of Judea, not did the Buddha advocate a Dharma administration. As a prince Siddhartha could have resumed his royal life, but he didn't because ultimately politics is not the answer.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby tobes » Sat Jun 29, 2013 6:00 am

smcj wrote:In all the various wonderful descriptions of Amitabja's Pure Land, has anyone heard their political system described?


Vow number 10 of Dharmakara in the longer sutra sounds a lot like Lennon's political utopia;

"Blessed one, may I not awaken to unsurpassable, perfect, full awakening if the living beings who are born in this buddha-field should conceive of any idea of property, even if it is only with regard to their own body."

"Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world"

Who was arguing for natural property rights again?? Not in the pure lands!

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