Buddhist Parochialism in the West

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Re: Buddhist Parochialism in the West

Postby Karma Dorje » Thu Sep 26, 2013 6:05 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:
Karma Dorje wrote:Succession planning is a HUGE problem and I am sure in most centers where the founder dies, there are huge political battles over the alignment afterwards. That to some extent is unavoidable but would certainly be lessened if groups were less tied to fundraising.
Why do you think they invented the tulku system?


Yes, and we all know how well that turned out.
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Re: Buddhist Parochialism in the West

Postby Indrajala » Thu Sep 26, 2013 7:41 pm

Malcolm wrote:The other factor too is that in Tibet, sngags pas are not really considered "lay" in the sense understood here in the West. They have undergone a kind of ordination, They have vows that are distinct from monastic vows, they also have garb to wear, etc. They are educated, which sets them apart from the average person and so on.


In a similar way perhaps, in East Asia monkhood developed to become very flexible and adaptable. They dropped or didn't pay much attention to the Vinaya, often foregoing bhikṣu ordinations altogether in favor of bodhisattva precept ordinations and/or just getting the tonsure. The ordination model based on the Brahma Net Sūtra, which existed in both Japan and China (more so in the former), really allows for a great deal of flexibility. Monks could grow their own food or earn money through various jobs to support themselves. There's also no uniform or team colours, so if you need to conceal yourself or not stand out, that's perfectly acceptable, whereas with the Vinaya it is not.

This is perhaps best revealed in the Chan farming communes. Technically according to the Vinaya they were breaking their precepts, but they nevertheless survived the Buddhist purge of 845 and the collapse of the Tang dynasty and the ensuing chaos, whereas the Vinaya-based traditions took a critical hit.

Mighty trees will collapse in wind storms, whereas the grass just bends and is never uprooted.

In my research I've concluded that Buddhism can and actually did survive without a proper Vinaya system in place:

http://huayanzang.blogspot.com/2013/06/ ... inaya.html

In East Asia there was monasticism, sure, but it was quite different from the prescribed Indian model. Not quite "lay" but not really in line with the Vinaya either.
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Re: Buddhist Parochialism in the West

Postby Malcolm » Thu Sep 26, 2013 7:48 pm

Indrajala wrote:In East Asia there was monasticism, sure, but it was quite different from the prescribed Indian model. Not quite "lay" but not really in line with the Vinaya either.


Well, a major difference too was that in Tibet there was already a strong ritualist class that took to the imported Indian rituals like ducks to water. These ritualists performed vital economic functions in the Tibetan economy such as warding off rain, hail, ensuring harvests and calves, etc., exorcising spirits connected with contagious illnesses, herbalism and so on. On the other hand, Monastics in Tibet had little to offer the lay population, since their main function was conducting state rites just like the kind of early Vajrayāna we see about the same time in Japan and China. When the monastic establishment failed in Central Tibet in the 840's, during the Asian economic downturn of the late Tang, the Buddhist ritualists in Tibet continued to provide valued services to the local populations. It was only after the monastic establishment began to integrate these local services and allied themselves with the aristocratic families like the Khon during the 11th century and so on that the populace really began to lend wholesale support to monastic establishment.
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Re: Buddhist Parochialism in the West

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Sep 26, 2013 9:26 pm

Karma Dorje wrote:
Sherab Dorje wrote:
Karma Dorje wrote:Succession planning is a HUGE problem and I am sure in most centers where the founder dies, there are huge political battles over the alignment afterwards. That to some extent is unavoidable but would certainly be lessened if groups were less tied to fundraising.
Why do you think they invented the tulku system?


Yes, and we all know how well that turned out.
Really? I'm not quite sure. Seems to me that it worked out quite well (for me) given that it allowed an idiot (like me) to come into contact with a practice lineage. Actually it worked out really well for all of us in the West.
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One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Buddhist Parochialism in the West

Postby Jikan » Thu Sep 26, 2013 9:55 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Indrajala wrote:In East Asia there was monasticism, sure, but it was quite different from the prescribed Indian model. Not quite "lay" but not really in line with the Vinaya either.


Well, a major difference too was that in Tibet there was already a strong ritualist class that took to the imported Indian rituals like ducks to water. These ritualists performed vital economic functions in the Tibetan economy such as warding off rain, hail, ensuring harvests and calves, etc., exorcising spirits connected with contagious illnesses, herbalism and so on. On the other hand, Monastics in Tibet had little to offer the lay population, since their main function was conducting state rites just like the kind of early Vajrayāna we see about the same time in Japan and China. When the monastic establishment failed in Central Tibet in the 840's, during the Asian economic downturn of the late Tang, the Buddhist ritualists in Tibet continued to provide valued services to the local populations. It was only after the monastic establishment began to integrate these local services and allied themselves with the aristocratic families like the Khon during the 11th century and so on that the populace really began to lend wholesale support to monastic establishment.


There's a comparison to be made here to post-Nara Japan too: the aristocracy funded the travels of such figures as Saicho and Kukai with an interest in finding teachings, practices, rituals &c that had the capacity to "protect the nation." The renunciates who were allowed by the throne to practice were to do so with this purpose in mind. It wasn't about some kind of personal spiritual development thing, or really about spirituality in the first instance, but about securing the state from the start. Paul Groner's books are very specific and convincing on these points.

edit: I'm not saying there is not now nor has there ever been any spirituality in these contexts. Merely that it was, materially at least, an epiphenomenon of the state's interest in allowing, supporting, funding these enterprises.
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Re: Buddhist Parochialism in the West

Postby Karma Dorje » Thu Sep 26, 2013 10:11 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:Really? I'm not quite sure. Seems to me that it worked out quite well (for me) given that it allowed an idiot (like me) to come into contact with a practice lineage. Actually it worked out really well for all of us in the West.


Given that we don't avoid simple logical fallacies like post hoc ergo propter hoc, I am not certain. ;)

We have contact with a practice lineage because we had some very dedicated lamas come here and spend their lives engaging with Western students, building practice centers and retreats here. The tulku business is irrelevant to this. It was a curiously Tibetan innovation to a Tibetan problem that we don't share.
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Re: Buddhist Parochialism in the West

Postby daverupa » Thu Sep 26, 2013 10:17 pm

Indrajala wrote:In East Asia there was monasticism, sure, but it was quite different from the prescribed Indian model. Not quite "lay" but not really in line with the Vinaya either.


I often wonder if it would be useful to start talking about a Buddhist version of Third Order Seculars as can be found in Catholicism. It seems to be a sort of middle ground for modern Xian individuals who are on the fence between full-on secular engagement and monastic retreat, and I think a similar middle area within Buddhism could do with some aggrandizement.
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    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
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Re: Buddhist Parochialism in the West

Postby muni » Sat Sep 28, 2013 11:25 am

Pema Rigdzin wrote:
This is only so if such people are not also keeping in mind the key element of Buddhist view: emptiness of the self. The Buddha's teachings are replete with admonishment to contemplate and keep in mind the emptiness of the perpetrator of the deed, the deed itself, and the recipient of the deed, and so on. If people practice simple generosity, that is absolutely wonderful, and all the more so if they practice it without thought of reward, but without the correct view it is only a vehicle to higher samsaric rebirth. In other words it's not the Buddha's dharma. Compassion and wisdom need to be united and practiced together for there to be liberation.


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Re: Buddhist Parochialism in the West

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:31 am

Karma Dorje wrote:We have contact with a practice lineage because we had some very dedicated lamas come here and spend their lives engaging with Western students, building practice centers and retreats here. The tulku business is irrelevant to this.
Really? You are sure of this? It seems to me that the tulku system helped centralise power and property so that certain traditions be kept alive. Of course it did not work und.er all circumstances, but hey, this is samsara, so nothing is perfect. I personally have received all my empowerments/initiations from tulkus (and given the centrality of empowements to Vajrayana) it would seem illogical to say that the tulku system did not assist in the propogation, preservation and continuation of practice lineages. Of course there are also brilliant lamas that are not recognised tulku, I am not going to disagree with you on that point.
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One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Buddhist Parochialism in the West

Postby Luke » Sun Oct 13, 2013 7:21 am

Karma Dorje wrote:I have been giving a lot of thought lately to how we as Tibetan Buddhists spend our limited resources in the West. It seems that instead of cooperating with each other to share teaching and retreat facilities, we are repeating the same balkanized organizational structures as in Tibet and the Tibetan diaspora and actually approaching other groups as competition. This to my mind is entirely counterproductive. While there are bigger differences with other forms of Buddhism from other countries, one would think that the schools are close enough to cooperate more closely in the West than they have. Instead we see even lineages within the same school competing.

Please share your thoughts on this.

Yeah, it's often been funny (and sad) to me to see how many Tibetan Buddhists of different sects (or simply who have different lamas) are often so uncomfortable with each other. The main thing most practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism I have met want a person to do is to say lots of good things about their lama. They hunger for these positive comments like a vain person hungers for compliments about his/her appearance. It's like a lot of them are worried that "outsiders" (including those who have different lamas) will be disrespectful and that then it will be their fault for letting disrespectful people come into the presence their lamas. It is this fear of outsiders violating some of their standard protocol which always creates some suspicions and tension.

To me, it seems that sectarian jokes between Tibetan lamas are kind of like the jokes which different brances of the American military tell about each other: the Army tells jokes about the Air Force, the Navy tells jokes about the Marines, etc., but at the end of the day, they are all on the same team.

Once when I was in China, my lama thought that he was prostrating to a statue of a Nyingma master, but afterwards, someone told him that it was actually a staute of Tsongkhapa and he said, "Oh no! I've prostrated to Tsongkhapa!" in a joking way, but it just illustrates the tradition of sectarian humor that exists among many Tibetan lamas. But humor is part of human nature, so it shouldn't be surprising that we find it everywhere.

But I suppose what is more silly is when western students absorb the sectarian biases of their Tibetan teachers. However, it is very easy to be heavily influenced by one's lama. My own lama seemed to be very anti-Dzogchen Community, and I imitated this bias, but now, I see that having such a bias is silly and unproductive.
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Re: Buddhist Parochialism in the West

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sun Oct 13, 2013 8:01 pm

What all lamas share in common is a history of monastic life, of eating, studying, practicing and living with others also undergoing such training which, not unlike military life, or a few years in a boarding school, gives one a sense of camaraderie with others who have lived that life as well. Regardless of the technical differences, one who has gone through such an experience is a member of a unique club, a family of others who have shared that. From this emerges a genuine bond of respect, and it is extremely rare to see that bond broken.
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Re: Buddhist Parochialism in the West

Postby zerwe » Mon Oct 14, 2013 4:29 am

JKhedrup wrote:I agree. In fact, a friend and I were discussing today how this presents all sorts of problems. The funny thing with retreat centres is that for the most part groups do not have enough events planned to fill them year round anyways. It would be far more effective to have a Buddhist Association made up of members from various traditions purchase an attractive facility together that would be shared.

Of course, this would require people co-operating which seems to be difficult. It would also, as mentioned, require open-minded teachers who would be willing to put lineages biases aside in favour of considering the bigger picture of how to make Buddhism work in the West.

We are going to have a gathering here of the Buddhist Union of the Netherlands in November. I am going to just put this issue out there and see how people respond to it- it would be the perfect forum for a discussion. My feeling, though, is that the idea will go down like a lead balloon. Perhaps I am too pessimistic.


Our center is working toward creating an endowment that will support turning our current retreat venue into a place that all faiths can come to.

This is only possible due to the generosity of center members contributions over the years, both financially and physically. Not to mention the grounds/property belong to someone who is very near and dear to our community

and his gesture of wanting to create such a place is unimaginably generous in my opinion.

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Re: Buddhist Parochialism in the West

Postby invisiblediamond » Mon Oct 14, 2013 5:22 pm

smcj wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
smcj wrote:The massive resentment many, if not most of us, have towards institutional religion isn't even on their radar, for the most part.

It is, but they ridicule it, thinking our antipathy towards organized religion is about God, when instead our antipathy towards organized religion is really more about money and power.

We should Use their own terminology and frame the question in terms of the 8 worldly dharmas then.

I will bet if we presented them with a charter like the 12 step programs have, they would be appalled: Nobody can have their name or face in the media. Nobody can charge money for their services. Groups must be self-sufficient and decline outside contributions. Nobody can say who is, or is not, part of the group.

Now basically that is not possible with Tibetan Dharma. Teachers need to be authorized, otherwise you get every Tom, Dick and Harry wearing robes and parroting something they have heard from a authentic source. But it would be nice...


I read in Van Sheik's history that the monks kept boys for sex bc it fits some loophole in vinaya. That sealed it for me. Monks is nasty anywhere in the world. Reading the history of Tibet really opened my eyes. Tibetan culture isn't something I need to be a part of, especially when my own is so much better.
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Re: Buddhist Parochialism in the West

Postby invisiblediamond » Mon Oct 14, 2013 5:27 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Indrajala wrote:
Karma Dorje wrote:Please share your thoughts on this.


Tibetan Buddhism in the west could introduce democratic federations which manage common retreat centers for everyone to use. The democracy means, ideally, egalitarianism and neutrality when it comes to lineages and gurus.


As I said, it is McDonald's vs. Burger King thinking. They are all selling burgers and fries, but they all want you to think their burgers and fries are the best.

Here is the breakdown.

McDonalds =- Gelugpas
Burger King = Kagyus
Wendy's = Sakya
KFC/Taco Bell = Nyingma

M


Thank you for leaving Jack out of this. Jack is special.
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Re: Buddhist Parochialism in the West

Postby smcj » Tue Oct 15, 2013 12:15 am

We have contact with a practice lineage because we had some very dedicated lamas come here and spend their lives engaging with Western students, building practice centers and retreats here. The tulku business is irrelevant to this. It was a curiously Tibetan innovation to a Tibetan problem that we don't share.

Have you had much contact with tulkus? I have. I've met some that were scoundrels. I've met some that pleasant and unimpressive, but not objectionable. And then I've met some that were very impressive, and exceptional.

So in my limited experience of tulkus I've come to the conclusion that, although tulku status is certainly not a 100% guarantee of exceptional qualities, the pool of tulkus does contain an unusually rich selection of exceptional people, and of a type that is unseen anywhere else. (Well, except for some non-titled exceptional Vajrayana practitioners.)

Plus a plurality of the lamas here in the West that have committed themselves to our benefit are tulkus, so I find little to agree with in your statement. However here as elsewhere I will reiterate that the title of tulku should never be assumed to be a guarantee of trustworthiness. If that was the point your were trying to make, then I'd agree.
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Re: Buddhist Parochialism in the West

Postby gad rgyangs » Tue Oct 15, 2013 12:27 am

invisiblediamond wrote:I read in Van Sheik's history that the monks kept boys for sex bc it fits some loophole in vinaya. That sealed it for me. Monks is nasty anywhere in the world. Reading the history of Tibet really opened my eyes. Tibetan culture isn't something I need to be a part of, especially when my own is so much better.


not sure what culture you are from, but if its anything Western, don't forget about our very own pedophile priest tradition. lock up a bunch of guys together and tell them they can't do girls, and its bound to happen: monastery, prison, 19th c whaling ship, English boarding school, you name it, male hormones will find an outlet one way or another.
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Re: Buddhist Parochialism in the West

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Oct 15, 2013 1:23 am

gad rgyangs wrote:not sure what culture you are from, but if its anything Western, don't forget about our very own pedophile priest tradition. lock up a bunch of guys together and tell them they can't do girls, and its bound to happen: monastery, prison, 19th c whaling ship, English boarding school, you name it, male hormones will find an outlet one way or another.


Let's not forget that most sexual abuse in the world, proportionately or otherwise, is perpetrated by non-ordained heterosexual men...in other words, 'normal guys'.
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Re: Buddhist Parochialism in the West

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Oct 15, 2013 8:23 am

I read in Van Sheik's history that the monks kept boys for sex bc it fits some loophole in vinaya. That sealed it for me. Monks is nasty anywhere in the world.


Glad you are developing a balanced perspective. While you tar all monks with the same brush because of the reprehensible actions of a few perhaps you can write off all scoutmasters, stepfathers, priests,babysitters, daycare workers, boyfriends of single mothers and teachers since those categories of people also have access to children and have been brought to court for child abuse.
Lord Buddha himself was a monk so when you make statements "all monks are nasty in the world" you slander him as well. The great luminaries such as Nagarjuna, Asanga, Tsongkhapa, Sakya Pandita and Gampopa. Not to mention the present-day Dalai Lama, the Karmapa, and countless other masters from the Vajrayana, East Asian Mahayana and Theravada Buddhist traditions.

Who are the perpetrators of child sexual abuse?

Most children are abused by someone they know and trust.


An estimated 60% of perpetrators of sexual abuse are known to the child but are not family members, e.g., family friends, babysitters, childcare providers, neighbors.


About 30% of perpetrators are family members, e.g., fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins.

https://www.apa.org/pi/families/resourc ... abuse.aspx

No one is excusing abuse and perpetrators should be dealt with severely but for you with such crass language to dismiss all monks as "nasty" because of a short passage from van Schaik is appalling beyond measure.
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Re: Buddhist Parochialism in the West

Postby gad rgyangs » Tue Oct 15, 2013 2:16 pm

you seem to be implying that abuse is always an individual abberation. Unfortunatly, there is such a thing as institutionalized abuse, and it is well documented in traditional Buddhist monasticism as well as in the Catholic Priesthood. As soon as you have the power structures in those settings either turning a blind eye, or actually aiding and abetting (moving known pedophile priests from parish to parish rather then kicking them out) then there is inded something rotten going on on more than the individulal level.
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Re: Buddhist Parochialism in the West

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Oct 15, 2013 2:25 pm

That is why I mentioned boyscouts, daycare and stepfathers. The point is that would be abusers seek out roles where they will have access to children. There are far more stepfathers that abuse kids than priests, for example. If Institutionally there is corruption that protects abusers, of course that is another matter- there should be a Child Protection office like in the Krishna organization that prevents recurrence of such tragedies.

My comments came from a person saying that all monks "is (sic) nasty anywhere in the world."

Not only is this unfair and biased, it creates an atmosphere of hatred and suspicion that harms the many good monks in the world, such as the Dalai Lama, Karmapa and many others. It tarnishes with a layer of unfair suspicion me and others who try to maintain vows and would never harm a child. It slanders the many Sangha jewels in the aspect of ordained monks and nuns, which is negative karma.

In short, I am not against fair critique of institutional structures if they are ineffective at preventing child abuse. I am against a witch-hunt and vile harsh language against the tradition of monasticism established by Lord Buddha himself.

The vast majority of children abused by adults are abused by their own father, stepfathers and uncles. Vulnerable children in foster care have the highest rate of abuse. No one would dare say "all foster parents is (sic) nasty anywhere in the world" so why say it about monks?

Also, the worst clerical child abuse in Canada happened in many cases in Residential Schools for native people under non-celibate orders of the Anglican Church- married priests.
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