Community in Western Buddhism

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Re: Community in Western Buddhism

Postby purplelotus » Mon May 23, 2011 9:07 am

I just feel that we are going slightly off track with this topic. There is a real need for Dharma Centres and what appears to be an institutionalised coldness and lack of caring and concern is an important point. It puts people off the Dharma and it is also a bit weird for a religion that stresses love and compassion. One is left with the impression that to become a Buddhist you have to be some mindless robot and advancing in ones practise means you become oblivious to the needs and concerns of others because of one's lofty attainments.

Perhaps I am missing something and if so please correct me.

P
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Re: Community in Western Buddhism

Postby Aemilius » Mon May 23, 2011 2:12 pm

Huseng wrote:Unlike in Christianity where marriage is seen as a sacred union, the Buddha specifically said attachment to family and children is like leaping into the jaws of a tiger. It is quite dangerous.

The viable alternative is running things the way they were run in the original culture of whichever tradition a temple belongs to. In most cases that means supporting the monastics is the primary activity of the lay community. It inevitably brings people together and fosters fellowship.


That is basically false, marriage became quite late a sacrament in history of christianity. In the beginning christianity was much like buddhism in its attitude toward marriage, some people have even seen it as buddhist influence in Europe. Here is what wikipedia says about it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_marriage
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Re: Community in Western Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Mon May 23, 2011 4:34 pm

Aemilius wrote:
Huseng wrote:Unlike in Christianity where marriage is seen as a sacred union, the Buddha specifically said attachment to family and children is like leaping into the jaws of a tiger. It is quite dangerous.

The viable alternative is running things the way they were run in the original culture of whichever tradition a temple belongs to. In most cases that means supporting the monastics is the primary activity of the lay community. It inevitably brings people together and fosters fellowship.


That is basically false, marriage became quite late a sacrament in history of christianity. In the beginning christianity was much like buddhism in its attitude toward marriage, some people have even seen it as buddhist influence in Europe. Here is what wikipedia says about it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_marriage


Okay, "Unlike in modern-day Christianity where marriage is seen as a sacred union..."

Maybe Jesus wasn't keen on the idea, but nevertheless Christianity as it exists now generally supports marriage.
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Re: Community in Western Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Mon May 23, 2011 4:35 pm

Buddha supported the institution of marriage.

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Re: Community in Western Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Mon May 23, 2011 4:37 pm

Namdrol wrote:Buddha supported the institution of marriage.

N


He also said wife and child were like the jaws of a tiger.

From the Sūtra in Forty-Two Sections:
佛言:人繫於妻子、寶宅之患,甚於牢獄、桎梏、鋃鐺。牢獄有原赦,妻子情欲雖有虎口之禍,己猶甘心投焉,其罪無赦。
The Buddha said, “The misfortune of being tied to wife, child, treasures and estate is greater than being in prison fettered and in chains. In prison there are pardons given. The feelings for wife and child, though as dangerous as a tiger's mouth, one willingly leaps into it. That fault is without pardon.”
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Re: Community in Western Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Mon May 23, 2011 4:45 pm

Huseng wrote:
Namdrol wrote:Buddha supported the institution of marriage.

N


He also said wife and child were like the jaws of a tiger.

From the Sūtra in Forty-Two Sections:
佛言:人繫於妻子、寶宅之患,甚於牢獄、桎梏、鋃鐺。牢獄有原赦,妻子情欲雖有虎口之禍,己猶甘心投焉,其罪無赦。
The Buddha said, “The misfortune of being tied to wife, child, treasures and estate is greater than being in prison fettered and in chains. In prison there are pardons given. The feelings for wife and child, though as dangerous as a tiger's mouth, one willingly leaps into it. That fault is without pardon.”



This is what he said in an apocryphal Chinese sutra.
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Re: Community in Western Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Mon May 23, 2011 4:48 pm

Namdrol wrote:This is what he said in an apocryphal Chinese sutra.


It is no more apocryphal than the Dhammapada. It is a collection of quotes from various scriptures.

We translate jing 經 as sūtra, but in this period just referred to scriptures of any sort like that Daode-jing 道德經.

It is just as legit as the Dhammapada.
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Re: Community in Western Buddhism

Postby LastLegend » Mon May 23, 2011 4:53 pm

If you want to get married, Buddha cannot stop you. In fact, Buddha taught you how to live happily through keeping the 5 precepts for example. Of course, marriage is a hindrance to your path. That is if you are pursuing a path such as becoming a monk, but really if you truly want to pursue a path, anywhere is a sangha. And in your quote Huseng, Buddha talked about the really deluded one who is attached to family, treasures, and such. But for those laymen who study and practice Buddhism, I guess they won't suffer as much.

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Re: Community in Western Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Mon May 23, 2011 4:55 pm

Huseng wrote:
Namdrol wrote:This is what he said in an apocryphal Chinese sutra.


It is no more apocryphal than the Dhammapada. It is a collection of quotes from various scriptures.

We translate jing 經 as sūtra, but in this period just referred to scriptures of any sort like that Daode-jing 道德經.

It is just as legit as the Dhammapada.



Has anyone done analysis to track the various passages in it?

Anyway, it depends on who the audience is. For monks, the Buddha had one message. For lay people, another.

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Re: Community in Western Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Mon May 23, 2011 5:26 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Has anyone done analysis to track the various passages in it?

Anyway, it depends on who the audience is. For monks, the Buddha had one message. For lay people, another.

N



There have been studies on it. Matsumoto Bunsanrou suggests it is a fifth century compilation of quotes from other Chinese translations. I know it borrows to some extent from older Āgama texts. There seems to be some mild Mahāyāna influences here and there, but more or less it borrows primarily from Āgama texts.
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Re: Community in Western Buddhism

Postby Jnana » Mon May 23, 2011 5:40 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Huseng wrote:He also said wife and child were like the jaws of a tiger.

From the Sūtra in Forty-Two Sections:
佛言:人繫於妻子、寶宅之患,甚於牢獄、桎梏、鋃鐺。牢獄有原赦,妻子情欲雖有虎口之禍,己猶甘心投焉,其罪無赦。
The Buddha said, “The misfortune of being tied to wife, child, treasures and estate is greater than being in prison fettered and in chains. In prison there are pardons given. The feelings for wife and child, though as dangerous as a tiger's mouth, one willingly leaps into it. That fault is without pardon.”



This is what he said in an apocryphal Chinese sutra.

The Ugraparipṛcchā Sūtra also goes on at some length instructing the householder Ugra on how a householder bodhisattva should reflect upon the many drawbacks and faults of the household life, as well as how to reflect in order to develop detachment from one's wife and son. None of the reflections are flattering (to put it mildly).

All the best,

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Re: Community in Western Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Mon May 23, 2011 5:57 pm

Jñāna wrote:The Ugraparipṛcchā Sūtra also goes on at some length instructing the householder Ugra on how a householder bodhisattva should reflect upon the many drawbacks and faults of the household life, as well as how to reflect in order to develop detachment from one's wife and son. None of the reflections are flattering (to put it mildly).

All the best,

Geoff



Sure, I have read it. But attitudes of Buddhists and the attitude of the Buddha are two different things:



Husband & wife, both of them
having conviction,
being responsive,
being restrained,
living by the Dhamma,
addressing each other
with loving words:
they benefit in manifold ways.
To them comes bliss.
Their enemies are dejected
when both are in tune in virtue.
Having followed the Dhamma here in this world,
both in tune in precepts & practices,
they delight in the world of the devas,
enjoying the pleasures they desire.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


"In five ways, young householder, should a wife as the West be ministered to by a husband:


(i) by being courteous to her,
(ii) by not despising her,
(iii) by being faithful to her,
(iv) by handing over authority to her,
(v) by providing her with adornments.
"The wife thus ministered to as the West by her husband shows her compassion to her husband in five ways:


(i) she performs her duties well,
(ii) she is hospitable to relations and attendants[10]
(iii) she is faithful,
(iv) she protects what he brings,
(v) she is skilled and industrious in discharging her duties.
"In these five ways does the wife show her compassion to her husband who ministers to her as the West. Thus is the West covered by him and made safe and secure.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nara.html

V
Mother, father well supporting,
Wife and children duly cherishing,
Types of work unconflicting:
This, the Highest Blessing.

posting.php?mode=quote&f=77&p=41238

Of course there are other texts in which the Buddha criticizes remaining as a lay person.

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Re: Community in Western Buddhism

Postby Luke » Mon May 23, 2011 6:58 pm

purplelotus wrote:I just feel that we are going slightly off track with this topic. There is a real need for Dharma Centres and what appears to be an institutionalised coldness and lack of caring and concern is an important point. It puts people off the Dharma and it is also a bit weird for a religion that stresses love and compassion. One is left with the impression that to become a Buddhist you have to be some mindless robot and advancing in ones practise means you become oblivious to the needs and concerns of others because of one's lofty attainments.

I agree. As in a lot of religions, the members feel the need to appear kind, but when pushed, I find that as many Buddhists fall short of real compassion as Christians do. Self-centeredness is a challenge for all religions to combat.

I think another issue is the sense of community and relationship between ALL the Buddhist groups in a location. One way to create more of a sense of community is to find a way to effectively do things with other Buddhist sanghas in one's area. In my experience, most people just lock onto one sangha and rarely talk to people from other sangha's or other Buddhist traditions. Part of this might be due to the natural desire for one's group to steal the spotlight from the others and to prove that one's Buddhist sect is superior to the others.

There should be less distrust and jealousy between Buddhist groups of different traditions. I think that it would be great if a Tibetan Buddhist sangha invited a Zen Buddhist monk (Ven. Huifeng perhaps? :smile: ) to give a Dharma talk at their center or if a Zen Center invited a Pure Land Buddhist priest to give a Dharma talk. In my experience, a lot of beginner Tibetan Buddhists in the west are simply eager to gobble up blessings from simple rituals, but are less eager for the blessing of knowledge of the Dharma. It would be nice for Buddhist teachers to set the example by interacting with each other in a respectful and joyful way.

After all, if Buddhist sanghas in the west can't even handle dealing with each other, then how can they possibly be able to deal with ordinary people and become a real part of the community?
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Re: Community in Western Buddhism

Postby Gharchaina » Mon May 23, 2011 9:06 pm

Huseng wrote:
lukejmo wrote:What would be a viable alternative? Is it necessary to have zero Christian influences? It seems to me Christians are really good at some things (like the above mentioned lifetime rituals, etc). Marriage, for instance, may not have been encouraged over the monastic life, but Buddha also had a lot to say to those who stayed lay-followers. Having a ceremony conducted under Buddhist auspices, wouldn't that help foster a family based around contemplation, dana, etc? The more I think about it, the less I understand your post...


Unlike in Christianity where marriage is seen as a sacred union, the Buddha specifically said attachment to family and children is like leaping into the jaws of a tiger. It is quite dangerous.

The viable alternative is running things the way they were run in the original culture of whichever tradition a temple belongs to. In most cases that means supporting the monastics is the primary activity of the lay community. It inevitably brings people together and fosters fellowship.


But it is not just a matter of life cycle rituals. The Buddha was clearly critical of monks who failed to help other monks who were ill or having problems. He emphasized that a supportive community was essential to the religious life. Western Buddhists need to build those institutions. Buddhism will simply not survive without them.
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Re: Community in Western Buddhism

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue May 24, 2011 12:00 am

http://www.shambhalamountain.org/

Shambhala Mountain has done a great job at creating some community. They have nice marriage ceremonies, rites of passage for kids, family programs, as well as meditation retreats, Dharma talks by teachers from all traditions, etc.
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Re: Community in Western Buddhism

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue May 24, 2011 4:48 am

As with anything buddhist, building community takes motivation, effort, and commitment. Where I live (midwest united states), there are a now a few buddhist groups. About 20 years ago I think maybe one or two. There is an effort made to keep the various groups in touch with each other, to co-sponsor events, to have sessions where people learn about each others' traditions. It's a little bumpy sometimes, but the point is people make the effort, and that's really the most important step. A few years ago, the monks at a local Thai / Lao wat (theravada) were hosts to a group of lamas (vajrayana) doing a fundraising tour, going to different places and creating sand mandalas. I think lay people tend to fight more, but monks are monks. They all got along like one family.

Dharma groups in the west are generally of two types: groups mainly composed of people who have arrived from an Asian country and who have brought a particular tradition with them, and american-born buddhists from traditional euro-american backgrounds (buddhists of African and Latin American descent are fewer). Of those who have brought buddhism with them from the east, there is generally a stronger sense of community. I think this may be largely due to having been brought up with dharma as a part of one's life experience. Westerners are by and large "converts" who may, individually, have very little in common with each other except that they share an interest in the teachings of the Buddha. Sometimes, even members of a very small sangha don't even like each other, or compete all the time! Of course, the same kinds of conflicts exist in western churches, but these are balanced out to some degree by the fact that all of the members have grown up with that religion. Furthermore, when one considers that the buddhist path is in many respects a very solitary journey, this does not give the creation of "community" a whole lot to work with. Often it is up to the "head" of the group--the lama or roshi or priest or ajahn or whatever, to sort of set things up.

Having a tea & chat period after group meditation, or on a regular basis is very helpful. Food ALWAYS brings people together! Also, working toward any sort of common goal, such as collecting food donations for the needy, will help to build community. In my experience, these sorts of activities attract those who in turn actually seek a community experience (buddhist or not) and once the wheels start turning, the community starts to build itself. The individuals who tend to give some dharma centers a rather 'cold' reputation tend to drop away at this point.
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Re: Community in Western Buddhism

Postby muni » Tue May 24, 2011 7:43 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_c_tLLku ... re=related

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Re: Community in Western Buddhism

Postby BuddhistPariah » Wed May 25, 2011 8:33 pm

lukejmo wrote: I don't know. But every time I go to a new dharma center, I feel like I've just entered a conversation that I'm not really a part of. There's that same awkward combination of politeness and wariness.


Yes! I've had that feeling so many times! "I have nothing to do with that place and that people".


lukejmo wrote:I think this is an important issue, and a big short-coming for Buddhism in the West


I agree so much.



purplelotus wrote:I have been involved with two sanghas and found both cold and unfriendly. Initially I thought this was due to practising non attachment but I always found that they could be quite friendly when they wanted something. The first sangha I was involved with for 12 years. I had to take a prolonged leave of absence due to ill health in the family and my own ill health. Not one person contacted me when I left the centre so I never returned. I don't think that is due to non attachment its just bad manners.

P


Yes "bad manners" and a total lack of loving kindness. Perhaps "loving kindness" are only empty words for us.



tamdrin wrote:I have noticed that Buddhists can make the worst friends..


The worst indeed.



Dechen Norbu wrote:We usually approach relations in a very needy way. This is what usually doesn't work so well with people engaged in serious practice. :smile:


"Serious practice" is only an excuse to deceive oneself. If you're cheating yourself it may look serious to you but to nobody else. Empty words normaly make our life meaningless IMHO.


Dechen Norbu wrote:Dharma centers are a different issue altogether. When I speak about Buddhist friends, I mean people I know well, practitioners, people who have at least a good grasp of the basics and are engaged in practice. Dharma centers, sometimes and not all, are filled with all sorts of strange people, that I would hardly call Buddhists. There are Buddhists there, of course, a small minority. But then you also have the usual poseurs, all sorts of freaks who try to adapt Dharma to their views, people with serious psychological issues dealt in the wrong way


In my experience the worst offenders, weirdest and rudest are normaly the senior students who believe they are very important and treat people like cockroaches, third class volunters, invisible and not worth to say hello or good morning. Many of them give speeches about loving kindness but they lost grasp on ecuanimity years ago on the Buddhist road many miles away, they are lost and pitiful but believe they are very important because they have an empty but very large Dharma CV. If you criticize them they would mention that you're projecting but they will say on your back that you have psychological issues. :applause: Funny isn't it?

Dechen Norbu wrote: because they're people who have their heads all messed up. And I don't know if becoming Buddhists will make it better...


Yes! and many of them are the most senior students.



purplelotus wrote:I just feel that we are going slightly off track with this topic. There is a real need for Dharma Centres and what appears to be an institutionalised coldness and lack of caring and concern is an important point. It puts people off the Dharma and it is also a bit weird for a religion that stresses love and compassion. One is left with the impression that to become a Buddhist you have to be some mindless robot and advancing in ones practise means you become oblivious to the needs and concerns of others because of one's lofty attainments.

Perhaps I am missing something and if so please correct me.

P


No! you are not missing anything. You are just using your eyes.




All this only make me wonder (analytical meditation) if the teachings really work out. :juggling:
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Re: Community in Western Buddhism

Postby Jikan » Wed May 25, 2011 9:34 pm

to a point that got lost earlier in the thread:

Yes, some convert Buddhist groups do feel cold and antisocial, or nests for conflict and even hazing. Not all, but some. Why? Sick people go to the hospital. To do something as eccentric and out-there as convert to Buddhism (vajrayana & devotional forms of practice especially) has to be a motivated action. What motivates? Maybe nothing else works, maybe you're sick being miserable, maybe you seek some inner peace, maybe your meat-world family has traumatized you to the extent you are seeking a second family... all of which imply you lack inner peace and stability and kindness in your life, so you have to go find it. Traumatized and confused people behave in confused ways. I'm speaking from experience here.

Consolation: working together in practice can wear down those edges, turn the habits of mind around, and so on. Collaborative practice is fantastic, even with (especially with?) volatile people in the mix. Everyone learns something, everyone gets a chance at seeing their own stuff projected out. Like polishing a bag of sharp rocks by carrying it around on horseback, so they wear each other down...

Then again there are sanghas that are the picture of cooperation and fellowship. I have the good fortune to belong to one of these. It's my second family.
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Re: Community in Western Buddhism

Postby Jikan » Wed May 25, 2011 9:39 pm

BuddhistPariah wrote: In my experience the worst offenders, weirdest and rudest are normaly the senior students who believe they are very important and treat people like cockroaches, third class volunters, invisible and not worth to say hello or good morning. Many of them give speeches about loving kindness but they lost grasp on ecuanimity years ago on the Buddhist road many miles away, they are lost and pitiful but believe they are very important because they have an empty but very large Dharma CV. If you criticize them they would mention that you're projecting but they will say on your back that you have psychological issues. :applause: Funny isn't it?


It's the teacher's job to stamp out this pattern of behavior.

Now that you've seen it in action, it's your job to ensure you don't behave in this way yourself. This is one way to glean something meaningful and useful from a salty situation.

More generally, it may well be that you'd benefit from exposure to a different group, a different style of practice, so you have a yardstick by which to measure your experiences so far. I'm not familiar with analytical meditation, or I'm not sure what you're alluding to, so I can't address the question of whether that method works or it doesn't...
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